24.5.18

Harvest - Dragon Fruit



Every once in a while, i have these at my backyard.



Lately i realised the cacti really look like green dragons. Not that i've seen a dragon before, but you get the  idea.



Dragon cactus grows fast, we have three bushes of it but only one that repeatedly gives fruits.



Usually we wait until the fruits become really really ripen before we pick them.



 Beside that i also like how it looks so i just keep them hanging for a few days.



We get about 5-7 fruits every harvest. For a year we get around 4-6 times harvesting.



That's about 12 kilograms of fiber with antioxidant, vitamin c, and potassium.



My favorite way to enjoy it fresh is just to cut it right away.



Ripe fruits tend to be darker and much sweeter than the ones we buy in the markets.



Have it with a dollop of greek yoghurt,



then top em with coco banana granola



Life is good. So good.



4.4.18

Throwback - Sangalaki



Another post to make me (at least trying) to write in English. in past tense. 

Borneo 2012

I had a phase in my life when i was so much into scuba diving, all i could think about those days were just underwater creatures and critters, how to make money and time to see them. It’s a pleasant hobby with chances to visit beautiful beaches and hang out with friendly faces. 

One of my best friends worked for a marine conservation organisation in Berau, it was a good time to visit him. He took us to best places to dive, stay and eat. But he couldn't be with us all the time so he sent us to stay a night at Sangalaki, and this island left a big print in my heart. 

While we were on a boat on the way to the island, we saw a group of Manta Rays. This species may be the coolest creature i’ve ever seen. I saw one before on a dive at a manta cleaning station, in  a dive site called manta point. But when you dive, you have the gear and distance that make you feel not so fragile. It felt more like spying, or stalking. This time, we saw about 8-10 mantas swim on the surface, they passed underneath the boat while we slowly jumped into the water. My heart beated so fast and i was very nervous, though they are tolerant to human existence. They were many and huge, probably  6-8 metres wide, they swim fast. Once i saw them the next second they were gone. But we gambled on once in a life time experience ( the other ones i had were only accidentally climbing the hell painful stairs of great wall because i didnt know there was an elevator, and watching a show in bar at pat pong district but let's not talk about that). 
So we just wore our mask and waited. 

Not even 5 minutes, i saw this blurry vision from distance.


They appeared and move like some sort of flying space ship if that thing really exists, but you know, like the ones in the movies. 


Black and weird looking, gigantic and curious. Nothing we could do beside being stunned. 


They swam majestically around us, felt like they were showing off. Playfully dancing and watching us. It is true that they are not aggresive, yet very charimastic. The urge to touch them and make a contact was strong, but its not the right thing to do. Not only it can hurt us, but we might hurt them too. We shouldn’t touch any marine life, the ocean deserves our respect. 


I really like how the wave reflects on their back, while they swim gracefully. We weren’t sure about how far the distance we should keep, but It was more than enough just to stay there and watch them dance. So peaceful and elegant. Though the size are monstrous but coming in a group they look so perfect and balance. It was like they have been beautifully choreographed. 


Probably after 15 minutes of that magical moment, these guys decided to continue their trip, and left us jaw dropped, wishing we would have a rewind button to replay all of that. 


And this dude, his smile was as wide as ours because he took us to see what he was telling us all day long. We thank him so much. 


While we were thinking we couldnt be happier, the crystal clear water and white sand of Sangalaki welcomed us. This island is so beautiful, it made me forget everything about my past and future while i was there. 



We picked fresh coconut from the trees between sand holes where the turtles layed their eggs. This island is important because it’s a prime nesting site for Green Sea Turtles in Asia. The area is protected by law because of its diverse biodiversity. It’s a hotspot paradise. 


After fresh coconut and swimmings and jumping skin pigment levels, we took a walk for a bit and took some pictures. There were many interesting sites and activities.




We met a man who was digging on a turtle’s nest and pick some egg shells. He was checking the nest and counting the shells. He told us new hatched baby turtles, or hatchlings, face too many threats, and their chance to live and survive is so small. Weak animals tend to reproduce more, it’s their instinct to get a way for their species to survive. A turtle can lay hundreds of egg but it is difficult for hatchlings even just to get the shore with threats like lizards, birds, rats, crabs, fish, and sadly, humans. 









So sometimes they have to pick the new hatchlings and put them with buckets and keep them there until night to release them to the sea. They took us to see little ones on the buckets and even allowed us to take photos just for a bit. 


These babies, they are so helpless. After just being hatched they supposed to reach the shore and swim for the first time without anyone to teach them, each one alone, trying to survive in the ocean from whatever that can kill them. And not only other species, the biggest threats for them is also to be stuck by trash and plastic in the sea. How careless and selfish are we. It’s very heartbreaking. Isn’t it ironic that we are the smartest species yet we are the one who destroy nature the most. 


While we were on our way back we saw foot prints of lizard and saw a big one on the bushes. It seemed looking for something to eat. Turtles eggs, but that’s how nature works i suppose. 



We also saw many hermit crabs there were hundreds of them. They were so tiny but interesting. They change and pick houses depends one their body size changes and preferences. But they also use it as attraction. They said they saw ones using bottle caps and other garbage too. It’s funny that other species can recycles and make use of our trash. But this happens these days. Some species of birds and apes even make nest from  trashes. They evolve their best from our carbon comforts. 




By that time we were on the island, there was no place to stay though there were few resorts were being built. So we asked permission to stay in the conservation basecamp. They were very friendly and welcome us, even they asked us to join dinner and have their food. They told us endless stories. From funny daily things to sad concerns about the future of this island. These guys work remotely, far away from their families, in sake of conservation. They live with limited electricity and not much comforts in long periods. They go home to meet family probably only for a week or two per year. So many things to sacrifice for uncertain goals, their motivation to commit on their daily activities is only hopes and kindness for nature. 


One of the things they do is daily patrols, they make and data reports about turtles and other species. They also observe its behaviour and monitor all conditions through the patrols. Maybe they were just randomly being polite when they invited us to join the night patrol. But i was over excited about it i finished my dinner too fast. They thought i was hungry and offered me more food. And i took the food. 


So the first thing we did was releasing the hatchlings to the sea. They told me to take pictures from the shore, so these babies would follow the flash light into the right direction. 


It was very quick they were racing and running, and just like that, off they go. 



Those tiny babies. If they survive many many years from now, the females would make a life time trip around the continents, then went back to this island, where they were hatched, to lay eggs. How amazing is that fact. How did they find out about it, i will never know. 


We also spotted on a big turtle who was laying eggs and it was another once in a lifetime experience. It flapped its legs to dig sands and covered the eggs as best as they can. 


After she finished she’d rest a bit and swim back to the sea, leave it to sand to warm the eggs, maybe with a bit prayer that some of their bastards will survive this cruel world. I get a bit emotional here. No, i couldn't take them home and take good care of them until they get bigger and ready for college. That's not how it works. 

We were shown a big hermit crab that used a bottle cap as its house. I had mixed feelings when i saw it. It was sad, funny, interesting, amazed, all at once. But let’s hope we won’t see it that much in the future. 




That night the guys let us sleep on their beds and they slept outside their room on the floor instead. We couldnt thank enough to them, they told us to not worry about it, it's nice for them to have visitors even just for once in a while. To meet and have good talks with new people. 
 
We told them that we will have good sleep that night and they’d have their beds again the day after. We also promised that we will pray and tell their stories and works to as many people as we can, we will support and wish the best result for their hard works.  Because no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. 


Copyright © 2014 Natanoja