Check out Olivia's volunteer blog she wrote, during her 6 week expedition with Barefoot Conservation in Raja Ampat....Weeks 1 & 2
Olivia's blog week 1
Wednesday 5th Feb
Now I am finally in Arborek, the island where the Barefoot basecamp is. The flight went well, I flew with Express airlines which is the only airline who flies direct from Jakarta to Sorong which is very good. When in Sorong I was in the smallest airport I’ve ever seen! Very cute. Just outside Mr Ardy was waiting for me to drive me to the hotel just over the road where I spent a few hours and used the last bit of internet until next time, which I didn’t know when would be! Just before 12 Mr Ardy came and picked me up again and drove me to the ferry which took me to Waisai, the “capital” of Raja Ampat. It was a very funny trip, I felt like I was a celebrity almost, I got lots of people coming up to me wanting to take pictures with me, haha. When I arrived in Waisai Claire, the project manager, and Tom, the science officer, met me and helped me with my bags to the Barefoot boat! Then with a huge smile on my face, there was a one hour trip with a beautiful sunset and amazing scenery past islands and reefs, we finally came to the beautiful island Arborek where I was warmly welcomed by the rest of the staff and all the volunteers.
Thursday 6th Feb
This morning I was woken up by this amazing sunrise shining right into my bed, I thought I was dreaming but when I realized I wasn’t I got a big smile and got up for breakfast which was pancakes, toast and eggs, yum! Then my day was full of introductions and so on. Tom gave me a PowerPoint lecture about everything to be aware of before entering the ocean, very interesting. After we had another lecture about the manta rays! Can’t wait until I get to see them! Unfortunately I didn’t get to dive today because the weather got bad but Arno took me on a snorkel just around out jetty! It was sooo beautiful! So many fish and corals! It’s amazing that we live just on the reef. As I didn’t get to dive today Carmen, the dive instructor, gave me a small open water test, just to check what I remember because I haven’t dived for about 7 months. I passed it thankfully!
Friday 7th Feb
Today was my first dive here in Raja Ampat! It began with a briefing of what we were going to and a little refreshment of things I had forgotten. It was an amazing feeling to be back in the ocean again after 7 months. The dive was great, we saw lots of things such as giant clams, nemo’s and other fishes and corals. The dive was a check dive to check my skills and it all went well! After lunch we went to Manta Sandy and I had my first encounter with mantas!!! It was breathtaking. We “only” saw two but for me that was still amazing. In the evening it was Carmens birthday so we got cake, yey! The sunset was also amazing with the sky all pink and orange, so we all sat on the jetty and admired it. Awesome first day.
Saturday 8th Feb
Today it’s Saturday which means fun dive day!! The first dive was at a beautiful dive site just 20 minutes away. The reef was on a slope and had lots of activity going on with colorful nudibranches, fishes and again corals. I can’t wait until I start my science training next week where I will start to learn the fish, corals and algae species. The second dive of the day was at Manta Sandy again and that was so cool! We saw about 7-8 mantas, 4 black ones and the rest white bellied ones. Apparently it’s very unusual to see black ones but we are lucky here in Raja Ampat that we can see so many. In the evening it was “party-night” with the theme “this is what I found”. So me and another volunteer walked around the whole Island on the beach (which takes about 30 minutes) and looked for things that had been washed up on the beach from the sea. We found lots of stuff. The waste management is a big issue here in Raja Ampat, you can often see rubbish floating around in the sea and being washed up on the beaches. The rubbish is manly plastic and here at Barefoot everyone seems super keen to make a difference and find a solution in this area, which is great to see. Anyway, I found about 50 different flip flops, no pairs, which I made a skirt and a top out of! Everyone had found lots of fun stuff to wear and there was lots of laughs. Again tonight the sunset was breathtaking.
Sunday 9th Feb
Sundays are scuba-free day so me and some other volunteers went for a beautiful snorkel around the main jetty, we saw lots of stuff today such as giant moray, crocodile fish, an octopus and lots of other cool stuff. Afterwards me and two other volunteers made lunch, we always cook on Sundays, and then we went to play volleyball with the locals but it started to rain so we sat under the roof instead and waited until the rain stopped!
