23 Feb - 26 Feb 2015 Apo Island

The Sea Turtles of Apo Island… 
DM Konni: Frolicking with sea turtles in the shallow, tepid waters of remote Apo Island, a perfect foraging ground for all five endangered species (green sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle, olive ridley sea turtle, leatherback sea turtleloggerhead sea turtle), and scuba diving into a fantastic underwater world of colourful soft corals on the island's vibrant fringing reefs.



"It's turtles all the way down." 















DM Konni: Playing with a bale of friendly green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) all the live-long day next to the boat landing at Apo Village and watching how they feed absolutely undisturbed on their salty favourite dish: fresh sea grass and juicy algae - once a raw-food eater, always a raw-food eater.













“People have been on earth in our present form for only about 100,000 years, and in so many ways we’re still ironing out our kinks. These turtles we’ve been traveling with, they outrank us in longevity, having earned three more zeros than we. They’ve got one hundred million years of success on their resume, and they’ve learned something about how to survive in the world. And this, I think, is part of it: they have settled upon peaceful career paths, with a stable rhythm. If humans could survive another one hundred million years, I expect we would no longer find ourselves riding bulls. It’s not so much that I think animals have rights; it’s more that I believe humans have hearts and minds - though I’ve yet to see consistent, convincing proof of either. Turtles may seem to lack sense, but they don’t do senseless things. They’re not terribly energetic, yet they do not waste energy… Turtles cannot consider what might happen yet nothing turtles do threatens anyone’s future. Turtles don’t think about the next generation, but they risk and provide all they can to ensure that there will be one. Meanwhile, we profess to love our own offspring above all else, yet above all else it is they from whom we daily steal. We cannot learn to be more like turtles, but from turtles we could learn to be more human. That is the wisdom carried within one hundred million years of survival. What turtles could learn from us, I can’t quite imagine.”



DM Konni: Supporting the island's frail economy and scuba diving with locally run Mario’s Scuba Diving +639063617254 in their protected and well preserved marine environment, filled to bursting point with marvellous soft corals and colourful reef fish, and noticing at the same time that the u/w visibility in the Visayas is at its best during the months of November and December.















Konni: Saving the island's precious and scarce drinking water as much as possible since the village's storage tanks are already empty and the only sources of fresh water in the dry season are the island's few deep wells, and remembering how we saved drinking water on our sailing ship "SY Kamu II" when we sailed down the Red Sea in 2007 CE (e.g. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]): (i) showering with seawater, (ii) cooking potatoes, rice and pasta with half seawater from a bucket and half fresh water from our ship's 1,000-litre tank and, of course, (iii) drinking as much beer as sustainable.

“Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” 

 

Konni: Taking a rugged bangka (PHP 300.- or US$ 7.- per tourist) from Apo Island to Malatapay in Negros Oriental, switching thereafter to a jeepney (PHP 20.- per person) to Dumaguete and continuing from the port to the Siquijor pier by embarking on Montenegro Lines (PHP 93.- or US$ 2.10 per senior citizen plus PHP 12.- terminal fee).




Vor ein paar Tagen fuhr ich auf eine kleine Insel, die ich monatelang jeden Abend beim Sonnenuntergang am fernen Horizont gesehen hatte. Ich war neugierig geworden, wie die Menschen wohl dort leben.
Von meiner Insel Siquijor fuhr ich mit einer Faehre auf die grosse Insel Negros und von dort mit einem Fischerboot auf die kleine Insel Apo. Dort leben weniger als eintausend Menschen. Im Inneren der Insel gibt es sanfte Huegel mit einem weissen Leuchtturm, aber keine einzige Quelle und keinen Bach mit frischem klaren Wasser. Wenn es regnet, dann fangen die Menschen das Regenwasser mit den Dachrinnen und sammeln es in grossen Wassertanks, um es abgekocht als Trinkwasser zu benutzen und um damit ihren taeglichen Reis zu kochen. Als ich dort war, hatte es sehr lange nicht geregnet und die Wassertanks waren leer. Zum Glueck hatten bereits die Vorfahren der heutigen Inselbewohner tiefe Brunnen gegraben, aus denen wir nun unsere Wasserkanister fuellen konnten. Den ganzen Tag ueber waren Maenner, Frauen und auch Kinder unterwegs, um aus diesen Brunnen das kostbare Nass zu schoepfen. Einige junge Maenner ueben den Beruf eines Wassertransporteurs aus. Sie besitzen einen selbstgebauten Schubkarren mit Holzraedern, auf den ca. zehn grosse Plastikkanister passen. Am Tiefbrunnen schoepfen sie solange Wasser, bis alle Kanister voll sind und danach fahren sie zu den Familien, die das Wasser bestellt haben. Diese Karren sind uebrigens die einzigsten “Fahrzeuge” auf der Insel Apo; es gibt keine Fahrraeder, keine Mopeds und schon gar keine Autos. - Woher stammt das Wasser bei Euch im Farmhaus, wenn ihr in der Kueche den Wasserhahn aufdreht? 
From the Philippines, with Love!



