It’s hard to believe that only five weeks ago I had just arrived back home in Edinburgh from a bit of travelling, only to shoot off again to the Seychelles the following Saturday. I have been on Curieuse for four weeks now, and I can’t decide whether time has flown by or if I feel like I have been here much longer, I guess it’s a bit of both. When I was first offered the position, a 3-month scholar contract, I was asked by a family friend (with no hint of sarcasm) whether I had won a competition to get the role. I found this very funny, but now that I’m here I can see where she was coming from.
Life on Curieuse so far is pretty decent. The work here is tiring but fulfilling, the living conditions exceeded my expectations and the setting is beyond incredible. This is where one would usually include a typical ‘day in the life’ style passage. However, due to the nature of the work no two days are ever really alike; a typical week would be more appropriate. It usually involves several early morning hikes for bird surveying, some treks through the mangroves for the salinity study or around different parts of the island to find and track tortoises. We also do some snorkeling, and I count myself very lucky to have seen some rays, a turtle and many different fascinating fish that associate with these coastal areas. As a member of the staff team most of my working day is spent with little tasks to keep the base operational; no one job is very intense but there are many of them. This can be anything from training the volunteers on how to use GPS and machetes, to small-scale building projects, to general upkeep of the base. Each day seems to be a different combination of everything above, but the result is always the same- the satisfaction of having done a hard day’s work and being able to relax at the end of the day however you please on this stunning island.
The weekend always starts with a barbecue on the Friday night, one of the two nights a week we have meat, which I will definitely miss when my time is up here. Having done a few expeditions of this nature before, I have learnt to live without the usual instantly gratifying comforts of home- TV, snacks and so on- but I never find myself missing them. Instead, when I do have the pleasure of eating an English breakfast or watching Breaking Bad when I use the internet on the opposite island to us (Praslin), I enjoy them for what they are; luxuries. Not that the base is in any way devoid of technology (far from it), but the immediate and convenient availability of such luxuries isn’t quite the same out here. However there isn’t anything I’d substitute for the feeling at the end of the day here when you can relax with book, go for a swim, have a beer with colleagues or have a laze in the hammock.
My experience on Curieuse so far has been packed with new challenges and responsibilities, lots of learning and both fulfilling and interesting work. I have no doubt that the next two months of my stay will be just as rewarding, if not more so.
Pascal Lovell, Scholar, GVI Curieuse