Our first morning started with a lovely porridge (in the middle of Raja Ampat) by the beach just looking at the sea. Not bad, huh? We had a plan of seeing mantas but it didn’t really work out because we couldn’t find anyone to take us. After breakfast we went to see Bearfoot Conservation. It’s a non-profit organisation here in Arborek. Katherine wanted to meet them because there is a Scottish girl we met on the ferry here and when we talked it turned out that she does the same here, she is working on plastic pollution. As we arrived to Bearfoot camp, Janie was out diving so they said to come back after 4pm. As we had plenty of time, we spent it with snorkelling under the jetty and around. I saved a mouse… I’m so proud of myself. I was snorkelling around the jetty, which is mind blowing by the way. The amount of fish and coral on the poles.. it’s amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it before. As I was swimming I could see something paddling above the water. I could see the tiny little legs under water and his little drenched head above. I tried to help him but he kept swimming away so I took my underwater camera and basically got him to stand on it then I tried to put him on the pole but he jumped off the camera. For the second try I could finally help him and he got off the jetty pole. He was there for a while cleaning and drying himself. So cute. As Katherine joined, she showed me so many things under water. As you know, she is a marine biologist and she explained me what fish is what, corals and also little worms under water which look like Xmas tree and when you go there and snap your finger, they disappear. It’s so funny. I saw a million type of fish, small, big, bigger. We spent about 2 hours discovering the underwater world. Because we started to get hungry and my head started to ache, we got out, walked back to the village where we had to stop for photos (as you do in your bikini) and then headed back to our camp. Arborek is a small island as I’ve mentioned before and it’s village is very cute. People are so happy and their surrounding is so clean. We understood later why it is so clean everywhere here. After lunch Katherine and I went for an other snorkel just in front of our beach. Since water level was so low we basically had to crawl on sea grass and corals which isn’t ideal as there could be stingrays or any other creature under the sand and also corals are very sharp so we had to tack our belly in not to touch any. But when got to the drop off, it was amazing. The drop off is basically where the coral reef starts and meets the big blue see. It’s literally a big drop off.The coral here was green but all sort of green. Katherine said,it’s very rare and she hasn’t actually seen this before. It was million different shades of green, it looked like a very pretty garden. We stayed out there for about an hour before we got back,had a quick shower and visited Bearfoot again. We finally found Janie and had a chat with her. Soon her friend joined who does the project with her. At Bearfoot, all people do differ type of projects. Some works with corals, some with the locals or plastic or even the manta rays. We soon started to talk about Katherine’s project and they actually said so many interesting things. They go and do a beach clean up at least once a week then they sort everything into plastic bottles, paper, cans, etc. They also count them and sort of keep a record of how many what they found each time so they have a proof if plastic pollution has grown since the last time or not. That’s how they can open a case with the government. They also told us about this awesome thing where they basically started to get kids involved but in the beginning it was a bit difficult. Now what they do is, if a kid walks in with a bag of rubbish, they got a cool sticker. After a certain amount of sticker they take those kids who have that amount away to a different island where they help cleaning that beach and they have a picnic with them. I know, I know.. they have to clean a beach again but they also get away and get a picnic. These kids have never done that before. And then there is even a bigger winning, the most sticker kid get a free dive lesson and certificate. So there is a big incentive. And what the kids do? They actually run into the conservation asking for bin bags so they can collect rubbish. How awesome is that? We had a very long chat about lots of things and I was watching the others sitting on the jetty and just having a great time and I couldn’t help but wonder, how good it is. You are here in the most beautiful place in the world and helping lots of very good cause. Most of them are here for a month or three, some of them are only coming for 2 weeks. But since it’s a non-profit organisation, everyone who is here actually payed for being able to be here and help. The company don’t pay anything. I can’t tell prices but I’m sure it’s on their website. As it turns out you don’t have to be able to dive as they do a course before you go out. I guessed for non divers it’s more expensive with the course. But then Katherine said it’s not always the case.
For dinner Katherine made us some mild coconut lentil curry with rice. I was very tired and I was ready to sleep but we still needed to sort out our manta trip for the next day. Before we got back home from Bearfoot, we went into the dive shop and asked them how much would they take us and when and for how long, etc? They said they can only take us at 8am for 1 hour with 4 divers. The reason of the short time is because the president’s son is arriving the next day and the whole village need to be there to welcome him. He gives donation to the village in return to vote for him as next president. Politics…. so she said, she can take us for IDR 100,000/person. If we want to go with it, we have to be there no late than 8am. There is another thing we weren’t sure about. There are 2 points to see mantas, a place called manta sandy where the mantas are getting cleaned by little fish and there is a place called manta ridge or manta reef. We heard from Barefoot that since manta sandy is the most popular and mantas don’t actually like too many people, there is always a chance they won’t be there but they are definitely at manta ridge. This woman in the shop would only take us to manta sandy as according to her, manta ridge is dangerous due to underwater current which could drag us down. We walked home and asked Harry if he could speak to the homestay owner how much would he take us to a 2-3 hours journey around manta sandy and manta ridge. He came with the answer, the guy can only take us from 8am and back to 10am cos he needs to be at the welcoming too. He wanted to charge IDR 500,000/boat. So an hour extra, still only manta sandy and for 500,000. Back at the camp as I was falling asleep by the table we tried to figure out which one would be the best for us. And then an angel came ☺️ His name is Melki and he lives next door where we camp. He gave us some fish for dinner and he came by to have a chat. Harry told him our problem and he said, he will take us for IDR 300,000/boat and we can leave at 10am and come back at 1pm so it would give us enough time to sort of find the mantas around. We were ecstatic when we heard it. He said that our host is family so he has to speak with him. We can not just go with whomever, if we stay at a homestay, we should use the owner’s facilities and help in regards with trips. But since he had to be here and he couldn’t take us Melki said it will be fine. We were talking a lot about his life before he got married and about his homestay which he opens in March this year and we didn’t even realise, it was 12.30am. We said our goodbyes and we went to sleep