skull Whale Sharks skull
skull Cenderawasih Bay, Papua, Indonesia skull

Ahe "Resort"

September 29

I got up early today to take a hot shower for the first time in 5 nights and the last time for about 9 and it turned out to be hot, hot, hot and enough power to blast the dirt off. I felt clean, finally. We had our buffet of noodles and rice and went in search of our bemo. The guy who drove us yesterday was so friendly, offering us cigarettes and some of his drink in a bag and when we got to the hotel he offered to give us his number. We don’t have a phone that works so we just asked him to come back today at 7:15. We wondered if he’d show. He did, right on time and a few minutes into the ride asked if James wanted to drive. He was a bit crazy and we think drunk, or still drunk, but he was friendly and turned on some music and smiled and danced in his seat while laughing. A nice send-off regardless.

We couldn’t check on-line if our flight was on time, or delayed, and the hotel said we couldn’t call until 9 am. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:20 ish, so we had just showed up hoping it wouldn’t be early. It wasn’t, it was delayed about an hour. Sucks for someone who can barely contain their excitement.

Checking in was funny. We only had 10 kgs of checked baggage per person. We hit it right on, with 2 sets of dive gear, soccer ball, volleyball, blow up watermelons and Frisbees (for the boys and kids on the island) toiletries, clothing, camera and underwater crap, computer, two kindles and all the chargers…..let’s just say our carry ons were a wee bit heavy. But impressive still.

Finally boarded, and with assigned seating (well we got ours once we found the lady who dropped her huge purse and overflowing shopping bag on my seat to take her stuff back, weird, it was like she expected us to just deal with it) and were on our way…one quick stop later and we were landing in Nabire (after the practice landing). We found Blaine pretty quick; not many people are quite that white in Indonesia, not even James. After big hugs we were introduced to Arne, the manager of Ahe Resort. He showed us to our cab and we asked for a quick stop at the grocery store as we were headed to an island in the middle of nowhere….I doubt they have Tim Tams, we also picked up apples and oranges – they never have enough fruit. Then we were off! About an hour later, mostly driven on the wrong side of the road, we pulled up to a marina and transferred to the “new speed boat’. Not quite the cigarette boat Blaine was expecting, or very new, but faster and more convenient than the traditional wooden outriggers. The ride to the very tiny Ahe Island was beautiful. We were leaving behind the green rugged mountains of the mainland and heading out into Cenderawasih Bay that is home to the Harlem Islands, one of which is Ahe Island. A few of the islands looked a fair size….but not our home for the next 8 nights. Ahe was a tiny speck in the distance. Yikes! We saw a bunch of small flying fish skimming the water as we made our way. As we got close to the island we saw the most beautiful and amazing tree, it was low tide and it seemed to hover precariously over the sand. It looked like a picture out of National Geographic or what would be a perfect back drop for a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. In just under an hour we pulled up to the beautiful white sand beach and waded ashore. Immediately we heard the sound of birds, lots of birds, all singing and screeching. We had landed on our dive paradise….thought the optimist of the group.

I think I saw a mouse

We were all pleasantly surprised. The bungalows were spacious, airy, full of handmade decorations and clean. The bathroom had a western toilet that flushed and the “shower” was indeed a bucket and scoop. We were put in a grouping of three bungalows and had a huge connecting deck, great for visiting, that had comfy chairs and hot & not-so-hot water and coffee and tea. All in all, very nice. The bungalows were steps from the beach and the sound of the waves amazing. We took a few minutes to unpack. Blaine had brought us a few things from Canada, some were needed (a 6 month supply of tampons) and some were treats (Reese’ pieces) but the treat of all treats – Jude’s fudge – had us giggling like little kids. A few days ago I asked James if he thought Jude would send a box of fudge, I mean she did mail one from Australia, and he laughed and said likely not. Blaine was stopping in Hong Kong to visit Chris so it’d be a long way to carry it. HA! We decided that we should eat it quick before the ants found it and sharing a spoon dug in. O.M.G! It was heavenly, smooth, rich and stuck to my tongue. Could anything be better? Once unpacked we went off to explore…or rather look for lunch. We’d been told lunch would be waiting for us in the restaurant. The bungalows surprised us…wonder if the food will. We had read it would be basic meals and weren’t expecting much. It was basic, but still tasty; by the end of the week we might be tired of rice and chicken… but we had a stash of cookies to tide us over.

