Hard dives today, this is no place for the faint of heart. The swells are big and sometimes the currents are strong. The surface, getting in and out, is very difficult. Once under the water, it is somewhat easier. Still the diving is very good and if you are a diver it is a great experience. Both dives today were deep dives, over 75 ft., so our dive time was shorter but both were interesting and I really did not notice the shorter duration. Again, there were loads of fish and I was constantly on the lookout for fish that would remain still long enough to photograph.
Yesterday we decided that we did not have to buy our ferry tickets as was our plan and spent the afternoon loafing on the deck of our little cabin. It was time well spent as we have been on the go for over a month and did not take a break. So today was the day for buying ferry tickets. We got to the room after diving, did a quick turnaround, and headed to the port to purchase our advance tickets for the government ferry back to Port Blair 3 days hence.
We arrived and in typical Indian fashion the government ferry office is closed????? The Catamaran Office is open and perfectly willing to sell us tickets. We need information: what time does the ferry run, what time does the catamaran run, how much does the ferry cost, how much does the cat cost, can we buy ferry tickets tomorrow, and and and. Most of the answers we got were from a couple of auto rickshaw drivers. I don’t know how accurate the answers were but at least we got a close idea of what was going on.
The news was not all good. First the Government ferry office is only open 9am to noon and 2pm to 3pm. Since we arrived at the ferry terminal at 3:07pm it was not open. Tomorrow we are diving and we are unlikely to be able to make it then either. Then one of the drivers throws in that the only time you can make an advance booking is 9am to noon. They only open 2pm to 3pm to sell tickets for the 4pm ferry.
The information is as follows: Government ferry, leaves Havelock Island at 9am, 2pm, 3pm and 4:30pm, the rates for tourists are 250Rs for seat, and 350Rs for chair (the difference I still do not understand), you can buy tickets 3 days in advance at the ferry booking office at the jetty 9am to noon on the days that it is open; for the catamaran the tickets are 700Rs, 850Rs, and 1100Rs (again not sure of the differences in classes), they depart Havelock at 11am and 4pm daily, as best I can make you can buy tickets at the Catamaran office 9am to 4pm daily. I know this sounds fuzzy, but everybody has a different story, including the guys working in the respective offices, so it is hard to figure out exactly how to buy tickets.
We decided we wanted to take the 9am government ferry so we could spend an extra couple of hours in Port Blair and the only way we could see we were going to get tickets was to have our hotel book them for us. The young man at the hotel made one phone call and for a slightly inflated price of 400Rs per ticket we had tickets on the Oct. 27 ferry at 9am. It’s good to have connections.
T &M came to our hotel for dinner; we ate at Blackbeard’s Bistro. The food was as good as it was the first night we ate here and it is not that expensive. We do find Havelock Island costs a bit more than the other parts of India we have been, but this is a ‘resort’. We had a great dinner chatting with our dive mates. We get along good and the conversation flows easily from subject to subject without a pause. I’m glad that both couples that have been our travel partners we can now consider friends.
Hopefully diving tomorrow will be a little less strenuous, it is our last day and it would be good to have a relaxing one, but come what may we are sure to have fun. As for India, we were warned that this country traveled to its own drummer and it does. I’m not even getting frustrated any more, we just look for possible solutions to the problem and keep trying until we get something close to what we want. It is what travel is all about – learning tolerance and patience and to learn to think laterally and outside our own puny little box.