So, 4 weeks in and we’ve survived. For the most part this has been down to us working together and helping each other out; a motley crew but a crew none-the-less. This week has seen many fine examples of selfless, kind acts and brilliant team work: continuing an amazing mural at the Rangers’ Station; helping each other with mosquito nets at bedtime, especially after an exuberant ‘H’-themed BBQ party; the generosity of Anastasia and her family who took some of the volunteers to La Digue on their catamaran; countless ‘toilet chains’ to fill the butt with water; Shark Shack’s never-failing bedtime routine; lending helpful advice to each other on matters such as island shaving; completing a successful inundation at high tide in the mangroves; and, endless brilliant cooking. Yes, this week has ticked along ‘quite nicely’, as Reggie would say.
It only seemed right that this blog entry should follow in the same vein, and thus I have asked my fellow happy campers to write about their highlights of the month…
After three astounding weeks it’s going to be extremely difficult to choose a favourite moment, so I guess I won’t. The only way I can even begin to explain the beauty that is Curieuse is by describing my time here as a process. Though I have undergone a number of processes here the most important one I can think of is my triumph over the jungle. Before coming here, I was terrified of all insects. A tingle on my neck would send me tripping and stumbling towards the nearest mirror to scour my body for a spider whilst the whisper of the wind on my leg would force me to demolish my skin via an uncontrollable slap. However, with the help of the staff and the amazing friends I have made here, I have learnt to cherish the spiders and will in fact miss the giant millipede that curled up in my hand. The people here accompanied by the sparkling ocean and dazzling sun have shown me how to truly appreciate the beauty in the small things, the bare necessities of life.
So my time in paradise has come to an end and a feeling of nostalgia is already hitting me.
This trip has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I couldn’t be any more grateful for all the moments that I have lived here. Coming here alone was a challenge but it is amazing how quickly one can adapt to a new type of life. All the hikes, the cuts in my legs, the sweat, the mud mixed with tortoise poo, the centipedes, rats, spiders and machetes were all part of the fun. But this place has offered me so many good moments. From waking up at 5.30 am to go on a Coco de Mer survey to relaxing on the beach after a hard day of hiking, from base duties to seeing adorable hatchlings, … It was all worth it. This island that has been my home for the past 3 weeks has made me realise how lucky I am. I’m leaving this place but so many memories will remain in Curieuse. Thank you to all of you for being part of my family during this month, YOLO (sollllz)
7 days. 7 little days that seem like a few hours right now while I write this article.
Arriving here I knew there would be lots of new experiences waiting for me. It goes from getting to know my brand new roommates, two centipedes and a leper, to building an incredible and historical stair. Still the most extreme experience was painting the mural. I was enjoying the experience so much that it wasn’t until the end that I realised that there was more paint on me …than on the wall.
Well to be honest the best was to experience real silence. Huge monumental silence only broken by the murmur of the Indian Ocean crashing against the pristine sand. I got attached to this simple life.
Hope I’ll come back.
Curieuse island is a very special place and it has been fun and a privilege to take part in such a wide range of interesting projects. Thanks go to a well organised team who are knowledgeable and passionate about the work they are doing and have helped to ensure a memorable experience for all the volunteers. I’ve particularly enjoyed watching and learning about the birds of the Seychelles and discovering the magic of scuba diving in my free time. It has been a challenge and entertaining to see how we all have adapted to the simplicities of island life.
Going to the Seychelles with GVI has been a very edifying experience. Even though living on a remote island which lacked many of the modern day luxuries has been very tough for me at times, my three weeks living on the expedition base at Curieuse has definitely been enriching. I especially enjoyed going on bird watching hikes, which were always a pleasure with Noel’s never-ending enthusiasm every time a different exotic bird was spotted in the sky. Playing volleyball matches and Frisbee games on the beach was also good fun, especially with Andrew who ran in the sea a few times to save his Frisbee from being drowned away by the ocean, and Aly, whose ultra-competitiveness in volleyball was always humourous to observe. One highlight of my time here was definitely defeating Reggie, the camp manager, at a game of assassin, which was done very subtly by asking him early in the morning before an excursion if he’s ever heard of the famous “beanbag society” from Plymouth university. The expression on Reggie’s face when he learnt that he’s just been “assassinated” was simply priceless. All things said, these three weeks of volunteering have been extremely unique and instructive.