We then did a walk around, or mostly around, the tiny island. We walked by our “tree” and have decided it’s so unique and beautiful it should be the symbol for Ahe. Tide was out so we walked on hard sand most of the way until we came to some rough coral and had to turn back. We’d have to wear shoes to do a complete lap. Back home we grabbed our snorkel gear and headed to the jetty, under the restaurant. There was a huge school of snappers, maybe a thousand in total, which just hung out in the shade of the restaurant. It was cool, yet creepy, to watch it swim as one, dividing up when James swam through. Not me, too much fish poo.


We caught a glimpse of our first Cuscus right outside our bungalow. We are told it’s a cross between a monkey and a koala; not sure if that’s correct but they are cuties. The island is tiny but it is a tiny jungle island full of animals. EEK! Monkeys, mice, and I’m not going to think it, but rats! This love hate fear relationship with nature can be confusing.

Before dinner we all had our first “showers”. It was luke warm water and not that bad, well it’s hard to get soap out of long hair with a scoop but it’s not like we didn’t have lots of spare time. We were having a pre-dinner chat on the porch when Paul, a fruit loop from Scotland, came to join. He was the only other guest on the island; well, according to him he was thinking of relocating here. We later found out Arne didn’t have the same feeling. Paul had given us a bit of information about the place before our snorkel and was now updating us on Depeche Mode’s complete history, including how old and where all the members now live. As I said, a fruit loop, who thankfully was leaving Saturday.

We finally went to dinner, chicken and rice, and had a million dollar view of the neighbouring islands and in the far distance, the mountainous mainland of Papua. The ocean was a bit rough due to a storm coming in and the breeze was amazing. Arne found us later on our porch and gave us a bit more information. We set up a nice easy day of diving for the next day and we all headed to bed. Blaine had been asleep but upright for hours, through the chat with Paul, through dinner, through the chat with Arne…so we figured it might be more comfortable if he lied down. He was still a bit jet lagged.

Despite my scaredy cat fears that anything and everything would come in the windows we left a few wide open to let in the ocean breeze. It cooled down enough that we didn’t mind not even having a fan (something you’d need electricity for, we only had it from 6 pm – 11 pm, sometimes longer). As a bedtime treat we had a bit more fudge. We tied it tight in plastic to keep the ants out and then added it to the bag of treats hanging from the beam – to keep critters away.

September 30

I woke to yelling…I knew it was early and my first response at that hour, about 6 am, was “is that really necessary?” James who was up and looking out the front window replied, yup, the new speed boat has sunk. Huh?!?

Admiring the new speed boat

My first impulse was to go back to sleep; did no boat mean no diving?, but curiosity got the better of me. I grabbed my camera and found James and Blaine on the beach with pretty much every other person who lived and worked here. Everyone was yelling and trying to get the boat flipped back over, it hadn’t quite sunk yet. At one point it started to float out to sea, but they pulled it back. They are a stubborn bunch and didn’t want to take any advice but eventually they got the thing back upright. Then, to no surprise, had no bailers so all started to yell for bailers and ran around grabbing foot basins and jugs. By this point I had a coffee in hand and was still taking pictures and as Blaine walked towards me I laughed and welcomed him to our adventures.

The not-so-new dive boat

With the boat saved everyone wandered back to their jobs and we got ready for a shore dive. They decided to give us a guide for the first just to give us an idea of what it was like, after that we could do them on our own. It was a relaxing dive, a good one for Blaine to get back in the swing of things, and we were surprised how good it was. We ended the dive under the jetty where we used up the last of our air playing with a crab and the big school of snappers.

