Location: Sebayor Kecil, Indonesia
Wake up! Were seeing dragons today! These were the words we woke up to; undoubtedly, no one remembers that as our day started bright and early at 2:30 am. Yes, all 33 of us woke up five hours before the sun would even peak its head out. Despite this, there was an energy in the air that came with the excitement of seeing dragons, Komodo dragons, that is.
Soon after waking up, the ship we were to spend the entire day on pulled up beside Argo. It was a very classic Indonesian-looking boat, like a mix between a pirates ship and Noahs ark. However, unlike Noahs ark, there were bunk beds and bean bags; we sprawled in every which direction and promptly fell back to sleep. A blissful two hours later, we arrived at the base of a mountain for our sunrise hike, the first of many destinations for the day. No one was really sure where we were, but there was a mountain in front of us, and we were ready to conquer it. I use the word mountain liberally; it was more of a large hill.
Nonetheless, our eagerness sent us scrambling up the rocky pathway, the steep incline at times, making us feel more like mountain climbers than leisurely hikers. And so, in the early morning light, we ascended to the summit. From the top, we could watch as the sun rose to shoot through the clouds and glisten off the water making all the islands around us glow with the new light. Fully exhausted and covered in a film of dust, we were ready to hop into the water.
Luckily for us, snorkeling was next on the list of adventures. Back on the Indonesian ark, we motored over to Manta Point. Known to have manta rays, we were hoping to spot one. Jumping from the second level of the ship into the water, we suited up in our snorkels, fins, and masks in search of marine life. There was a multitude of fish amongst the coral, so many that we could fill our marine biology fish ID logbooks twice over. The marine life was vibrantly colorful, and the water was delightfully warm.
Meanwhile, the guys found spear guns and decided to catch lunch. Hours of chasing fish provided a bountiful feast, although a bit of assistance may have come from the local guides. Soon enough, we chowed down on a lunch of rice and freshly grilled fish.
After lunch, we traveled over to Komodo Island, where we disembarked. We spent about an hour on a guided hike. This island is only one of a handful of places in the world that is home to Komodo dragons. All expectations were surpassed. We saw at least a half dozen Komodo dragons. They were the most massive lizards, about the same size as any one of us. They had a long forked tongue that they occasionally flicked out to smell if anyone was approaching. It was terrifyingly awesome. Most of the time, they just lounged about in the shade, trying to stay cool. And so, after getting our fill of dragons, we followed suit and returned to the boat to escape the blistering sun.
As night approached, we navigated over to our final destination. From the deck of the boat, we witnessed thousands upon thousands of bats leave their mangrove nests and swoop through the night air. These particular bats were flying foxes, and so they were especially large in size. Their proximity to the boat, as well as the sheer quantity of bats, made this experience especially exhilarating. And so we watched in awe as thousands swarmed past us and into the night.
By the time we returned to Argo. It was just as dark as when we had left her this morning. It had been a very long day full of adventure, and we couldnt wait to collapse into our bunks. It was a spectacular end to a stupendous day, one that marked the end of our first two weeks together on the boat.