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Lutin181’s Travel Diary

Friday, 28 Mar 2008

Location: The Andaman Islands, India

MapIt was at a bus stop in Delhi at some godforsaken hour after travelling through the night that we said our goodbyes. Clare was headed for the coolness of Nepal and I, some thousand miles south to the tropical heat of the Andamans. We had laughed our way through six weeks of adventure and it was a sad but beautiful farewell. O how I miss that lovely lass!

All I knew at this time about the Andamans was that they had been turned into a penal colony by the British who imprisoned Indian dissenters and other enemies of the Crown on this remote string of islands.

In the boat I screamed with delight at the flying fish who glided like birds at high speed - perhaps fifty metres - before turning into fish in the waves. I screamed out loud to the sea with a childlike insistence "I wanna see dolphins!" and then they were there in that instant, a whole smiling family of these miraculous beings, splashing along with us and I was more than glad.

My heart was in my mouth when I first stepped off the boat and arrived on Neil Island. White sand, beautiful shells everywhere the eye moved and trees, trees, trees! Coconut, Mango, Papaya, Banana, all laden with fruit, rich, verdant, green, everything green and then Japanese-looking trees every now and then, elegant, gracefully blooming with red, fairy-tale flowers against blue, blue skies and turquoise sea. I had come to a sleepy, innocent little island with one or maybe two roads, dirt roads, that part jungle and farmland dotted with old fashioned haystacks and ploughs drawn by buffalo and women in coloured saris tending crops or picking fruit. Such a picture of serenity, of harmony I had never believed existed in these felt like a dream, like walking through a portal to the distant past when men talked to the trees and the birds and moved without effort between heaven and earth. And the smell of the air! So fertile and potent, every breath is filled with rich, intoxicating plant energy. It's intense. Every breath you take, every moment of every day is filled with an intensity, a fleeting joy you cannot grasp. You want to drink it in and hold it in your heart or bottle it, preserve, photograph it but you can't.

So at first I spent a week or two just drinking it in, gazing at it like it was a pretty picture or a work of art. I swam in the moonlit sea where plankton scattered and glittered like stars and in the day plunged headlong into an aquatic wonderland that teemed with colourful fish of every hue.

But then gradually little by little I started to merge with it, to let go, to listen, to understand until I laughed out loud "You want to live in harmony with nature, Lizzie?" I shrieked in delirium. And I looked down at my jungle ravished body, dirty and swollen from bites from mosquitoes and ants and bugs and torn by scratches from dogs and bruised from the rocks, my hair stiff with salt and my skin parched with sun and I laughed and laughed. There is no harmony in nature! It's a fight. A scrap. Now I knew why man had felt the need after thousands of years out here in the wild to build walls and climb inside to put some thing between him and it, why Mogli was given the gift of fire. It was a beautiful moment. And there were many more to come...