A dance with dragons

Arriving off the boat into Labuanbajo harbour was an untroubled affair. However, what was to follow in our first few days would amount to the unravelling of our best made plans. It is all part of the rich tapestry of travel. It’s what we keep telling ourselves… It gets us through the days! 😉
Throwing our bags into one of the most ramshackle rooms we have stayed in, we took to the streets to find the live-a-board we had tentatively secured. For non-divers, a live-a-board means spending your days on a boat; you dive, you eat, you sleep with the roll of the waves.

Labuanbajo. A nice town. Tourism is starting to boom here, increasing year-on-year, because of the Komodo dragons (just off the coast at Komodo and Rinca) and the world class diving surrounding the islands. However, it is, to quote a dive master, a ‘back-water little town at the end of the river’ and as such their is an interesting discrepancy between clientele and services. But overall it is a quiet, peaceful and laidback place.

Anyway, let me unravel our unravelling… We had planned our few days in Labuanbajo to encompass a 2-day visit to see the Komodo dragons, a 3-day live-a-board and then a departure by ferry on Friday (to take us 48 hours across the ocean to Sulawesi). Well…

1. Komodo. Because of rough seas boat captains were unwilling to make the run to Komodo, which meant we could only visit Rinca. This would only take one day.

2. Diving. Approaching the dive centre we had tentatively booked our live-a-board with did not fill my heart with glee. The shop was run down, the owner a complete scatterbrain, and the itinerary he had previously outlined was changing sentence-to-sentence. Seeing as our lives would be in his, and his crews hands, for 3 days at sea… We made our excuses… And mentioning the name to a few dive centres around town produced raised eyebrows and restrained comments. We are glad we pulled out. (But we will be diving, with someone else. We start tomorrow. So stay tuned)

3. Ferry. See point 1. Due to rough seas the ferry to Sulawesi has not been running. We need to get to Sulawesi to catch a flight at the beginning of August. It may turn into a expensive trip to get to Sulawesi. Again, stay tuned… And cross your fingers for us!

So, you may be asking, ‘what have you been doing’? Well other than re-planning all our plans we are also back in contact with my bank!

The fraud. The little git who took money out of my account.

Turns out. That was me.

We did actually spend the money – on formula one tickets – but both Joyce and I completely forgot! We both feel pretty ridiculous… That’s okay, laugh away! And after an entire day, many calls – and recalls – from a ‘back-water little town at the end of the river’ it is, I can gladly say, finally over. My card that was blocked is still cut up in a bin somewhere on Lombok, but the F1 tickets should be okay and the bank has reclaimed its money! 🙂

So other than this?
Well, we did manage a trip to Rinca to see the dragons. The island of Rinca is a mix between rich jungle and barren grasslands. The wind whips across the open sea and the island strongly. The sun beats down, scorching both high and lowlands. The rain doesn’t fall, so streams and rivers run dry.
We walked for two hours through this parched landscape on the hunt for dragons… What we found? Geckos. Lots and lots of geckos. This was not particularly exciting as these are daily visitors into our rooms and bathrooms. Still, at least we as saw ‘wildlife’!
Towards the end of the trek we did also spot a wild boar, snuffling about in the dirt. And then. Then we came across the scariest beast known to man. The last of its name. A rarity. An endangered species. It breeds fear and horror. It is known commonly as ‘A Chan’. And I caught it!
She’s scowling at me now.

But in all seriousness. We did, finally, come across wild dragons. They were sunbathing in the midday heat, near the smells and aromas emanating from the camp kitchen.
Standing, crouching, being close to them, immediately transports you. You are no longer in 2013. On Rinca. You are back at the dawn of the dinosaurs. Walking the earth with a prehistoric beast.
They are amazing creatures. Slow and lumbering one minute. Scuttling across the grass the next (… The one below is a 4-month old dragon our guide luckily spotted. They are apparently rarely seen).
So, despite not quite making it all the way to Komodo, we have danced with dragons.

Now to deal with diving the deep…

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