I climbed onto the small white boat, my legs shaking as the boat swayed and rocked with the waves. Steadying myself by grabbing a pole, I pulled myself in, scrambled over the others who had already squeezed themselves on the small benches and settled on the small prow, sitting snugly on my legs and bracing myself for the upcoming bumpy and wet journey. The sailor (if I could call him that), pushed too big a life jacket over my head, and there I sat, the sun shining brightly on me, nearly invisible under the jacket.
We were just around ten of us on the boat, and I was all alone on the pointed prow- just me, my thoughts and the waves to set the rhythm. As the motor burst into life and the boat moved forward, my body became one with the boat, swaying as it swayed and sliced the waves at the right angle. I could neither see the others sitting behind me nor hear them over the sound of the boat- I was all alone… I could see water stretching out till the blue sky merged with the bluer water, but we were never out of sight of land, as Andamans is a very closely knit archipelago. We passed by so many beautiful islands, all of which were uninhabited and clean, without the mark of Man on them. Serene beaches and coves beckoned me towards them, but I sadly did my best to ignore the calls, and satisfied myself by drinking in as many beautiful sights as I could. We were accompanied by flying fish along the way (a lifer for me), and though I kept my eyes peeled open for dolphins, we did not spot any. Too soon, we arrived at our destination- Neil island.
Having a population of just around a few hundreds, it has just one resort and one market place. After an unsatisfactory stint of snorkeling hindered by too high a tide, we spent a quiet evening on yet another beautiful beach, watching the sun sink into the water as the sky turned from orange to pink to purple before the first star of the night peeped out. After the beautiful sunset, we went over to the market place, sampling various local snacks from the roadside stalls and feeding the extremely friendly street dogs with tit-bits.
As I lay on my bed that night, I felt my body rocking with the sensation of the boat ride still in my bones, and was gently rocked to sleep. The time spent on the boat was the defining moment of the entire trip for me.