As expedition 35 draws to a close, the 16 volunteers that began are now down to a lucky nine. Nine for whom six weeks will never be enough. I pity those who departed before the expedition ended, to return to the world of stress and work otherwise known as reality. Alien concepts in the paradise that is Andavadoaka. Diving, manta towing, ground-truthing, baobabs, and of course the goats, to name but a few of the pleasures they have left behind. Don’t be deceived by the self-deprecating pre-departure handbook. The food’s aplenty and the beers are cold. The crystal clear sea is like a hot bath and the sun like a warming massage.
Days are spent sailing gently over the turquoise waters in a pirogue or rocking gently in locally made hammocks enjoying sea views to die for or reading one of the fabulously mildewed books in the on site “library”. When not relaxing, involvement in the Blue Ventures community and the scientific research therein is gratifying and one cannot fail to see the positive effects BV’s presence has brought to the local area and its economy. BV gives the opportunity for a diving holiday that through the volunteer’s scientific involvement can help preserve the reefs and marine environments that make diving so gratifying. I cannot recommend the Andavadoaka experience highly enough. but before I sign off, I’d like to make a few suggestions to the budding volunteer: Visit the epi-bars as much as possible to support the local economy. Also, bring spices, sauces and snacks as an essential item as although good, the food may become tedious and a change in flavours is a much enjoyed break from fish. So, I urge you, sign up for the next expedition and claim your place in paradise.
Nick Bradish & Igor Ayrton