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To design future Leadership Development experiences, we compressed a lot into the 3 days including: visiting the nearby Baniata community; snorkelling (one of many) amazing reefs spotting turtles, (baby) black tipped reef sharks, large parrot fish, very bright fish of all colors and a barracuda; and viewing conservation activities including monitoring coconut crabs (yes – bright blue bellied crabs that sort of look like a lobster that eat coconuts), surveying canoe trees and tagging turtles.  

Part of the turtle conservation activities at Tetepare Island is ‘turtle rodeo’. This consisted of two boats with 7 men – two men standing on each bow spotting turtles then, once spotted, they speed along following a turtle… then, in a moment, the man at the front of the bow, dives in and comes up with a turtle which was then checked for its health and recorded. 

To see a man dive in and come up with a turtle is an absolutely impressive and awe inspiring experience!

We walked through the magnificent forest where Tumi, one of the Tetepare leaders, showed us how almost every plant has a medicinal purpose for the community and tall strangler fig trees, numerous vines and local ‘Kastom’ plants – some of which will raise the spirits if used inappropriately. My mind was full of rich greenness from this experience.

We took a boat ride across to Baniata which has a large, organic community garden, happy people working hard in the fields, women sitting in the dirt shelling (delicious) ngali nuts to be taken to Honiara (to be sold for $3/kg), two religious orientations and a turtle monitoring project. 

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I took the opportunity to relax in the hammocks – the humidity and heat is high which zapped my energy and gave me the perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep. 

I revelled in the continual high rate of growth of plants, especially after the rains. Looking at the shore of many islands, there were tall coconut palms, dense forests and so many green vines that rendered the landscape. 

There was a lot of bugs and we joked about being ‘in the now’ from being in a routine of regularly checking for centipedes (they find their way into clothes and can give you between 4-24hours of intense, whole-of-body pain), looking out for little crabs or mosquitos in the ‘little houses’ (toilets). 

I got bouts of bites, sunburn and heat rash. I had moments of wanting to be in my usual western environment. 

I saw amazing, expansive, blue skies and cloud formations. 

And had dolphins play aside the boat and even display their tails to us, upright out of the water – amazing – as we left. 

I had amazing insights and such memorable experiences. The Turtle Rodeo and the boat trip to Tetepare are favourites. And I’m still digesting the Baniata community and how they and Tetepare people exist on not very many possessions, money, education and more. 

A truly exceptional time. 

More to come…

 

Happy days to you,

Sam

www.samanthabell.com.au 

This was automatically posted as I am currently relaxing in India!