With our month’s stay at Gilli Air complete we leave the enchanted island and head once again to the Land of Dragons. But not before picking up a new friend, my new tattoo. Thirty plus years ago I got my first tat depicting images of my life up to that point; a Buffalo, a mystical lady and a horse shoe. Time and older type of ink did not bode well and it was unrecognizable, I often tried to show people what the images to no avail.
I met Chili, the local tattoo artist on Gili Air and discovered his knitch was covering old tattoos. I asked him to do some drawings with dolphins or sharks and when I passed by his shop I stopped dead in my tracts, the drawing he was displaying in his window was perfect. I paraded my friends by the drawing and all agreed it was ideal. Timing was important as you cannot get a new tattoo wet for four days; four days rarely pass without me diving but the trip to Komodo provided the needed dry time so I got the tattoo the night before we left. Four hours of intense work for him and pain for me later and I now have a great piece of art that completely covered the old work and depicts my life now.
So proudly showing off my new ink I met our new crew; Brianna hails from the land of potatoes, Idaho, USA. Her enthusiasm for adventure is very high and I think she will be a great addition to the crew and she plays the guitar! She met another lady on the boat to Gili Air, Sunny who has joined us short term for the ride to Komodo. Sunny is a Londoner accent and all and her heritage is Indian Seike. I had met a perky girl from Estonia, Kaisa, while playing music and she joined us too. This makes the twentieth country from which I have had crew, hail Estonia! In the World Peace Tour Furthur theme, this is the fifth crew who has come from a post iron curtain country. This would have been possible thirty years ago and a reminder of the freedoms we sometimes take for granted
So new tat, new crew and the lure of the Komodo National Park ahead we make the three day passage. Usually by now the dry season and prevailing Northeast winds have settled into a dry, light breezy constant pattern. This year seems to be a bit different, the southerly’s still are howling from the passages between islands as we pass by three big islands to the south make for a bumpy ride. We revisit one anchorage used in 2011 and find one new one on this trip. The trip ends with a calm moonlit night and us anchoring in a familiar place at the north tip of Komodo.
That bay had another boat already anchored and as the sun rose I discovered it as an old friend, the Wicked Diving livaboard. I kayaked over to say hello and was greeted by those ol familiar beaming Indo smiles. I had that feeling of being home again. We moved to the anchorage at Luat Lau, which is near three of the best dive sites around and Briana and I prepare for a morning dive at Crystal Rock. After the dive I take the girls ashore, they had not touched land in 4 days and were happy to be on terra firma.
We moved to a more protected anchorage and were again visited by a local boats with old friends from the Komodo village, news of our return had traveled fast it seems. So good to see these wonderful people again, people who touch your soul in their simplicity and sincere happiness.
We did another dive and I took Kaisa and Sunny on short shallow discovery dives. Kaisa hit the water like a fish. Sunny came aboard with a list of fears and limitations, not the least was she believed she could not swim. After a few short days she was snorkeling about freely and she even asked to try the dive gear. We did a bit of swimming about with the gear and she had had enough but was happy to have tried. I am very happy she was able to face her fears and discover new worlds.
The last stop on our venture to Labuan Bajo is to visit the dragons. We pulled into the serene anchorage next to the ranger station at dusk, just in time to see a Water Buffalo grazing on the hill next to the anchorage, the girls also spotted a dear, just a hint of things to come the next day.
We rose early but not early enough to miss the hordes who streamed into the anchorage, this is high season for sure. But we seem to be well known here and that pays off, we are put ahead of the line and my old friend Rambo, one of the best guides takes us four on a private tour. It is mating season so the big devils are busy and not just lying about for our viewing so we are told not to expect Komodos in the wild. Fortunately I took us on the “long trek” and away from most of the crowds, and blessed be we came across one large Komodo snoozing under the shade of a tree. The girls were very lucky to see a real Komodo Dragon in the wild.
Back on Furthur, anchor up and the calm jaunt winding through the island brings us back to a place i love, Labuan Bajo. We go ashore and go our separate ways and I find all sorts of old friends, greetings abound and calls for me to play my guitar with the street kids. I will sit in again with the boys in the band at the lounge, all is well.