The dugong on the beach.

Life is also

Life is also…. dealing with unexpected events ..!

And Indonesia is a country full of such events !!

At the end of May we (Frank and Veran) left packed and sacked from our beloved Koh Tao to another island, an island called Bangka. It is located in Indonesia, just north of North Sulawesi. A small island, full of jungle, with 1500 inhabitants in three small villages, where most of the transport goes over water because there are no roads (and therefore no cars)! It is also surrounded by beautiful reefs and rock formations under water.

What we were carrying with us to Indonesia.
What we were carrying with us to Indonesia.

We have been on the island previously to orient ourselves, to talk to the owner of one of the resorts who was interested in repairing (parts of) the reef in front of ‘his’ door, to get a feel for the size of the damage caused by dynamite fishing, and what we could do for possible recovery, and of course, education.

What we found gave us energy and inspiration! A very nice project for CoralGardening to deal with, in part because it was possible to train local people in the field of coral conservation and repair, and partly because of the opportunities we saw further in Indonesia in the area of sustainability.

After extensive consultations about the visa possibilities and several visits to the Indonesian embassy in Singapore, we were ready – 6 months as a volunteers in Indonesia. We would have to extend the visa a few times on the spot, but that was all well-arranged in accordance with the guidelines of the Indonesian government.

Collecting our social visa in Singapore
Collecting our social visa in Singapore

After arriving at Bangka we immediately hit the jackpot! A big fundraiser with a nationally “world-famous artist,” a dinner with the mayor of one of the major cities in North Sulawesi, and a clean-up dive in which the artist also took part enthusiastically. Wonderful unexpected Indonesia !!

Then we commenced with the project – building, diving, researching, drawing, designing, preparing, giving information, and sharing knowledge with divers, etc etc. That there were a great many mosquitoes and the internet reception was not very good, but we were doing beautiful things !!

Vera is drawing the dugong statue
Veran is drawing the dugong statue.
Veran welding the dugong .

So you can imagine our great disappointment when we were told in July that our visa would expire at the end of that month. Further extension was not possible despite the information we had previously received.

Indonesia – land full of unexpected events 

We did everything we could to try to make sure we could not stay longer, but – just like in Thailand – the Indonesian government tightened the rules for the deployment of volunteers and was adamant. There was no alternative but to pack our things. The structure, in the shape of a Dugon, that we have built, was handed over to the people of the resort, so they can deploy it during Coral Day. With pain in our hearts we say goodbye to Bangka and Indonesia.

The dugong on the beach.
The dugong on the beach.
The dugong want's to get in the ocean.
The dugong want’s to get in the ocean.

We are now back in the Netherlands and, after a sad period due to the death of Frank’s mother, a few visits to a doctor due to a persistent arm injury, and several catch-up moments with friends and family, we are in for a few weeks of rest. During which we going to look where our next project might be and which partnerships we could possibly enter into.

If you have ideas or connections that may be of interest to us, please let us know !!