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My Balifornia Dream

March 27, 2020

The Green Lion

By Lauranne Schlüchter from Switzerland

As we were looking for somewhere to spend our holidays together, my best friend and I didn’t really know where to go. And so, we ended up discovering the turtle conservation project in Nusa Penida and chose to join it for three weeks during the summer. And we don’t regret it at all!

On the boat to Nusa Penida, we were so excited to see what was awaiting us. We had been warmly welcomed by the coordinators and after having left our luggage in our room, we walked the street to the Young Coconut Cafe where all the meals are served and deliciously cooked by the amazingly kind and smiling women of the Cafe.

The next day, we were presented the plan of the week, the various activities, as well as the Turtle Center of course. And this meeting with these adorable and fascinating animals leaves no one indifferent!

The coordinators are always there to show you how to take care of them properly and to respond to any question. Taking care of the turtles includes washing the tanks and corals, cutting the fish, feeding the turtles, cleaning them before putting them back into the cleaned tanks and indeed being slapped by those cute buddies. The various tasks are attributed to everyone on a board at
the beginning of the morning/afternoon activities, just after the much famous “TURTLE TIMEEEEE” is kindly shouted loud by the coordinators at the Coconut Cafe. But taking care of the turtles also implies an incredible amount of laughs with our coordinators, new nicknames on the board, water fights, some dead fish comedy show and sometimes waiting for the water to come. The Turtle Center is so much more than walls and tanks, it is a home filled with admiration for these wonderful creatures, filled with love, happiness and benevolence!

Every week, groups are formed and are attributed to the activities from Monday to Friday, Saturdays and Sundays being days off given in order to discover the treasures of the island, to go scuba diving, or just to hang up together with the volunteers at the pool or on the beach.

Apart from the tasks within the Turtle Center, the other activities include beach and street cleaning (you have a great impact by doing this), trash bin making (really cool and rewarding if you make some effort/lots of laughs with the coordinators, I assure you), awareness signboards making (creativity is the watchword), crab catching for the turtles (A LOT OF FUN!) and some activities to improve the Turtle Center in order to make it an even more incredible place for the turtles, as well as for the people taking care of them. Finally, there is also one afternoon per group per week along with some of the coordinators at Crystal Bay which is a gorgeous beach (and just to say the trip to that place is already kinda great – lots of banana trees, unique roads and lots of laughs)

But the days do not end when the sun goes down. It is always fun to hang a bit with the other participants, the coordinators and women of the Coconut Cafe in the evenings, to have karaoke,  dance and play cards. And, of course, there is the famous Thursday night where a bonfire is lit every week on the beach. It is a special occasion that brings us all together to say hello to the new
participants and goodbye to the ones soon leaving the project, to share joy, memories and tears, to sing and have a great time.

Following the great Thursday night, the participants that are leaving are lucky to go release a turtle at Gamat Bay and see her regain her natural habitat and maybe swim with her for a while. Combined, the bonfire and the turtle release are a wonderful way to say goodbye to the project, the turtles, friends and family you have met.

An important thing to say about this project is that you have a great impact helping with the turtles but not only. You also get useful with the other activities such as street and beach cleaning by sensitizing the local population regarding trash. And, of course you are also amazingly well surrounded. The locals are extremely kind people and smile is a high value for them. Give a smile to the locals and they will give it back, share your laugh and they will laugh even harder. As for the coordinators, they make an awesome team, always helping, always sharing, always kidding and making their best for everyone else.

As you will have understood, Nusa Penida is a little paradise where it feels good to live. My advice to enjoy your time there a maximum is then simple: SMILE (like a lot), be open to get to know the others, visit the amazing spots of the island, wake up to see at least one sunrise (even if it’s early it’s really worth it) and enjoy the sunsets, sing at Thursday’s bonfire, have lots of fun and
DON’T DO STUPID THINGS (famous words of the coordinators but not always applied by them neither as you will see haha)! Not so difficult isn’t it …

Nusa Penida and the family we met there will always stay in our minds and hearts. These three weeks will never be forgotten, and we are so looking forward to meeting them all again. And as one of our friends said at his last Thursday’s bonfire “Thank you to the turtles who brought us together in Nusa Penida”

The Green Lion

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