The thing I have loved the most about my time here is epitomised by the way I spent my birthday weekend. I have never spent my birthday away from home, and my family and friends would tell you that I make a fairly big deal out of it. Everybody here was so amazing that I did not feel home sick for a moment. On the Friday we had an ‘H’ themed BBQ which was a surprise for me (I went dressed as myself), and I had to guess the theme whilst costumes such as Hercules, a Hillbilly, a Hippie and a Hawksbill turtle appeared. On the Saturday we were generously invited on Anastasia’s family’s Catamaran and we sailed across to La Digue. Though we were slightly embarrassed as we arrived on the gorgeous boat bruised, dirty and probably slightly smelly, we were welcomed with open arms and quickly relaxed into the luxurious lifestyle. La Digue was an amazing island and I would thoroughly recommend the beach Anse Source D’Argent – it certainly deserves its title of the best beach in the world. On the Sunday we had a relaxed day soaking up the sun and making pizza for the evening, whilst Sarah and Lib secretly made me a delicious cake. In the evening we took a walk down the beach with a beer and I couldn’t believe my luck as we watched the beautiful sunset we have grown so used to. It was a once in a lifetime weekend that I will be telling my children and my grandchildren about, made all the better by the friendships I have made here – I will miss everyone so much when I leave, thank you all for giving me the best month and a better birthday than I could have possibly hoped for.
After being here for twelve solid weeks, it’s hard to describe an absolute highlight. Every day has been as new and exciting as the next, and experiencing the wonders of nature with a new bunch of people each month has really broken the idea of routine. However it’s hard not to marvel at the world I’ve been living in these past three months. Waking up to the lulls of the ocean every morning, just metres from our doorstep, is definitely something I will miss. The scenery has been unimaginable. More than anything I will miss the simple fact that we live here, on this tropical island, in pure isolation. Far enough away from the pressures of society.
With all this in mind, my time here just wouldn’t have been the same without the beautiful people I’ve met along the way. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in all my life, and I’m stoked to have had the opportunity to share this experience with such incredible, like-minded people. It’s been simply magic.
Four short weeks is but a blink of an eye here on the magical island of Curieuse, but the deluge of experiences that I have had here, have been magical. From watching the plucky turtle hatchlings emerge from their nest and struggle valiantly towards the dazzlingly turquoise Indian Ocean, taking a trip to the stunning island of La Digue on a catamaran or just chilling out on Shark Shack’s ‘veranda’, I cannot choose a favourite moment from my time here. However, climbing Mount Curieuse for the second time, and then forging a path through the jungle down to Anse Badamier was a particular highlight. As a child, I dreamed of being an explorer, and this expedition was all I could have hoped for. Clambering up rocky outcrops, clinging with my fingertips to granite boulders, followed by a slippery descent through the trees, having to fight through cobwebs and dense foliage, and finally arriving on a pristine, deserted beach was pretty damn good. I was only gutted that I didn’t have to crawl on my hands and knees at any point. Not quite that hard core (awks). But still, this trip I have been living the dream, and have met some wonderful people. I feel exceptionally privileged and will always remember my time here. And as a final note; the colour of the water is indescribable – blue/turquoise/green. Whatever I say won’t help. You just have to come here to see it for yourself.
Rocks. Before Curieuse I wasn’t much of a fan of clambering up them or stepping from one to another across a dark abyss, or the agony that is a graze.
I exaggerate, but basically I didn’t like that sort of thing. Give me stable, continual ground please. Or grass! I love grass. BUT now the clambering over and scaling of boulders is what makes my day in the field! Admittedly, I still don’t like it very much when you confidently step on a rock, smugly avoiding the fickle soil around it, as you ascend or descend one of Curieuse’s many hillsides and the rock decides to crumble, sending you staggering sideways into a Razor Palm (of course, who would?) But now I love squeezing myself between them, lowering myself over them, desperately hugging them hoping to defy gravity somehow and scrambling up their 85˚ angled sides (the person before you managed to do it so you must too –‘Summon your inner Spiderman Elizabeth!’). I like rocks now- they add some spice to mundane, predictable grass.
And me? Well surprisingly I’ve loved the quiet moments on this island…moments where we are quiet that is. Tweets have been a particular highlight…getting up before dawn, trekking to some obscure point, watching the sunrise whilst searching for movement or sound, finding it, trying to identify it and gain the sought after affirmative nod from Pat or Noel, writing it down in a satisfyingly organised list on paper that claims to be ‘all-weather’ (yup, all-weather, write in the rain…blows my mind). Human noise stops for 10 minutes and we just get to listen to all the different sounds of the island. This brings me to my other favourite time of day here…about 6pm. I’m as clean and dry as one can get here, Digby has had his run and is momentarily distracted by rats in the kitchen, the sun is setting and we are finally allowed a cold beer (yes, that is what we use our limited solar power here for…obvs). I walk, or as near to walking as I get when I’m alone (please refer to week 1’s blog), beer in hand, along the beach and watch wildlife feed, get ready for bed, wake up (if you’re a bat) and the sky splits in two as the sun sets to my right and the purple sky from my left moves across to close the curtains on the day.
As it happens, it’s 6.08pm now and so I’d better go and do just that. Luckily everyone else has written the bulk of this blog entry for me, not that I planned it that way or anything…!