Ugh. Just when I thought I’d made up my mind about getting off the boat, the day turned spectacular and I want to stay.
Alyssa and I agreed to get up at 6am to snorkel all the way around North Button Island. We not only saw the school of the biggest fish we’ve ever seen, but also felt accomplished for making what proved to be a treacherous journey (it took almost two hours of constant swimming and we were devoured by sea lice nearly half the time.
We set sail at 9am for a return to Havelock #7, marking a return to civilization after several days on deserted islands. John taught us to find our bearing and plot our course manually using the paper chart (circa 1988), a vintage protractor, pair of dividers and parallel ruler. I loved it. After a 7-hour sail, we arrived at Havelock #7 and were the third yacht to anchor (last time here we were the only yacht). We took the dinghy to shore and got chai teas from our usual place. Alyssa and I reunited with beautiful Lia from Austria (and a new couple - Spanish woman, English man) for drinks at a “posh” restaurant in a hut near the beach. When John picked us up, we dinghied over to a pretty little catamaran named Zorba and climbed aboard for drinks with its owners, Mark & Julie. They’re a young French couple who lived in Thailand for a year before moving onto the catamaran last September. They’ll be trailing two weeks behind us to Maldives (they’ll stop in Sri Lanka on the way), Chagos and Madagascar. Our paths should cross for a little while in Chagos. There’s another boat anchored here at Havelock 7 – a gigantic zillion dollar motor yacht named Maverick. We haven’t stumbled upon meeting the crew, but there’s always tomorrow. John was not so keen to meet the “big boat” and suggested that visits are likely invitation only.
Another exciting discovery today was that one of the restaurant huts runs a little book swap. We’ve been plotting to find a bookstore in Port Blair so we can stock up for 6 weeks in Chagos. Turns out the book swap won’t sell the books, will only swap them, so I had to negotiate heartily for the privilege of paying 300 rupees for Life of Pi. John has agreed to let us trade some of his paperbacks for new used books tomorrow.
I’ve decided that while the trip will always be difficult, it will always present unexpected and exhilarating experiences. I notice Linbaba never complains about his adventures in Shantaram:
…but I soon learned that those obscure, unplanned journeys were invariably worthwhile, frequently interesting and enjoyable, and quite often important. Little by little, I learned to relax, and submit, and trust my instincts, just as I was doing with Khaderbhai. I never regretted it, and I was never once hurt or disappointed ...”
But was he ever irritated?