Life on a Live-aboard in Komodo National Park, Indonesia

I would SO be voted off this island. Not that I’m either surprised or upset – mostly just wish things could be different. But it’s the risk you take traveling alone – no friend to cover your back!

But I’d be here again in a shot anyway – so I guess it’s not that bad an island.

Ok – The Mangguana is an Indonesian style live-aboard dive boat. That means there’s no dive platform – you dive off dingys that take you to the dive site, and then in theory the boat circles around for an hour waiting for someone to surface. Must be boring – and hot – and rather dull – but I guess the kids that do this make a living – and that makes it worth doing. The Mangguana itself has 4 ‘guest’ cabins – each of which has 2 bunk beds, a bathroom (sort of), a sink, and an all important Air Conditioner. You definitely need AC in this climate – that’s even with the breeze.

The bathroom has to be experienced to be believed – It consists of a shower and a toilet – no seperation. And only a shower curtain to separate the bathroom from the bedroom part. So you can sit on the toilet to shower – or just stand and shower. If you do either – use the towel to dry the seat – or you are going to be wet bummed for the day! On the good news front – the shower works fine, and they supply shampoo. So getting rid of the salt water – a natural result of doing an hour long scuba dive – isn’t a challenge.

There are 2 main areas of the boat that are for guest use – in the front is the ‘dive preperation’ area – benches, boxes for gear, places to hang wetsuits. On the upper deck behind the steering house is a huge covered area that serves 5 or 6 times a day as a feeding ground. There’s a giant wooden table – 8 chairs, a fridge for holding drinks (free except the beer – $2,50 each on an honor system), a serving area for misc. food – coffee, tea, sugar, plates, silverware, 2 boxes of cereal (yum), a toaster – and the all important fish books. What’s a dive boat without fish books. They could seriously use a better library though – a reef creatures book would have been so great.

There’s no segregated photo table – so photographers wouldn’t be in love with this boat – and the toilet would definitely disaude my husband from being here – but I’m a happy camper.

There are 6 divers on board – and 8 staff. 2 dive masters one of which I think doubles as captain, the chef, the waiters, the prep cook, the guys who drive the 2 tenders, and then miscellaneous people who appear and disappear without much guest contact. I’m guessing they fill the tanks, clean the dishes, keep the boat ship-shape. I’m not even sure where all of these folks are living – although the below deck portion of the boat must be huge – it’s completely off limits to the likes of us. There’s also the portion directly under the open area living space – maybe that has crew quarters, although I’m guessing it might be the kitchen from the delicious smells.

Ok – so on to why I’d be voted off.

6 guests – to protect the innocent – I’m giving them fake names.

There’s SC – Stalwart Canadian. He’s a Montrealer, formerly helping businesses set up ERP systems – who gave up his job and decided to scuba dive until he ran out of money. This boat is just one stop on his extended trip. He’s actually also my room mate – and a better room mate you couldn’t get. He’s so quiet – yes, even asleep – I often don’t even know he’s in the room. And he’s neat – his clothes are carefully put away – and his bed is MADE. And he’s a good diver. Practically Perfect in every way.

There’s the German – he’s an extremely experienced diver – over 800 dives – and he probably the nicest person among the guests. I don’t know much about him, other than he comes from a small village near Stuttgart – and like me is on a limited time holiday. Although his is not only including this dive boat – it’s including 4 days at this incredible diving resort in the park. I later found out that he’s 52 (surprising that), has a girlfriend who doesn’t care to dive (how sad), and works in a company that makes Headlights for BMW among others.

There are the Sisters – 2 gals from Switzerland – one of whom is a dive instructor. They find me annoying – to say the least – but hey – they are young, beautiful – and there are no eligible guys on board. Must be hard on them. They spent the last week at the above mentioned fancy resort – and now they are here. Great figures, awesome bikini’s, perfect tans – They have been there – seen that – and as far as I can tell find the dives ok – but not great. It’s hard to tell for sure, they tend to sleep or read when they are not eating or diving. But then – so do I.

The last member of our group is the Vegetarian. She’s from Amsterdam – owns a flat there – but seems to not call Amsterdam home. Her mom is Indonesian – and she grew up here in the Island – I’m not sure what she does to afford diving – but she’s tall, thin, wears a different bikini every 3 or 4 hours – and she’s the reason I’m bunking in with the Canadian.

I arrived first at the dive shop in Laboun Bajo – but they had problems fitting me into a wet suit. They had to order one from a different shop – that one too didn’t fit – so a third was ordered. Bottom line – I ended up going to the boat last. By the time I boarded the boat – each guy had taken a cabin, the sisters had a cabin, and the Vegetarian had a cabin. The crew suggested that we share – being both girls and all – but she made a fuss. “I was promised my own cabin – I need my personal space.” Well, don’t we all dear.

But – color me flexible – I don’t mind sharing with a guy – and the SC said he was ok with it too. So we are room mates. And as I said before – he’s the best room mate ever. I literally never see him in the room – I go to bed before he finishes drinking beer at night – and he’s been gone before I’ve gotten up every morning. How he can brush his teeth in silence is a mystery. I even asked him this AM if he slept in our room! (Yes – he did).

Diving is always done in a buddy team. So – the Sisters are one team, surprisingly SC and the Vegtarian (who is actually not nearly as bad as she first appeared) is a 2nd team, the German is paired with one dive master, and I’m paired with the other. When we get in the tenders – everyone gets into one tender – except me and Denny – my dive master/buddy. This is not a bad deal – doing every dive one on one with someone who loves pointing out the fishes, the nudibranches, the reef animals – and can find pgymy sea horses – is never going to be a mistake. But it does mean a lack of comradery with the rest of the guests – hence my certainity that I’d be voted off!

Ok – enough about the boat and my fellow divers – It’s time for out 8th dive of the trip – and it’s only day 2.

Got to go suit up!

Signing off – The Soup Lady

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