Mbola tsara from beautiful Madagascar! It’s been a very busy and fun week for everyone so far I think and with just 2 and a bit weeks left everyone is eager to enjoy every second we have left in this spectacular country.
In teaching, Alex, Abbie, Maddie and I passed our first Malagasy test while our expert Amy has now completed test 3 with flying colours! Maddie, Amy and Abbie have been kept very busy in Banana teaching both adults and children, and their endless ideas for teaching games make me want to go along and learn too. Amy has been feeling up and down for the last week but refuses to be kept down and is teaching and foresting nonetheless! Suzannah, Alex and I have been teaching the Ampang beginners class and this week they have pretty much mastered body parts and question words-having a new student who only knew mainland Malagasy was a test for us all, but actions and drawings got us through and definitely made her giggle!
In forest, I was finally able to do my first walk and loved it. Suzannah and I were on the Zone 1 birds walk which consisted of 5 survey areas where we noted down the birds we saw and calls we heard. With time left at the end, we sat atop a huge rock protruding from the forest and had one of those rare quiet moments to really appreciate the beauty of the place we are in! Caroline headed out on a tough seed collection walk for our replanting project on Tuesday and when she arrived back, Abbie, Maddie, Suzannah, myself and her cut up bottles, planted seedlings and watered them in the hopes of regenerating the area affected by the fire very soon.
In marine, well done to Asher, Charlie, Charley, Josh and Caroline who have all completed their open water! A recovered Brias is now well on his way to finishing his too while Taylor is working away at his advanced. They are moving really fast and Josh and Charlie are hoping to have their advanced done by next week so they can start to survey!
The weekend before last the girls took a trip up Mount Passot which I forgot to tell you all last week but the views were spectacular! 360 degrees of all of Nosy Be and the surrounding islands-the picture reminds me of how close we all are and how much we miss Zoe and Nicole out here!
Most excitingly though, Asher, Charley, Charlie, Josh, Brias, Suzannah, Amy and I spent Saturday swimming with whale sharks and I think we are all agreed that it comes in our top 5 (or even 2) life experiences thus far! We were able to track them down quite fast in our speedboat and had a good couple of hours jumping madly from the boat as fast as possible in order to enjoy a few seconds swimming alongside the beautiful majestic giants! Charlie and Inearly sat on one as we entered maybe too excitedly at one point, turning to find a huge smiling mouth just inches from our faces! Josh wins the enthusiasm prize as he was not ready to leave and kept throwing himself back in at every opportunity, while the Charl(ie/ey)s were our great cameramen and got some fantastic shots that I hope you can all see soon.
Throughout our delicious lunch, complete with crab, zebu and shrimp skewers, freshly caught fish (literally 10 minutes prior) and more, on a stunning island called Sakatia, we were all still raving about how lucky we were to not only see, but swim and in some cases touch, such breathtaking animals. Some of us then went for a quick snorkel around the corner to see Sakatia’s famous giant green turtles-and they were right that they were giant! Just as we were certain our day couldn’t get better, we all then had a good laugh racing back in our speedboat at speeds that I’m quite certain made our whole boat lift off from the water-the bruises say it all! Sorry to Amy’s parents in particular, as I think from the constant smile on her face you may be buying a speedboat for Christmas!
With just 2 full weeks left, a number of us are grabbing the chance to see some sights on the mainland before we head home. Our thinking is that Madagascar really is a once in a lifetime experience on the whole and sadly the cost of getting here means we probably won’t be returning anytime soon! So while Suzannah, Amy and I are just going to spend a slightly extended weekend in Ankarana special reserve (lemurs, cool rock formations and bat caves), Maddie, Caroline and Alex are off for a hike in Marojejy National park. They have bought all their food and collected their tents and seem very prepared and super excited for what I think will be an amazing time for them all-GOOD LUCK! Abbie and Charley are also having a think about seeing a few sights before we all enjoy our last couple of weeks together.
Can’t believe there’s only 2 weeks left-I do think regularly about hiring a catamaran with all these great people and reliving those spectacular 10 days on the boat as a reunion trip in a few years time!
I’ll check in soon, Amelia xx