Woke up feeling surprisingly good considering how early it was. I caught a taxi to the jetty and boarded the ferry without any problem. It's amazing how similar fishing parts look. With the deep green on shore, the pre-dawn darkness, and all the rigged fishing boats I feel as if I were in the Pacific Northwest not deep in the Indian ocean! The boat left on time and despite what the hotel manager told me yesterday the ferry was no where near full, probably less than twenty percent! The ferry ride was to far from most of the islands to be interesting. It was smooth, but except for the occasional glimpse mangrove covered island shores, but boring. Just over four hours after leaving Port Blair I saw my first pure white sand beach - next to the ferry jetty on Havelock Island!
After getting off the ferry I made my way to the dive center near the jetty to find out about diving on the island. The boy minding the shop really didn't know anything and asked me to come back in the afternoon when the boss would be back from the morning's diving. I'd been planning on staying at beach No. 7 on the far side of the island, but heard from a few people on the boat that it really wasn't a nice place to stay anymore. Between recommendations, the distance from the dive shop (14 kilometers), and the lack of transportation I decided to stay at the much nearer beach No. 5 (only 4 km away). There were two other travelers waiting for a rickshaw to return for them and as they were also going to beach 5 I caught a ride with them. We got dropped off at the road and walked through a beautiful grove of coconut trees with glimpse of incredible blue water and white sand flashing between the trunks - I thought that this just might be paradise. Unfortunately when we got to the camp they took the last two huts. We'd passed some other backpackers at No. 3 who told us they places there were all full, so I was starting to worry. A few hundred yards down the main road I found space at a place called "Coconut Grove" that has no coconut trees. It does have a nice little beach and more importantly they had a hut or me. It's a small platform with thatched walls (very thin - you can see right through them) and roof with a blanket tacked up as a door across the front. But it's got a mosquito net and even a small fan in the corner - I like it.
After getting settled in I hung out and talked to some of the other people staying here. Then I headed down to the beach. The water is very shallow so it's not so nice for swimming, but the sand is almost blinding, and there are no sand flies, hawkers, or other tourists so I'm happy. I jumped in the water a few times and laid in the sun until dry. Back at my hut I tried, and failed, to find my sunscreen. The bag that had sunscreen, mosquito repellent and my hat is missing. I don't know if it got left at home, or someplace since then, but it could be a big problem as I don't know if I'll be able to find any here!
I set off down the road back to the jetty. I'd been planing on catching a taxi or bus, but none passed me and I ended up walking the entire four kilometers back. About half way through the walk I passed a school being let out so I had plenty of company. I talked to a DMT (Dive master in training - what Stacy and I did in Dahab last September), and arranged to go out with a group tomorrow morning. At one of the stores I finally found some Indian sunscreen. I'm a little worried about it as when I read the label looking for the SPF factor all it says is "...with SPF and extra protection..." But hopefully it's better than nothing. I walked back, again looking for, but not finding a taxi or rickshaw. By the time I got back to the camp it was starting to get dark. I'm a little concerned about finding transport to the dive club so I arranged to rent a scooter tomorrow. There are so few vehicles on the roads here that I think it's safe, and it only costs $3/day!