The Adventures of Monkey Boy Jones in The Maldives (again):
Last month I was on my way in style, flying Business Class on Emirates Airlines to the Maldives with a 3-day stop in Dubai. What a wonderful journey for a Monkey like me. It’s so nice to sit in the seats up front and not in a bag stuffed in the overhead compartment.
The flight attendants are so nice and keep waiting on me and bringing me Champagne, if they only knew Monkey’s don’t drink. The goodies they offer are great.
Once we arrived in Dubai, I was escorted through customs and on the way to see the great sites! The day I arrived was the celebration of 43 years as a country and the flags of Dubai were flying everywhere. If you have a chance to visit Dubai I highly recommend it.
Next stop Maldives. As the plane landed in Male, we had a short walk to get our dive gear and look for our boat, the Carpe Vita, my home for the next 10 days. This will be fun, as it’s been a very long time since I was here. Not bad for a Monkey like me to have his 3rd trip to the Maldives. The crewmembers of the Carpe Vita were all waiting for us.
Off to explore the beautiful blue warm waters of the Maldives we go! I love to go diving with my friends. One day we went snorkeling and on the way back to boat I looked down in the water and before I knew what was happening there it was larger than life, the biggest Whale Shark A Monkey like me has ever seen. The pictures are my proof, wow what a rush to see this big gentle giant right underneath me. The diving was amazing, Manta Rays, Sharks, many fishes and more. This place is unbelievable for my friends and a Monkey like me.
Next stop Fiji with Qamea Resort and Spa.
Monkey Boy Discovers San Benittos and Guadalupe Islands
Our adventure begins with a 2 ½ hour flight from Seattle to San Diego, followed by a 2 hour bus ride to Ensenada Mexico, where we all get out of the bus and show our passports so we may enter Mexico legally. Then back on the bus to find the boat.
Last time Monkey Boy was in Mexico he went to Cozumel, so this time we are going with the crew of Liquid Assets TV. A new dive/travel television show called “Into the Drink,” produced by Liquid Assets TV with host Aaron Faulls, on The Nautilus Explorer, amazing ship over 116 feet in length.
We are a group of 25 plus one Monkey. After boarding the boat and unpacking we are all ready for a long well rested night. Off to my cabin, until morning. The boat ride out to the Islands is about 18 hours so I will have plenty of time to go exploring around the boat. First st0p the Wheel House, this is where we meet Captain Gordon. He shows me around and let’s me hang out for a while, then it’s back to work for the Captain. They have a Hot Tub on board here, but I think I will wait till later to try that out.
I was told the record was a total of 12 in the tub at the same time. With this group we for sure will beat that record. And we did with 16 warm bodies; of course once everyone got out, there was no more water in the tub. This boat has so many places for a Monkey to hide. I went out to the bow of the boat and saw flying fish; they just jump right out of the water and start flying over the big blue waves as we push forward. I now feel part of the crew as I now have my own Nautilus Tee shirt just made for a Monkey like me. After hanging out on the bow I checked out the stern, this is where all the Shark Cages are tied down for our great adventure coming up in a few days. OK, time for the Dive Briefing in the main salon. This is when the crew tells all about the diving we are going to do in the morning. We have one day to play in the kelp beds in San Benittos Island and see the seals, today’s dive is the first of three.
As I was ascending down through the kelp I could see the Sea Lions swimming and playing around in and out of the kelp. I wanted to follow then, but a Monkey in the water does not move as easy as a Sea Lion. So I went exploring on my own deeper into the kelp the sun was shining through the long green kelp, it was like being in a very over grown forest underwater. As I moved with the water or serge they tell me, I came across a Mexican Horn Shark, my first Shark I found all by myself. I was so excited that I almost missed the Bat Ray flying overhead and the Guitar Fish to the side of me. This place is simply amazing for a Monkey like me. I was so tired after a day of diving I decided it was time to find a good out of the way place to take my Monkey nap. I heard some great music coming out of Aaron Faulls room; he’s the host of this show they are filming on the Nautilus. Why not slip into this cabin; I am sure he won’t find me, at least not at first. A nap for me and I am good as new. When I woke up, the room was dark and scary. I had someone’s head using me as a pillow. Ok this must be Aaron using me as his pillow. I really need to find a better place to sleep, so I moved over to the next bed, where Johnny was sleeping, he was a Rock Star many years ago. I think he was singing in his sleep, but I felt safe over on his bed. I was no longer a pillow.
