Andaman Islands II.
So, we decided, after three months of wandering throughout India, this place, celebrated by advanturers, and not discovered by tourists, these islands, hidden mysteriously inside Indian Ocean. After couple of days, the cyclone was over, and so, we can make an excursion to our next target of Andaman Islands.
Neil Island is smaller and more deserted as those Havelock Island. We found there very nice beach but camping became impossible, owing to blood-thirsty flies. So, we stayed finally in Mango-resort, where a choice in accommodation is, as follows: in bamboo shelter, (where the door is missing - tent´s largeness) or in greater bamboo chalets or in De Luxe appartements, including WC and shower. Completely exhausted, as a consequence of cyclone and beach enemies, we chose De Luxe appartements and discuss about the price. We have good luck, the resort is, with the exception of two Israeli tourists, empty, so, we accept De Luxe appartement for a price of bamboo shelter. Our chalet is hidden between coco palms. Each day, one fresh coco-nut falls down directly on the roof, so, we enjoy eating its sweet stave. After diving and sweet island relax, we set out the island´s sightseeings.
The ways of the island are covered with drying barley, local farmers cultivate their rice-fields, work out coco-nuts or pick bananas. We try to escape a group of dogs, however, the group is more numerous. So, we go towards fish market, where the fishermen sell each evening their fresh catches. We choose a piece of one big fish. Within couple of minutes, the proprietor of modest restaurant, prepares a meal with excellent cocoa sauce. It is small family restaurant. We can follow, for the first time, that even women are sitting outside, and, together with men, are following popular cricket match in TV. This rich dinner is terminated with local delicacy and popular custom of all Hindoo - Paan. We chew betel leaves, mixed with varies sorts of species, such as nutmeg, clove and mysterious berries - and our state of mind will be better after a while. So, we mount our bikes and try to escape quickly in front of suspicious sounds of jungle into safe of our De Luxe Appartement.
Long Island is, in comparison to Neil Island, very small island, inhabitated with 400 persons only. Immediately after our arrival, we are obliged to claim in local police station and fill in entry form. This bureaucratic process is waiting for every visitor, entering each of these islands. The Hindoo strictly watch over the number of tourists as well as number of days which are permitted for stay in the island. To tell the truth, the government was liberal, each of us received the permission to stay in Andaman Paradise exactly for four weeks.Ten years ago, the government closed the factory for wood working up, issued another order regarding forests rooting up, and, as a consequence, local people left their wooden homes. Now, the island looks like as more deserted and dilapidated. One inhabitated resort only remained in this island, camping is not permitted, so that it does not exist any other possibility to stay here.
In Blue Planet, we feel as if we were in compulsory camp. The next day, we travel, on board of the ship, to Lalage Beach, the most beautiful place of the resort. Owing to low tide, we are unable to remove the vessel, so we walk ahead on foot throughout wild virgin forest. After two hours´ walk, we reach Lalage Beach, and, frankly speaking, the beach is wonderful. However, the flies attack us from all parts, anyway, we can be hidden in sea-water or in beautiful coco-grove. The conception of all-day diving does not seem to us to be the right idea, so, I disappeared inside coco-grove. I am not sure that I decided in right way, the ants in the grass are attacking me, and from the height, I am forced to evade bomb attacks from coco-nuts palms. Nevertheless, this could be my rescue, as the offer of tasty coco-sauce, drunk directly from fresh cut off green coco-nut is something extraordinary. On the other hand, the diving was excellent, too, however, great part of corals is damaged from tsunami waves. As a result, our night way back was a redemption for us. We listen to songs of local people, as it is „pudzha time period“ - i.e. sacrifice to Lords.
Andaman Islands are consisted from 200 tropical islands, covered with unique fauna, dense mangrove copse, forests, beaches with white sand and marvellous corals. The Andaman Islands, together with Nicobar Islands (which are placed 50 kms from south beaches of Andaman Isles), are close to Burma (Myanmar), from geographical point of view, but, regarding political relations, these territories belong to India. Andaman Islands are divided into three main islands, such as: south, central and north Andamans. Originally, the islands were colonized, during British colonial hegemony, by aboriginal clans of Andamans (they belong to negroes pygmy tribes-clans). In South Andaman, there are living the clans (tribes) of Dzaravs and Ongs, preserving still their original way of life. Most of islands is uninhabited. As the tourists´ infrastructure is creating, so we could fully enjoy this virgin nature, walks through coco-nut groves, and even diving in turquoise sea we experienced nearly in solitude. Early in the morning, we left Long on board of small local vessel, in direction to Rabgat. The ship passed mangrove trees and the sea level was calm. From Rangat, a mad journey followed, throughout inland, along Trunk Road - i.e. a way connectiong Central Andaman with south part, crossing Jarawa Territory, one of original tribes (clans). The way is bordered with severe instructions (warnings) on billboards, informing that the persons are not permitted to throw out the meals and drinks, as a gift to local Jarawan people. The means of transport are moving in groups without stop, and the bus-windows have to be closed, as there is a danger, that some toxic arrows could penetrate by chance into the vehicle. We had good luck, as we could follow three semi-nacked women, and a boy, running from the jungle.
Port Blair again
Last day of our stay came, so we stayed in capital Port Blair. We slowly return into noisy and dirty Indian reality. We pick up a rest of our luggage, we put in hotel. Our rucksacks are covered with consistent green mould. The hotel proprietor is unable to explain us this fact. As an excuse, he offers us last free room with pillows, full of lice and flowing sewer below windows. However, we do not have any choice, knowing that we are unable to get better accommodation. Couple of years ago, the government introduced, (in order to support the tourist movement on Andaman Islands) some bonus programme - i.e. family holidays under advantageous conditions. We decided to visit local Antropological Museum as well as local jail. This type of visit is a duty for local Hindoos. However, it is bad luck that this marvellous place is changing and disappearing slowly. New roads, holiday resorts and restaurants are being constructed. The Hindoo realize, without any positive sense for ecology, the island with plastic refusal and rubbish of all kinds.
It is very negative fact that Indian Government decided to construct the road just across the area of original aborigine inhabitants. Two of these clans assimilised and live in reservations. The Shompens refuse a contact and shoot the arrows to everybody, who would like to enter into contact with them. Jarawa clan (we could see them) started slowly to communicate with the neighbourhood. Nevertheless, their life space becomes smaller, their collecting-hunting way of life is menaced. They are assilimated or die out, unable to be protected against cilization diseases, such as influenza (flu) or alcoholism. And just this was an idea of our Spanish old lady when she said: „Would you hurry up! This world is disappearing!“
Text: Lucia Šuplatová
Translation. ing. Jan Jonáš
Photo: David Trčka
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