Monday, October 18, 2010

19/10/10 Cap Ternay Beach Olympics 2010

It could be said (and has, repeatedly) that there are worse places to be than the Seychelles. Today is Friday, which means that the 23 GVI volunteers at Cap Ternay base will take a well-earned weekend break from the always unpopular (!) toil 15 metres below the waves and enjoy a cool alcoholic beverage with the barbeque this evening. The tides are against us this afternoon, which means the boat can’t get out to take us diving, so some enterprising characters (Ellie & Sarah) have organised a Seychellois Olympic Games. This will involve everybody donning their usual attire (board shorts & bikinis) and going down to the beach for some fun in the sun – as you might imagine, they don’t take a lot of convincing. One particular Irish lad is a little concerned, however – Darragh stands to lose 15 beers if his dorm doesn’t beat the staff.

The focus of the last week or so has been coral, with the volunteers busily learning how to identify more than 50 different types. This may sound like drudgery, but in fact (and to the surprise of more than a few) this is absolutely fascinating work, even to those of us, such as your correspondent, who had no background to speak of in biology or science. It all comes together below the waves – the idea is that we can identify small recruit specimens of these corals (often no larger than an inch or so across) to track the health of the various reefs in our vicinity. The sheer excitement (and accompanying underwater antics) of some of the instructors when they find and we correctly identify a particularly tricky or rare coral is hysterical. Your correspondent accidentally spat out his regulator laughing at the tomfoolery of his South African instructor, Tai, who appeared to be doing his best to impersonate a ‘60s disco dancer. Those who have seen this particular specimen out at Tequila Boom (one of the more lively local discotheques) know that he is a better dancer below water than above.

Diving is of course our principal occupation here on Mahe Island, and everybody is now fully qualified as Advanced Open Water divers. There were some hiccups, namely the underwater navigation component. Unfortunately, you can track volunteers’ movements underwater by watching their surface marker buoys. Basic geometry had to be taught to a number of volunteers after their initial efforts to map out a 20 metre square were viewed with some derision by staff. Squares apparently have four sides…who knew??? The effects of nitrogen narcosis during the deep dive were widely discussed amongst the volunteer group. Some were apprehensive, others (including your correspondent) were awaiting the effects with a good measure of anticipation. Having now felt the effects (and read the things he wrote on his dive slate while underwater), this correspondent is firmly of the view that NARC should be bottled and distributed to people at parties as an alternative to alcohol.

Anyway kids, your correspondent has better things to do than write missives from paradise. For those who may not have picked up just how awesome it is here, these things include: diving, snorkeling, lounging on the beach, listening to music, studying coral and seeing just how low your board shorts can go in the search for the ultimate tan line. Some quick facts and figures to finish:

2: The number of people who now know they need to remember to eat before starting to drink on Friday.

5: The number of nudibranchs your correspondent saw on his latest snorkeling trip. A nudi is essentially a colourful slug, and the only reason your correspondent has included this entry is because he thinks nudis are stupid, and yet he still saw more than Sam, the Australian staff member who speaks like she’s from Bristol and whose love of nudis borders on sad fetishism.

37: The number of seconds it took Dave to pull in the plankton sample net, equalling the previous record.

0: Number of Dolpharks found. The Dolphark is not found, it finds you. Half dolphin, half shark, all danger.



Steve said...

Hmmmm - vaguely familiar writing style (not to mention disrespectful commentary). That you, JFS?? :-)