Written by and Photos Courtesy of Chantelle Wyatt
New arrivals were left damp this week after crazy heavy rain hung over the Bau Bau site but that did not stop project goers smiling or enjoying camp life and diving. My open water students were high on life and happy to be out here in Indonesia despite the rain. Cheery attitudes cleared the dark clouds and the sun sprung out in full force.
A spot of pre dive beach fun on Nirwana before our first open water dive had everybody smiling and the group excited about submerging.
The gentle cruise out to our new boat Gerhana on calm blue waters had everybody buzzing about the dive ahead and really coming together as a team.
Kitting up onboard and helping each other get ready for the dive had a real hype about it and it was good to hear students excited about what they might see on the site and also comfortably exercising buddy checks together without prompt. This is the only thing you can really hope for from your students, that they practice what they learn with ease and are happy.
The dive down to check out the artificial reef structure which had been a project put to the local government by Alim and Sudiar, two local Opwall staff allowed for some awesome exploration of new coral growth and fish spotting and left the students overwhelmed by how successful local projects like this can be. Lion fish, frog fish, bat fish and damsel fish are resident on the structure and evidence the fact that these kind of projects work. They are also very special introductions for students to conservation efforts by local communities and more importantly by individuals, after all it is the passion of individuals that really instigates change.
Post dive schedules include a range of activities and more in depth educational opportunities for students including coral reef ecology lectures, which as an instructor are hugely useful because they allow your students to learn about what to look for and to be able to identify what they are seeing. Documentaries to help broaden horizons and fun games really allow students to immerse themselves in marine conservation life and explore new ideas and concepts.
One of the best things about this site is the family atmosphere and that really shines through when you see students, staff and the site manager and her family all mixing and laughing and catching up about the day. I was really happy to see all of my students making new friends and mingling with local staff. It creates a really friendly environment to be a part of and one that makes you feel welcome. On projects abroad this is primary and Bau Bau prides itself on it and it is absolutely one of the reasons I applied to work her for a second season. Being away from home can be quite daunting but not when you feel safe and included. This homey feel also makes it hard to leave but helps to maintain lasting memories about individuals who in many cases become life long friends and colleagues.
Those little things that happen whilst on camp that bring you back to nature and away from wifi and media and the big world also remind you of the simple things in life and how special moments are and why it is so, so important to come and visit places like this when and if you can. Seeing life from a different perspective is totally invaluable and most of the students I have had the pleasure of teaching out her not only want to continue to dive but also want to come back to Indonesia and help protect its ocean.
The evening meal is always the perfect time to mull over the day and talk about exciting finds or things achieved and the lodge environment certainly allow for this. It’s great to see different schools and uni’s coming together to exchange stories and as night falls and the sun sets get excited for the next day.
*Chantelle also wrote an article for The Scuba News about the beach clean-up done in Indonesia – you can find it here