In the end, we were pretty successful, with the Flores journey including:
1) The greatest experience of my life: legally riding motorcycles (officially no longer Peace Corps volunteers) up a mountain before dawn to illegally view the sunrise over the colored crater lakes of Kelimutu.
2) Finding the loves of my life in Moni:
|Karlitos and Ranti. "KarLItos!"|
|This is forever, people. It should be noted that the rest of the Moni posse not pictured here included Intan and Vikri.|
After a couple of days hanging out with the fam and learning the local language, bahasa lio, from the kids, sadly we had to wave good-bye and board our travel experience from hell to Labuan Bajo.
3) And the first giant sea creatures and dragons of my life
|John with Ashley and Joe, the New Yorkers we met on the boat. They come into play later. Foreshadowing.|
No way you'd ever catch me scuba diving, so I happily snorkeled while John, Ashley, Joe, and the Italians dove to find some mantas. As I was floating by my lonesome, I swore the mother of all naughty words underwater into my snorkel as I found myself face-to-face with a ginormous manta cleaning itself. No one told me they'd be bigger than me! I was in awe - much like my sister, Colleen, was at the size of the Liberty Bell. It's really not that big. She just thought it'd be like a tiny dinner bell.
Sorry, no pictures of these guys. But they are BIG! And then I saw 3 more.
This lady Komodo in the island of Rinca just lay there like a slug. John actually got pictures of the male Komodo that came out afterward. After hearing our guide's tale of how he was previously attacked by a dragon, chased up a tree, and hospitalized from a tiny prick of the venom penetrating through his shoe to his foot, I cowered and observed from afar.
The beautiful island of Rinca.
Boating back to Labuan Bajo and flying back to Java...but not before we had one more tasty sandwich and chocolate milk treat!
Afterword: A Love Story Continued
Ashley and Joe were traveling Flores in the opposite direction, so after Labuan Bajo they were headed to Moni. Missing my Moni monchichis, I wrote them letters on my Hello Kitty stationery (never leave home without it) in bahasa lio and gave them to Ashley to deliver.
Below are the photos she emailed when she met up with them, and you can check out their blog post here: http://joeandashleyworldadventure.blogspot.com/2013/08/komodo-flores-indonesia.html
|Imuku Ranti with my letter. Aku meto mbana Moni!!!|
*For a read-up on the Bali marathon and end-of-Peace-Corps experience, go here: http://erindonesia.blogspot.com/2013/06/failure-is-friend-of-mine.html