Meet Monda Costa… She is one of a team of community members working with marine conservation NGO Blue Ventures to save sea grass habitats on Ataúro Island in Timor-Leste.
Seagrasses are flowering plants that form meadows in shallow waters. These meadows are ecological superstars. Protecting them is a priority in Timor-Leste, but scientists, community members and decision-makers need more information about the location, composition and use of existing seagrass beds. Community members like Monda are embracing the opportunity to work with Blue Ventures to conserve these habitats.
It is Sunday in the village of Biqueli on Ataúro, a small island in Timor-Leste. Fishing nets hang above wooden boats in the tropical midday sun as the community enjoys a day set aside for prayer and time with family and friends. Jemima Gomes, who was born in Biqueli, walks along the beach, chatting with visitors who have come to Ataúro for an expedition with Blue Ventures.
As a teenager, Jemima spent her days helping her father pull nets full of fish from the teeming seas around Ataúro. Today, at age 23, she still spends her days in the sea, but in a different way—one that reflects the changing times for the island. Jemima is Ataúro’s first female scuba diver, and she is on the path to becoming Timor-Leste’s first female Dive Master…
This past spring, I was fortunate enough to be one of the “visitors” that Jemima was chatting with on the beach. I wrote about her journey for Blue Ventures, a conservation-focused NGO that is helping local communities drive marine conservation efforts in East Timor. To read the rest of the story and see more photos, please visit Blue Ventures’ Beyond Conservation Blog.
When I was a very young girl, my favorite song was “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” as recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary. The track was on the folk trio’s “best-of” cassette, which I would insist my mom play in the car on the way to ballet practice. That album was also in the small collection of cassettes that accompanied our family of five on road trips and included other greats like Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers and the Muppets. I could sing “Too Much of Nothin’,” “The Gambler” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter” as well as I could “Rainbow Connection” by the time I hit second grade.
In 1980 my parents loaded us into a light blue station wagon and took us on a grand tour of The West. Continue reading →
On The Road Journal Excerpt
Date: February 18, 2014
Location: Big Island, Hawaii
Since my last entry, I have hiked into and across the crater of Kileaua Iki (little Kileaua), adventured down the steep path to the windy black sands of Waipio Beach, had a wonderful massage and a fascinating Tibetan bowl treatment, learned how vanilla grows, visited the botanical gardens and snorkeled at Kapoho tide pools. I’m enjoying Hawaii immensely. Tom’s neighbor M., the masseuse, went on a five-week trip alone recently. She said she just needed an opportunity to explore. She needed to be free to go from one place to the next according to her own terms, comfort and budget. I love the way she described her time away.
On the Road Journal Excerpt Date: November 6, 2014 Location: San Sebastian Beach, Spain
Peaceful walk through twilight along the beach. I’m trying slowly to let go of the stress and self-expectation that was a way of life in NYC. I can hardly believe that I’m here—already five days. But I am so, so glad I decided to go on this journey. I need space and time and new scenery to let go of the things I’ve been holding tight and close—those bits and pieces of expectation or frustration that linger, the ones that we empower by doing nothing more than giving them space in our minds and hearts. I want to live in the present, to be with the beauty of the world, to take the time to see it all around me—from the gorgeous clouds and colors on the beach at twilight to the man walking his dogs… a walk he’s probably done hundreds, maybe thousands, of times before this particular twilight. But for us, in that moment, it is new. Continue reading →
Last fall, I escaped New York City after 15 years of fast living and embarked on an adventure that lasted eight months and led me through 10 countries. These are my favorite photos from those adventures. Take a tour of the photo galleries on the home page for a more in-depth look at my travels in each country. Continue reading →
I love eating like a local when I travel. Well, okay. I’m not as dedicated as Andrew Zimmern, whom I adore for his cheerful and ardent pursuit of unique morsels the world over. I haven’t yet found myself in a desert sampling the local insect cuisine, but I did earn a compliment from a Singaporean when I ordered fish ball soup at a hawker center (or open-air food court) during my recent travels.