I started this day, the last in the Togian islands, by waking up early – before 7 o’clock – to watch for birds before breakfast. It was a small success! I saw several new ones, including the Black Naped Fruit Dove – which was very beautiful. Apparently the trick to birdwatching is being early, who new!?
Those who did not go to Taipr island yesterday, me for example, then jumped into the boat right after breakfast and set off over relatively rough waters (at least for our boat). We passed by several resorts on our way to the former “Taipr Paradise” resort, situated on a small island. Now deserted, you can walk around in the empty shells in this once paradise. But that was not our purpose here! Taipr is surrounded by coral reefs and we had an hour or two to explore the wonderful world below the surface. There were lots of fish and thankfully for me – nearsighted and without contact lenses – many of them were curious about me and swam forward so I could almost touch them. It was certainly the best of the places we had visited for snorkeling so far in Sulawesi. On the way back the boat had a tough time in the waves and rocked worryingly. Irina, our host and guide, leaned over to me and said “If the boat turns over, be prepared to grab your belongings!” At first I thought she was joking but then I remembered that she had already told us about how unstable this kind of boat was and that they had actually turned over with a tourist group once. But all went well and we were back exactly on time for lunch.
In the afternoon, while the tide was low, most of us walked along the shore to the village on the other side of the island. Our main goal was to buy palm sugar, which is produced here. When everybody was happy with their share of the brown sweets, we strolled around the village and greeted its inhabitants. A while after coming back, there was a “quacking” sound from the forest, high up in the canopy. We could not see what it was at first, but finally two magnificent Knobbed Hornbills appeared. This hornbill is endemic to Sulawesi (they live nowhere else) and sadly there are signs that their numbers might be in decline. It is listed as “vulnerable to global extinction”. After dinner there was a big Latvian song sing-along and later some went night snorkeling. Not me though, I was very much inspired by the day’s events, and sat on the veranda of my cottage and wrote this story.