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First 24 Hours in Sampela

After three flights, two truck rides, and two boat rides, our group arrived in Sampela. We got off of the second boat and grabbed our bags. With our huge backpacks on, we weaved our way through people and cracks in the boardwalk to arrive at Andar’s house. Andar is the Dragons coordinator for Sampela. The Bajau navigate Sampela by a wooden boardwalk, which is missing a piece of wood every other step. At Andar’s house, little kids flocked to the boardwalk to ask our names, to observe us, and to welcome us to Sampela. The energy was amazing because the community was so excited to host us. After some time at Andar’s house, we met our homestay families. My mom helped me to acclimate to my life in this village. Then, I went back to the main house for dinner. After dinner, we planned our activities for the week. Some of the activies our group is looking forward to are a canoe trip through a mangrove, daily fishing trips with our homestay fathers, a talk with Sampela’s Shaman, trips to the market to sell fish with our moms, and a discussion with local women about health. As I settled into bed on my first night in Sampela, I was overwhelmed with excitement. Life on Sampela is going to be completely different than my home in Maryland. I will be spending half of the day spearfishing, and I will be peeing through floor boards into the ocean. When I woke up in the morning, I sat in the kitchen with my mom as she boiled water for our tea. She explained her life on Sampela and her daily roles as the woman of the house. I could only understand little bits due to my limited Bahasa Indonesian vocabulary. After breakfast, my ibu, bapak, and I boarded their boat to go fishing. The water in Sampela, although subject to trash and plastic and chemicals is still pristine. In the bright blue water, my bapak got a six fish and three eels. One of the eels was five feet long, and as my dad cut it up on the boat, curiousity replaced my usual squimishness. After my fishing journey, our group had a discussion with Andar about the environment and the Bajau. We learned about how the Bajau ended their nomadic ways and settled into this community. We also discussed how the Bajau interact with the environment and the sea. My first 24 hours in Sampela have been expanded my comfort zone greatly, and I am excited to see what the next six days hold.