Sophie and Liam dropped their wet snorkels on the verandah, brushed the sand off their feet and went inside their cabin for a quick shower and change.
“That was absolutely amazing!” Sophie tossed her beach bag on the bed.
“Did you see those clown fish hiding amongst the anemones? Just like ‘Finding Nemo.’”
“Are you kidding? The water was so clear I could see every scale and frond!”
They grinned at each other still unable to believe they were actually staying on an island straight out of a travel brochure. Crystalline blue water, white sand, rainforest growing all around them. Coconuts dropping on the ground.
“This is going to be a brilliant holiday, Liam!”
Ten fabulous days in a tropical island beach resort. The kind built of carved wood, palm thatched roofs and lazy ceiling fans. Then two whole weeks aboard a live-in yacht, touring the islands, climbing volcanoes, more snorkelling over pristine reefs.
Almost a whole month in the Maluku islands, Indonesia, more widely known as the fabled Spice Islands, the ones Christopher Columbus had been searching for when he found the Americas. Home of nutmeg and cloves. Plantations of coffee and cinnamon trees.
The yacht tour they had booked would include an excursion to visit some of the plantations, to see where the spices grew and sample them straight from the tree as well as in their processed forms. As a chef in training, Liam was looking forward to this, eager to taste if they were different from the spices he could buy at home.
“You hop in the shower, I’m just going over to Reception to book a spot on that diving tour tomorrow. Sure you don’t want to come?”
Sophie shook her head. “No, I’ll stick to snorkelling, thank you. I’ll be fine, you go ahead.”
Liam walked along the sandy path, following the trail through coconut palms to Reception. The walls were non existent, the desk shaded by the roof and open to the breezes, cane armchairs dotted around encouraged guests to sit and relax over the morning paper or afternoon drink. A bar opposite served coffee all day and drinks after midday.
A man Liam hadn’t seen before, looked up from behind the reception desk and smiled at him.
“Can I help you?” Unlike the Indonesian who was usually on duty, this man was English, with dark blond hair, bleached by the sun. His white short sleeved shirt revealed tanned arms and a silver dolphin hung on a chain around his neck.
He smiled at Liam. “Hullo, I’m Tim Morrison, the manager. What can I do for you?”