We had lunch and Blaine had a nap while James and I read before our next boat dive. The new speed boat was still floating but the motors needed some cleaning; they were pretty sure they got them in time, so we took a traditional wooden boat to the dive site. It was an interesting, and first for all of us, dive boat. A little awkward to get in to but so many are anyways this didn’t seem an issue. We had another great dive. We had been told the big draw for the area was the whale sharks and the rest of the diving is so-so. It might not be fantastic but it was better than we expected.

We showered again, filled up on chicken and rice and were in bed pretty early. Again a day of sun and diving had taken its toll.

Spooky whip coral

October 1

What a great day in paradise! We did two decent boat dives with Blaine, had some chicken and rice, some cookies, a few naps and an afternoon exploratory dive. The first dive was good, the second an amazing whip garden floor covered spooky dive and the third half dead coral half decent coral garden. Fruit loop left; the new speed boat is still floating; tomorrow we get a new guest and go looking for whale sharks; I am going to bed with a belly full of the fudge (sadly it’s all gone now) and I lived through a mouse incident. I’m thinking life can’t get much better than this and I am one lucky girl!

October 2

Whale Sharks Take 1! James and the alarm both went off at exactly 5 am! UGH! It was still black out but they had left the generator on so we had lights. Almost everything was ready so we climbed into swim suits and headed to the beach. The boat wasn’t ready yet but we climbed aboard and Blaine and James sat on top of the shaky “house” and I sat below...thinking I’d have a nap. The boys fussed around with the engines and finally seemed to get them both working…for a few minutes. One didn’t want to stay running. The water was fairly choppy; we had a flat tire (one of the long outriggers broke) and only one engine. We weren’t off to a great start. We bounced in the waves for a bit listening to the guys chatter back and forth…then the boat turned back. We would not be seeing whale sharks today. “sigh”

Flat tire and some engine repairs. I can't remember which time these repairs were from; when we hit a big wave and it stalled, or hit a log and it stalled, or it fell of, or it caught fire.

We were back by 6:30 or so and headed to breakfast. We were all a little tired and disappointed so headed for naps. It was Sunday and there wouldn’t be any boat dives until after lunch (i.e. after church).

Before our dive James called me over to look at some beautiful (huge) birds. This island is so small but full of wildlife. This afternoon the guys also got all the engines (three) working and took them for a test drive in the “new” boat they had been given. It started out okay, drove a bit, turned, came back, did another loop…and then one blew, or stalled and fell off...we aren’t quite sure but are crossing our fingers they last until the end of tomorrow.

The dive was another original dive full of green swaying tall grass and the end was a bit of a muck dive. We saw some weird things and a few new things for Blaine I think.

Blaine’s had the week’s best idea; to use our tea/coffee thermoses for “showering”. It was heavenly and I was able to shave my legs without losing half my skin from goose bumps. I should also now give everyone an update on the “Bang Your Head” contest James and Blaine are having…I assume since long before I met James, but it’s easier to keep track when they are both together. Blaine is ahead with the most hits…..no one has drawn blood yet. (Blaine’s Note. I have to confess that I enjoy several significant advantages in the contest. Because of the size of James’ colossal cranium he often has trouble going through doorways or narrow halls; additionally, I have the advantage of several decades of scar tissue which usually results in a barely detectable squishy thump while the building reverberations and echoes from James blows are recorded several communities away.)

We had dinner with the new arrival, Tomas from Germany, and Arne who filled us in on the history of Ahe Resort. It has had a bumpy start, not unlike most businesses, but they’ve seemed to get through them and it looks like they are here to stay. Ahe Resort was started about 18 months ago when Arne decided the kids he (and others) had helped get a basic education would need jobs. What good is an education if there is nothing to do with it? They’ve had troubles with boats, motors, the local church, the locals and the usual corruption to name a few. It is still a long way off from a fully functioning resort & dive shop and I’m not sure how long it will take to iron out all the issues, or if they ever can. I was there to see the whale sharks but it also felt good to be supporting a struggling community.

