Oh To Be An Explorer
As a child I always wanted to be an explorer with a life of adventure. Once I was visiting the Otters Club in Bandra and looked out at the sea as we were pulling up in our car.
“What if we keep going straight?” I asked pointing at the ocean.
My father told me that if we drove for long enough we would reach Africa. I was disappointed he had an answer, what I really wanted was to find a lost island with exotic creatures and strange species of plants. Perhaps an ancient undiscovered civilisation. I wanted to trample through the woods and arrive there dressed like Carmen Sandiego. My dreams had been shattered, every corner of the world had already been discovered and there was nowhere new to go.
It turns out that little me was wrong. The world is such a wonderful vast place and every new place you visit is new to you.
(Look at me all sounding like a motivational Instagram Post).
There is one place that stands out though. The Andamans took my breath away in the way that I had wanted as a child. Although dotted with hotels, Havelock felt old and ancient. It was the first time I had seen water that colour, or been in a place so wild.
To preface, I want to be honest and say I spent the first 3 days afraid of going further than ankle deep in the water. I was petrified of being eaten by a crocodile. (P.S. I’m still alive, so that didn’t happen).
This is also the place I fell in love with the ocean. I had always loved the beach, and being out on the water, but before I came to the Andamans, I had never experienced the ocean as a Three-Dimensional space (Random awesome physics video explaining dimensions). I will never forget the snorkel trip we did to Inglis Island, small and uninhabited it felt like the lost world.
We snorkeled from the boat to the shore through the coral, although bleached, was magical. There were so many fish and Dia, our guide, pointed out the giant clams and garden eels. On the hike across the island I was amazed by the trees. They were tall, maybe 300 feet up in the air with enormous buttresses nearly 2 stories high. They were those strange species of plants from my childhood imagination. We sat on the beach on the opposite side, looking out to the sea. The stretch of sand to our left seemed unrealistically exotic, like a green screen image in a movie about islands. A school of bumphead parrot fish swam by with their bumps sticking out of the water (silly me was convinced it was a school of sharks like a weirdo). I later saw these same fish on a dive, with their odd teeth and funny bumps on their heads, something I could never have dreamed of.
Back then I wasn’t that aware of coral bleaching, or the effect my sunscreen may have had on the reef. It taught me so much though, about ways to respect nature, things I hadn’t learned in my years of camping in high school. I wish I had made all the changes I am making now, back then, over six years ago. I wish the plastic bottle I had seen half an hour into our boat ride over the open ocean had bothered me more back then, the way it would have had I seen it today.
I’m glad though, that my life has turned out to be such an adventure. On to the next one.
Stay : We stayed at both for a little bit
Budget: Barefoot Scuba – Nice tents, good people, yum breakfast and a lovely beach
Splurge: Barefoot at Havelock – lovely rooms, yum food and bonus! a bar.
Eat: We kind of ate all our meals at the Full Moon Cafe at Dive India, we didn’t like the accommodation too much but spent most of the day lazing around over here and occasionally heading to the docks for a pizza
Do: Dive Dive Dive! Did a discover scuba dive with Dive India and they were wonderful. (I was still scared but this was such a super intro) Next time though I may want to do a couple of days in Chidyatapu diving with Lacadives and checking out the amazing conservation work Reefwatch is doing down there