Fernando De Noronha
Our time in Fernando de Noronha began with an early morning and some very bleary-eyed students. We were woken up and as we slowly shuffled our way upstairs we could hear calls from above about an island close by. As we made our way up into the mess, the students up front began to move faster and this time no one was walking towards the bar to get breakfast. Instead we all made our way as fast as we could to the starboard railings to get the first looks at our newly-found island paradise. As we spoke, the anchor was dropped and it appeared that we had found home for a little while. Fernando stood off the starboard beam, standing to full attention and showing off everything it had to offer. Beautiful white sand beaches with clear baby blue water, sprawling trees and jungles and a single, towering, jagged mountain towering above all.
The day continued with the start of cleaning stations which, if I am completely honest, may not have been done to full potential as not a single soul on board could tear their eyes away from the awesome sight of Fernando. As soon as the boat was in a staggering clean-ish state, the tender was fired up and packed to the brim with students and faculty alike. It seemed as though Fernando was set on showing itself off because on the way in we were met by pods of dolphins swimming around us and jumping into the air. It may have taken a few more minutes to get to shore but not a complaint was heard.
As we pulled up beside the dock the students flowed over the sides and onto the boardwalk, half exited to finally touch something solid, half exited to go and explore. Everyone slowly started to wander off to the many different beaches surrounding the island. Snorkeling gear strapped into back packs and sunglasses on, it looked as though we were in store for the best of December days.
It soon became evident that in this port we would not need to remain as covered as that of recent ports in Muslim countries and we were quick to take advantage of that - much to our future very sunburnt selves’ dismay. However, none the less we continued on hunting for the perfect beach. I found myself staring down a staircase made of rocks, underneath an overgrown clump of trees and bushes. At the bottom I saw what I thought to be a pile of sand and decided that this could lead to nothing but good things. The next thing I knew I was standing on a beach straight out of a tropical postcard. Off to the left, waves clad with surfers, waiting for the perfect moment to show off their skills. To the right a snack bar with umbrellas and beach chairs. Eager to be in the water we tossed our bags in the sand and sprinted head long for the waves. Body surfing, with various degrees of success commenced, and for the next hour and no one left the water without a smile. A smile and salt water so far up our noses that it felt as though we had been in a fist fight with Aquaman himself. As we returned to the beach we decided to give the snack bar a try, and five minutes later we lay in the sand with a coconut and a straw. Life is good.
One of the many beautiful beaches we visited on Fernando.
The day continued with many waves and even more sunshine, and we were a tired bunch when we returned to the boat. I was one of the first to make it back to the beach that we were to be picked up on so I bought a Coke and sat back to watch the sunset. Slowly more Floaties started to show up and a group of us met on the beach to talk about the wonders that we had uncovered on our first day of shore leave. With that we all planned out what we would be doing tomorrow, based on each other’s success.
When the tender arrived, we were met with another smiling, bearded face. Mark joined in with the storytelling of the day and everyone’s plans for tomorrow shifted a little bit more. On the way back, the boat sat perfectly in the sunset and we all took a moment to appreciate the beautiful island we had just seen and the even more amazing home we get to go back to.
Our home: the Gulden Leeuw
The second day we had our ideas sorted and our plans made, more or less. My group and I headed to the grocery store to buy ourselves a picnic for the day and then we were off to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We hopped in Fernando’s very unique taxi service, made up of dune buggies, and made our way into the National Park. Once on the inside we continued down a boardwalk through the forest, and when we finally broke free of the trees we were perched on top of a cliff overlooking what I thought was clearly not just one of, but the most beautiful beach in the world.
The way down was to climb a ladder into a tiny crevasse that eventually wound its way out to the beach. Once again we threw caution to the wind and forgot about sunscreen, our thoughts consumed with the waves and the sand. Once in the water you had to do no more than stick your head down to see fish in every direction. Millions of them forming massive schools but leaving a perfect circle around you, never letting you quite get close enough. However, the fish were not the only sight of the day for if you swam a bit deeper then you could find the turtles, going about their daily business of enjoying life. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from them. When we finally grew too tired to swim we made our way back to shore for our picnic, and the lizards made their way to us, hoping for scraps.
All too quickly the day came to an end and off we went back to the boat. We said goodbye to the wonderful beach, hoping to one day be able to return. Yet thinking of all the other places that we thought that about too. It's funny how my favourite port is always the last port I have been too, but on the bright side I guess that means my favourite one is up next.
As we gathered on the beach for the last time, we all dove in for one final swim and tried to get as much sand off of ourselves as possible. Everyone was sporting their new Fernando gear and we looked like a very fashionable mix of tribal and floral patterns. Mark drove up with the tender one last time and we each said a little goodbye to our little bit of paradise. Thanking it for its amazing memories and slightly less amazing sun burns. With that our stay here came to an end and it was time to move on. Still, the time for pictures was not quite over and Mark took us on a different route back to the boat, in order to get "the money shot."
The “Money Shot”
And with that we took our last look at the wonderful mountains and trees, beaches and cliffs, said our parting words and settled in for the next little bit of adventure our home would take us to.
- written by Brody, English 12 student