On the weekend of July 25th 2014 a team of locals, led by Park Rangers from Uniek Curacao, headed over to Boka Patrik to execute a three-day cleanup and camping. It was a hot and wet (that’s what she said) weekend filled with lots of cleaning and dirty gloves, laughs, little bumps in the road and good ol’ friends & fun.
The two awesome Park Rangers Terence Ching and Javier Diaz from Stichting Uniek Curacao organized a fantastic three-day cleanup and camping at Boka Patrik, starting on Friday, July 25. The organization supplied gloves, trash-bags and snacks & beverages during the day. They also made sure all the trash was properly collected and disposed of at the end of the cleanup. Thorough planning and excellent execution was demonstrated by these two young men.
Upon arrival the place seemed impeccable; it was quite surprising because it was only day two of the cleanup and a sizable pile of trash was already accumulated. We proceeded to scout the area and gawd was it hot. It was hard to imagine people working hard in this heat. We barely saw any people cleaning near the camping area so one of our companions quickly picked up a pair of gloves, some bags and headed down to the shore to help with the cleanup. When we reached the cliff’s edge, we noticed a group cleaning below, and man were they doing a great job. We’d seen cleanups before, even large scale ones; but for the amount of people that participated and the little time they had been at it, amazing. They had done a truly spectacular job.
They had been cleaning out the cave, scooping out trash from the pool (where odd enough they found several large lionfish) and piling loads of junk they gathered from the shore. It still looked disgusting, but they’d come a long way from what it looked like on day one.
“It’s a shame more artists didn’t come,” says local artist Avantia Damberg. “this is the perfect location to pick up materials to recycle in their artwork.” Avantia also informed us that she was gathering up a bag of her own with all sorts of interesting finds she could later incorporate in her work.
The first cleanup days concluded with a warm campfire and some grubs. We grilled, drank and even ate out of a wheelbarrow. Really! It rained throughout the afternoon and heavily the second night of the cleanup, so everyone had to run for cover in their tents, cars or under the tarps. But that only made the experience more exciting, especially for first time campers.
Over thirty people confirmed their participation on Facebook, but less than 15 showed up (and that’s including the guys who organized it). That was quite disappointing, however the few that supported the cleanup did such an amazing job you’d think there were at least 50 people present. There must have been about 200 trash-bags filled, because it took us three vehicles and over 10 rides to take everything outside. Can you believe it?
“We find it important that locals know their island and be (more) involved in taking care of it. This will make them love it more and increase their interest in sharing beautiful and unique places like this with tourists, thus so supporting an important pillar of our economy.” explains park ranger Terence Ching. “While the tourism agencies are fighting for unneeded facilities the activities that ensure return tourism has been set on the back burner, almost forgotten. We hope that through our efforts the knowledge and love of our country will rub off on them opening their eyes to see what they should really be working on… Sustainable tourism that supports the locals and not fly by night operations who have no interest in the progress of our people.”
Boka Patrik has come a long way from where we started, but we’re still barely halfway there. Uniek Curacao plans to continue the cleanup at Boka Patrik in September, during the official cleanup weekend. Be sure to follow them on facebook to stay up to date on not only this cleanup, but all their lovely and eco-friendly events.
Fore more images on the clean up at Boka Patrik, please visit the album on Facebook and we leave you with this panorama of Boka Patrik; a beautiful part of Curacao, under construction.
by Crystal Boomgaart