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05 Jan - 22 Feb 2015 Benaulim

Benaulim = Beach, Beer, Bed... 
Matt: Recuperating from the travails of life on the cold Northern Indian road ([1], [2], [3]) and having a whale of a time as one of the most junior "club members" amongst all the senior-citizen beach bums who hang out on the sunny, sandy beaches of South Goa, a liberal holiday destination since colonial times.



  
“My day is done,
and I am like a boat drawn on the beach,
listening to the music of the tide in the evening.”
(Rabindranath Tagore)















Matt: Settling into the relaxing and somewhat boring routine of a perfect beach holiday: (i) spending the day reading and dozing on a sun bed by the palm-fringed beach and watching mesmeric sunsets over the Arabian Sea from the safety of a deck chair at one of the seasonal beach shacks (open only during the benign northeast monsoon, between October and May; my fav for lunch: Roger's Beach Shack, my fav for sun downer: Patrose Beach Shack), (ii) socialising at the Nepali-run German Bakery with ageing ex-hippies from the West (mostly skinny tea drinkers, ethno/tribal leather necklaces, pushbikes), noveau-riches from Russia (mostly pot-bellied vodka/cola drinkers, gold chains on their necks, Royal Enfields) and a few ordinary mortals and friends (e.g. Malvinder, the Punjabi version of a Viennese coffee house character; Ueli, the Swiss expert on chhurpi aka Nepalise yak cheese; Robert, the English Welshman from MI7), (iii) dining regularly at Srusthi's Karnatakan Canteen, Sharmina's Tamil Restaurant and Fridola's Tandoori Restaurant), (iv) enjoying Goa's Christian beer prices (650-ml bottles of cold Kingfisher Premium Lager with 4.8 % alc./vol. for INR 65.- or US$ 1.05 per bottle, 500-ml cans of cold Kingfisher Draught with 5.0 % alc./vol. for INR 50.- or US$ 0.80 per can; available from any of Benaulim's well-stocked wine shops which are busy with "Spreading the Spirit of Goa"), and (v) coming to grips with the incredible number of different flavours of Goa's home-distilled, very potent cashew feni (one-litre plastic bottles for the fixed price of INR 200.- or US$ 3.20 per bottle with 42 - 45 % alc./vol. from any of the village's not-so-hidden shebeens, best quality from Pinto's - sa├║de!).















Matt: Learning from my friendly Goan hosts Sandra & John (Flavia's Nest +918322771007, comfortable and clean fully furnished one-bedroom apartment, price on request) some interesting trivia about Goa: (i) that most Goans are Catholics, have dual citizenship and own a Portuguese passport which makes it easy for them to find employment in the doomed European Union, (ii) that Goa, even though the smallest state in India has the highest bank saving deposit and is the only Indian state with a uniform and actively enforced Civil Code implemented by the Portuguese, and (iii) that Goa's experienced dentists charge only INR 5,000.- or US$ 80.- per ceramic crown and INR 10,000.- or US$ 160.- per Zirconia crown.















Matt: Bringing myself to explore Benaulim's hinterland, recceing the streets of nearby Margao, a friendly one-horse town littered with Portuguese-era mansions, churches and seminaries, and diving into the hectic and labyrinthine covered market and its relaxed shebeens.















Matt: Dragging myself away from the lazy life on the beach, taking the Bikaner Express train no. 16,312 in India's filthy three-tier sleeper class (with metal-grilled windows) from South Goa's Margao aka Madgaon Railway Station to Jodhpur in Rajasthan (1,662 km, 28 3/4 hours, INR 390.- or US$ 6.30 per senior citizen) and meeting up at Jodhpur's railway station with the courtesy driver from my next guesthouse, the atmospheric Cosy Guesthouse +912912612066, buried deep in the maze of lanes of the dilapidated old city and with killer views of Jodhpur's mighty Mehrangarh Fort and the 15th-century Chamunda Devi Temple where more than 200 people were killed during a human stampede on 30 September 2008 CE.





