Staking Claim in Misool (Souther Raja Ampat)

Cabin fever has infiltrated Field Trip, and I nearly have a mutiny on my hands.  Since being in Misool, Mark and I have been diving maniacs.  Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s sinus cold is still lingering, which is keeping her above water, and Michael isn’t quite ready for the diving here.  That means they’ve had a lot of boat time.  The deep anchorages and steep rocky islands don’t offer any chance for shore or beach play either, so the natives were getting restless!

This afternoon, I decided to break the onboard rut they were in and demanded they hop in the dinghy with me to get some fresh air and new scenery.  The first island we approached was atop one of the dive spots Mark and I had dove a few days earlier.  We found a reasonable place for the kids to disembark along the spiky, limestone wall and were careful to keep the dinghy from the sharp edges as they clambered ashore.

Weathering on the surface had created a craggly minefield of sharp, protruding limestone, the spikes of which could easily pierce rubber-soled flip-flops.  This wasn’t exactly the safety-conscious playgrounds of the U.S. of A, but it would have to do.  Hopefully without someone getting impaled.

As the kids tediously scampered up the cliffside, I sat on the edge of the dinghy, clinging to the rocks and trying not to think about what could happen.  In fact, I intentionally kept my “be careful” and “watch where you step” comments silent.  Instead, I sent up encouragement and awe at the bravery and courage of their endeavors.

Michael seemed to bound up, quickly reaching the plateau of flat rock at the top while Elizabeth carefully chose every single step.  It felt great to see them pushing themselves and trying something daring and new.  It was an afternoon of achievement for each of us:  Michael made it to the top and loudly proclaimed that this island was now called “Michael Island”, Elizabeth rallied against all her fears of heights to conquer more of the climb than she thought she could, and I got the chance to practice letting go and quieting those momma nerves in order to allow my kids to step up into brave new territory.  We all had new territory on which we could now stake claim!

One evening after dinner, I took the dinghy out for a sunset stroll around the karst rock formations.  (AKA Momma needs a little alone time!)  The geology of these islands intrigues me, so I motored around the shorelines admiring the striations and lineations in the rock faces.  I tried to imagine what the earth had to undergo in order to create such defined patterns and folds.  The pressures and forces must’ve been unbelievable!

I decided this was something the kids would have to check out, too, so the following day I surprised them during school time when I announced a spontaneous field trip.  “Today, you are geologists.  Your job is to explore, examine, extract samples, and extrapolate about how these islands got here and what they’re made of!”  We gathered cameras, hammers and chisels, and specimen collection bags and set out on our geological expedition.  The world was our classroom, and I delighted in seeing the kids so enraptured by the nature around us.  We happened upon a cave, its mouth glimmering with quartz crystals - a lost treasure!  It was serious business as they carefully gathered samples and hypothesized about their findings.   Back on board, they got out the magnifying glass and did a few tests to check the hardness, streak, luster, fragmenting, etc. in our geologists’ lab (salon table).

Turns out, the karst islands have healing properties!  Between our island conquering and geology expedition, all signs of cabin fever had vanished.  Mutiny avoided.


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