Day 54

This morning we tendered to Komodo Island from Slawi Bay, only a 10-minute ride to the Komodo pier in very gentle waters. Komodo is one of the 17,508 islands that comprise the Republic of Indonesia. I never knew there were so many! Komodo is part of the Lesser Sunda chain of islands and part of Komodo National park. These lizards (Komodo dragons) can get to be over 9 feet long. They are carnivorous, known to eat deer, wild pigs, chickens, and any other prey of suitable size. If they bite humans, it can be fatal if not treated immediately. Their saliva contains a type of poison. Therefore, guides carry a forked stick over 6 feet long to push away any dragons that tend to be a nuisance and get too close to tourists. Our trek was over a mile trail through the park on fairly level paths. We had about four daring souls who tried to negotiate this trail walking with canes. Wheelchairs were not allowed. Every group had three native guides- a knowledgeable ranger, a guide with a stick, and a back-up guide, who would be at the rear. This was a good thing, because one elderly man in our group collapsed with the heat and humidity and had to be rescued by other rangers and returned to the ship. I checked with his wife when we returned and she said he was much better and had eaten lunch. Our group continued, learning about native trees that were medicines, cooking spices, or just fruits, and looking for dragons along the way. We saw a Komodo nest, where the female lays about 12-20 eggs per year and watches them for the 3-month gestation period. When the babies hatch, they instinctively run for the trees and climb because the moms and other predators will eat them. Only 2 or 3 survive to adulthood. These lizards are still endangered, as there are only about 3000 on the entire island.

We finally got to see dragons at the water hole. There was an eight or nine foot one, and several medium sized ones. Mac took lots of photos. Thank God for the watering hole. That was the only place along the entire trail that we saw Komodos. At the end, we ran the gauntlet of souvenir stalls, purchasing some lovely wooden bowls, a carved dragon, a tee shirt and an abalone dish. We decided to walk the beach before returning to the ship, and were guided to another dragon near the beach. A native guide (also with a stick), took some pictures for us. We gave him a tip, and then returned to the tender, just in time to get caught in a tropical rainstorm.

We showered immediately upon our return, and it was still before noon. We were drenched both from the high humidity and the rain. Seeing the dragons was a great experience, and now we can take it off our bucket list.

After lunch we played top toss and bounce ball. We each scored a point in bounce ball, but nothing in the other. We actually came in third in trivia today and got a point here as well.

Vov Dylan, the violinist, performed again at 5:30 today. He played La Mer, Brazil, I could have danced all night, Dueling Banjos with Terry Bishop, Swan with Panos the pianist, and other numbers. Since Vov is called the world’s fastest violinist, he explained that he holds the world record for the fastest playing of Flight of the Bumblebee at 37.5 seconds. He demonstrated that for us, having Terry time it for him and Panos making sure he didn’t miss any notes. He played it in 35 seconds- amazing!

The after dinner show tonight was Terry Bishop playing and singing silly songs about being old and life in general. He made up his own version of many songs that had us howling. He is very entertaining.

Tomorrow we will be in Bali. This is our first overnight port and totally new to us. Should be fun.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac