I chose to join this program for my 2.5 weeks of vacation time with 3 goals in mind:
1. I wanted to visit a beautiful, tropical area to spend time relaxing and getting to know a different culture
2. I wanted to spend my time making a difference with a community group that had a sustainable project and
3. I wanted to share an experience with other like-minded people since I knew I would be travelling on my own.
The two weeks I spent living on Nusa Penida at the Turtle Conservation Project was incredible and far exceeded my expectations.
I spent a couple of days in Ubud before joining the project so I was able to learn a little more about Bali and their faith-based culture. Bali mainland and the surrounding islands are full of beauty. From the rice fields outside Ubud, to the aqua-blue water at the Blue Lagoon on Nusa Lembongan, to the cliffs overlooking numerous beaches I was awe-struck each time we visited a new beautiful place. I spent most days exploring the islands, walking the beach at sunrise or laying in a hammock at sunset at one of the many beach-side canteens – including the one where we have all of our meals on the project. It was beautiful and exactly what I was looking for in a regular vacation.
The project itself is really special. Many of the staff and the main coordinators are native islanders. I was able to learn directly from their own experience growing up on the island just how badly the sea turtle population had been decreasing and how they have seen an increase over the past few years since the project started. They were patient, humble, and fun trainers who care so much about their island and the participants who come to the program. I was impressed with their work ethic and their ability to manage so many young people all at once while also running a turtle conservation project with over 100 turtles at one time. Feeding the turtles, cleaning them and their tanks was not a hard task, because the trainers and the turtles make it so worth it.
Lastly, I met some amazing people. It’s a big range of people that come from a variety of backgrounds, countries, and generations. But we all shared a passion to protect our oceans and sea turtles, hoping to make an impact in the short time that we were living on Nusa Penida. Some people come with a friend or a group of friends. I travelled alone and found 7 other people who also came on their own to travel around the island with on multiple occasions. We shared so many memories and got to know more about why each of us was there seeking a way to make a bigger impact.
I had plenty of time to relax, take in the beautiful scenery, and felt like my time with the turtles and cleaning up trash along the beach really made an impact, I’m honoured and grateful to have been a part of this project even for a short time.