Wednesday, February 3, 2010

ELF/ETA Synergy

My supervisor at the U.S. Embassy is very fond of the buzz word “synergy” and encourages us ELFs to create synergy with our ETAs. What he means is that we should collaborate in putting together workshops and outreach programs, but my ETAs and I have a different definition of synergy.

Our idea of synergy centers around joint outings to cool places in Gorontalo. Last week Sarah and Alexa had another ETA, Jimmie from Makassar, visiting them for a few days. Since he is also a diver, I organized a couple days of diving for us with Rantje, including one day where Sarah and Alexa joined us on the dive boat for a bit of snorkeling.

Demonstrating ELF/ETA Synergy

This picture was taken right after I logged my 20th dive at Jinn Caves – a submerged cavern at 18 meters. This was an amazing site that was just crawling with diverse life forms. Favorites included large bat fish, the rare Burgess butterflyfish and a giant pink deep sea fan. The coolest part about this dive is that there was a point when we had to leave the wall behind and descend to the caves without any reference markers. It felt like free falling into blue oblivion and was quite a rush. We descended to 30 meters, which was deep enough to have to use flashlights to see what was around us. It was kind of like night diving during the day.

Rantje Allen - American divemaster who runs Miguel's Diving in Gorontalo

I thought it was kind of interesting that while I had just finished my milestone 20th dive, Jimmie had already logged about 200 dives and Rantje is closing in on his 2,000th dive! I was also pleased to hear Jimmie say that he thought the diving in Gorontalo was fantastic. It was much better than he had expected and he even talked of bringing his parents, who are also big divers, up here when they come to visit him in June or July. Unfortunately, I had to point out to him that the dive season here ends in May. But not to worry, our synergy was so good that Jimmie talked about definitely coming up to Gorontalo to go diving again before the season is over and we tossed around ideas for future dive trips in other parts of Indonesia.

I’m especially glad Sarah and Alexa got a chance to see Gorontalo from the water. Sarah commented that she hadn’t even realized how close we were to the ocean. And it’s a pretty ride out to the dive sites. We pass miles of limestone cliffs, mountains and coastline dotted with scenic fishing villages. The water is crystal clear and looking over the edge of the boat is just like looking into an aquarium. Near Olele village we spotted a lone Risso’s dolphin off in the distance.

After two days of diving and snorkeling off the boat, we spent a day lounging in a straw hut on Molotabu Beach and snorkeling right off the shore. On the drive back to town we stopped at a little seaside café for some fresh dabu dabu fish. The place is owned by Ramang’s cousin and not only did we have the place all to ourselves, but they served up big family-style portions of rice, fish and vegetables. We all had multiple servings and oohhed and ahhhed about how good it all was. Fresh homemade dabu dabu iris sauce on fresh local fish is seriously good stuff and you’ll only find it in Gorontalo.

Back at Sarah and Alexa’s house in Limboto we continued our synergy over dinner, card games and several rounds of Bintang. A good time was had by all.


  1. You really make me want to learn how to dive. Perhaps not right now even though I'm just a 5-minute walk from Lake Michigan...but someday.

  2. You might get your chance to learn soon if you apply for an ELF position and get posted somewhere tropical like Indonesia! Do you have any regional preferences?

  3. Thanks ,I think except now I,m hungry for the fish, dabu dabu etc. Also good to hear of my girls adventures Love from Sarah's mom

  4. Thanks, Sarah's Mom!! Glad you're reading my blog!