Hoping to find whale sharks at the fishing platform

October 3

Whale Sharks Take 2! At 2 minutes and 2 seconds to 5 Blaine was calling us…my lovely reply was “But it’s not 5 am, it’s not 5 am..it’s not!”. I do hate mornings. But I got up, I figured if Blaine was up he also had the guys up and the boat packed and….well I was a bit worried he’d leave without my sloth like butt! Tomas ended up being the last on and we pulled away (all three engines running) around 5:35 am. Two mornings in a row – mom, you have to be proud. Everyone was all smiles; the water was calm-ish, the engines were running, we were in a comfy boat. We all breathed a big sigh and started to think we actually might get to see whale sharks. About an hour into our journey all the guys had stopped watching the bow and we hit a huge log and I think an engine stalled. No! We sat for a few minutes while the guys chatted and played with the engine then, thankfully we were off again…with watchers! After another hour of me crossing my fingers, toes, legs, eyes…we pulled up to the first fish platform. It was around 40 feet by 40 feet and was a big outrigger canoe and men live/work on them for 3 weeks or so at a time. Hard life. They stayed about three weeks because fishing for them isn’t very good during full moon (I think the moon being so bright it confuses the fish and they don’t swim into the fishermen’s lights) Hint: No fish = no whale sharks so try not to visit during a full moon. I counted nine fish platforms. After a brief conversation we headed to the next...and then a third. At this point Benny (a dive guide form Manado that spoke English) turned and told us to get geared up. They’re here! We slowly drove up alongside the fish platform and the fisherman dropped a bit of fish in the water and we saw them come to the surface. Holy Crap! They, yes THEY – there turned out to be SEVEN! – were swimming under the boat and up to the fish platform. I have never seen Blaine move so fast or James smile so huge, and in a flash both were in the water. Blaine grabbing for his tank and James frantically looking under him. To be honest the size and number of them freaked me out so I pretended to be taking pictures and was last in. Can you hyperventilate for over an hour? I think I did. But I stayed and ohhhh was it worth it. We had come all this way because it was a unique whale shark experience. Some places you only get to snorkel with them, some would drop you ahead of them and they would swim past, and all with a crowd of other tourists. These guys were huge as a bus and like playful puppies all wanting to get their fish treats and they paid no attention to us at all. Although if you got in their way they’ve just nudge you out of the way. I can’t apologize enough to Blaine; one was coming close and I was a bit nervous his back fin (which is half the height of me, maybe more) would hit me so I ducked behind Blaine, who was watching another one and got slapped upside the head with the huge tail. OOOppssss, sorry Blaine. James was enjoying himself in the “pack” and was nudged, rubbed, pushed out of the way and once face butted when one hit his camera. Despite my being freaked out most of the time I got a few good videos, but nothing can capture the size and grace of these amazing animals. Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the world, a shark, not a whale. It was thought that they only eat plankton, scooping it up in their large mouths as they swim, but these guys eat tiny fish as well; a surprise to other whale shark researchers. They are often said to be as big as a bus and I think that might be a good description. It surely felt like I was swimming with a few busses today. Another amazing thing about this area is there are adults as well as juvenile whale sharks, the seven were all mixed in size. Although the small still frighteningly huge!


