Fr-EEaking Boat Ride to the Indian Maldives!
As part of my prep work in discovering India, I read every review to find the ultimate scuba diving venue in India. I was in search of perfection and not about to settle for something ordinary. I was paying for this fun and demanded nothing short of Eden.
Armed with the Visa entry to India, I focussed on getting our Special Entry Visas to the Lakshadweep Islands. These are the islands that only allow a total of 36 foreigners on this eco-protected ‘paradise’ that are the extension of the Maldives. I sent off the request and knew it would be a close call on whether we would have the necessary approvals to allow us onto these protected territories.
A week later, I became nervous. Yes, seriously nervous. I try to console myself with all kinds of catch-phrases from, “Good things are worth the wait” to, “The sun will rise whether we get the Visas or not”.
Yes-sir-EE, I was the poster-child of a bi-polar nut case! I was outta fucking control. I stopped sleeping and would wake to check emails in the middle of the night. (India is 11 hours ahead of my time zone.) I was completely helpless to push this part of my world along. I did reach out to a travel agency in India who represented the islands and hired them as an authorized representative in our interests to get our Visas. I even developed a cheering committee on FaceBook. I was taking prisoners to help me get through this process.
On the morning before leaving, under 12 hours before our evening flight, the Visas surfaced in my inbox! Oh my gawd! Can you believe just how fucking close that was???
Well, three days later, we boarded our puddle-jumper from Cochin to Agatti airport to the high-speed boat to take us to the islands.
The rest is a nightmare. We were corralled onto a cement pier where a shuttle-craft transferred us to a boat that was on loan from a third-world refugee country. We were hoarded into the cabin that had an aroma of old sweat, mothballs and vomit. Yes, we were off to paradise on a watercraft that did not have any life vests. As smoke pummelled out of the engine and the smell of gas consumed the closed cabin, we had resolved to see paradise at whatever cost. The trip, we were informed, would take between 4-6 hours to travel 400 kms to the center of the Arabian Sea.
The rest of the story is surreal. We tried to make ourselves comfortable as I had selected a broken seat that was in a permanent reclined position. The cabin, which seated 20, was at capacity except for one or two seats. The air was thick with a gross stench. About 10 minutes later, one of the stewards began to serve us lunch that added a heavy Indian spice to the heavy stench. Luckily, hubby and I had the wherewithal NOT to eat. Of course, about 3 hours later the passengers began to vomit. Lovely. Simply fucking lovely. Undeterred, the steward brought out a large bucket and left it in the middle of the aisle for the idiots to place their regurgitated lunches. (I guess he goes through this on every trip.) There was a 30 inch TV monitor on the wall which, I can only surmise, that is sole purpose was to appease and distract us. The steward put on a 2 decade old VHS of a cheesy horror movie. Two hours later, the tape broke. Unfazed, the steward changed the tape and put on an old 1980’s version of the movie, The Thing. Yup, we were on the way to paradise while being lulled by the heaving and pitching of the boat, the sounds of retching and screams of people being impaled by “The Thing” in the show and heady effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Yes, paradise here we come!