Location: Direction Island, Cocos Keeling Islands

Today began swinging around in a hammock on the deck. Well, it did for me, at least. I did what has been on my bucket list for a long time; sleep in a hammock on a boat. Last night around 2 am, I woke up to a small group of people crowded around the side of the deck, looking over the edge. I rolled out of my cocoon and groggily went to see what the loud whispers were about. The deck lights were on, and I got a crystal clear view of an enormous manta ray hovering on the surface of the water. It had a massive mouth open for filter feeding, and its wingspan must have been around 12 feet. It was so close; I could see its smooth, dolphin-like skin popping in and out of the waves passing. As a collective group, we named it Manta, and Manta swam in circles around our boat for close to 2 hours.

When I was rushed up this morning, my first call of duty was to make sure everyone was awake and ready for the free day ahead. Going down the ladder, the smell of crispy, golden churros filled the air below. Everyone woke up fairly easily and hurried to get their supplies for the day ready. The first shuttle of dinghies left about 20 minutes after the first wake-up call, dropping the people interested in visiting the main island on the dock where the ferry would pick us up at 8:30 sharp. I got my wallet, swimsuit, and backpack ready and loaded up. Today everyone had the option to stay on the boat and do laundry or homework or go to the main island in the morning to get provisions and explore the stores.

By the time the ferry arrived, I had realized sweatpants and a sweatshirt was a very poor choice in clothing. Oh well. There were 14 of us going to Home Island, and it was about a 30-minute venture. We got to the island and scattered once we established the groups of the day. Claire Maco and I first went to the grocery store, only to remember we didnt want to have to carry anything all day long. We explored the different roads, only inhabited by four-wheelers and ATVs passing us. Finally, we came across the only restaurant on the island. Realizing they only took Aussie cash, we ran around in circles going into every store we could see and trying to exchange some cash. When we reached the bank, they said the closest ATM was on the next island over and that they didnt do cash exchange. When all seemed lost, the possibility that we can get cashback from the grocery store popped into our minds. We went back to the grocery store, got what we needed, and got cash as well. We returned to the restaurant only to find out that the rest of our group had literally eaten everything they had. We also found out they only had two things on their menu; chicken and fries or chicken and rice and curry. Realizing how much time we had left, we set out to find the closest beach to relax.

Keep in mind we had just bought all of the food we restocked up on, and I had thick sweats on. When we reached the beach, I had definitely thought this was the end for me a few times. But the view was spectacular and 100% worth it. The beach was untouched and empty, the sand was whiter than my white flip-flops, and the water was translucent and had a turquoise tint. It was ankle-deep for probably half a mile, and the crystal clear water looked better than those classic computer desktop pictures. Absolutely picturesque. Claire and I tanned for almost an hour before it got too hot, so we just sat in the water. It wasnt cold, rather refreshing. Realizing the time it was, we got up and dusted all the accumulated sand off our bodies, and I am slipping back into my black sweatpants and sweatshirt, completely dreading the long walk back with a heavy pack on my back. We returned to the restaurant area, where they restocked their food in time for lunch. I got the chicken and fries and completely devoured it. Before leaving, I wanted to try to get rid of some of the Aussie coins I had somehow stocked up on. I asked how many spring rolls I could get for a big pile of coins, and only thinking it might be enough for one, she gave me four very generously. We repacked all the food we got and headed back to the dock, meeting up with the rest of our crew. The ferry was air-conditioned, and the 30 minutes was genuinely incredible. When we returned, the people who had chosen to stay on the boat earlier this morning had the chance to go to the island closer to the boat; the island that was completely uninhabited and serene. They could snorkel or have a laid-back beach day. The other option was to stay on the boat. I stayed on the boat and decided to do laundry and shower earlier than the rest. There was a little time before dinner, so I started on my oceanography literature review, but dinner was done.

The Greek-themed dinner was delicious; lamb, veggies, rice, and feta cheese. Before our squeeze question, someone decided to pull out dessert early, and we all got to eat a half-baked brownie. Clearly, none of us cared. It was still partially battered. Everyone scattered around the boat after, which was kind of annoying because I had to round everyone up for the squeeze question. Let me tell you something; its worse than herding cattle (not that Ive ever done that either). My squeeze question tonight was, If the person to your right was a mythical creature, what would they be and why? We got some really exotic answers ranging from the abominable snowman from Monsters Inc to Donkey from Shrek to a fairy such as Tinker Bell. I was labeled as a sphinx, which was completely out of the ordinary. We finished squeeze and clean up, and I am now waiting for our seamanship class to begin.

I would like to wish everyone reading this a good day and lots of love from our side. Once again, please give our furry babies a big kiss for us today; my doggie withdrawals have personally gotten worse. We all miss you, and keep in mind we wont be getting service for a while. We leave for Mauritius in two days and begin roughly a 14-day passage. Wish us luck…it will definitely be testing our sanities. Or maybe just mine. 🙂

XOXO -Ally