Today's agenda includes a bit of snorkelling, some writing, and a walk, and if the clouds stay away I want to go photograph the church ruins. I also need to cook meals, do dishes, check on the produce, and flip the eggs. And at 5pm we'll gather with the other sailors (from France, Spain, England, Australia and the US) and have cocktails and appetizers on shore until the rats and coconut crabs stage their dusk assault and we're forced back to our boats.
It's been a long time since we last had the option to stay in one anchorage until we tired of it. Unlike the forced stops where we've waited for weather or parts—we're in Chagos because it's one of those places that people literally sail around the world to reach. There's the tragic history—which gives it an air of gravity and importance—if sailors stopped coming, and stopped sharing the story of Chagos, the Chagossian people would lose one more voice in their fight for justice.
But mostly we're here for the simple lush beauty.
This is as unspoiled a tropical paradise as it gets in our modern world.
In 2010 marine protected area (MPA) was created that covers the territorial waters of the Chagos Archipelago. The reason for its creation was in part a cynical one; the environmental no take zone acts as yet another hurtle to stop the return of the Chagossian people. The result though is a rebounding of fish and shark populations (birds still seem to be lagging: likely because of the rats on shore and their general worldwide diminishment).
Fishing, while not entirely a matter of dropping a baited hook over the side and pulling in dinner, is the easiest we've ever encountered. Even we are catching fish (subsistence hook and line fishing is permitted—though we need to log and report our catch). While the people who actually consider themselves fishermen (you know, with rods and everything) have had to come up with new hobbies after catching too many.
So it's simple slow living while we pause here and take in the beauty. We have fish and coconut to eat as well as all of the supplies we laid on in advance of our arrival. We have ample sunshine and cool rain showers. We have shady jungle trails to hike and colourful reefs (with turtles, sharks and rays) to snorkel. There are friends to chat with and enough kids between us to recolonize the islands.
And each evening when the sky turns pink and the sun drops into the sea I can't help but be grateful that we get to be here tomorrow too.