This afternoon, while I was occupied along the water's edge beachcombing and swimming, Sten took a hike up a hill to get a different perspective on the area. A few minutes later I heard a whoop of joy from above me. Now, Sten is a pretty reserved guy, not taken to public displays of . . . well, of anything. Only among the rest of the faithful at Fenway have I ever seen him get rowdy. He claims that he used to participate in primal screams to blow off steam during exams, but I'm not buying it. However, the sheer gloriousness of this place moved him to shout for joy.
The combination of expensive visas, unnecessary 15 day special endorsements, high fees for national park anchorages, inconsistent application of regulations (due to a revolving door of officials stationed in the Andamans on two year hardship postings), twice daily radio check-ins, and the cruiser rumor mill (which is so phenomenally good at disseminating and exaggerating negative information), seems to be keeping the crowds away. Which is a shame. I'd encourage cruisers to put the Andamans on their list of places to visit - not only for the opportunity to explore an unspoiled and uncrowded paradise of pristine natural beauty, but also for the potential of hearing someone they love so overcome by their surroundings that they have to shout for joy. And that, well, that is worth slipping those docklines for.