Location: Christmas Island

Waking up in view of Christmas Island was quite an unforgettable experience, especially after a magical night dive last night, and starting the day with some superb breakfast burritos made it even better. After brekkie, we split in two and departed Vela for some shore time to see some crabs and explore the island. During the unstructured shore time, some took to the rentable electric bikes to see more of the island and/or seek spiritual wholeness. Others found a nice and very isolated cove to have a swim in. Still, others found a pickleball court and played a few games with bare feet on scorching turf. And some just walked around for a while. Everyone, however, bought a whole lot of snacks. We were told on Bali to stock up on snacks because we wouldn’t be able to get any for a while, but nonetheless, there is a supermarket here. There was the feeling of being inadequately stocked on personal rations, and as such, there were a whole lot of teenagers buying Pop-Tarts, Gatorade, chips, and peanut butter on Christmas Island today.
All in all, experiencing the culture of such a small island was unforgettable, and I think I wasn’t the only one who had a few thoughts about leaving Vela and the outside world behind forever to live on Christmas Island. From a bartender putting a scoop of ice cream in our iced coffees to an old small dive shop owner (jokingly) teasing Ayden for trying to buy a “kid’s fishing rod,” a post office employee teaching us how to write a postcard, and a Red Bull-drinking and cigarette-smoking tour guide, all of the people of Christmas Island were quite big characters and super welcoming.
The people were all well and good, but humans are just about everywhere. What aren’t are coconut crabs (or robber crabs as they’re called here). Seeing the flora and fauna of Christmas Island was the truly magical part of the day. The coconut crabs and red and blue crabs were astounding, and seeing the barriers along the road, crab bridges *over* the roads, and signs about road closures due to crab migrations gave us just a hint of the sheer scale of their quantity. The crabs are not the extent of Christmas Island’s natural beauty, though. There were also some beautiful birds. The golden bosuns, brown-footed boobies, frigate birds, and a brown gospel that flew right in front of our van were all spectacular, and from a lookout above the whole island, we saw countless birds joined in the air by some mammalian representation in the form of flying foxes, who managed to elude us in Komodo (Smash was very excited). We also saw the blowholes, fields of limestone spikes that waves crash against, pushing water through tiny holes into the sky in giant clouds of mist, as well as creating some seriously loud roaring sounds. There was also a tree, and I thought it was very cool.
While all of us were having the time of our lives galavanting about Christmas Island, there was a struggle happening on Vela (and I don’t just mean Tom battling the plague). Steph and Jake fought hard, locked in the saloon to save our very investible provisions against the maggots that had been left by the insanely large swarm of flies that popped up yesterday. (I’m looking forward to chefing tomorrow with all the watertight doors and hatches dogged now that Jake and Steph have destroyed all bugs and we have a new food to replace the old. 🙂 ) Don’t you worry one bit, though, because post-Maggotstinction, our dearly beloved facilitators were able to hop on shore for the second tour, where Steph got a bit of a scare from a coconut crab.
Back on board Vela, after putting away snacks (which was hard work) and showering, our second group of night divers, Grffin, Ayden, Wes, Jackson, and Kasey, descended into the depths. Will they ever come back? Will my fellow chefs and I be able to make dinner in a post-Maggotgate galley tomorrow? Will Steph ever get to the Christmas Island visitor’s center? (Steph really wants to get to the Christmas Island visitor’s center.) Check the blog again tomorrow to find out!