CAS Week 2021

Renaissance College

Day 3 - Reef Check & Upcycling

By Joe & Richard

It was an early start to the second day at the Bajul Eco Lodge, most of the gurls got up to watch the sunrise and the boys to do some exercise. Most of us were up by 6:30. Breakfast was about an hour later, consisting of congee with plenty of delicious Indonesian toppings. During our hour for breakfast we met our new camp instructor, Matt. Matt is a big, red-haired South African guy who has clearly done more in his life than most of us. We had a briefing for the days activities and grabbed our gear to head down to the jetty. Today we were off to Menjangan Island to help record data about the beautiful coral reefs.

We boarded our boats, and headed for the island. On our arrival, we moored up to a rope that Nono had anchored to a safe rope in the past. It’s bad practise to throw an anchor down in places like that as the big anchor destroys all the coral it comes in contact with. We began to jump out of our boats after putting on sufficient sunscreen, our flippers, snorkels, PFDs (or life jackets) and our masks. The water was incredibly clear, you could see right through to about 12 meters underwater. We had stopped here to have a practise snorkel to get used to the equipment before doing our reef check.

The underwater landscape looked like something out of a film. The big cliff created by millions of years of coral generation went down into what looked like a bottomless pit. The fish were all so vibrant and had fantastic patterns across their body, there were too many to count. We could name a few like some snappers and parrot fish, thanks to Nono and Matt along with the tablet we were given that describes many of the fish we were to encounter. We swam out about 20 meters and headed back to the boat. Those of us who were able to duck dive with the floatation devices on could experience the brilliant corals like a giant sea fan or the invertebrates like giant clams even closer.

We head off to our next location to start a real reef check. This time when we got into the water, we were allowed to take our PFDs off, allowing us to swim underwater uninterrupted. Some of us chose to keep them on to make it easier to find the indicator species without worrying about having to keep universal the water to breathe. We saw even more than before, with even bigger clams and sea fans. Some of us were able to spot the very poisonous Crown of Thorns starfish, which eats all the coral, and without any predators, can destroy huge areas of coral. Nono was telling us tales about his friend who got a scratch from one of the thorns from the creature and is now unable to bend his right pointer finger or the time he had a fever for a week because of a small scratch on his ankle. Nono leads expeditions to help save the local corals from these predators by removing them or simply injecting them with a slight acid to kill them as their only predator, the Horn Triton snail is a delicacy and humans have fallen their entire population out of the oceans.

We continued to swim through the ocean, now being able to dive down to experience what the side of the cliff looked like and the marine life that covered its surface. This time we didn’t need to turn around as the boats came to meet us. We all got on and had 15 minutes of free time in this incredible landscape to relax, or continue snorkelling. Some of us jumped back into the water to try our hand at some free diving, where some of us stayed on the boats to make use of the Bali sun to work on their tan.

We headed back to our little bamboo jetty to get some lunch. We finished up with an end briefing and ate lunch. Once lunch was finished, we had just under two hours of free time to spend in the shade, most of us stayed in the main communal area to play games. Tiffene and Cristiana taught Richard Arnav and Joe some ballet, and it was just as funny as it sounds!

Once the air had cooled down, some of Nono’s friends and family had drove over to teach us some of their crafts. Nono introduced the concept to us, it was simple. You take rubbish collected from the beach or from your own home or community, and turn it into something practical and often beautiful. The ladies came and sat with us in circles, and gave us each our own little pile of used instant coffee wrappers, which are popular in this part of the world. She showed us how to prepare the wrappers by cutting off the hard parts, and folding them into thirds. We then folded them in half so they looked like small parts of a flower. Once we’d done this 20 times each, we began to weave them into a zigzagging chain. Some were faster than others, but for those who finished first, we learnt how to sew these chains together to create a thick sheet of woven coffee wrappers. These sheets are then used along with a zipper to create clutch like wallets. While people worked, Nono’s baby was being passed around with a gleaming little smile on his face. Nono’s son must have been the happiest little baby on earth.

Once everyone had learnt the technique to weave the wrappers together, Nono then showed us what to do with the prices we’d cut off the original packets. He’d come up with an ingenious way to create cheap (or free) bricks from the rubbish that we create. He simply got an empty soda bottle and filled it with the strips of plastic, he then compressed it with a stick to make it as hard as a brick. The process was repeated to fill the whole bottle was filled and firm. Nono then gives these bricks to the local community to build walls for gardens or even houses as well as teaches them how to make the bricks themselves.

We were then given the opportunity to buy the goods made by Nono and his helpers. Each product has an orange patch on one side that reads “presented by Nono” and has his contacts on the bottom. You can follow him on Facebook at: Friends of Menjangan.

Once we’d finished that up, Nono went with his wife, baby and friends back to his house. Matt then gave us a talk about the Anatomy of Action and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. These are the UNs goals for all governments to have a sustainable future, these include no hunger, no poverty, education and equal pay for all. Each point has an individual goals set of goals that relate to them, so in all there are 169 individual goals. The Anatomy of Action is a movement who’s aim is to spread the word to reduce humans impact on the environment by implementing some simple swaps in everyone’s lives, like carpooling, walking or using public transport rather than having a private car. Matt got incredibly excited about this and told us that we can see what we can do to help on the website;

Once we’d all absorbed what Matt was saying and had a conversation bout what our school is doing to help the environment, it was time for dinner. Dinner consisted of fired noodles, rice, tofu and lots of chicken. At the end of each meal they also have lots of fruit for us to eat, usually watermelon and papaya. We then payed more games as a group, Mr burns introduced us to a game called 21. The rules are simple, one person begins by saying “to my left” or “to my right” to determine the direction of the game and then nod their head. People then move around the circle nodding their head, however the fifth person and every multiple of five shakes their head, and on seven and every multiple of 7 (along with 17 as it has 7 in the number) th person shakes their head and the direction of play is reversed. The game is also played in silence. It’s a game all about focus and practise, so of course Mr Burns had to win.

Once all the games were done, we agreed that it should be an early night, and decided that lights out was to be 9:30 tonight. It’s going to be a big day tomorrow, and we’re moving to our next destination.

  • Mrs Scully
    Nov 14, 2019

    Sounds wonderful and amazing. You are building fantastic skills and memories.

    I need to see pictures of Joe doing ballet or it didn't happen.

Leave a comment