Tuesday, November 6, 2012

02/11/12 Our first week

Today was supposed to be the first day on Curieuse Island for us seven ‘newbies, but the plan was changed when we discovered that there was no room on the ferry from Mahe (a first, it seems!), so we were treated to an unexpected overnight stay on the main Research Base at Cap Ternay.   It was really interesting seeing the base, tucked away in what felt like the middle of the jungle.  We ate their food and slept in their dorms, then waved goodbye in the morning to finally make our way over to Curieuse. 
The first glimpse of Curieuse shows a lush, hilly place with beautiful white sandy beaches.  As Dexter (the boat) pulled up on the beach we could see the base camp just nestled behind a few trees.  We had a lovely welcome from the staff, and were greeted with delicious flapjacks!  What a good start!  The staff here are all really friendly and helpful, and are very knowledgeable about their subject areas.  They didn’t let us off very lightly though as we were soon engrossed in lectures about Curieuse Creatures and GVI and given a camp orientation.  We were finally shown to our dorms (mine is endearingly called Leper Lodge due to the fact that it used to be part of a leper colony) and given time to unpack.  The first evening was very relaxed, with everyone getting to know each other and finding their way around.
An early start (the first of many!), we had a turtle briefing at 7.00am, and by 8.00am we were off on our first beach survey.  This took us on a trek over the hills, which provided some amazing views, and incorporated the giant tortoise centre where we were amazed by how big they really were!  Guided by April’s expert eye we found several new turtle nests which were logged, measured and tagged.  After a hot trek back to camp we had a bit of time to jump in the sea to cool off, which was fabulous.  We’ve started to get used to the local wildlife here, like the huge palm spiders (no prizes for guessing where they got their name from), the crabs and the unwanted giant centipede that appeared in our dorm!  Luckily the lads got it with the can crusher!  The weirdest thing is having a shower in the open air with the bats flying overhead!  This afternoon we learnt how to husk a coconut using a machete, and found out that it is illegal to husk a coconut after dark or under the influence of alcohol!  Luckily I don’t think the coconut police will be visiting this island anytime soon!
It feels like we’ve been here for quite a while already.  This morning brought a turtle walk along the local beach, and then a snorkel back.  I spotted my first turtle!  While snorkelling, I had cautiously approached several turtle-shaped rocks, when finally a real Hawksbill swam past right in front of me.  It was truly amazing to see how graceful they are under water.   Everyone is getting to know each other better now and the place is starting to feel like home.  I think we’re even getting used to the rather unusual bathroom facilities!  Tonight we’re being treated to movie night, then it will be off to bed early ready for another early start.  I’m on kitchen duties tomorrow in between the turtle walk and first aid training – oh dear, my lack of cooking skills will soon be revealed! We’ve been told that we should see some hatchlings soon, so fingers crossed......