Up Close and Personnel with Murex Dive Guide Laurens
Many of you who have dived with us will be familiar with our Murex Dive Guide Laurens. Laurens is a favorite guide with many of our guests and he is well known for his permanent smile! In this edition of “Up Close and Personnel” we catch up with Laurens to find out more about him, his life here in North Sulawesi and what he loves most about diving with our guests here at Murex….
I – Interviewer / L – Laurens
I. What is your full name?
L. My full name is Laurens Martinus Pelealu.
I. Where are you from Laurens?
L. I am from here in Manado, I was born here on 3rd February 1984 and I went to school here up until senior high school which I finished when I was 18 years old.
I. Did you like school?
L. Yes, of course! I really liked school and I loved studying languages. At my school I was learning 3 languages – English, French and Arabic. I wanted to study for longer but at that time there are no government grants for college and it was very expensive so I started working instead.
I. Okay, what was your first job after finishing school?
L. It was actually on a live aboard but not as a dive guide. I was working as crew and as a cook. On a liveaboard everyone needs to do more than one job! I worked on the liveaboard for almost one year and then I found a job here in Manado at a diving resort working as a waiter and also helping in the kitchen.
I. Wow, so did you have any other jobs before you came to Murex?
L. Yes, I worked as customer service in a department store in Kalimantan for 2 years and then I came back to Manado and I became Chief of Security at another dive resort for 3 years. During that time I got married and I decided I wanted to do something new and start from the bottom and work my way up by proving myself. I was offered a job at Murex as a sweeper and I took it. Just sweeping the leaves in the garden and starting something new from the beginning.
I. From sweeping up the leaves in the gardens to becoming a Murex Dive Guide is an incredible progression – how did it happen?
L. Well some of the other people in the landscaping department at Murex know that I can swim and in 2014 we have a big Australian group coming to the resort to dive and make coral surveys. They had really big cameras and underwater scooters for the survey and so much equipment. I never saw a camera like that before! We needed extra crew on the boat and so I was asked to help. I watched everything the crew did from handling the boat and setting up dive gear to making tea and coffee and I learned and copied them. After that from January 1st 2015 Murex made me boat crew. It was great because I could talk to the guests more and practice my English. Then in February 2015 Murex sent me to Critters@Lembeh Resort to learn diving and to start training as a Murex dive guide. I had to learn diving and take my Open Water and Advanced Courses and then I had to train on critter identification – it was tough but I worked really hard so that I could develop more skills and state thinking about becoming a dive guide.
I. And so after Lembeh you came back to Manado?
L. Yes, for more training! I had to learn the dive sites and watch the other guides and practice talking with the guests in English and learning about how to look after the guests.
I. And so now you are a full qualified Murex Dive Guide what do you like about your job?
L. I love it that I can meet people from all over the world. I have friends now from so many different countries and I am very proud of that. Not everyone can have a job like this, it’s really amazing and I get to see all of the life that we have underwater here in North Sulawesi.
I. So which are your favorite dive sites?
L. At Bunaken my favorite site is Mandolin because the wall there is different to the other walls, I think it is more interesting and at the end of the dive there is a beautiful slope. It’s a white sand slope and sometimes if there is a little bit of current we see a lot of big things there like eagle rays, white tip reef sharks, big napoleons, tuna and barracuda too. In Bangka I really love Batu Goso because it is not just one pinnacle but many pinnacles and the soft corals are really colorful and sometimes we also see big fish here – I even saw a whale shark here!
I. Whale Shark! Wow! Was that your most memorable dive?
L. Actually no. My most memorable dive was on the House Reef in front of Murex Manado. I had one guest who wanted to make a night dive and it was the last dive of her holiday and she wanted to shore dive and see a Spanish Dancer. Usually for Spanish Dancers we go by boat to City Extra dive site as they are not common on the House Reef. She told me “Laurens, I have never seen a Spanish dancer and it is my dream to see one. Can you try to find one for me?”
I said I would try but explained that we weren’t at the best spot for sightings. For almost one hour I swam around and around the reef and I found many cool critters but no Spanish dancer.I was not surprised but I knew my guest would be disappointed. After one hour we had to come back so I swam over to the mooring line and I couldn’t believe my eyes – next to the mooring line were two Spanish dancers mating!!! I was so surprised and my guest was so happy! Since then the Spanish Dancers haven’t left and we have a few showing up at every house reef night dive.
I. That must have been amazing! Do you like finding small critters or looking for big fish more?
L. For me I like both. I like the variety and it’s always good to see different things. I love dugongs but I also really love decorator crabs!
I. Are there any critters or fish that you haven’t seen yet but would love to spot?
L. Oh yes, I would love to see an orca. I have already seen sperm whales here and that was another very special day out on the boat. The sperm whales were so big, almost like US army submarines and they came so close to our boat – it was a very special moment.
I. So after all of this time you still love diving?
L. Yes, I really do. It’s so special to see that there is another world under the water. Many people do not see this or know about it but once you have seen it and how beautiful it is then you have a lot of respect for the ocean. I love that I have learned about that and I think if more people see the underwater life they will do more to protect it like not dropping trash and understanding that fish really do come from the ocean and not from the market.
I. Well said Laurens! Do you also have a family here in Manado?
L. Yes, my parents are still here in Manado and I am married and we have two children. My daughter is 3 years old and my son is 1 year old.
I. So you must be busy at home?
L. Yes! When I take my days off I spend my time with my family and my children. I work hard to support my family so when I am not working I want to spend my time with them. Sometimes we go together in to Manado to watch traditional music together – I really like the traditional music from North Sulawesi.
I. What else do you love about North Sulawesi?
L. It’s a very peaceful place. In North Sulawesi our motto is “Torang samua basaudara” which means “We are all brothers”. In North Sulawesi it doesn’t matter what color you are, where you come from or what your religion is because we are all brothers – all one people. We call North Sulawesi the “Heart of Indonesia”, it’s a beautiful place with beautiful people. That’s what I love about North Sulawesi.
I. That’s a wonderful reason to love North Sulawesi – thank you so much Laurens and happy diving!
If you’d like to meet Laurens or dive with him at some of the best dive sites in Indonesia then book your stay at Murex Dive Resorts now on: [email protected]
Why not join Laurens and our team for a Passport to Paradise and explore three distinct diving areas in one trip: Bunaken, Bangka and Lembeh. Experience epic walls, stunning reefs and the world’s best muck. With boat diving transfers from resort to resort there are no wasted transfer days, no drying out and packing gear, just incredible diving. Let us know how long you’d like to stay and we’ll put together an itinerary and take care of the logistics for you. All you need to do is dive, dive, dive!