- ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Travel is going solo. Travel is forging your own path. Travel is taking leaps of faith. So claim my travel-writing colleagues, though Atlantis’ 60-foot Leap of Faith in the Bahamas isn’t what they had in mind. Visitors drip and shake with giddiness. And here I am, shuffling forward with them. Sharks circle the pools below. ∏he experience oozes manufactured fun,inauthenticity, yet my heart races. “You’re up.” An attendant motions for me to move into the slide’s entrance. It leads nowhere. A blind drop. I adjust my shorts. “Don’t bother,” chuckles the attendant. I smile. Travel is waiting in line for a wedgie.
- I’ve become a cave dweller. So far I’ve been able to resist the urge to hiss creepy Gollum quotes into the darkness, but I know I’ll give in soon. I’m bringing up the rear of a three-person spelunking group, following behind writer Amanda Jones and our local guide, Jeanne, as she leads us through the tribal cave of her ancestors on Lifou Island, New Caledonia.
- He wanted to see Hawaii like few others have. So Dutch expat Bart de Zwart, 41, embarked on a 350-mile cruise from Big Island to Kauai. OK, maybe cruise isn’t the best word to describe Bart’s island-hopping experience. “It took five days,” the surf-shop owner says. “I lost 12 pounds, and the blisters on my hands didn’t heal for two weeks.” Oh, yeah, did we mention that he took the entire trip on a paddle board?
- I fell in love with Silolona the moment our tender pulled up to the magnificent phinisi (traditional Spice Route sailboat) off the shore of West Papua, Indonesia. It likely helped that I was with Patti Seery, the American expat who handbuilt this five-cabin teak boat (with a skilled team of Indonesian craftsmen) and now sails on it often, guiding expeditions throughout the archipelago.
- The Australian in the aloha shirt is leaning against the bow railing of Oceanic Discoverer. Word is out among the 50 other passengers on the expedition ship that I'm searching for that bewitching island James Michener wrote about in Tales of the South Pacific. The island with the power to restore lost innocence. The ship is pointed like a compass needle at Ureparapara, a misty volcano rising from the sea in the far north of Vanuatu. Hidden inside the flooded crater is supposed to be a peaceful Melanesian village completely cut off from the outside world. This could be it.
Read Jad Davenport's In Search of Bali Hai in the just out November issue of ISLANDS.
- Four-hour family dinners. Grammar lessons. Subject-verb agreemenπs. As a teen, I lived in Cancun for seven months, dated a local and, with her and her family’s help, learned enough Spanish to pass a college fluency exam. After college, I lived in Aruba for almost four years. I dated a Dutch woman virtually the entire time. I came back to the States with just three Dutch phrases: “I was wrong.” “You are beautiful.” “Please forgive me.”
- The deer tracks lead through the forest and down to the beach. There isn’t much difference between the two: forest and beach. It’s called Driftwood Beach, and on this island off the coast of Georgia, where magnificent oak trees in various stages of life dominate the landscape, this is the spot where they come to be eulogized. Hundreds of whole trees lie here on the sand, their petrified roots pointed toward the ocean. A bride and groom climb across one dried-out trunk to pose for wedding photos, their voices breaking the quiet from 200 yards away. Two young ladies sunbathe on a small spread of sand made somewhat private among an entanglement of branches. Up on a small dune, a wide-eyed doe looks over the scene and seems to consider a beach stroll, but then disappears into the forest.
- We can hear them scrambling through the darkness in the jungle of Dominica. They have us surrounded. Outnumbered. “When I shine my light in their eyes,” whispers our guide, Martin Carrierre, “grab them from the rear. Fast.” But my husband, Steve, isn’t quick enough. “What do I do now?” he asks, lifting his left sneaker. Attached to it by a claw is a land crab. Consider this: In 1655, British Admiral William Penn and his men fled at the sound of land crabs, thinking it was Spanish cavalry...
- All around me an endless stream of tame deer rambles near the waterfront of Japan’s Miyajima Island. Like me, they’re looking for something to chew on. For them the targets are paper maps and bread crusts. For me it’s something smoking on the street corner. Grills that are sizzling with oysters. Understand, I adore oysters so much that I once judged an oyster-shucking contest, but seeing them barbecued is new to me...
- Sixty people stare at me. I stand before the father... the bride’s father. His Three-story home on the island of Mauritius is packed. Gold draperies billow from ceiling to floor. The father looks stressed. I tell him what now seems absurd: That my taxi driver assured me it’d be OK to attend this Hindu wedding ceremony the father is paying for. He eyes me. “American?” I nod, mentioning I’m a journalist, here for a story on ... “You like Indian food?” I nod. He smiles. “Come.”
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