Wednesday, May 25, 2016

We Could Not Get There From Here


If you would look at a map of the north coast of Australia, you would see that from our last port, Wyndham, to our next port, Darwin, it was an easy cruise along the coast; BUT we could not go there! Nope, first we had to spend a day at sea going north to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, or as it is commonly known, East Timor. There we spent a day at a truly spiritual island named Jaco Island, and now, today we are cruising southward to our final destination for this cruise, Darwin. Why the diversion you may well ask? Well, Australia like many countries, including the United States, does not allow foreign passenger vessels to pick up people in one domestic port and then transport them to another domestic port, because to allow that would be in competition with domestic vessels that are registered for such commerce. So an international ship must go outside the country before returning. That, for example is why cruise ships going from California to Hawaii, must first make call at some foreign port, even if it is simply a deserted atoll.

And thus, our stop yesterday at East Timor, or to be precise, at the small and sacred island of Jaco was merely a requirement allowing us to proceed to our final destination back in Australia. Because the locals consider Jaco a “sacred” island, they rarely visit it. For this reason, it is indeed “pristine.” After officials from the nearby mainland cleared us into the country and of course collected the $30/head “visa fee,” we were free to go ashore to a beautiful pristine beach. Even better was the fact that just off the shore was a shallow reef where we could snorkel, and of course, Silversea provided all the necessary equipment, but not until everyone had attended a safety briefing and zodiacs were stationed strategically with watchers to insure our safety.

I am pleased to tell you that Michele and Cathy “dove in” to snorkel, and in particular, I did not think we’d ever get Cathy back. Lisa valiantly not only came ashore with a wet landing, but she tried to snorkel, however, her bad knee just would not let that happen. With the help of Michele and a team member who managed to get my flippers on, I flipped around for almost an hour, but the camera I brought for underwater pictures, refused to work.

As if by some miracle, but the time I came up for air, the Hotel Staff had transformed the beach into a party cove. Not only had chairs been brought over for all of us to use, but under an awning, an elaborate buffet was served while the charcoal grills were blazing away. Ice chests full of just about anything you could want were available, and all in all, it was an amazing effort. I heard later that Michele even ate grilled kangaroo meat along with some crocodile – nothing stops Michele, nothing!

The staff cleaned up everything so that we left no presence behind, and now today we are cruising towards Darwin, our final destination for this cruise. They just came on the speakers to announce to us that because of our good speed, we will actually arrive this evening and be required to clear immigration after dinner.

Sadly for us, this is where Michele and Cathy leave us. They have been really great to travel with, and I am pretty sure that they, too, have become hooked on this “expedition cruising.”


P.S. I just completed an upload of selected pictures from this trip and you may view them at:

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