by Will and Kate Turner
Life is made of experiences, and this has been one of the best. We decided that an expedition with Blue Ventures would be a unique honeymoon, and give us the opportunity to make a difference too. To everyone who supported our dream, we are having the most fantastic and memorable start to married life!
Waking up to the sound of the ocean everyday, clear blue skies and warm Vezo smiles, is something that will stay with us during the cold grey winter months in London! We have learnt so much and every little moment is an amazing experience.
The daily cycle of science dives, lectures, English teaching, activities and lots of rice now feels totally natural. Towards the end of the last expedition we went to further and more colourful reefs, monitoring all of the fish and coral we learnt about. Aside from some spectacular dives, here are some of our honeymoon highlights!
We travelled to a village in the south to sell the BVCO solar stoves, which was a mini expedition in itself. A four hour pirogue journey with little wind on the way there was offset by a white knuckle ride home which included a rescue mission. A local pirogue ran into trouble in the high waves and we towed it home to Andavadoaka. Whilst in the village we demonstrated the stoves and built one of the larger stoves with the president, whilst curious villagers crowded round to watch.
Our intrepid medical students set up a village pirogue paddling race in the name of Captain Kapoty and family planning. We found ourselves paddling for our lives and the honour of our Vezo fisherman trying to outdo the effort of the other volunteers. Much to Will’s dismay, Kate (or rather the very strong fisherman paddling her pirogue!) hit the finish line before him, bruised, drenched and exhausted but very happy!
During the break between expeditions we were fortunate to accompany Bic to a small desert island called Andragnombala. This is essentially a sand dune with palm trees in the middle of the sea, with a small community of Vezo living there. We arrived at sunset and set up camp on the beach, by laying our pirogue sail on the sand. Dinner was fish and rice cooked to perfection on a driftwood fire under the stars. Waking up to the sunrise on this beautiful island was a privilege. After our breakfast (fish and rice!) the local fishermen arrived with some surprising catch. A large guitar shark and a pelagic thresher shark were lying on the sand. This was a vivid example of the importance of Blue Ventures’ work and the creation of the Velondriake marine protected area (MPA).
The senses are overwhelmed by the richness of the sights, sounds and smells that everyday life here presents to us, it is impossible to fit it all into one blog and to begin to do it justice. However, just wandering through Andavadoaka being waved at by the children, dodging piles of drying fish on the beach, buying local delicacies of bok bok and kapiky bon-bon, and dancing in the epibars to the impossibly fast music are just some of the many threads that are weaving together to create the most wonderful memories.
Expedition 40 has drawn to a close, and we said goodbye to our many new friends. We feel very fortunate to be here for a further 3 weeks, to make new friends and continue our Madagascan adventure.