A short but sweet stay in the Seychelles.
My GVI Experience began with revisiting a childhood nightmare – seasickness – but rapidly picked up from there. The variety of ongoing projects and diversity of Curieuse made for an interesting first weekend of introductory sessions and presentations, while hiking to Grand Anse searching for sea turtles in the sunshine was a pretty good way to kick things off on Monday morning.
The early starts allow for a lot to be accomplished each day, while the early sunsets give the illusion of staying up late in to the night even though your watch will tell you it’s only 9pm. I quickly adapted to and learned to appreciate the regimented and productive lifestyle on the project, along with the relaxed vibe of island life, two concepts which mix and coexist surprisingly well.
Whilst manoeuvring a seine net through the turtle pond to get to know the local sharks, as the sun set in the background, was a personal highlight from my first week, the Friday barbecue after a half-day in the field and some staff vs volunteers volleyball was a perfect way to round off the week. As an added bonus, getting to chat to McGregor (the alpha of the tortoise population on the island) every day proved an adequate substitute for not getting to see my dog back home.
Being a food lover I’ve been hugely impressed with the nutrition on offer, both the quality and the quantity (panic buying snacks before boarding for Curieuse really wasn’t worth the hassle). Returning from a survey is made all the more enjoyable when you know a couple of your trusted camp mates have stayed at base creating a feast for you to devour. It turns out pasta goes well with Seybrew.
The time pressure of not being here for long is a great motivation to see as much of the country as possible at the weekend. With Praslin being the first necessary destination, it made sense to explore here before going further afield. In general I’d be bored of being at a beach within half an hour, although Anse Lazio is somewhere I could easily have spent all day (maybe all the travel magazines are right about this one). In addition, the rollercoaster-like bus trip from Cote D’Or followed by some steep inclines on foot make you feel like you’ve earned this one.
La Digue is another island well worth the hype and the ferry ticket. Mixing the cycling culture of Amsterdam with the laid back atmosphere of the Seychelles is a stroke of genius, however tasting the fresh fruit juice from countless cafes and witnessing every sublime beach would be a challenge regardless of the mode of transport available. Ultimately, spending time on other islands, and watching others flock to see the odd giant tortoise or Coco de Mer, gives you an even greater appreciation of the environment found on Curieuse.
Being in the Seychelles with GVI seems to give you a greater affinity with the islands as opposed to simply being a visitor. Witnessing tourists flock to Curieuse during the day only for them to have a curfew does fill you a certain degree of smugness that you can call such a special place home, for a short period of time at least.
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