Choose your own adventure

Well, I got my wish… the day after I stayed in my bungalow writing, reading, and recouping, I awoke fresh and full of energy.  Thank goodness.  Now time to make bad decisions! (Didn’t I mention something a couple posts ago about making all the good decisions? Well, it’s payback time…)  With my health and energy returned I was eager to go check out the blue hole I’d heard about on the other side of the island.  I mentioned this to Vomalehi, and she offered to coordinate a ride, but I promptly corrected her – “oh but I plan to walk there!” Their other guests had given me rough directions and estimated it would take about 2 hours walking one way; Vuro and Vomalehi estimated more like 4.  I then occurred to me that 4 hours was closer to what I’d read in the guide book, but I felt up for an all day walk, it was all on roads after all, how bad could it be?  I assured my hosts “I love adventures!” and with that announcement to the Ni-Vanuatu gods, my fate was sealed to embark on much more of an adventure than was necessary to go visit the Malo blue hole.
The walk started out innocently enough, just a sprightly saunter down the dirt road (in flip flops of course, this is just a road afterall!).  I was elated to be up and about, and resumed the customary smile and wave with everyone I encountered along my journey.  But I had a destination in mind so I kept the pleasantries to a minimum and bounded ahead, snapping a few photos here and there at quaint homes and sparkly beaches.  I had my audiobook playing in one earbud and took in the sights while immersed in the story of the New York Post journalist who went insane for a month due to a viral infection.  Highly reccommended if you get the opportunity. Anywho, there was pretty much only one road on the island, and I followed the rough directions I was given as I encountered the landmarks of significance.  “Stay on the road at the three story house”.  Well the road takes a sharp turn inland, but I’ve got instructions so who needs to ask this nice man who waved if I’m headed in the right direction! Up the road I go, and although it goes not just inland but STEEPLY uphill, I do not hesitate, because I’ve got energy and I like hills!  After I get to the top, I figure it might be time to look at the satellite view map I’d wisely downladed and dropped a destination pin for seconds before leaving, and lo and behold I was off course by at least a mile.  So after making sure I’d ascended to the point of having the best view of the scenery below me, I turned around and headed back the way I came, again waving at the nice man working on the three story house and this time headed back along the coast in the direction of the blue hole.  After a little while I came across the school, the second landmark I was supposed to “stay on the road” for, so I continued rambling ahead, knowing from the satellite view that the blue hole was connected to the ocean by an inlet so I’d at least see that as an indication I was there.  And I kept walking, and I kept walking, and sure enough, I FINALLY came to the inlet.  Yey! It was this bright turquoise color that was stunning it itself.  I figured at this point I would find a path to access the blue hole proper somewhere nearby.  I found a faint path that soon faded into the jungle, but figured I could just follow the banks of the inlet to the blue hole.  This is where my decisions went from questionable to downright stupid.  Would I just bushwack through the forest in order to walk around my familiar lake in Maine? Not by choice! And here I am in the thick jungle on a tropical island with a cornocopia of critters I am clueless about! In flip flops!
In summary, lets just say I fought my way through dense rainforest for at least a couple hours before I realized exactly how huge this blue hole was (and therefore how long it was going to take to get to the proper access path by bushwacking) and I ended up making my way back to the road in order to get there “the easy way” after all.  This time when I encountered a few friendly locals on the path ahead, I put my ego aside and asked politely for directions to the blue hole path, and they pointed me towards my destination with a smile.  I arrived at what looked like a very pretty turqoise lake, thinking “this is nice, but not necesarily worth the hype”… until I jumped in, and found that the perfect turqoise lake not only revealed itself to be huge beyond the mangroves that masked it from full view, but it was also the temperature of bath water.  Ahhhhhh…. I soaked my struggles away, with no other humans in view, for a solid half hour, before I mustered up the effort to change out of my suit and head back down the road.  I figured at this point that I’d hop on the first car that passed (hitching rides is not only customary in this part of the world but is often offered to any pedestrian the driver should encounter), but as it turns out there was not a single vehicle heading in my direction for the entirity of the 2.5 hour walk back.  I rolled in around sunset, chuckling at my missteps with my hosts and assuring them I was ok.  My feet were destroyed from cuts, blisters, and further irritation to the collection of wounds I’d already been nursing prior to the day’s outing (things don’t like to heal quickly in the tropics).  Turns out I’d walked around 20 miles and had been gone around 8 hours.  But hey, “I love adventures!” :-p

Quaint Homestead along the walk
Picturesque Ocean Views
The view from the “Scenic Route”
Inlet to the Blue Hole
Beyond these mangroves lies the Blue Hole! Trust me 🙂
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