They also liked to sneak up on you. Said with a laugh. They would circle around and down and come up to the surface mouths open to catch the fish. Problem was, for me anyways, as you watched one, another would be coming from below, or behind you, and all of a sudden it would be next to you, or under you or, in Blaine’s case, whacking you with its tail. A few times I’d see James, camera pointing at me and knowing one was coming, I’d turn around and sure enough one would be headed in my direction….of course I’d then calmly turn on my camera and take amazing video and not squeal like a pig and “run” away like James and Blaine might try to claim. We spent just over an hour (71 minutes according to our dive computer) with the gentle giants then climbed back on to the boat giggling and smiling like 3 year olds with a new toy. We all started laughing and sharing stories… then one swam by, hit me, pushed me, burped…eventually the boat started off for home. (Blaine’s Note: After 35 years of diving all over the world from the Great Barrier Reef to Hawaii, from the Cayman’s to the Red Sea, from the Bahamas to the Philippines, etc., etc. – this was the best dive ever!! Sadly, words such as ‘awesome’, ‘spectacular’, and ‘fantastic’ get overused and lose their impact. But when one of these behemoths glides up from the gloom and its enormous maw begins to vacuum in the ocean and you can feel the current surging into the beast, drawing you towards it – those words regain some of their impact! The interaction between diver and giant fish, at least in my case, consisted largely of me gaping open-mouthed, slack jawed at the creatures circling only inches from me, while they seemed entirely oblivious to my presence. While I was staring intently at one or two, others would slip silently past from behind and gently nudge me with their head, brush me with a hip or flick a tail ( fish have hips!!?) – all of Newton’s Laws being instantly and impressively demonstrated. Contrary to what I thought I knew about ‘filter feeders’, it became very clear that these animals preferred to feed on live fish. Slapping and splashing the surface would attract them seeking handfuls of live fish obligingly provided by folks living on the fishing platform or by the dive guide who jumped into the water with them – sans equipment. It was also clear that they rejected the great clumps of already dead catch that were available around and in the fishing nets. One of the more interesting interactions I had with one of the juveniles was when it swam directly towards me, opened its five foot wide mouth and burped a couple of tons of water and several hundred dead fish onto me. I assumed he was oblivious to my presence – but on the other hand, maybe it was just a teenager giving me a fishy flipped finger as I intruded on his/her domain!! These are truly majestic creatures; they move so slowly, so silently, so gracefully in a habitat that is entirely theirs – it was wonderful to share it with them, if only for a few minutes)

Still Wow

A few short videos that definitely don't do the experience justice
(Click on picture for link to videos, appx. 5, 2 and 6 MB)

Still smiling and daydreaming we were somewhat shocked to hear the boat driver start yelling and turn to see FIRE! The engine was on FIRE! I leapt from the front seat yelling “James, do we jump, James do we jump” as everyone else was scrambling around trying to figure out what was wrong. I headed to the roof where I found a guy sleeping. I swatted him, pointing and telling him we are on fire. He looked back over his shoulder and laid his head back down. Guess I wasn’t saving him. I ended up perched on the front of the boat, ready to jump or pull an action move if the boat should blow. It meant I couldn’t see what was happening but was told that one guy jumped into the water to splash water on the engine and another, very courageous guy, pulled all the hoses out of the gas tanks. They finally got the fire out, a bit too slow for me – they didn’t have a fire extinguisher, or life jackets for that matter – and we all climbed back into the boat (me). And we were off again.

One of the ocean's oddest creatures

Half way home we drove through a pod of dolphins. “sigh” I love dolphins. They are so beautiful. Out of curiosity I asked James the time…we’d hit a log, swam with Whale Sharks, caught on fire and saw dolphins all before noon. Did we order enough adventure for Blaine?

As we pulled around the island I breathed a sigh of relief. We made it to the whale sharks and back, safely….and I saw the cook walking lunch to the restaurant. I was starved! After lunch we napped, I used my hot water to shower and crawled into bed and fell asleep. What a day!

Blaine skipped the evening dive so it was just James and I and Tomas. It was a lovely slow wall dive and I had to laugh at one point when both James and Tomas were taking pictures. I love to dive slowly and with photographers you can almost be guaranteed a slow dive.

Over dinner we went through our pictures from the whale sharks and I got goose bumps, they really are incredible and in the pictures you can see the immense size of them. I still can’t believe I got to dive with seven whale sharks. Divers – if you haven’t booked a flight and packed your gear, go do it! This might be my single most amazing animal encounter ever, one that is worth the time, energy and inconveniences of staying on an island in the middle of nowhere Indonesia. I can go home now… please?

