On the northern coast of an island just off Bali, live the Seaweed People. The rhythm of their lives flows in parallel to the cycle of their primary crop, seaweed. They talk, live, breathe, eat, work – and probably dream – in shades and colors of seaweed.
Setting out to sea, sometimes in the wee hours of the night, the Seaweed People drag large woven bamboo baskets behind them into the shallow waters, kept afloat by the inner tubes onto which they’re placed.
Occasionally, they tie themselves up by rope to the tubes, on the off-chance that the tide will carry away their sole livelihood. Ingenious solutions are spotted everywhere.
The heads of the seaweed pickers are covered in tightly woven conical hats, only partly shading their skin so deeply burnished by the sun. They feel around for shrubs ready for the picking, grabbing hold of a bunch and piling them up into the baskets.
They are among the most joyful kids I’ve ever met, jostling, posing for the camera, throwing sand at each other.
Emerging from shyness when an inquiring visitor squats down to their eye level, snapping photos with their likenesses materializing magically in front of their eyes.
Without family by their side, they won’t stray outside their familiar territory, bordered by invisible boundaries on the beach.
These kids, the next generation of Seaweed People, being reared on sun, water and (mostly) clean air. What will their lives be like when they too must subsist on earnings from the sale of seaweed? Will they still carry their smiles when laden down with the weight of tubes, baskets and their own kin?