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Island living ….

April 29, 2010

Better late than never, I finally have time to add a little more on my two week’s of island life.

It’s hard to know how to write about this part of the trip.  You really have to have been there to understand.  I’ve already described the living conditions and those who know me have probably decided that it sounds like my idea of hell – but it wasn’t, it was really great.  I can honestly say it was the most rewarding part of my trip so far.  I’m not sure that I managed to make a massive contribution to marine conservation in the two weeks, but it had a big impact on me.

So what was so great?  Well, for one thing the people I met were just fantastic.  Everyone, staff, volunteers and locals, was helpful, considerate and great fun to spend time with.    I had worried that all the other volunteers would be about half my age or less – and they were – and that we’d have nothing in common – but of course we did.  We had all volunteered to help the project in one way or another and our different backgrounds and reasons for being there gave us plenty to talk about.  The lack of electricity meant that the one thing that would have really driven me nuts – loud music – was conspicuous by its absence.  The only soundtrack to the day was the waves lapping on the shore, the chickens scrabbling round the huts and the occasional dog barking.  At night there was music drifting over from the village, the occasional geckko vocalising and now and again the fruit bats would get a bit raucous.

Lazing in a hammock was a perfectly acceptable way to spend a few hours, although there was plenty of opportunity to dive, surverying reefs or seahorse habitats, or to teach English to the village children in the evening.

Not all the conservation was marine.  I joined one jungle survey where we trekked up a dry riverbed looking for orchids.  We came across some weird sticky looking stuff hanging from trees.

It looked a bit like a small wasps nest but subsequent enquiry discovered that it was the spawn of tree frogs.  When the rains arrive the eggs grow and hatch into tadpoles which drop into the river to turn into the next generation of frogs.  Pretty clever thinking by the frogs, eh?

The most amazing experience of the two weeks was the evening after my birthday when I went swimming.  I’m afraid there are no photos of this, so I’m going to ask you to use your imagination to get the idea.

Close your eyes – not yet, you fool – you need to read the full instructions first.

Imagine you are sitting in the moonlight by a bonfire on the beach.  It is very, very, warm and the sky is full of stars.  You can hear the waves gently lapping and the crackle of the bonfire.  The sky starts to cloud over hiding the bright moon and the stars.

You go into the water and start to swim out from the shore.  Suddenly the water appears to be filled with all the stars that have vanished from the sky; every move you make is magically illuminated by the glow from millions of microscopic plankton.

Then the heavens open and the rain pours down in torrents.  Every drop that hits the water excites more plankton into lighting up.  You float gently while the entire sea sparkles around you.

Right, now close your eyes and try to imagine it.

If you succeeded in visualising this you’ll begin to understand what a fantastic time I had on the island and why it is so important to conserve the environment in places like this.

  1. Fraser permalink

    What can I say; that last bit sounds utterly fantastic. Nice post Leslie.

  2. Jill Valentine permalink

    I have a very vivid imagination! And all I can say is WOW! Continue with the great blog Leslie! Jx

  3. Donna Aitken permalink

    This all sounds and looks great Les. look forward to seeing ALL your pics when you get back.

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