It is 2:27 pm and we’re all laying around our first Indonesian village, digesting our delicious meal, and trying to stay cool from the everlasting heat. Last Saturday we left Fiji, stopping for 12 short hours in Singapore, and landed in Medan Sunday morning. Upon arrival to the Ecolodge we were all taken aback by the 200 ft suspension bridge (which two particular group members much enjoyed jumping on), and the enormous bamboo structure that included a restaurant and a cozy beanbag/hammock chair relaxation space. For the rest of the day we took in our new home, used wifi to check in with family, enjoyed the wide variety of mocktails, and admired the cheeky monkeys scattered about the resort.
The next day we painted signs to mark the boundaries of the national park. Many of the lines are not labeled at all, so making the signs keeps out unwanted visitors who may cause harm to the animals living inside. The following day we proceeded to enter the park and put up our signs. We were lucky enough to spot a 13-year-old female Orangutan, a rarity so close to the border of the park. As we finished hammering in the signs we were caught in a downpour. Drenched but cool, we made our way back to the ecolodge, ready for a shower and a nap. The next day was our designated Orangutan tracking day. Departing early, we hiked much deeper into the jungle than the day before. We were lucky enough to see 3 different mother-child pairings; the third of which climbed right past our lunch hut—so close we could have reached out to touch it. We finished the day with a crazy rafting adventure which carried us all the way back to the resort. At the end of the day, we debriefed our time with the critically endangered, humanlike animals (who share 97% of our DNA!), and brainstormed ways we can help. The big takeaway was reducing our palm oil intake as the myriad of palm plantations are extremely detrimental to our red-haired relatives.
As we move further into our Sumatra program, we are ready to take on whatever is thrown in our faces and make the best of what we have. Special shoutout to mom, dad, and Ben. I love and miss all of you and think about you every day. We hope everything is running smoothly back west and cannot wait to check in soon.