The last few days of the expedition were immense. All the difficult things were less difficult and all the amazing things were more amazing. The last few dives
were exploratory or recreational and we found a new site, Lovo Be, which had great coral, huge fish (including a species that hasn’t been seen at Andavadoaka before), and a ‘witch’s garden’ of soft corals, sponges and gorgonians.
I was a little apprehensive about the camion ride home, the trip to Andavadoaka had taken 27 hours, and no one wanted to try that again. The first half of the
trip, through the spiny forest, was terrifying. The first spider into the truck had us all jumping about squealing, then after five minutes we accepted the
fact that we were going to be travelling back with half the spiny forest and all of its insect inhabitants in the camion with us. Once we reached the end of the spiny forest we took out all the luggage and the foam we were sitting on (best idea ever) and shook out all those spines and leaves and insects life, then, much more comfortable.
A few of us had taken the advice of one of the field scientists and stayed up all night before we left, that made leaving a little more weepy, but passing out in the back of the camion much easier. I don’t remember large sections of the trip because of the excellent sleeping I got through. We looked like a pile of puppies (hot, stinky, sweaty puppies, to be sure) all flopped on the foam and each other in the heat of the day.
We have been eating solidly since we arrived in Tulear, which has morphed from a foreign place where everything is more difficult than at home, to a blissful paradise of zebu steak and pizza.
We have been saying goodbye to people one by one as they head back home. It is horribly sad as each person leaves, but at the same time I’m happy because I have
managed to change my flights and I get to go back to Andavadoaka for another few weeks. Yes, Andavadoaka is hot and challenging and far from home, but the people
there are easy to love, the diving is special and the sunsets are grand.