Monday 10th Feb
Today I had PPB (Peak Performance Buoyancy) training to finish of my advanced. It was really fun, we were knocking over weights with my reg without touching the sand with my body and I felt like a seal! Hihi. We also did lots of hovering practice to get me used to being able to control my body and get close to the corals without touching them, lots of fun but was quite difficult now in the beginning but I will soon be an expert! The second dive of the day was being a victim for one of the other volunteers rescue training, lots of fun and I got to see what I will expect to do when I’m going to start my rescue course.
Tuesday 11th Feb
This morning we got up extra early because I had signed up to go to school in Yenbuba! Yenbuba is another island about a half hour boat ride away! Me and Arno got the little kids which was lots of fun. We didn’t know what to do really so we had to improvise! So I started drawing animals on the blackboard and they had to guess what it was, first in Indonesian and then in English. A super fun morning and good practicing for my Indonesian! After I had two dives, the first another PPB practice and the other one more rescue training, where I was the victim again so I got rescued a few times and lifted out of the water a few times in different positions, quite exhausting but fun!
Olivia's blog week 2
Wednesday 12th Feb
Up early to get ready for diving. Today I did the last exercise for my advanced and that was navigation. I’ve never really been good at reading a compass, but it actually went really well today, so we finished early and got to do a fun-dive the rest of the time. The boat went off to Waisai to pick up the two new volunteers and the “manta-people” Helen from aquatic alliance and Chris. But they had to stay in Waisai an extra night because one of the volunteers didn’t get his bag on time. But that meant that we could make it extra nice and tidy for them until tomorrow!
Thursday 13th Feb
Today the boat with the new people, except the guy who didn’t get his bag and Simon, came from Waisai, they all seem really nice. So we had the day just to hang out and get to know the new people.
Friday 14th Feb
Today it was a full-on day. Me and Renee got our first science lectures. The first one was about the invertebrates and soft corals, such as starfish, nudibranches, shrimps, crabs and so on. The second was about algae’s. It all is really interesting and I’m looking forward to when I know everything so I really know what I’m looking at when in the ocean! In the evening the second volunteer and Simon came from Waisai. It was great to finally meet Simon after all the emails about me volunteering for Barefoot! In the evening Rob had a really interesting manta lecture for us!
Saturday 15th Feb
This morning we had a pointy dive about the invertebrates, soft corals and algae’s. It was lots of fun and I was surprised of how much I knew! We saw three mantas swimming past us which was awesome. In the afternoon we went to another island where we never had dived before and it was lots of fun. It was on a slope with a slight current so we just went along. We saw two black tip reef sharks a swimming feather star, a yellow trumpet fish and lots more. In the evening Chris had an awesome lecture about whale sharks, which made me want to dive with them super much!
Sunday 16th Feb
Today it was a non-diving day so I focused on getting all the algae’s and inverts in my head and me and we also got a pointy snorkel which was nice. Half past five me and two others walked around the village to pick up couples to be in the cooking competition! It was lots of fun. It was the local men who were going to cook for their wives while we had tea with the wives and put some flowers in their hair! It was so much fun and the locals seemed to really enjoy themselves, as much as we did! Lots of people from the village including all the kids joined us!
Monday 17th Feb
Today we were going to have two computer tests so I spent the morning to study. Then at 10.30 we had a pointy dive which was fun! We saw a big school of bumphead parrotfish which was awesome because they are huge. After lunch we had our computer tests which was a slide with different pictures of the algae’s and inverts which we had to write down the names on a paper. Very easy now when we know them and we all passed! The rest of the afternoon I spent resting my head and read a book in the sun.
Tuesday 18th Feb
Today I didn’t have any dives in the morning so I went to Yenbuba and helped the community manager, Githa, teach the little kids English. Lots of fun, the children are so cute and willing to learn, and I learnt a few more words in bahasa! After lunch I had two dives the first dive was the algae and invert pointy test which I failed because of some stupid mistakes, but then I redid it on the second dive and passed! Tonight it was also one of the other volunteers last night here so she had a fantastic “lecture” about turtles and what she has accomplished here at Barefoot. She started doing turtle ID here in Raja Ampat and she showed us how we can continue what she started! After dinner Helen, from Aquatic Alliance, had a great lecture about mantas and how Aquatic Alliance are working together with Barefoot and what is being accomplished. Very interesting! We also got cake, yey!