As I write this post, I’m sitting on the board walk in Sampela looking out at the beautiful ocean with a spear gun in my lap. Over the past couple of days we have been able to experience what life is like living with the Bajau.
The Bajau of Sampela are a truely unique community of people living in unison with the ocean and the resources it offers to its inhabitants. As I have begun to understand their way of life, I have also come to realize a lot about how I live my own life. The Bajau spend most mornings going in small hand crafted wooden boats to the ocean to fish. In the afternoons while the tides are low, many go to collect sea cucumbers and sea urchins. They live happily and embrace the simplicity of their lives.
When the local fishermen were asked if the Bajau could survive on land, they responded that it would be harder because it would take more time to get to the ocean to fish; implying that it would be simply impossible for the Bajau to live without the ocean. Their reliance on the ocean stems from a deep history of living on boats and traveling the seas. The ocean is home for the Bajau.
Today as I was out spear fishing I watched as James’ host sister who is around four years old confidentely use a machete to cut up a fish to use as bate on her fishing line. In America this simply wouldn’t happen, but for her it’s what she has grown up doing. While their way of life is so vastly different from my own, I have grown a great appreciation for the way they live.