Friday, March 15, 2013

15/03/2013 Cast away on Curieuse: Our postcard perfect paradise

Landing in the Seychelles was always going to be special, but it’s hard to put down on paper just how beautiful the islands really are. Everything about the Seychelles is a sensory delight! And Curieuse is our own little world away from reality. Words cannot truly express how amazing this little granitic island is, but I will give it a go...
It might be easier to get a few quirks out of the way first: everything is named – from the boat (Dexter) to the computer (Shakira); there is a resident neckerchief-wearing guard dog (Digby) and a mischievous resident ghost (Maria). The staff (Reggie, Pat, Noel and Zach) are all lovely and have gone out of their way to make us welcome as well as to ensure camp is more than habitable.
We have our own stunning beach complete with tree-house that leads out onto numerous bommies filled with colourful fish and the occasional ray or turtle if we are lucky! There are two dorms: Shark Shack and Leper Lodge. Everyone eats and has their social time at ‘The Bommie’, our communal area – the delicious food being cooked by two volunteers each day from scratch (whether that means husking and grating coconuts for cookies, or baking the bread-base of a pizza!) It’s surprising how creative the cooking can get with a limited set of ingredients...
Our ‘commute to work’ each day is just spectacular. If it wasn’t enough that the scenery is better than a postcard picture, the sea is lovely and warm. It is also unbelievably clear and that green-blue colour that you want to bottle up for a bad day back home. And we almost always come across our giant tortoise neighbours, giving them a quick rub on their neck and some coco-plums if we have them to hand. The giant tortoises far outnumber the people on the island, so it’s no wonder that the volunteers get to know each of them and their personalities so well. The rocks are so perfectly formed that they don’t look real, and the array of plants and wildlife are something to marvel at (which we do daily...) Yes the walk is difficult: climbing up a never-ending path of treacherous rock-steps with the sun’s rays beating down hard overhead is tiring work but it’s definitely all worth it to arrive at one of our exciting destinations to start work.
Our first week has flown by so quickly with lots of information and introductory sessions being given. But EFR is a million times more fun when practised on a beach in 30 degree heat. We’ve so far done fun snorkels, wurtles, snurtles, mangrove monitoring, tweets and challenging hikes to find the famous Coco de Mer for half of camp. The rest have been delving deep into the mangroves in search of birds (but secretly dreaming of the ice-cream in Praslin!!)
We are all super excited about getting out into the field properly to gain experience and aid the vital conservation of Curieuse. Hopefully we will see more live hatchlings (Sven was our first), find out what A-One (the tortoise) did with that pencil, and be able to name all of the mangrove species and birds by the end of the expedition (or pass the tests anyways...)
And the weekend is coming up (already?!?). This will include an amusing ‘pirate’ themed barbeque put on by the staff, a trip to Praslin to finally contact our families, enjoy some relaxation by the pool at Paradise hotel, and lots of lazing around on Anse Jose (did I mention that we have our own beach?!!)
I’m sure there will be much more to report on in the next few weeks, but at the moment everyone’s just loving life, learning as much as we can, and hoping it doesn’t all go too quickly!