Why every day needs to be World Oceans Day

Even though June 8th is the official World Oceans Day , I’d like us all to celebrate this cause not just that one day, but every day, by becoming better versions of ourselves and protecting the environment while we’re at it!

And before you ask, I am not affiliated with any organization, but simply just spreading the word to applause a cause and share my own personal tips with fellow travelers, beach-goers, boat trippers and everyone else who happen to love our oceans as much as I do.

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Ever since I was a child, I’ve always felt connected to the sea. Growing up by a beach kind of does that to you. Even if said beach was no tropical one. We had pine trees and cones, not palm trees and coconuts. And that ice cold water and those orange jellyfish that were out to attack everyone, was enough to make most sensible adults stay away from getting into the water. But not kids. Kids are brave. Fearless. Maybe even slightly careless. And me, I used to be just like that (and no, I was never stung by a jellyfish).

Today, I still love going to the beach. Whatever beach. Wherever in the world. But unlike my younger days, I can’t just jump into the water and have that intense feeling of happiness and not give a damn about anything that’s happening around me. This has nothing to do with jellyfish or the water being cold.

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This has everything to do with people who disrespect the environment.

Whenever I go to the beach, I turn into a passive-aggressive, grumpy activist. Which is totally not something I wanna be. At all.

But then again…

Where is the joy of going to the beach when the place looks like a dump? Why would I want to go swimming somewhere where I’ll have to dodge plastic bottles and someone else’s trash from their little picnic on the beach? I’ve even experienced used diapers and tampons floating next to me. How disgusting is that? But that’s not the biggest issue here. Because, most importantly, why would I wanna be somewhere where sea turtles, fish or other creatures that reside in the water, get caught on things like six pack-rings or other dangerous plastic items and die from their injuries? No, I don’t want that, nor do I wanna be held responsible for someone else’s lack of behavior.

I can’t remember if the beaches were as littered as they are now, when I was a kid. But what I do remember, is that my parents raised me well and taught me to put trash where it belongs: in the trash cans. They also taught me the beauty of recycling. They taught me how one person’s trash can become…well…another person’s treasure (literally speaking)!

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So how can we protect our beaches, our oceans, our underwater creatures?

  • Support recycled fashion! Just a quick search in your browser is enough to find hundreds of different brands – big, established ones as well as small, independent ones – that use recycled ocean plastic to create new, trendy items for you to wear.
  • Even if it isn’t yours; pick it up! If you see something that could be dangerous for not just animals but also for children to step on or put in their mouths, you should – without a doubt – get rid of it.
  • If you see something, say something! You witness someone behaving badly and purposely littering? Speak up. Are they with children? Well, then it’s even more important that you say something. We don’t want the future generation to repeat the mistakes of their parents.
  • Visit your local Marine Rescue Center! Because, knowledge is power. The more you learn about the issue – and about the creatures affected by it – the easier it will be for you to know what to do to help. If you don’t have a local Marine Rescue Center, visit your local Aquarium for advice!
  • Spread the word! Talk to the people in your community. What can you do to keep the beaches clean? 

Fellow travelers, fellow humans, next time you go to the beach – be the best version of yourself. Let us all be everyday hero’s and clean up the mess we’ve made!

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Panama Series: Cool and Colorful Pedasi

Headed 210 kilometers, direction south, ready to exchange the steep hills and windy weather with sunshine and sandy beaches on the Pacific coastline. We had absolutely no activities planned for the day, besides drinking cocktails, soaking up some sun and cool down in the water. I’m fine with that…When it’s just for a day. What you should know about me is that I’m someone who gets easily bored and I actually hate sunbathing (which is why I’m always pale) and swimming in the sea gets kind of boring after a while, when there’s no other activity involved (such as snorkeling, volleyball or whatever).

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We made it to one of the most colorful towns I had ever seen. Modern street art on every white wall, vibrant colored houses, colorful fountains – and a huge sign welcoming us as we entered the town. “Pedasi” was written in multicolored capital letters, with a much more subtle hashtag “visit Panama” below. I remembered to add that hashtag to everything posted on my social media platforms from then on. Maybe the local tourism board would notice me and give me some freebies? Or at least a friendly discount on one of the local tours – or maybe a free drink somewhere? Note; none of that never happened. 

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Our hotel, Residencial Santa Catalina , was conveniently located in the town center and had all the facilities we needed. As we’d already been on the road for a good week, we figured it was a good idea to use the laundry service provided by the hotel. Although there wasn’t really any laundry service on-site. Still, the receptionist offered to take our laundry elsewhere and have it done for us and didn’t even ask for any payment. Fair enough. Later that evening, we received our freshly washed laundry – folded and everything. Even my tiny underwear was folded. As a very sensitive person, I got ridiculously emotional looking at my pile of folded undies and once smelly hiking wear that now smelled like a rose garden. I think my boyfriend’s mother felt the same way, as we both had the idea to leave the lady a generous tip. It would have been even more generous, had we known what would happen at another hotel, four days later..

What was supposed to be one of the nicer beaches in the area, was a little drive outside of town, so we took the car and went to check it out. The beach was crowded. People, their dogs, parked cars and lots of non-recyclable trash everywhere. Lovely. We stopped to take a few pictures and got back in the car to locate another supposedly nice beach. With some help from Google, rather than our outdated guidebook, we managed to find one. This one was way less crowded, and a little less littered than the other one. We decided to stay.

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Nobody were in the water except from us and a bunch of tiny grey fish jumping out of the water and dancing around us. Fish in Panama seem to be a lot less afraid of people than fish anywhere else I’ve been. Why is that?

I enjoyed the moment to the fullest. The clear blue sky, the sunshine, the crystal clear water, the calm atmosphere, the escape from time… and it all came crashing down when we witnessed a dog taking a dump right in front of us, and watched the waves crash into his fresh produce. “That’s it, I’m out”, I said to everyone and got out of the water. Yes, I know there’s probably a lot more poo in the water than just this one – after all, fish poo in it. I just never felt the need to witness it in action. And where were the owners of the dog anyway?

As soon as we made it back to the hotel, I jumped into the shower and washed every inch of my body while picturing myself being completely covered in poo. I guess this phobia comes from an old childhood trauma of mine. I’ll tell you the story. So, my dad and I, went to Greece when I was fourteen years old, a year after my mother divorced him. He didn’t like the overcrowded beaches, and neither did I, so we walked along the beach, probably two kilometers or more, in search of a more secluded place. And we found one. There were literally no one there. Just us. It was simply too good to be true. We jumped right in. It smelled kind of weird there, but we didn’t think much of it….that was until we saw a “no swimming” sign, sewage pipes and…you guessed it, POO. Lot’s of it. Terrified, we ran out of the water as if we were running away from sharks, and headed directly to the hotel to get rid of the feces glued to our skin. Awful.

Meanwhile in Panama, I finished my shower and put on a nice skirt and one of my favorite shirts (which my boyfriend refers to as one of my hippie shirts). I was all set and thirsty for cocktails. We discovered a Mexican restaurant called Tortuga’s – a great place for fajitas, tacos and homemade cocktails (which included fresh juice). The food was good and service was great. Our French-Canadian waitress seemed quite relieved when she realized she didn’t have to speak English with us as we are all French speakers. Immediately, she went from nervous to relaxed and talkative and let her bubbly personality shine through.

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Our lazy day in Pedasi had been an interesting one. A similar kind of day in a different destination was lined up for the following day. Next stop, Santa Catalina!