For Raoni, Tien and Ronja:
Als es mir Anfang Januar in Nord-Indien zu kalt wurde, habe ich mir 2,000 km weiter suedlich einen sonnigen Strand in Goa herausgesucht, um mich vom Umherreisen etwas auszuruhen und zu faulenzen.
Der schoene Sandstrand hier in Benaulim aehnelt sehr Euren sauberen Straenden auf den Toronto Islands am Lake Ontario. Kinder spielen im Sand, Erwachsene liegen im Schatten und lesen spannende Romane von Amazon, Familien spielen zusammen im flachen Wasser; alles ist hier in Goa so aehnlich wie bei Euch auf Ward's Island. Aber halt! Da gibt es doch einen interessanten Unterschied zwischen Benaulim und Toronto, zwischen dem Indischen Ozean und dem Lake Ontario; einen Unterschied, den man nicht sehen, nicht hoeren und nicht fuehlen kann. Diesen Unterschied habe ich aber ganz deutlich geschmeckt, als ich einmal beim Schwimmen aus Versehen etwas Meereswasser (sea water, saltwater) geschluckt habe: Das Wasser hier im Arabischen Meer ist sehr salzig! Ganz anders als das Wasser im Lake Ontario (lake water, freshwater), der ja ein grosser Suesswassersee ist.
Wenn Ihr jetzt einen Essloeffel Salz in ein Glas Leitungswasser schuettet, es umruehrt und dann kostet, wisst Ihr ungefaehr wie das Wasser im Arabischen Meer schmeckt. Pfui Deibel! Und den Durst kann man mit Salzwasser auch nicht gut loeschen. Deshalb hatten wir auf unserem Segelschiff, neben den Biervorraeten, auch immer sehr viel sauberes Trinkwasser im grossen Suesswassertank, denn salziges Meereswasser kann man nun wirklich nicht trinken. - Weshalb wohl koennen Schiffbruechige auf dem Lake Ontario niemals verdursten?
From India, with Love!


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14 Feb 2015 Panjim

Carnival Float Parade in Panjim 
Matt: Visiting Goa's state capital during the annual carnival, meeting up with big King Momo ("Eat! Drink! Make Merry!") and his voluptuous queens on Valentine's Day and watching a somewhat imposed and amateurish but colourful enough float parade of very Indian acrobats, clowns, dancers, brass bands and feni-befuddled revellers on Panjim's riverfront.



“Everything being a constant carnival, there is no carnival left.”
(Victor Hugo)












“We understand how dangerous a mask can be.
We all become what we pretend to be.”
(Patrick Rothfuss)












 "Come with me ... to the carnival.
You will see, you will see,
What you want to see, exactly what you want to be,
At the carnival, at the carnival, at the carnival."

(Eric Clapton)


Matt: Riding on a motley ragbag of cheap local buses from Benaulim Beach to Margao (c. 5 km, ¼ hour, INR 10.- per person) and from Margao on to Panjim aka Panaji (30 km, 1 hour, INR 25.- person) in order to join the wild and inebriated Goan Christians for their annual riotous carnival celebrations, a tradition which dates back almost 500 years to the good old days when Goa was ruled lock, stock and barrel by the Portuguese.















Im Grunde ist es nirgendwo in Indien so richtig noetig, einen speziellen Karneval zu feiern, ausser vielleicht in Goa! Da hatte ich einmal wieder Glueck gehabt...
Der beruehmte und recht lebhafte Karneval in Goa hat viel mit Goa's christlicher Kultur und Geschichte zu tun. Goa gehoerte bis 1961 zum katholischen Portugal, viele Goaner haben deshalb auch einen portugisischen, also europaeischen Zweit-Reisepass und pflegen unsere abendlaendischen Traditionen. Goa ist wahrscheinlich auch eine der unindischsten Gegenden von ganz Indien: Es ist atemberaubend sauber, die Maenner trinken gern ihren selbstgebrannten Schnaps und die Frauen gehen sonntags fein angezogen zur Messe in die Kirche.
Einmal im Jahr aber lassen auch die zuverlaessigen Goaner die Sau raus, naemlich zum Karneval. Da wird dann drei Tage lang gefeiert, getanzt, getrunken, gegessen, geliebt … und sich verkleidet: Aus Engeln werden Teufel (und umgekehrt), aus Maennern werden Frauen (und umgekehrt), aus Heiligen werden Suender (und umgekehrt). Alle verkleiden sich zum Spass, tragen eine Maske und schluepfen in eine andere Rolle - fuer drei tolle Tage und Naechte.
Da es im Februar in Ontario doch recht kalt ist, wird der jaehrliche Karneval in Toronto, die Caribana, auch besser am ersten Wochenende im August gefeiert, wenn es in Kanada fast so warm ist wie in Goa im Februar. - In welche Rollen schluepft Ihr demnaechst; welche Masken und Kostueme bereiten Euch den meisten Spass?
From India, with Love!


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