Back onto the ojeks we went, and our drivers took us further along the coast to our next beach destination; Pantai Penyu – aka Turtle Beach. Ujung Genteng attracts many turtles each year, utilising its sands to hatch and bury their eggs. And we, by some miraculous coincidence, had chosen the perfect time of year to see such testudine activities. To protect the animals, Ujung Genteng has a turtle conservation centre, which is pretty hard to miss as a Goliath like turtle statue sitting on top of a building welcomes you onto its premises.
We saw the protected area where the rangers buried the collected eggs, to prevent them from being snatched up by predators or people selling the eggs on. We walked further onto the soft sanded beach and found a few other people standing around. It was time for the hatched baby turtles (or kura kura in Indonesian, which is now my favouritestest Indonesian word ever) to be released so they could find their way to sea and start their lives in the big, wide ocean. Being an insane, crazy animal person, you can imagine how equally crazy and insane my smile was when I saw all of these kura kura scrambling about.
The baby turtles were probably only just a little bigger than my eye, and with all their might and strength, they muddled and tumbled and scampered their tiny little flip flop legs with only one focus in mind; the sea. That immense blue mass of liquid would be their homes now and it was up to mother nature to decide who would be the fittest and strongest to survive. Such incredible pressure upon such tiny young shoulders… or shells, I guess.
There was one little turtle in particular that stole my heart. I fell in love. Instantly. Unconditionally. Head over heels. With all my heart and deranged faculties. I named him Albert. And in those few moments I knew him, he was the love of my life.
Little Albert was a little dazed and confused. He for some reason couldn’t grasp the fact that the sea was in the opposite direction to where he was faced. Understandably we weren’t allowed to touch them, so from what seemed like the side lines of a football pitch, I cheered him on, ‘That way! The sea is that way, kura kura!’
The mounds of sand created by imprinted footprints sometimes proved too much of a challenge for him, so myself and Jack decided to step in. I know that in every single animal documentary when observing animals in their natural habitat that the hosts will often say that to intervene and help, (perhaps an injured baby zebra climbing up some slippery, marshy earth) would go against the laws of nature and natural selection. I have always thought that although sometimes quite emotionally and conscientiously difficult that may be, it would probably be the wisest, most Darwin thing to do. But I could not do this to poor Albert. Myself and Jack moved along the beach with him, slowly guiding him to the sea. He reached the point of where the waves were lapping the beach and after a few tries, finally one reached in and swept him away. We saw him hurriedly paddling away, off on to the next stage of his life. I felt like a mother whose child had just left to go to university. Little Albert, wherever you are, I hope you are safe!
Since then my brother has informed me that I had broken the golden rule for naming turtles. Every turtle must be a ninja and must therefore be named after a famous painter. So like his brothers Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo, little Albert’s new artistic name shall be Hieronymus, after 13th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. I think it suits him well.
…Enough of my kura kura craziness.
We departed from Turtle Beach, with the intentions to return and watch the big mama turtles come and lay their eggs later in the darkness of the night.
*Tune in next time for the big mama turtles hatching eggs at midnight…
Go Go Go!
Where: Ujung Genteng, South West Java, Indonesia
Why: Turtles, beaches, surfing and waterfalls.
How: Entry to Turtle Beach in the evening costs Rp 10,o00 per person (approx 50p)