Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reflection of Seychelles by Shanna Nellis.

The Seychelles are a set of islands untouched by development. When I first came across this project, I literally had to look up Seychelles on a map – I had never heard of the country. It’s a wonderful break to be able to step away from the McDonalds and 7-11’s which have polluted other tropical nations. There are so few hotels they can all be listed in a single book.

People buy their ice cream, bread and eggs from a handful of shops scattered around the islands; but they’re few and far between so most learn to live without anything but bare necessities. This however doesn’t hinder the Creole dish; fruit trees abound and the sea provides, all lending to mouth watering curries, dinners and BBQ’s.

The Creole people are more than willing to share their meals with foreigners in exchange for a conversation. I have learned more from speaking to locals than any textbook could teach me. The friendly taxi driver and local farmer are brimming with stories full of history and opinions.

Spending ten weeks in the Seychelles has spoiled me. I’ve grown used to the sweeping landscapes dotted with granitic cliffs. I’ve grown used to the wall geckos and giant fruit bats perched outside the window. And I’ve grown used to the spectacular diving conditions of 25 meters visibility with hundreds of species of corals and fish.

Volunteering for GVI is a unique opportunity in that it affords one the chance to experience all this and more outside of a catered hotel environment. The camp is run via a series of carefully coordinated schedules. Everyone helps out and everyone is held accountable.

On this project I’ve learned about more than what a marine park is and how to collect data underwater. I’ve learned how to make bread and husk a coconut. I’ve learned how to run a compressor, properly care for my diving kit and how to anchor a boat. In addition to a new set of skills I’m sure I’m not the only one to have learned about trust and responsibility.

Living with, working with and socializing with the same group of people for ten weeks has led to some lifelong bonds of friendship.

It’s not a relaxing holiday, but perseverance pays off and after all the studying, sweat and work I feel as though I’ve gained as much as I gave. If this sounds like a challenge you’re up for; then come experience the many faces of paradise.