march 2010 update

i am in india…again. i found myself missing it last year when i was in indonesia, philippines and borneo. so here i am AGAIN, on havelock island, in the andamans: “home”!

so much has changed, it’s hard to recognize the little village and the quaint beach bungalows, as there is now so many fancier places, more restaurants, internet places, and of course it went from 2 dive shops to 6. i feared for the diving, for the scarcity of fish. i was gratefully wrong. when i compare it to the philippines, i realize that there are still so many schools of fish, big and small, and i am happy to report that the diving has actually improved! there are more dive sites and more diversity in the types of dives. it’s now easy to do “dawn” dives. it involves getting up early- being at the dive shop at 4:15 am, and setting off into the breaking dawn, by speedboat (rib, dingy) no less. so the travel time is cut by a generous third, you descend in dusky darkness, watching the dive site come to life as the fish begin their day. sharks, rays, turtles, and big shoals of baracuda, surgeon fish, big eyed jacks and fusiliers whirl and wind thier way around the reef. it’s fabulous.
there have been manta and eagle rays in the area, and dolphins too. so all is well in the underwater world.

one thing makes me sad, and that is that the boats we now use, which are local fishing boats called dungy’s, all have to be replaced with outboard engine boats next year. i like the rustic feel of the chugging dungy, and the simple set up. there’s time to chat and suntan, listen to your ipod or read a book to and from the dive site. with speedboats comes increased opportunities to dive the further away dive sites such as barren island, which is a magical active volcano with underwater slopes of black sand, where mantas and shark are highly visible in the clear waters.
as of right now the airport has just finished becoming “international” in it’s standing, and soon flights from singapore will commence. until that happens though, havelock is still able to manage it’s increased volume of tourists, however, i think it will soon go the way of thailand once the flights start coming in. i am convincing myself that it is retaining it’s charm for now…but i fear for it’s inevitable ruination soon to come.

i have reconnected with dear friends, and have begun to establish new friendships as well.

i am teaching yoga under the shade of the coconut trees (not too near them, staying well clear of potential braining by coconut). the sea breeze fans and cools us….and keeps mosquitoes at bay until 5:30 pm when the mozzies are at their worst.
i am diving too, and enjoying my time, still painfully addicted to my camera! I just met my new camera the other day: the canon s90, it’s just like my 3 year old canon g9, but half the size and has a manual focus “ring” so i should be able to get better images.

today i am flying in and out of chennai (mainland) so i can renew my permit to visit the islands for 1 more month. i fly into the city, stay on the kingfisher plane for 40 minutes while it reloads, and then fly back to port blair. i leave at 6:50 in the morning and return by noon. then i take the 2:30 ferry back to havelock. the whole process is 24 hours. in 2008 when i was here last, it took 48 hours. so it’s an improvement. Plus, you can get the 2 week extension on havelock island itself, which is a great improvement!

my days are simple…eating fresh fruit with fresh coconut and homemade curd (yogurt) for breakfast….lunch is usually an omelet and chapatti..dinner is ginger fried fish or chicken with veggies. i don’t eat a lot of indian food, as i find most of it too heavy. there is a lot of variety here, and lots of western food too. my old boss Susheel, now runs a restaurant at the jetty, called B3, where you can get good pizza and even sashimi. so i am quite impressed.
yoga is at 3:45, diving starts at 7 am (on the days i do go), and socializing is during lunch and dinner. it’s all good. then there is always time to laze in a hammock or on the beach reading a book. even mediocre books are ok, as great ones are hard to come by.
i have a nice little bungalow, it costs 300 rupees, or $7.75 a day…meals are about 500 -day, just over 10 bucks so it’s not so bad…more expensive than indian mainland but still, it’s just so bloody beautiful here…the water is sooooooooooo blue and the trees soooooooooooon green…it’s just magical.

so another month in paradise awaits me….and then i am returning to bangkok where i might buy my new camera….then off to koh phanghan for some more yoga at the sanctuary. i just met a woman who went to the island of Kri in indonesia. it is the place that you can dive Raja Ampat (one of the best dive sites in the world) and she stayed a month in a homestay. so, i am going to consider this option as well. most plans are in a state of flux anyway…so i am just rolling with it and will see where i end up. it’s fun just to make the plans and fantasize about where to go next.

in conclusion, although havelock has changed alot, i will more than likely find myself here again next year!
nameste and happy h20!!! love zan

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