The next stop on our cruise is Ali Island. It seems that every island is keen to show off, and the people of Ali Island are certainly no exception. As is the practice, we are ferried to shore in our workhorse zodiac and we are greeted by the locals dressed in their finest costumes. All the guests that want to go ashore do, and when we are all there the program starts. There are five villages on Ali Island and they are all certain to try to outdo each other in their singing and dancing.
Each group does a performance and then the next tries to one-up them. All ages, and I do mean ALL, are involved, and it is interesting to see the older women teaching the young ones where to put their feet, how to use their hands and it is so interesting to see the small children all eager to learn. The six and seven and eight year old boys have tiny drums and are emulating their older brothers and uncles and fathers. The tiny little girls are trying their best to follow the intricate footsteps of their sisters and aunts and mothers. The grandmothers keep everyone in line, in step, in their place, and the program continues apace.
After all the groups have had a couple of turns, because they all do several dances, there is time for a village tour. When I said there were five villages, it is not readily apparent where one starts and the next ends. Maybe it is the solar powered streetlight that separates them. Maybe it is just that large tree that marks the village boundary, but you need to be a local to know which is which. The overriding impression is of a clean, neat, well-ordered home for these friendly people. There is a Catholic Church, rectory and graveyard near the dead-centre of the settlement and the tour formally ended there. Individually the people from the Silver Explorer wandered around or went for a swim or snorkel until it was time to go back to the ship for lunch.
I went for a swim, as did about half of the tourists. And EVERY SINGLE CHILD on the island. There were kids everywhere. Every one of them swam like fishes, and for every one of us there seemed to be a half a dozen kids. Apparently I looked like a diving platform as about five young lads decided to climb on top of me and see how far they could jump off. I helped and about 3 or 4 turns in, kids were getting launched into low trajectory orbit from me and a couple of the other bigger men.
That’s when the kids found the snorkel gear and the swimming noodles. Every one of the noodles were appropriated and soon there was kids hitting each other over the head with noodles, splashing and generally having a whale of a time. Everyone was laughing and smiling and when it was time to go, the kids competed to see who could get their noodle back in the boat first. More mayhem in great fun.
The afternoon was for snorkeling from a swim platform built with a couple of zodiacs and surprise, surprise the platform was soon overrun with kids coming to see what the fuss was about.
Oh, incidentally the reef was magnificent, the water was gorgeous and the marine life was abundant. Just sayin’.