Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The luggage that meowed

I'll have some more Flores posts soon, but wanted to say we have all survived the trip from Jakarta to Phoenix more or less intact. Susu traveled in her new soft cat carrier, which she hates as much as she's hated her other cat carriers.

Under the seat
The most worriesome parts of the trip were at certain security checks where we had to take her out and hold her while the carrier went through the scanner. We had put a kitty halter and leash on her, which she hated even more than the carrier.

Still, it was scary standing there holding a squirming cat in an enormous and chaotic airport. The security people seemed remarkably clueless about this and would fire questions at us and demand documents while the cat freaked out and the cat carrier sat there on the scanner belt, already approved for flight but just beyond arm's reach.

Susu was anxious at the beginning of the journey, she was panting with her mouth open, which is a strange and disturbing thing in a cat. I can't say she really got adjusted to traveling but she basically wore herself out after several hours and fell asleep. When we got to the airport hotel in LA she pulled the Invisible Kitty act, vanishing for at least an hour before we figured out that she had climbed up inside the box spring. But by morning she had recovered enough to investigate the room.

After that it was just one more short flight to Phoenix and a well-earned rest for all concerned.

Flying Cat Tips:

1. I found putting a puppy training pad in the bottom of the carrier completely pointless. It just got wadded up in a big lump in the corner. Susu was so stressed out I don't think she could have emitted any waste products anyway. In fact, she had a hard time using the litter box even after we settled into the hotel; I think she got pretty dehydrated.

2. Bring something warm to put in or around the carrier (being careful not to block the cat's air supply). Planes are really cold.

3. Get a carrier with a reach-in zipper so you can pet your cat when s/he is anxious. That really seemed to reassure her.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The hungry turtle and other underwater delights

We were lucky to have an extra instructor along who came along on our PADI Open Water training just for fun. Sarah did some teaching and brought her new underwater camera along.

Chad and me. All photos in this post by Sarah, with additional editing by me, the Photoshop control freak.

Komodo is famous for its strong currents, so most of our classes were in the gentle waters outside the park. But for our last dive, we went to Tatawa Island, where we got to see the kind of underwater environments that make the place exceptional.

As a snorkeler I’m used to seeing either beautiful coral or a lot of fish. Tatawa had both in ridiculous abundance. We floated along in the current through clouds of tiny glassfish, all moving as one. We found Nemo.

 And we hovered over huge, vibrant reefs.

The best part was spending several minutes watching a turtle devour coral. He was really ripping into the reef, crunching pieces in his mouth and scattering coral crumbs everywhere. That’s something I won’t forget soon.