Thursday, April 19, 2012

22/04/12 A day in the life on Curieuse

I don’t think I’ve described a typical Camp Curieuse day yet, so it’s about time I did. Today was a typical Camp Curieuse day. It’s Sunday, the first day of the Curieuse week. The Hawksbill Hilton hut alarm drags us from our slumber at 06.30 hours. For most Hawksbill Hilton residents, this is enough to get them out of bed, but I tend to need a little extra time for my eyes to open and start focussing. I also need to brace myself for the descent from the top bunk. It’s a dangerous journey first thing in the morning. A tightly tucked-in mosquito net is the first hurdle, followed by only 3, fairly widely spaced, hard, wooden, vertical steps. The steps are a rude awakening of the feet. When feet are firmly on solid ground, it’s a swift change into bikini, shorts and t-shirt, ready for duties at 06.45.
Today, Hawksbill Hilton was on camp duties and Coco de Marriott was on kitchen. We alternate duties daily. I’m not sure which I prefer. Both duties have good and bad aspects. For camp duties, we meet in the dive hut to collect rakes and brooms. We sweep the surfaces and steps and rake the sandy areas, clearing leaves, playing golf with takamaka nuts and hopefully disuading ants from laying their eggs and making a home in our home. We change the toilet bags, replenish the toilet rolls (the edges, folded into a point like in fancy hotels) and ensure the buckets are full of sea water for flushing. In the dive hut, we carry out a daily check of the compressor, ready for tank filling and we fill three big buckets of fresh water to rinse our dive kit after the dives. Five people on camp duties and five people on kitchen – it’s very efficient and works like a well-oiled machine.
After half an hour of daily duties, we eat porridge. Some of us need coffee too. Breakfast takes about twenty minutes. Because today is Sunday, it’s big camp clean. There are no duties at the weekend (Friday and Saturday) and it’s surprising how much debris accumulates in just two days. Big camp clean means the kitchen gets a thorough wash down, including all pots and pans, surfaces, cupboards, fridge, table, bins, compost, recycling etc. We sweep inside the 5* huts and scrub the Tritan power shower. Today, I even washed and bleached the communal pillowcases and mended one of the benches that had been destroyed one party night a few weeks ago (don’t ask). Whilst camp is being cleaned, Dexter takes a group to Cote D’Or on Praslin, to stock up on food and drink from Apu’s shop. That’s a big job, so when Dexter returns, we all traipse out and form an unloading line. It’s a good day to be on kitchen, with so many new ingredients to play with, but then again, I quite like the challenge of inventing an exciting meal for 14 people with two cans of tomato, a can of kidney beans and an inch of ginger.
At 10.00, the first dive boat departs. There were six divers; four doing fish surveys and two doing coral. Fish people are different to coral people. They are more likely to see megafauna to start with. Coral people spend their dives upside down with their faces deep in coral (see the perfect marketing photo). They also don’t have to learn latin names, so are basically inferior beings. As soon as the first dive returns, the compressor goes on and we begin filling tanks ready for dive two. Lunch was served at 12.00 and the second dive boat, a double tanker, departed at 12.45. There were six divers again, this time with four doing 50m invert surveys and two doing fish. Invert divers are the missing link between coral divers and fish divers. I shan’t explain why. The second dive involved two dive sites, so our surface interval involved a ride in Dexter from Praslin Point to Coral Garden. We returned at 15.30, at which point the compressor begins filling again, ready for tomorrow. We rinsed our kit, cleared away the tapes, SMB’s and began entering the data we collected.
At 16.00, we were treated to another Blue Planet (we love Blue Planet). Supper was planned for 18.30, which meant there was enough time for two energetic, enthusiastic (read foolish) volunteers to go for a run to the Ranger’s station. This involves running up and down steep hills, dodging roots, boulders and angry crabs, and generally getting very, very hot. Supper was a delicious meal of freshly baked bread, bean burgers, garlic mayonnaise, tomato relish and cabbage carrot salad. And then it’s time to relax, write the blog, read a book, enter some data, prepare slates for tomorrow and collapse into bed at about 21.30 hours. It’s exhausting, but brilliant.