Ocean College

Founder Blog

Plastic everywhere in Panama (by Lisa)

Plastic is a topic we have often encountered on our trip so far, for example through our microplastic projectand also real life experiences like finding a fridge swimming in the ocean. But after the last two days of 2017, we all have seen how much we damage our surrounding with all the waste we produce.

We were travelling through the San Blas Islands and on the 31st of December we went to one of the small island where we slept on the beach and celebrated New Year’s Eve. As we arrived with the Dinghy you could already see pieces of plastic laying around. I was in the group that left the ship at last so the others had plenty of time to explore the Island and one of them showed me a small clearing with the ground full of glass.

Before the dinner we collected the waste we could find. We started with a little distance from our camp and slowly came back. Using a tarp we originally had with us to build tents we carried bottles, wrappings, lost shoes, light bulbs, etc. from the beach and the bushes beside it to a fire we had built to burn it.

I had even found pieces of a printer! After about an hour we had already collected about 50kg but honestly, I couldn’t really see a change.



The day before we had visited the inhabitants of another island. They showed us around and as we walked we saw mountains of trash lying in every corner that wasn’t in use. In front of houses, on the sides of paths and nobody seemed to care or even notice. Many of us started to take a closer look and pulled out big beautiful mussels that were hidden in the depths of these mountains. I’m not sure if they just ignore it, but I saw a little girl playing with a Barbie doll, that had only the torso and arms left and probably was also found there.

Today here in Panama we made a spontaneous Safari Tour with the Dinghy through a near river and on the reeds we also encountered lots and lots of trash. It was really sad to find things like bicycles in a really impressing scenery like this one.

Later I talked about it with the owner of a restaurant, and he felt the same. He said, that most of the garbage came from the ocean and had been washed to the islands and land. But I think, that the fault lies also with the inhabitants, not only from Panama but every single one of us not looking after our environment.

Author: Lisa. Lisa is a very talented writer and one of our students taking part in the current voyage of Ocean College.

After the hurricane. A report by Lisa.

I guess that not many of you have ever been confronted with a hurricane. And I hope you never will.
On our trip with Ocean College we now have crossed the Atlantic and have arrived in Dominica, an island in the Carribean which was victim of the hurricane Maria at the End of September this year. It arrived there with stage two force and later turned into stage five.
From far you could already see the damage that was done. All the trees have lost their tops or have nearly no branches with leaves left. The image of a tropical forest was gone. The roofs of many houses have been blown away and are now in construction.
When we all went on a hike with two Rastafari Guides to the boiling lake, our path went through the jungle and had not been used since three months. One day before they have send someone to make the path free to walk but there where still lots and lots of branches,stones and truns of trees lying there. We had to climb and needed to leave the path sometimes because it was compleatly destroyed. The guides tought us about some useful survivng tricks of the Rastas when they were running away from the police through the jungle and also about the healing qualities of the mud we found during a break at a boiling hot steam with sulphur steams surrounding us. The water of the steam was so hot that we could cook eggs inside it and eat them afterwards.

After the hike we were picked up by three little buses who drove us to a small village where we would stay for two nights. During the ride I talked with Gordon, our driver. He told me that in the village he lived in there where 17 deaths caused through the hurricane. Including his sons best friend. We passed by a school-bus that was hit by a huge tree during the hurricane before. An image that won’t leave my mind. He also told me about his memories about the night …… hit them, he said that he couldn’t see it but he could hear the wind blowing and that it was extremly scaring.

The ride took about two hours and when we arrived at the village it was already dark. The street that once led there was now covered with big rocks and more branches so we had to walk the last bit.
We had dinner in the ruins of one of the destroyed houses and afterwards put up our tents. In the morning when I stepped outside it hit me. The damage that was done was huge. There where about three houses compleatly destroyed with only the floor left and the rest blown away. The water pipe was also gone so that we had to walk to get water and clean the dishes in the river near by. You could even see parts of roofs in the forests on the hills surrounding us. I later was told that they were blown there from the village behind one of the hills.
After lunch we then helped to clean up a bit and also carried some pieces of fornitures out of one of the destroyed houses. During that we talked with a few Rastas who lived there. One of them told us that the hurricane was similar to a living thing. He said that it felt like being grabbed and thrown by the wind as if it was alive.

The little time we stayed there really impressed me. It was a lot of fun but the things we saw and heard where really left their mark.

Find Lisa`s report also at Deutschen Welle.