Dowora Lamo, Raja Ampat Islands
Enjoying Children of the Bajau Sea GypsiesOn a 12 day Bugi Schooner sojourn through the Raja Ampat islands, we visited many villages for collaboration on efforts to improve ecotourism, thwart destruction of the fauna and flora while also aiding the villagers in finding additional ways of making a living.
Our most enjoyable time was on the island of Dowora Lamo, off the southern tip of Halmahera where some of the Bajau sea gypsies had been relocated to a municipally erected site.
It sported concrete walkways and both masonry block homes and traditional thatched stilt (piling) ones. Waterways were interspersed throughout the village, dugouts moored off the pilings, simulating the Bajau way of life on the open seas. We all felt like the Pied Piper, with the children following us excitedly. In exchanging scary faces and engaging physically with them we received their love as well as the frowns of the mothers, who would later have to calm them down.
One young boy glommed onto me, holding my hand all the way up the hill to their school house and back down to the pier, with another 20 children in our wake. Since he had provided the scariest growling face of all the boys I gave him a Garuda Airline souvenir pen I had in my pocket. This broke a cardinal rule of only giving gifts to the village leader to dispense as appropriate, which I had forgotten, acting in the moment.
My action did in fact set off a frenzy of covetous behavior, which was met with displeasure by our guide. It was worth it! The children were great!