About three meters before he reached the trail peak, I shout, “Look at your left, Victor.”
The Spanish tourist did so and said “Wow!” Almost all tourists exclaimed the same word when they see the gigantic fig tree at the end of the trip.
With the deforestation is so rampage in Indonesia, gigantic trees are rare. Although Malenge is small, the island has still a pristine monsoon forest in its center valleys–about 50. The valleys are very steep so that illegal loggers are reluctant to fell the trees inside them: too heavy to drag up the planks and logs to the coast. Blessing in disguise.
I have created two trails in the forest behind our home for ecotourists. The fig tree trail is the short one, 4 hours round trip. It ends at the ‘wow’ tree. It is hard not to be impressed looking at a tree 60 meter height with the buttress’s long axis around 12 meter and short 5 meter. In addition to the dimension, the complicated pattern of the hanging roots is a wonder. This tree helps me much during unlucky trips–the animals hiding from us; the tourists are satisfied with the trekking.
I just have started the trekking program for a month and asked for donation minimum $4 per tourist. So far I have taken 12 people and, fortunately, they all gave me $8 each. Thus, last month I earned $96, 25% of our cost of living in Malenge. For most local families, this amount will be 100%. Therefore, ecotourism is a promising income generation for the poor in Malenge.
Once a week, Meidy teaches English at a primary school in Kadoda village, 40-minute canoe motor from our home. It is a volunteer work that we will use as a medium for conservation education; next year I will do the same on biology. When our minimum financial support is secured for our cost of living, I will start training the students on guiding the tourists in the jungle and coral reefs. Having tangible benefits, hopefully, they will be enthusiastic becoming the guardians of the nature. My dream.