I like winter--the real kind of winter, cold and snowy. If it's just going to be cold and rainy then forget it! In that case you might as well just keep the warm weather year-around. And that's what we have here. Winter in the tropics is, well...the same as summer in the tropics. Hot and muggy. Of course, there are ways you can enjoy that too, and I'm going to share a little about that.
These pictures have been sitting in the "blog folder" for a few weeks, because I'm always a little timid to share stuff like this, in the fear that you might think we're not "suffering" enough. Just kidding. But seriously, I don't want to send the wrong impression, that it's all gorgeous scenery and fun vacations here. The truth is, we work and serve seemingly non-stop, day after day, week after week, month after month...and often begin to feel exhaustion setting in. The island we live on can start to feel claustrophobic too after a while (trust me, these are not pictures of our island.) Before that happens, it's important to step back and take a break, and there's some nice places to do that nearby.
About once or twice per year, Britton and I jump on a speed boat with a bunch of other friends from Tarakan and head south about two and a half hours to some nice little islands for a weekend outing. There's nothing even remotely like this on the island we live on--Tarakan. There's no state or national parks, or zoos, or anything similar to what you might do with your kids in the U.S. over a weekend. But we have other opportunities, and we try to make the most of them!
Hey, this is affordable father-son bonding. Why not? I still remember vividly, the camping and fishing trips my dad would take me on, when I was a missionary kid growing up in Brazil. No matter how busy things got, he always made time for father-son outings, and it left an impact on me--a good one! And that's one of the things I'm trying to do with my kids. At this point, only Britton is old enough to snorkel, (and he's good at it!), but as time goes on, I'm sure there'll be more of my boys coming along. In the meantime, I find other cool things to do in Tarakan with the younger kids. (In case you're wondering, I've tried to get Joy and the rest of the kids to come along with us, but between her feelings that the waters are teeming with blood-thirsty sharks bent on eating specifically her, and the nightmarish thought of chasing the twins all over an island, I haven't quite talked her into it yet. Patience. It will happen.)
We usually spend the night, and most of our time, on the island of Derawan (Pulau Derawan.) It's a small island that's home to a modest Indonesian fishing village. There's basically two avenues of income here, fishing and tourism. Derawan is not the type of place to attract high-paying tourists. It's more of a backpacker and wandering tourist destination, which is fine with us, because it's cheap!
But we usually work in a day trip to a few of the surrounding islands, like Sangalaki, below. Sangalaki is a very, very small island (that's the entire thing in the picture), that looks like it's right out of a postcard from the South Pacific. Pure, white sand beaches, surrounded by crystal-clear water and gorgeous reefs--that's Sangalaki! This is where we often see giant mantas, but this time we didn't. It's also a turtle-preserve, and we were fortunate enough to see some hatchlings this time. But more on that later.
So I figure I'll do maybe three posts about our previous trip to the islands. This first one will focus on the places. The next one the "critters", and the last one, the "corals and plants". I always come back from one of these trips refreshed, and in awe of the beauty of God's amazing creation. My hope is that you'll feel the same thing in the pictures that I share.
Check back soon for the second post, featuring some of the critters that we found.