Children go to school 6 days a week in Indonesia, generally for the mornings, finishing around lunch time. So when school finishes on Saturday it’s the beginning of the weekend. Time to have fun! As a result Saturday classes are always a bit different. This Saturday we decided to walk to the beach on the other side of the island, and what an adventure it turned out to be….
The village of Katiet is located on the East Coast of the peninsular at the southern end of Sipora Island. The walk over to the West Coast is approximately 40 minutes along a rough, concreted track through jungle and up a steep hill. Upon arrival to the other side a beautiful, sprawling, white sand crescent bay with turquoise and emerald waters greets you. With no coral reef in sight it’s an adventure playground for children and perfect to practice swimming and surfing, play in the sand and waves or just hang out and have fun.
And that’s exactly what we did. Singing the Beatles “Love love me do”, a song we had learnt earlier in the week, through the jungle and practising English as we walked, the 40 minutes passed quickly and very humorously!
At the bay the children revelled in the freedom a beach with no reef provides, surfing, swimming, racing around, lying in the sand, building sandcastles and playing football. There were smiles and laughter and faces beaming with delight. It was thrilling to see they were having such a wonderful time.
It was only when we stopped at the top of the hill on the walk back to take in the spectacular view of the west coast of the peninsular and one of the children pointed at the beach asking if that was where we had just been that I truly understood the elation and excitement they had felt at the beach…..IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THEY HAD EVER BEEN THERE! It took me a few minutes to comprehend what they were saying. Although their village is only a 40 minute walk away they had never walked over the hill and explored the other side of the island. I was stunned. As a child growing up in a western society, tearing off on my bicycle with my friends to explore the environment around us was the norm. It had never occurred to me that that wasn’t the case here. What an insight I had just gained into their world and what a privilege to share this experience with them. No wonder they had seemed a little scared going down the hill, they’d never done it before.
These children are courageous souls, willing to trust and best of all explore…..That bodes well for their future. A future which will see many changes to the area with surf tourism growing and for which they will need to draw on such qualities to play their part in.