May 19, 2016

Pure Joy

First image: We’ve been bouldering all day through the jungle. Hopping from rock to rock. Taking our time on the tight squeezes. Everyone is hot and sweaty. A few kids learn how to eat apple cores and seeds. Morale is high when we make it to the waterfall and small pool. We are in the water. Refreshed by the coldness of it. I look over and watch child after child sit beneath the waterfall- shoulders back, mouth open, cheering, alive. There is nothing they will do a classroom that will match this moment of pure joy.

Second Image: The kids have some down time when we return, so I go for a quick snorkel. The tide is low and I don’t expect much. The water is warm and I slowly kick out. There is a leak in my mask, so I am annoyed, but I just hold down the gaps near my nose and continue to kick. There are some nice fish and colorful coral. It is a quiet pleasant time in the ocean and then out of the corner of my eye, I see her.

A Hawksbill's turtle about a meter below me pecking at some coral. I swim over to her, but keep my distance. I resist the urge to dive and get closer, because I don’t want to spook her. I gently float overhead and follow her for about ten minutes as she explores the reef. Although Tioman is a nesting island, people say that turtles are rare- I have seen two in two days. For those of you who have swam with turtles, I don’t need to tell you how serene and perfect the experience is. For those of you who have never swam in the ocean with a turtle, I suggest you find a way to do it before they are all gone.

On my way back, I literally swam into more garbage than I could carry. I posted a photo earlier. My joy and peacefulness quickly changed into anger and sadness. How have we dirtied the ocean to the point where I was swimming through so much garbage that I felt gross? And this is at a relatively remote and sparsely populated island.


My week here as been spectacular. I miss my family and I am ready to head back to my life, but I could stay here for much longer. This is a beautiful place and a nearly flawless program for sixth grade kids. We are up at 5:00am and a long travel day tomorrow, so I am off to bed for one last night with the sound of the waves lulling me to sleep.

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