Imagination

Well I made it back safe and sound. All together the kayak trip consisted of 5 days, 4 nights and a lot of kayaking. This trip was much more physical than my last. I averaged 5-6 hours a day for 5 days straight. Distance travelled won’t be confirmed until I study a map. I am tired and look forward to staying onshore tomorrow.

I started and finished at Mandros homestay (where Kayak 4 Conversation operates). Mandros sits on the East side, at the mouth of Kabui Bay. Usually throughout the day, if I discover a secluded beach, I will stop to stretch my legs. I’ll hop in the water too if there is a good reef nearby. I stumble upon my first beach within 30 minutes.

The sun is bright now; a good opportunity to gather some decent underwater pictures. As I leap out of my kayak, this black object plops into the water…my phone! I had forgotten it was on my lap and in the water it went. I pull it out within 5 seconds. Evidently the waterproof case wasn’t waterproof. The phone is ruined. I used my phone not only for photos, but to send blog updates. The blog will be different now. I will still try and get posts out, but sadly, it won’t be the same. Hopefully my followers have an idea of what the area is really like with the pictures I have already provided. At the time I was upset – it was hard not to be.

Then the weather turned for the worse. It can do that here-in a matter of minutes. A fairly strong headwind created some large swells with whitecaps. I was hugging the coast in case I lost my balance. This however, made it worse because the waves were ricocheting off the rocky cliffs creating unpredictable waves and chop. It seemed as though someone was trying to test my patience at this point. One hour into this 5 day trip and I wanted to turn around… but screw it, it has to get better.

Then the rain hit. Rain here isn’t actually a negative thing. You never feel cold and it’s better than the alternative. The sun is just too hot to be enjoyed for long. Rain I guess is nature’s way of telling me it was time to take a shower. Reliving my initial feelings now, stirs up the same emotions I had at the time. However, as I write this, a pod of Dolphins appear about 200 meters offshore. Hard to stay upset here for long.

I didn’t have a map with me but I was in a bay…how hard could it be? I remember having to turn to the center of the bay as I pass the only village around. That’s where the next homestay should be. As I pass the village I change my heading towards a small group of islands. As I do this a small motorized dugout canoe approaches from behind…the homestay owner! It was a good thing he saw me pass by.

The homestay was very secluded, with its own private bay surrounded by tall cliffs. It was stunning. I had the place to myself. The owner lived in the village and would deliver my meals to me. Other than that I was alone. Alone during the day was refreshing. Alone during the night was something else.

For some reason this seclusion and isolation got to me. This beautiful place turned creepy at night. I enjoy my imagination most of the time; however it got the best of me during the two nights spent there. For some reason in the middle of the night I kept thinking, if I open my eyes, I’ll see a silhouette of someone standing in the doorway staring at me.

There are many sounds at night. Some I’ve heard before and some I haven’t. There was one sound in particular that was new.  It startled me enough to wake me. It was as if something was being dropped on the terrace outside my bedroom door. The sound wasn’t constant, so I could rule out water and wind. I knew some creature was creating it. My eyes were wide open, staring through whatever hint of light I could find. Then all of a sudden a large BANG!! Chills went down my spine. It’s the unknown that allows my imagination to run wild, and create unearthly things; I can’t continue to lay here. I gather the courage to peak through the door and the door frame. I can’t see anything. The sky was overcast that night, not allowing much star or moonlight to slip through. With a flashlight in one hand, I throw open the door and turn my flashlight on – trying to scare whatever has scared me; hopefully it wouldn’t come back.

I scan the area, nothing there. I walk down both walkways, there is nothing to be seen, or heard. As I walk back to my room I stumble upon a large seed about the size of an avocado pit, lying on the terrace floor. This must be where the noise originated from. This seed must have been dropped. It stills smells fresh, I study the teeth marks on it. I still couldn’t decide who made the noise based on the evidence.

I told the story to Tertius when I got back. He instantly said “fruit bat!” Apparently they can stand two feet tall here…nice. The second day kayaking was spent exploring the area. I was told by the homestay owner, an ancient hut exists in the mangrove area down a river. The hut belonged to an area king (Raja Ampat in Indonesian translates to Four Kings).

The terrain here can change very quickly. One moment you’re surrounded by huge cliffs made from dead coral and the next you’re in black water country…the mangroves. As I kayak down the small river, I felt like a true explorer. No evidence of man being here for a very long time. The river is only 3-4 meters wide. The banks are made of black mud covered with these little crabs. The crabs are about the size of my thumb. One of their pinchers has evolved to the same size as the rest of their body. They were white with neon blue and red speckles.

The most ordinary thing is beautiful here. The next day I made the crossing from the east to the west coast. The water was like glass that morning. I think the crossing is around 8 kms. I stopped at what I thought was the halfway point. I turned around to see how far I have come. As I do this, I realize how quiet it is. No wind, no birds…nothing. I was even afraid to breathe knowing that it would break the silence. Then about 500 meters off my starboard side, a group of fish jump, breaking the water and the silence with it. Instantly, I knew this would be a moment one does not forget. All of a sudden I had new found energy. Without breaking rhythm, I paddled for the next 30 minutes; I was in the zone as they call it. As I paddle, the water starts to remind me of syrup…am I moving? Sometimes it’s hard to tell with no visuals. I become obsessed with staring at leafs and twigs in the water for confirmation that yes, I am going somewhere.

That day I misjudged my direction and ended up a lot further south than planned. I missed the passage where my next homestay would be. I kept expecting it around the next corner, but it never came. My recollection of the map failed me. I stopped at the next homestay I saw, which ended up being past the mouth of the bay on the western shore. I eventually made it back to the homestay I originally planned for the next day.

It was a 5 day trip that seemed to last a couple of weeks. My favourite way to time travel.

Subsequent original blog posts listed below:

Click to read – Clean Raja Ampat

Click to read – Success

Click to read – Farewell Raja Ampat

Return to How it Began Landing Page

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