On day two of Sumatra, we got to experience a hair-raising rafting trip across the Alas River in Aceh. During this adventure, we were able to take small breaks, one of which included an unexpected science lesson about clay.


Photographed by Roxana McDonald

Clay is a soil that can take thousands of years to form. It is made by the weathering of rocks, which means that rocks and stones are broken down into smaller rocks which eventually get enveloped by plant roots that break them down into dirt. After a period of time, the dirt hardens and turns into clay.

When clay is exposed to very high temperatures it turns into a stone-like substance, which is why it can be used to make bricks for houses, as well as various potteries such as bowls, plates, and sculptures. Because clay holds so many nutrients in such compacts spaces it is a very high-quality product that is used both externally and internally to extract impurities.

When we first arrived at our resting space we all thought that this towering organic wall that separated the river from the jungle was made up of stone. After further inspection, we noticed that it was actually made up entirely of clay, which was when we decided to lather our faces with it.

The clay on our faces felt moisturising and cold and, as we were being taught by Ibu Jackie about what clay is used for and how the clay in this specific rainforest is formed, we were able to sit and lay in the sun waiting for it to dry and crackle on the surface of our now-smooth skin.

Although I am not sure of the type of clay we put on our faces, there is a clay called Bentonite Clay which is used for a variety of commercial things such as curing constipation, nausea, and bloating, it is used to detoxify the body, it boosts immunity, it can be applied to the skin to heal different skin diseases such as Eczema, dermatitis and Psoriasis, it alkalises the body, and speeds up many different healing processes.


Photographed by Roxana McDonald

Being able to have these hands-on learning opportunities has really helped me to retain information – and this is just one example of how Earthbound teaches us empirically. My classmates and I have all been in constant awe because of how intimate our learning connections have been, and I can tell you through experience that this is the most valuable way to learn.

Written by Alia Le Baube

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