Next stop Guadalupe Islands to see the Great White Sharks. Sten our Dive master is going to brief us on and how we go into the shark cage. They have 4 cages, two submersible and two surface cages. I slipped inside the big steel cage while still on the boat just to get the feel. I am ready for the plunge and see the Great White Sharks.
Off I go first thing in the morning into the deep blue water inside of a steel cage, as we ascend deeper into the water I can see out in the blue something big slowly making it’s move towards the cage. There she is one big Great White Shark, so gentle as she moves through the water, special markings on her helps us identify the shark is named Chica tagged by Mauricio the Marine Biologist living on Guadalupe Island several months out of the year.
We are here for 4 days of cage diving; we start in the morning and go up and down every 30 minutes in these cages. This cage is so different in the water than when I checked it out on the deck. For a Monkey like me being in the water has become so natural, special when I found out Great Whites don’t eat Monkeys. They like seals’.
How funny it seams that years ago you yell Shark and everyone jumps out of the water and now we yell Sharks and we all jumped into the cages for the best experience of our life.
Thank you Nautilus Explorer and the crew, this was one of the best trips that will stay with me forever.
Monkey Boy Jones
"The Adventures of Monkey Boy in the Maldives"
February 1, 2009, we arrive in Male International Airport and transfer over the Big Blue and White Peter Hughes Ocean Dancer where I shall call home for the next 10 nights. All divers arrive and the crew is ready to welcome all on board with fresh cold drinks.
I got the whole run of the boat, they let me sleep anywhere a Monkey could find space. Plenty of fruit and bananas on the boat. This will be a fun 10 days.
We have a full boat on board and many photographers ready to jump in the beautiful blue warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Off we go to our separate dive boat they call the Donhi, all our gear is set up and ready to go. This dive will be a current dive so jump in and let the current take you for a ride. We drop down to 65 feet and hold on to the first big rock we can as within minutes we have over 15 Big Mantas swimming around us. They like our bubbles so they stayed with us for over 40 minutes. As I keep an eye on the Mantas I was also checking my depth gauge, I keep hearing this little voice in my head, remember always check your depth, I felt like I was in a Sea Hunt Movie with Mike Nelson telling me how deep he was and how much air was left before he would come up at a safe accent.
Diving can be a real challenge for a Monkey like me. I wouldn’t want to get in trouble, so always be aware or should I say ALERT. OH and always have your DAN card when you travel on your Dive Trips.
The crew had never had a Monkey on board before, so they were not sure what to do with me everyday. One day while everyone was diving I stayed to help clean the cabins, the Ocean Dancer has 8 double cabins to maintain and keep clean everyday. That is hard work for one staff, so helping out was fun. We made sure all beds were made up clean towels are hung and all is in order. This is all done during the first dive of the morning.
The Sunny Maldives is the best place to be, what better place for warm sunny days and clear blue warm waters for all these divers. The reefs are filled with so much life. We have seen so many Mantas, Bumphead Wrass and Turtles. The big day was 2 Whale Sharks going right by our boat. We all grab our snorkeling gear and cameras and jumped in for a picture of a lifetime. Everyone on the boat came back with the biggest smiles on their faces.
So I would say pack your bags and make your way to The Maldives……
After I left the Maldives I was invited to Bob and Sheila’s home for a few weeks, they live in Houston. Both work for United Space Alliance, onsite at NASA and wanted to show me where they work and have me meet some of the Astronauts that work with the Space Shuttle.