It was an early night on Ahe Island. I was so tired I had half an apple for dinner (well James and I did celebrate earlier with a bag of Reese pieces while Blaine napped) and was in bed by 8 or 9 pm.

The mouse total: I’ve seen two, been standing on chairs three times, and been carried piggy back home by James once. The Bang Your Head total: Blaine is still in the lead for hits but James had a bleeder today. (Blaine’s Note: scar tissue, Grasshopper; scar tissue)

October 4

I woke up today feeling wonderfully content. James and I had been a bit nervous about Blaine flying all this way to see whale sharks, he tells us he came to see James but he could have flown much cheaper and to closer places if that’s all it was, and whale sharks were number one on James’ bucket list. Yesterday was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything at all to be different. We had an option to do them again (about $200 CAD each for additional visits to the whale sharks) but to be honest the first was so perfect I didn’t want to do it again. Nothing could beat that.

I got up around 7 am to find James and Blaine already up, they hadn’t been able to sleep past 5 or 6 am since we got here, and we all went for breakfast. We had three boat dives today. Blaine and Tomas did the first two and for the third it was just James and I (and Michael as the guide). They were nice dives, vibrant walls and corals full of small fish. A few years ago this area had been fished almost dry but with the new rules on fishing they were slowly coming back. There were patches of dead coral but it too was coming back and where it was, it was alive and thriving. Coming back from our last dive we were treated to a pod of dolphins that was off in the distance. This place is truly wonderful.

Interesting coral

Between dives we napped, snacked and I frolicked in the sea. That’s what it felt like on our paradise island. More than once I’ve smiled and thought it reminded me of Gilligan’s Island (James’ Note: Consensus is that Susan is Gilligan, Blaine the skipper, and I am clearly the movie star). When it’s quiet it really does feel like we could be deserted here. It’s also a bit strange to be so cut off from the rest of the world. A few of the guys have cells that get reception if they stand on a certain corner of the beach, but other than that there is no internet, no radio, no tv, no newspapers…it can feel a bit unsettling.

I love the clownfish, except they have aggressive small man syndrome. In this video this little guy was trying to intimidate my camera. As a plant lover, the other video is one of the many cool things you see growing underwater that you can never be sure whether it is plant or animal.
(Click on picture for link to videos, appx. 5 and 11MB)

Before dinner we grabbed a bag of Tim Tams and went to watch the sun set on the far side of the island, a 5 minute walk if you don’t stop to look at giant lizards and massive birds (that should not be flying but were) and schools of fish. I was again amazed at the wildlife on our little island. The sunset was fabulous (I’m running out of words for beautiful, but the place just is so beautiful) and the sky even more stunning. It didn’t look real, more like something from the movie the Truman show. I had a pinch myself to make sure it was a real moment.

We had a quick dinner and were in bed early. Getting up at 7 am (me) and being in the sun, diving and swimming all day really tires you out.

Some of the many dolphins I missed

October 5

My ears have been a bit tender with all the diving and I thought it would be best to take it easy so skipped the first dive. Mostly though, I just like to linger in the morning over the computer with a coffee. James came to double check one more time I didn’t want to come; I don’t usually skip dives but when I do I always regret it. I looked up from the computer to say no and saw something in the water. I thought it was a head, someone swimming to the island, but it was a dolphin! A pod was swimming past. We watched as they slowly swam away. Honestly – my best blog view ever!

After the guys played with the engines they were off. James, Blaine and Tomas (decked out in full wet suit, under shirt wet suit, hood, gloves and booties, he must get cold easy because the water temperature hasn’t been below 30 degrees since we arrived) went off to do a dive while I sat on the deck of the restaurant (feet up so the mouse wouldn’t get me) sipping a coffee and watching the fish jump. “sigh”

James & Blaine found me frolicking in the sea when they got back. Their dive was okay but the 30 or 40 dolphins that swam by was pretty amazing. Crap! And they of course got a picture to prove it. That’s twice today and the fourth time since we got here, the bay seems very healthy.

