Travel expands your idea of what is possible – the more you travel, the more you recognize how much potential is waiting, untapped. You will see people living their lives in a thousand different ways and you will reflect in your own life that it is not so crazy after all,
You’ll start dreaming of places like Komodo. I’ve read about this one island in the group of 17,508 islands of the Republic of Indonesia. This island is most noted as the habitat of the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on earth. Komodo Island has an area of 390 square kilometers and a population of over 2,000. What is unusual about the descendants of these people is that they were former convicts who were exiled to the island and who have mixed from the Bugis from Sulewasi.
What I was most excited about on the cruise aboard the MS Paul Gauguin was that I would be experiencing the Komodo dragon in person although NOT UP Close and NOT personal! The Komodo dragon is the largest living species of the lizard growing to a maximum length of 3 metres (10 feet) and weighing almost 70 kg (150 pounds). They are able to see as far away as 300 metres which is nearly 1000 feet!! I hope that they were not able to see the group of us that were just about to land on the island!
We were warned before we had booked the excursion that we should not have any open wounds or cuts as the Komodo dragon uses its tongue to detect, taste and smell stimuli. With a good wind direction, using its head in a side to side motion, the Komodo dragon may be able to detect blood as well as dead, and decaying flesh from between 4 to 10 kilometers away. I don’t think that any of the passengers or the guides would want to be the Komodo’s noon meal!
As the MS Paul Gauguin tenders started to load us for Komodo Island, I couldn’t help feeling that I was going to experience not only the largest reptile but also encounter the people that made their livelihood in such a desolate place. As we landed, we were led single file to a briefing and without much time, we were lead single file into the Komodo National Park. The three guides with every group reminded us to be quiet and to obey their every direction / warning. It was August and the mating season for the Komodo Dragons which meant that the males were particularly aggressive.
Within 20 minutes we arrived at a watering hole and quietly shrieked with delight as two large male Komodo Dragons were lapping up the water. The three guides ushered us around the watering hole, constantly reminding us not to make any sudden moves.
You know what happened next. Of course there were a few people that just want to get closer, just that perfect shot!! It didn’t take much for the biggest Komodo dragon to swiftly turn from where he was and start lumbering towards us. The Komodo dragons are capable of running rapidly in brief spurts up to 20 KM per hour. The guides were quick to use their two pronged poles to ensure that the “big guy” didn’t get anywhere near our group. Some people just never learn. The guides made sure that we ALL understood the danger we would have all been in should a Komodo dragon attack. Not only do they run quickly, but they can also climb trees even standing on their tails to catch out-of-reach prey like us!!!
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
When my heart returned to somewhat of a normal rhythm, we continued on through the rest of the park towards the village. Needless to say, the passengers that “violated” the warnings of the park guides were under close watch. It was the power of the “pack of passengers” that made sure that they would not entice the Komodo dragons to make us their next meal. I am absolutely convinced that this travel experience to Komodo Island, not only left me speechless but it will make an incredible story to tell my children and my grandchildren!!