12 May – another quiet day in and around home on Cocos. We were going to go to Direction Island but the weather once more closed in around us. We were mostly at home enjoying each other’s company and chilling.
Caitlin had an amazing time blowing bubbles for Link. He, like many other children, loves bubbles. I caught some amazing photos of him trying to blow and catch bubbles. Several of these will probably feature on a canvas for my photo wall at home – but not here for publication.
13 May – Caitlin and I went to a gathering of women in the afternoon, where we gathered on the shores of the Indian Ocean, opposite Cat’s home and remembered her in an informal way – memories shared, bubbles drunk, with toasts to an amazing lady and the flowers from her memorial evening were scattered into the ocean. As we threw the flowers over the sandbagged edge into the sea, the water that had been calm till then, quite suddenly rolled in and a wave turned and splashed right up onto the sandbags (and those who were sitting there!) and drew the flowers out to sea with its return – almost as if she was receiving them with thanks! It was very moving. Several big turtles raised their heads as they sailed past us as well.
14 May – at long last the weather lifted enough for us to consider a trip to Direction Island. If you look at the map I have added to the Cocos section of the blog, you will see it is on the opposite side of the lagoon from West Island where Caitlin and Matthew live.
The only access to DI is by ferry or some sort of water transport, of course. Caitlin, Link and I took the ferry. Link decided it was a great idea to escape Caitlin’s clutches, running up the aisle, and, as the ferry lurched slightly, so did Link and connected with the metal frame of the door. He scored a decent cut between his eyes, poor little fellow. Caitlin was devastated but dealt with it well. By the time we reached DI, Link had recovered his happy demeanour, even if Caitlin hadn’t. In the meantime, Matthew and Peter had traversed the lagoon on the jetski and had already set up camp for us in a beautiful spot with an easily accessible waterfront.
DI beach is the epitome of what one envisages when you think of a Tropical beach – a long strip of bright white glistening sand, with drooping palms forming the border on the land side and sparkling azure waters lapping the beach edge on the other. When you wade into the water it is quite cool but very refreshing. It is shallow for quite a distance and clear, so you can see the sandy floor and quite often schools of tiny fish darting by and around you and even the occasional reef shark.
You need to walk out about 10 metres to reach a depth of about 1 metre where you can loll about in the water for as long as you like, as you never get cold. You must, of course, cover up in sunproof ‘rashie’ clothing from neck to wrist and to ankle, especially when you have fair sunburn-prone skin like mine. But it is worth it.
Onshore, where we spent our day, the circumference of our recreation/picnic/relaxing area was covered in hermit crabs of varying sizes from tiny ones occupying shells no more than 3-4mm, up to ones occupying gnarly shells that were up to 12 cms at least. They were piled high in some spots where there were broken coconuts.
Until I went to DI, I had only seen the Red Hermit crab (Coenobita perlatus), but I discovered that the Purple Hermit crab (Coenobita brevimanus), was there as well. Of course, this crab appealed to me!
As well, Caitlin and I were fortunate enough to spot a Buff-banded rail, a small bird that has been listed as endangered. There has been a breeding program instigated and there has been a good deal of success.
The boys had great fun with Peter’s drone. Matthew learnt how to use it very quickly and they took some beautiful footage of the whole area. We had a beautifully relaxing day there, after the drama of Link’s little accident subsided.
At the end of the day, Caitlin and Matthew convinced Peter to swim the ‘Rip” at the pointy end of the island. Normally quite controlled and easy to manage, Peter did not have a great experience – as he entered the water he gulped a mouthful of water and the rip grabbed him before he could recover. It spat him out quite a long way further than expected so he was exhausted and a little overwrought by the time he reached the shore. He decided that a return trip on the ferry with us was probably a better option than a rough trip on the ski!