We had an hour until the next (my first) dive so we lazed around, swam, ate cookies… we have done so little walking, there is no current so we don’t have to fin and when I say swim I mean float so my legs have started to go numb and I’m thinking they might fall off. I did a few stretches in the water and attempted to swim around the island…but didn’t get far. I hope James doesn’t have any hikes planned in the near future.

Our second dive was nice and relaxing, the site, as with most, were just out in the middle of nowhere but beautiful coral walls and gardens. Our third dive, once we got the engines going – poor guys – was way too long and fast but ended at the jetty of the village. It had some really cool things and I wished Benny had just dropped us there for the entire dive. On the short drive back we made a detour to see more dolphins!

Village life

We only did two dives so we could go take a peek at the small village across the bay. It’s where a few of the staff from Ahe lived. Benny acted as tour guide and showed us the school, the new church being built and we stopped at the “7-11” where James and I got cold chocolate milk. Yum! It was cleaner than most villages we’d seen in Indonesia and had banana trees, nice green grass lawns and beautiful flowering trees. There are three villages in the area, this being the second biggest and closest to Ahe Island. We tried to explain they should take guests over mid-week to get their sugar fix at the store and sell them t-shirts and shell everything, to boost their economy. I don’t know if they grasped the idea. It’s a very simple way of life here. As long as they have food, clothing and shelter today they are happy. Not much thought goes into planning for tomorrow or if that food, clothing and shelter should disappear what they would do. The school, which some kids go to – I guess depending on how important the parents think education is – is for elementary, about grade 1 – 6. If they want higher education they have to move to Nabire. To do that they need sponsors to pay for it. While there Benny explained that it is pretty much impossible to teach the generation now the value of the sea and keeping it clean and healthy, how important education is and the Ahe Resort project and any other job/money projects. But, it is possible to teach the young kids and hopefully generations to come. We spent about an hour walking around the tiny village then climbed aboard our wooden boat. I now have to add another group to my foundations list; Save the Sea in Ahe.

We were back a few hours before dinner and with no tv, radio, shopping mall…we sat on the porch and chatted. I’ve loved having Blaine around to entertain us with stories of growing up in the Prairies (in tiny towns that are sadly no longer there), sky diving into streams dressed as a clown (pockets full of chocolate bars) and tales about past and present relatives. It was a nice dose of home.

I decided to hide in the mosquito net and read in bed (not from mosquitoes, but from the mouse that likes to visit our porch at dusk every night) and looked up once to see James walking around with his flashlight. I climbed out of my safe nest to see what was up. Joking, I asked if he was chasing our mice. He lied and said he’d seen a lizard but as I walked out of the room a mouse was running from him at me! I squealed (as usual) and ran to our bed and jumped on top. James still kept saying “I saw a lizard”. Yeah right, and a mouse! I climbed back under the protection of my mosquito net and stayed there until dinner.

Diving with Blaine

October 7

I got to sleep in on my last day in paradise and woke up to the sound of waves on the beach. I was ready to go back to civilization (or as much as mainland Papua could offer me) but have really enjoyed being on a “deserted” island. I got up the nerve and asked James about the mouse last night. He said there were actually 3 running around. I laughed and said I am glad I only saw a mouse a handful of times this past week and never three at a time. He then went on to explain that I’d almost stepped on a mouse one night (in my bare feet) coming back from the restaurant and once when I was in the shower one ran into our room. They had been around, everywhere, all week and I’d managed to miss most of the sneaky little things.

