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March 2013. Bangka Island, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. My new home, for a few days, is called Coral Eye. "The eye of the coral", what a beautiful name!
In March 2013, I returned to the island of Bangka, which I had loved so much, during my previous stay in North Sulawesi, three years ago. (Not to be confused with the other island named Bangka, near Sumatra.)
I had seen the project come up in 2010 (I mention it here in the article Back to Indonesia). And then, their website, which I stumbled on at the beginning of 2013, doing research on Bangka, piqued my curiosity ... So I made contact with them and I went to spend a few days at the Coral Eye . Very good pick!
Imagined by young Italian marine biologists, Coral Eye welcomes students, researchers and scientists throughout the year. Recently, the place has also opened to tourists.
But it does not look like any of the other resorts or dive centers in the area ...
Here, there is a large building in hard, harmoniously designed for life and work in community. A little behind the beach, it is hidden behind the coconut trees.
Downstairs, a large living room, open on the outside by four sides, around which are distributed other smaller rooms: a library, an office, sanitary, cooking ...
The rooms - immaculate - are upstairs, far from everything that crawls, trots or spades. Two stairs without ramp lead to a wooden mezzanine, which goes around. Facing the sea, a large terrace with day beds to read quietly or admire the sunsets.
We find ourselves downstairs at mealtimes, to eat at the same table, a large square wooden surface, with benches and benches, which can accommodate a dozen guests.
Above, the huge roof. It is traditionally built in dried palm leaves, supported by a spectacular frame, which rises very high.
White walls, minimalist decor. It's beautiful, sober and elegant, very zen. I love.
Marco and Clara, two of the young Italian marine biologists who initiated the project, bring the place to life and take care of everything with a good mood, from cooking to diving, with a small Indonesian team, very friendly.
Next to them are the cottages where they live, and another, smaller building, which houses the diving center and work rooms with aquariums.
At high tide, you can swim (and really swim) in front of the white sand beach. At very low tide, the top of the coral potatoes outcrops.
The house-reef (part of the reef just in front of the beach) has become a real coral farm, with "nursery" and "crops" carefully maintained near the pontoon.
I accompanied an afternoon Clara dive, in 3 meters of water, to see it accomplish this patient job of fixing on stable supports, pieces of broken coral, to promote their "regrowth". Coral is not a plant, so we can not really talk about "cutting", but that's the idea.
(Click on the pictures to see them big.)
It reminded me of the project Biorock from Pemuteran, in Bali, where, on the same principle, the "Reef Gardeners" are working to recover and fix pieces of coral on artificial structures - metal, in the case of Biorock, to stimulate the fixation and growth of coral by electric current.
I loved the atmosphere Coral Eye. We are far from everything, quiet, in a beautiful environment.
Marco and Clara live and work there most of the year. Clara and her Indonesian husband Danny have a little girl who has, pretty much, to be the age of Coral Eye.
The nearest neighbors are Indonesian families, who also live on the beach, in rustic wooden huts and palm leaves. We meet some fishermen in traditional boat. Sometimes visitors from Sulawesi or other divers arrive to take a break.
It's quiet here. There is nothing ... The other resorts on the island are not nearby. And you have to walk a good time in the jungle to reach the village. All trips are by sea.
I knew it well: Bangka is really the perfect place to let go!