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From a nasty Massachusetts winter to sea turtle hatchlings, Giant tortoise tickles and the crystal clear waters of the Seychelles

By Kristin Gross 4 years ago
Categories Mahe and Curieuse

Three months ago I was working two average jobs, living in a typical house and breathing the cool wintery air. That all changed in January when, with my best friend, we left it all behind to come to the Seychelles for three months. We left the early stages of a nasty Massachusetts winter behind and said hello to the hot and humid air of the Seychelles. When we first arrived, after 17 hours of flying, we were still in our pants and sweatshirts that were needed at home. That didn’t last very long as one of the first things we did was find a way to get our packed away shorts and tank tops out. Once that was sorted, we took a taxi to La Louise Lodge where we stayed for the night. It provided an incredible view over Mahe and we ended up meeting three other GVI volunteers. It was nice to meet them before our actual program started; it made it a little more comfortable when we all moved onto base and started our orientation.
The day after we arrived we met the full group of 11 people. There were individuals from England, the US, Israel and Germany. Since it was the beginning of the year, all 11 of us were new and experiencing everything for the first time together. I can remember when we first got here the camp was rather empty. We walked into our dorms and the first thing I thought was “this is my home for the next 3 months?” I know I wasn’t the only one to be shocked, but it was hard not to be with the only things in the room being 4 concrete walls, 4 windows, 3 bunk beds, and 3 shelves. It looked scary and bare at first, but once everyone was moved in and our sheets and mosquito nets were set up it felt instantly more homely.
We’ve also had to get used to a few other things. A big one was the non-flushing toilets. They can be a pain at times, having to do bucket runs to get water from the sea, but like anything else you get used to it. Since we use rain water for all our showers here, we’re only allowed one every other day. Of course at home you get used to showering when you want, but here we get used to showering every other day, and using the sea for a rinse off when needed. Everything takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do it’s normal and you start to enjoy it, plus it makes you much more conscious of the environment.
When we first started the surveys 3 months ago everything was very new and we barely had an idea of what was going on. Now if you take us out on survey you can tell how much we have learned over our 90 days on Curieuse. When we first started the turtle surveys we mostly observed as our survey leader excavated the nests to measure hatching success. They would offer to let us try, but the eggs that never hatch tend to turn a little disgusting after a few days and it was a little off-putting at first! Now that we’re used to it we happily dig out nests handful after handful, opening the un-hatched eggs to see what stage of development they reached. Similarly, we are now so much better at bird surveys. At first we would go out and we’d see birds that we had no idea how to classify. I distinctly remember thinking it would take an expert to recognize a bird by its chirp. Now we’ve become adept at distinguishing the birds, and even classify them when we’re hanging out on Praslin on our weekends off!
As my time here comes to an end I can look back at all the amazing experiences I’ve had here on Curieuse, and in the Seychelles as a whole. I can’t imagine running into any Hawksbill sea turtles that I get to observe laying eggs, or being able to ‘tickle’ (they like it and it causes them stand up for us!) and measure Giant Aldabra Tortoises again in the future. The experiences I’ve had here are the most incredible of my life, and although I’m excited to be going home, I’m sad to be leaving the Seychelles. I’ve met the greatest people and this is absolutely an experience I will hold with me forever.