We had a late breakfast and sat chatting again. We weren’t leaving until 3 pm so had lots of time to pack. I had grand plans of one last snorkel, a swim, some sun…but ended up blogging on the porch until lunch. After chicken and rice I finally did take one last swim. The water averaged 30 degrees for all our dives and the first few feet around the island was a bit warmer. All that was missing was some jets. The beach was soft, white sand; litter and cigarette butt free. As the Ahe Island and the whale sharks gain popularity I hope the island can stay this way, it was a refreshing change from other beaches in Indonesia.

Finally we crawled into the wooden traditional boat for one last trip. I was ready to leave “deserted” but sad our week with the whale sharks and Blaine was almost over.

The ride was quick and the water calm. I had my eyes peeled for dolphins they didn’t show for a farewell. Arne met us at the dock then again at the hotel. We got checked in a took a quick walk around town before our ride picked us up for dinner. The Nabire hotel, dinner and rides were all still included. After dinner we went to bed early, we had another 5 am wakeup call in the morning.

The start of Blaine's long, long, long journey home, and breakfast with fellow passengers.

October 8

A few minutes before our alarm went off I heard a knock at the door and Blaine’s perky voice. Pitter Patter! UGH! Is he still here? He was, waiting outside packed and ready to go. The “best” hotel in Nabire was a bit scuzzy…to be nice, and he was more than ready to go.

We walked the 400 feet to the airport and tried to check in. I’m still not sure what the problem (s) was but it took us forever. We finally made it to the waiting room and two guys sitting in front of us turned to talk to us. They were Indonesians and here on business. Mr. Freddy was a very successful business man in Java, Sulawesi and Papau and Asan worked for him. We ended up talking until we boarded. What we thought was a direct flight to Sorong ended up having a stop then a 1.5 hour layover in Manokwari (capital of East Papau). Mr. Freddy invited us to breakfast. His brother picked him up and we all squeezed into his van. They took us to a small restaurant that did a traditional Indonesian soup. It was delicious and came with little banana wrapped coconut rice balls. Then they took us on a quick drive around the city. It was very interesting to talk to them. Mr. Freddy answered all our questions on Indonesia and Asan had lived and worked in the USA for 10 years and I found it interesting to compare the two. They were friendly and hospitable and I was again reminded of one of the many things I love about traveling – to meet amazing people. We got back to the airport just in time to board our flight to Sorong. With all the added stops Blaine would (hopefully) have just enough time to collect the ticket for his next flight (Travel Warning: In remote areas they still need/want tickets and you often have to pick them up at airports where they may or may not have your reservation) and board it. Mr. Freddy and Asan waited around to make sure it all went well; they were on the next flight with Blaine. He still had 2 more stops before getting to Jakarta where he had an overnight, then a flight to Hong Kong then a flight to Vancouver then to Toronto with stops...about 10 flights/stops in total from Nabire home, YUK! He got the ticket, checked in and we all hugged and said good bye...until Christmas we hope! Or at least until he had to pay his airport tax…then he left for good. It was such a great week full of so much fun and adventure and it was great to have someone around to share it with…and a witness. I’m not sure anyone would believe everything that happened without a witness.

Side note: Diving with whale sharks are on almost every divers to do list and after extensive research we think Ahe Resort offers a unique experience. The whale sharks are year round, although not always during full moon, and don't just do a swim by but hang out with you. They allow a mazimum 60 minute dive per day and would welcome snorklers. We saw seven, a mix of adults and juveniles, the biggest being 9 meters but they have reported seeing an adult up to 14 meters in the area. I think a few liveaboards do the area but the Ahe Resort is, at the moment, the best place to based. The dive shop has a few certified local divers and at odd times has more experienced divers from outside the area. The resort is clean, has basic meals, modern tolites but no showers; washing is done with a bucket. The island is beautiful but with no internet, no tv, no radio, no stores; in short you are cut off. For us, the whale sharks were the only reason we came and giving up creature comforts were worth it. I highly reccommend this to everyone, but if you aren't ready to rough it i suggest waiting a few years. for more information on please email me at www.alotapeaches@hotmail.com.

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