Dragons and more….
I’m coming out of a time warp experience at the moment. I did indeed get to see the Komodo Dragon’s however, everything happened so quickly and perfectly the past couple days, I don’t really have any sense of time now. So, I’ll reconstruct a bit of what happened and see if I can put it together.
My flight to Labuan Bajo was great, I slept nearly the whole way and we had a nice soft landing. I met a woman from the Philippines while waiting for the flight to leave. She had been attending a UN conference in Bali and was on her way to visit her husband on the island of Flores. He’s doing a two year volunteer project of some sort. She left their two kids, is on her way to visit him and suggested there are a lot of leadership conferences in SE Asia looking for speakers who can talk about leadership. She has my card now.
I also met a woman from Java who is moving here with her three kids because her husband got a great job on Flores. She listened to me talking with the woman from the Philippines and then asked me if I did motivational work. “Yes, I do”!
For most of my career, I’ve avoided calling myself a “motivational speaker” because I’ve been turned off by most motivational speakers and didn’t want to be associated with them and felt I would have to do what they do to be successful at it. Now that I know I “do me”, I’m much more comfortable with the term, what it means to me and what impact it can have on others!
Once again, “Yes, I am a motivational speaker”!
We landed at the sweetest little airport. I’ll post some photo’s of the baggage claim area to give you a sense of what it was like. Down the stairs, along the sidewalk, into the one room terminal, and watching for to be unloaded. The three loaded carts were then pulled manually by men along the sidewalk to the “baggage claim” window where each bag was carefully placed on the baggage claim shelf. Tags were checked before you could remove a bag. Mine was the fourth bag placed there.
I walked to the exit door but had no place to go! The sidewalk ran about 20 yards to the road. Across the line separating the road from the sidewalk was a metal fence with chains and locks on it. The fence reminded me of the heavy gauge short metal fencing we used on the farm.
Beyond the fence was a crowd of waiting touts, tour operators, family members and random other helpers. Signs for the “Mervins” and Angel Island Resort and a few other resorts were held high. Well, not really signs, pieces of paper with hand written names, most legible.
I waited until one of the staff came out with the keys and then gingerly approached the waiting mass. A friendly and soft spoken man asked if I had already arranged transportation. I told him I had not and asked how much it was for the ride into town. “Fifty thousand” he replied. I asked if that was normal price. Several people replied yes. Through the fence, he took my backpack and handed it to a helper while pointing in the direction I should follow to get to the car. He went back to see if anyone else wanted a taxi. “More cheaper with other passengers” he said. No more passengers showed up so we were off.
I gave him the name of the hotel I’d heard about and we arrived about 10 minutes later. Being a tour guide and tour guide operator, he gave me an overview of what was available. It was expensive, more so than other trip I’ve been around on this entire adventure. However, this is KOMODO and I decided that if it cost more than I thought, it was still worth it to see the dragon. However, he was a little pushy wanting to know right now if I wanted to go and I would have a free lunch if “you go now”. I got his card and said good bye. “Maybe, I’ll call later…” but I wanted to look for friends first.
Just having arrived, I didn’t have friends yet but that always works. Little did I know that in a few short hours I would have new friends and we all would be going together!
Joseph helped me at the Hotel Gardena. I got an economy room, they new rooms were bigger and more money but essentially the same other than for the tile. I felt quite comfortable with the older wooden bungalows and really happy with the views and cool breeze from the bungalows up the hill side.
Back down the stairs, I didn’t get to the bottom step before a man came across the street asking me if I wanted to go on a tour? His name is Figo, he had two people lined up for the trip and it would be cheaper if I could go too. The price was $800,000. The earlier prices I had heard were $2,200,000 from the taxi driver from the airport and $1,600,000 from Joseph at Hotel Gardena. I told him I’d think about it and definitely let him know before the end of the day!
I found a wireless restaurant to have a lassie, the internet was down, so I drank my lassie and headed back to my hotel. As I took the last step to the restaurant, three people were chatting at the first table and said hello. When I replied with a hello, they asked if I was from the US as well? Julie has been traveling for 7 months, Don and Brit for a few weeks, all three are from Seattle and had just met. I joined them as they waited for their meal to arrive.
By the time they had finished, all three decided to go visit with Figo and see about the trip. After clarifying the trip, where we would go, the fact that all meals were included and there were mattresses (with pillow and blanket) and a toilet on the boat, they decided to join. Now, we received a discount because there were four of us. The fee was reduced to $600,000!
Views of and from Hotel Gardena:
When we arrived the next morning, Figo was in terrible shape. I’m guessing he was suffering the effects of a serious hangover AND a seriously scraped foot from a motor bike accident the night before. We woke him which was not a good sign. His brother showed up to help which was a very good sign. The other two people never confirmed, Julie was skeptical, we rented snorkel gear and headed for the boat where we met the Captain, Jimmy and his assistant, Andre.
Our ship left port on a perfect day! The weather was clear, the sea calm, gorgeous islands flanked our departure. And the adventure unfolded as we stepped into the time warp.