I was given the Royal Tour of NASA I even met several of the Astronauts. I went to a really nice park in Houston near NASA over the weekend with my new friends to have some pictures taken. I even had my own sunglasses.
I got to meet 2 astronauts, how exciting! They took me around so I could watch them get geared up for the simulator.
I now have my very own NASA passport stamp that Bob made for me. We had to staple it to one of the pages in my passport but it turned out great.
The next day Bob and Sheila took me to Galveston for dinner with some friends and they introduced me to beer! They should know by now, living with Donna, I know my Beer….
Houston I noticed is so different from other places I have visited. Most the men walk around wearing these big old hats on their heads. I was told they are called Cowboy Hats. I even tried one on for style.
My time in Houston is coming to the end. Sheila is taking me to meet up with my friend Ginger, who works for Continental Airlines. Ginger took me around Continental Headquarters to meet all the big important people who make the Airline Company work, so I can keep flying to all my favorite places.
It was fun, but I kept wondering how I was going to get home, I had been away for quite awhile! I think Ginger sensed I was home sick because she took me to New York meet back up with Donna!
Finally back in Seattle and home sweet home. This journey is over, but I am off to the Philippines in a few weeks for my next big adventure. Stay tuned for more….
"Papua New Guinea, from the Highlands to the underwater world"
So the adventure begins after 38 hours of flying and three different airlines, we made it to our final destination of Papua New Guinea. They call it "the last frontier." This time our travels take us up to the Tari region, home of the famous Huli Wigman and 7000 feet straight up!
The Huli are very proud people, they live by a simple order; land, pigs and woman, just in that order! To this day the Huli still have their wars over land, pigs and woman. They call it Highland Football. The bows and arrows are still used today, I don’t think they had ever seen a Monkey before, so I was scared at first, but I realized they were more scared of me. So after a handshake and big Monkey smile I made some new friends in a country far far away.
The woman work very hard in the gardens planting sweet potatoes. The villages are small and hidden from the roads. They have these very high mud walls to keep out the unwelcome guest. In the Highlands we saw many mountains, big vine bridges, waterfalls and Bird of Paradise. On my last day I became a Huli Wigman Monkey; the chief put a beaded headband on me and the real Huli Wig on my head. The Sun was out and the Huli men did a dance for us with their Kunda drums. After the dance was over the rain started so maybe it was a rain dance after all.
Our next stop was flying over to Mt. Hagen and Rondon Ridge Resort. In Mt Hagen we visited the Mudmen, they painted their bodies with mud and wore these big mud mask and carried bows and arrows. I was scared…. When they finished their dance and took their masks off they looked just like real people. I wasn’t scared anymore.
The next day I was back on the airplane to Port Moresby, from here we took a two hour bus ride to Alotau, it was very bumpy! We arrived at the Tawali Resort and then took a quick boat ride out to our dive boat The Spirit of Niugini.
The last time I was in Papua New Guinea I was on the Peter Hughes Star Dancer up in Rabaul diving the Southern coast with my friend’s Bonnie and Donna, I was kidnapped and held for a big ransom. I sure hope this new crew will be a bit nicer.
So our travel begins on a new live-aboard out of Milne Bay. I put my dive gear on and went for a dive by Tawali Resort, the reef was wonderful, so many fish to see and fan corals bigger than me. I like the clown fish, they look like someone went down and painted them in bright orange and white, I wanted to play with them, but I don’t think they like Monkeys like me. They kept hiding from me. The next day the boat took off from the dock in search of new dive sites, more walls, fan corals and plenty of fish for me to play with. I found a Seahorse same size as me, I hope you like the picture…
Today was the greatest day yet for diving, Greg the Captain of our boat put me in his Ikelite underwater housing and off we went underwater for my first dry diving adventure in the Monkey made submersible. I was up close and personal to a starfish, thanks to my new friend Bruce guiding the way underwater. The diving in Papua New Guinea is amazing, once you arrive in the country, your travel time disappears and you just sit back, tour and dive.