by Charlotte Coombes
Lyubomir, Alan, Sonia, John, Vicky, Kate and I went on a trip to the village of Lamboara. The villagers there have decided to close off a beach so that turtles can nest in peace. Blue Ventures initiated the conservation of turtle nests, as villagers would normally eat the eggs, but it was Lamboara who decided to close off the whole beach. People are certainly changing their way of thinking here. There’s going to be a fomba (ceremony) to celebrate the closing off of the beach.
6.30am: We’re up and packing our bags for a possible overnight stay. We’re going to need plenty of water and snacks, and of course our cameras.
7am: We’re waiting for zebu carts to arrive, but of course we’re on Malagasy Time here, so no one is in a hurry. We’re happy to wait, especially as Axelle has gone into the village to buy bok bok (doughnuts) for us all.
7.30am: The carts arrive and we all pile in. There are no seats, but there are foam mattresses on the floor so it’s pretty comfortable. I reckon it’s a far more pleasant way to travel than by car.
10am: We arrive at a bay, where our tracks seem to go straight into the sea. Lamboara is on the other side, so we wait for the tide to go out. We sit in the sun and eat our snacks. Lyubomir brings out cheese and biscuits for us all, which is a nice surprise.
11.30: The zebu carts take us to a sand bar in the middle of the bay. From here pirogues (small boats that you row in this case) take us to the village, so we arrive in style.
12pm: We arrive at the village. All the villagers see us come, and we’re shown to the President’s house for lunch.
1pm: A lunch of rice and eggs. There would have been fish but the past couple of days have been windy, and this morning the fishermen were waiting for us to arrive. There’s plenty to go around though, and Lyubomir had the forethought to bring chocolate bars for us all to share afterwards. That’s one prepared volunteer!
2pm: Meeting of the village, which we are invited to attend. They are discussing the closure of the beach, and although it’s all in Malagasy it’s quite lively. A lot of children sneak in during the meeting, but to watch the villagers or us I can’t tell.
3pm: Walk to the beach, where they put up a sign and a flag to be sure people will know it’s closed off. It’s accompanied by singing and dancing from the women followed by drinks to the ancestors (the children sip Fanta while the adults drink rum).
5.30pm: We all walk back to the village. The coastline here is really beautiful – all rocky headlands and crashing waves until we round a corner, where it’s suddenly sandy beaches and the sea is totally flat. The sunset is really vivid, it seems a perfect end to a great day.
7pm: Dinner of turkey and rice. It’s really tasty, and of course we have another dessert from Lyubomir, this time dates.
8pm: Bed is straight after dinner. The walking and traveling makes us all very happy to climb into sleeping bags.
6am: We all wake up with the sun, to a see a beautiful sunrise over the fishing pirogues and the bay. We have a breakfast of bok bok and leave by sailing pirogue shortly after. This is a truly fun way to travel home, the boats are really simple and the sailors are climbing all over the place doing I don’t know what. We can get pirogue sailing lessons here, it would be so much fun to try it.
So there is a day in the life of a Blue Ventures volunteer, and I have a feeling there’ll be plenty more new things to try in the weeks to come.