Life as a Marine Volunteer on Caqalai
When I arrived at Nadi Airport and walked outside I instantly felt the warm Fijian culture. I was collected by the hostel’s driver who casually slowed down the car, waved to every pedestrian whilst shouting “bula!” which means hello in Fijian. Everywhere you go, you are sure to be greeted in this way.
It was a very exciting experience travelling from Nadi to Suva along the coral coast to reach our final destination; a small island called Caqalai (pronounced Thangalai). This island only takes about 15 minutes to walk the entire perimeter! As part of the GVI Fiji team, we work together to collect data and maintain a eco-friendly lifestyle. It was great to interact with a diverse group of people from all around the world and learn fish/coral species. We also all work together to keep the grounds, kitchen, and bathrooms clean. We live in bures which are traditional Fijian houses that consist of coconut palm leaf roofs. As joining together and socializing is an essential part of the Fijian culture, every night there is a chance to drink kava (traditional pepper root drink) with a wonderful group of resident Fijians.
As GVI is a PADI dive centre, we all began our first week with some check out dives and some of the group began lessons for both open water and advanced open water diving. I started learning about coral species and their role in the ecosystem. Some other groups were learning about fish species. After a few presentations, we went out for “point out dives” where we can practice identifying the species in their natural environment.
When we aren’t diving, we are getting to know other members of the island and the local traditions. I had the chance to practice some weaving techniques with palm leaves, eventually learning to make what is used for the bure roofs’..
In your free time you also have an opportunity to test out your volleyball skills, card game ability and learn the Fijian language.
I am glad to call Caqalai my home!
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