What the Volunteers Have to Say:

Hello again from sunny Andavadoaka! Today we have a blog update for
you from Katia Cherel, who worked as an intern in the Blue Ventures
office in London before coming out to join us on site. Here it is:

Expedition 23 is now well on its way with the second week nearly
over, 6 new open water divers, and a few more soon-to-be advanced.
Everyone is getting stuck into camp routine happily and, after the
initial awe, getting used to living and working in such an amazing
place. Lectures on the marine environment, point-outs underwater, and
every spare moment spent learning benthic and fish, is getting
everyone prepared for the computer and in-water point out tests and
we hope to get started on the PIT and fish belts as soon as possible.
Its not all hard work though: a football match with the local
village revealed some hidden talents (boys: 2,2, girls 2,1, looking
forward to the rematch!). A beach clean-up on the 6th of July (to
celebrate international environment day – ahem, one month late)
provided lots of entertainment, gathering all the children from the
village together with a promise of notebooks and pens for the team
who collected the most rubbish (sometimes censorship of items was
necessary to prevent wood being considered as scrap) and a moment of
repose as we were rewarded around the burning rubbish with a
beautiful song on marine life protection the children had learnt in
their weekly environmental club. On the marine life sighting front
three whales were spotted swimming around the lagoon and were
followed by pirogue by Ben and Bic on the 7th July. We hope there
will be more of those to report soon. In the meantime I leave you
with an account of Ben’s very exceptional 19th birthday – from the
horse’s mouth…

From a personal point of view, the 9th of july was a day that won’t
be forgotten in a hurry, mainly because it was a certain special
someones birthday! The presents came thick and fast, starting early
on with a nice morning swim at 6.45, courtesy of Micah, Gary and Lea
very kindly pouncing on me, taping me up and throwing me in (watch
closely on ‘you’ve been framed’ and im sure youll see me somewhere in
there). After a dive to near shore Andavadoaka to point out some fish
and benthic, Bic took me out on our new pirogue (which we call Yogi
the Pirrogui!) to go pirogue surfing on the breakers a few hundred
meters out. Hard work but defiantly worth it, especially for the
amazed looks from the locals! After lunch and a bit of down time it
was time for party night and the best part of all – dressing-up. A
few days before I had decided on ‘superheros’ as a theme and no-one
disappointed. Whether it was Bolo baby, Captain Maintainance, Stevie
Wonder the sea cucumber (?!?!?), Tarzan or Captain Sea Grass, I
thought we all looked fantastic (or is that ridiculous?) for dinner,
much to the kitchen staff’s delight! The fun didn’t stop
there…there was even some cake with toffee made by Jo our camp
doctor (I nearly passed out from excitement)!! I don’t think I have
ever been so excited to see condensed milk in a new form!!

I have to admit, it was most probably the strangest birthday I have
ever had, or ever will have for that matter. I mean, making a speech
in front of various people dressed up and looking utterly hysterical
whilst eating zebu by candle light in a place that is the most remote
I will possibly ever be in my life! Beat that! It also made me really
appreciative of how people making that bit of effort can make such a
huge difference. Even though I’ve only known some of the people for a
week or two, they all made me feel as if I were with my friends from
home.

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