From Sam:

On Getting Here

After twenty three hours in the air (which itself was preceded by a night in the Guatemala City airport), it would not be hard to have other individuals irk me. But to my pleasure, the five other Blue Ventures volunteers I met up with at the airport were all exceedingly friendly. We arrived at our hotel around 1:30 in the morning and until 4 we were hanging out in the lobby, chatting and drinking cold THB.

In the morning we met five more members, and took off for a three day long trek through Madagascar to Andavadoaka. Even when we were driving rather than hiking through incredible landscapes to see lemurs and swim under lush waterfalls we all got along great and bonded quickly. The way I figured it, you’re bound to get along with others who have the guts to spend six weeks in Madagascar doing reef conservation work. The views out the window certainly didn’t hurt either.

In my short time on this planet I have been to my fair share of places, but Madagascar stood out to me for its jutting rock formations and red dirt houses that initially littered the sides. I have heard some call it ‘The Eighth Continent’ for its landscape, and I am inclined to agree.

When we arrived in Tulear on the west coast, we were all very tired, but there was more travelling to be done. A flatbed truck carried us plus the other volunteers and staff who we rendezvoused with down the coastline. While some will tell you that the bouncy nature of this ride makes it a mission to be feared, I found it to be great fun. Even so, when we finally arrived in Andavadoaka, framed by the golden glow of the sun lowering under the sea, I felt truly elated to be where I was.

All in all I left in a shuttle for the Guatemala City airport at 6:30PM on the 26th of March, and arrived at 5:45PM on April 1st. The journey required two airlines, three cars and four flights to be completed. But having now been here for a week and a half it was undoubtedly worth it (and then some).

And from Kat:

I’ve been here in Andavadoaka for just over a week. It’s been a whirlwind adventure so far with arriving in Tana exploring the city streets and meeting many of my volunteer pals there. Quite a few of us then proceeded on a taxi brousse trip for three days on our way to Tulear. Dave, our guide, was a wonderful help teaching us about the country as we drove and our stops in a couple parks to trek through the forests and see lemurs (as well as so many other animals and plants) was a fabulous way to introduce ourselves to Madagascar.

Along the way all the volunteers seem to bond well to each other in the relaxed if very cramped van that we travelled in. Once we made it on site at Andava I was so glad to have that time to meet everyone as the work begins quickly. I’ve been learning so much about the people of Andava and how BV has had an impact and continues to strive to create a more positive impact each day.

I haven’t had the opportunity to do scientific diving exercises as of yet since I’ve been learning to dive here onsite but can’t wait to get started on that soon. The training for diving has been tough; our confined water dives aren’t in a pool but in “calm water” shallows but both Richard and Al, our dive instructors, have been incredible and make you feel safe through all the training. We have only a couple more training dives left and then on to the open water dives!

So much happens here you can’t participate in it all. Yet that’s part of the joy of being here. Gathering before dinner to have Vao Vao and learning all that has happened in the day is exciting to say the least.

Posted by Blue Ventures

Blue Ventures is an award winning marine conservation charity. We rebuild tropical fisheries with coastal communities. On our Beyond Conservation blog you can hear voices from the front line of marine conservation written by our staff and volunteers.

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