Seychelles Week 7!

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Seven weeks already? It’s hard to believe that there is only a week left for us in the Seychelles when it seems like we just arrived. As the last month comes to an end we still find ourselves busy while we continue to organize the fundraising event for next week along with finishing up all of the surveys for the month.
This week we spent a lot of time on turtle walks, whether it be excavating nests that have already hatched or marking a new nest from the tracks left in the sand we kept busy! We visited Anse Badamier, one of the “best” beaches in the Seychelles, on Wednesday to excavate a few turtle nests, along with capturing some really good views!
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We also found ourselves some spare time to construct a raft similar to the one Tom Hanks makes in the movie Cast Away! Surprisingly it floated alright and it’s safe to say we were all proud of our creation.
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We also had the opportunity to see not only turtle hatchlings while on a long turtle walk, but some other Curieuse wildlife like hermit crabs, tortoises, and a praying mantis!
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Lastly yesterday we had the opportunity to head over to Praslin to assist a local organization called TRASS, in helping them build a greenhouse and clear space for a plant nursery to grow more native plants to plant across Praslin. They are a small group of locals who are trying to revegetate areas of the island that are bare due to forest fires. It was really cool to be able to help some of the local people along with getting filmed and making Seychelles National TV!
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With only one week left we look forward to the busy days to come along with our final experiences here in the Seychelles. It’ll be a bittersweet goodbye but all of the priceless memories and pictures we’ve gained will stay with us forever!
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Week 3 Here in the Seychelles !

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Week three on Curieuse has come and gone and it’s crazy to think there are another five to come! This week was an eventful week starting off with Carolyn’s 22nd birthday on Monday! After a day full of surveys we celebrated with peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for everyone and a giant cookie and a candle for the birthday girl.

Throughout the week we also did multiple surveys on the mangroves, in which we test the soil at certain points for the temperature and salinity to see how it affects the mangrove plants!

We also worked with the tortoises on the island during a tortoise census in which we identify a tortoise, then take various measurements to keep track and monitor the island’s population. Because Curieuse is one of the few places on the planet where giant tortoises live not in captivity, monitoring and documenting how they’re doing is crucial!
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On Thursday we were all taken over to Praslin to visit one of the Seychelles’ World Heritage Sites, The Valley De Mai! It contains many endemic species in the Seychelles like the Coco de Mer and the black parrot! After hiking for a couple hours we all packed on to a local bus, as crazy as they are, and made it back to the beach to get back to Curieuse. It was amazing to see and the sites were great!
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Friday night was barbecue night and after preparing fries and salad the staff grilled up freshly caught barracuda for everyone!
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After some cards, ping pong, and other festivities we ended the week and now have a couple days to prepare for our last week with all of the one month volunteers!

Weekend on Praslin!

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After a busy first few weeks we had the chance to travel around on one of the main islands, Praslin, for the weekend, to explore the Seychelles even further. After getting dropped of by the project staff early Friday morning we all went out to breakfast at a resort called Paradise Sun, which is a pretty exclusive resort but offers its breakfast for not too much money. After eating more than we should’ve and enjoying the endless choices of food we had the chance to relax by the pool for a bit, use their WiFi, and prepare for the weekend.

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After a relaxing morning the other volunteers left to travel around a neighboring Island, La Digue, while we stayed on Praslin for the weekend. After checking into our guest house on the beach, which we were given an awesome deal because we work on Curieuse, we were invited by staff at Paradise Sun to see a local band and dancers that perform for hotel guests but because we were with Gvi and they appreciate what the organization does here in the Seychelles we were invited to come. The celebration was great, with the local band playing while dancers danced by a huge fire. Everyone was invited to join in so we got to have some fun dancing with some of the locals! It was a great experience that we wont forget!

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The next day we decided to take the local bus and visit Anse Lazio, a well known beach on Praslin, and Mt Zimbabwe, which has a great view of Curieuse Island. The local buses are crazy with winding roads and barely any space between oncoming traffic but luckily we made it. The beach looked amazing and after a long hike up the steepest roads we’ve ever seen we made it to the top of the mountain and saw the whole Island of Curieuse!

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Now we are back at Paradise Sun on our last day off awaiting to be picked up and taken back to Curieuse for another busy week!

Week 2 in the Seychelles!

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With our 2nd week in the Seychelles coming to an end there is a lot that we have learned and even more that is to come. This week when surveying the island we spent a lot of time on the island’s population of lemon sharks! The mangroves on the island provide the perfect environment for lemon shark pups because of the protection of offers from predators like larger sharks. We spend time attempting to catch sharks using a simple bait and hook to gill nets to catch, record, tag and release the sharks to help gain information to better understand the lemon sharks on Curieuse. Also walking around in the mangroves with stingrays, crabs, and shark pups is really cool to see!

Here is a net outside of the mangroves during the shark surveys.

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This week we also spent a day becoming certified emergency first responders! After long videos, training,  and a test of course.

Ronnie pretending to be dead..

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Now we are finishing off the week with a weekend on Praslin, getting to explore more of the Seychelles and everything there is to see! So with the 2nd week coming to an end we are excited for the lessons to come and will try to keep everyone updated as best we can!

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The view from the top of Mt. Curieuse! So worth it after the challenging hike!

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Carolyn in a Coco De Mer, an endemic species in the Seychelles, during a survey!

Week One on Curieuse Island

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Though it seems like we left home a long time ago, only our first busy week in the Seychelles is coming to an end. From the minute we landed on Mahe exactly a week ago it’s been a nonstop learning experience. Not only learning the countless studies and surveys taking place on Curieuse, our Island, but just the day to day life on base and all of the changes we’ve learned to live with. When we landed in the Seychelles last week, after days of traveling, we met with the project’s staff before taking a ferry from Mahe to another Island,  Praslin. Once there we met with everyone on the project and took our final boat ride from Praslin to Curieuse. The base which we live on is an old leper colony from the 1800’s that was abanded and is now used by GVI for it’s research base.

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Our dorm!

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The first few days consisted of many presentations and training before Monday, our first survey day. All the meals are made from scratch and everyone on base takes turns cooking,  which surprisingly is pretty awesome food. Monday through Friday are work days in which the surveys can consist of bird watches, turtle walks, mangrove surveys, coco de mer census, and lemon shark surveys. In between those there can be other things done but that’s what is currently being studied on the island.

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After long days of hiking the island, collecting data, and snorkeling, we usually go to bed shortly after. The team on base this month, a total of 16 people, consists of people from all over the world, which makes for some pretty competitive volleyball games, usually USA vs Europe, and so far it’s all tied up..

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Now it’s the weekend and after taking the boat in to Praslin we enjoyed an exquisite breakfast buffet and now have the whole day to recouporate and most importantly, we have WiFi! You never really appreciate a flushing toilet until you spend some time on Curieuse! So far the first week has been full of lessons and adventures and we look forward to the next 7 weeks on Curieuse and all of the journeys ahead. And as always we will do our best to keep everyone updated on all of our trials and tribulations!

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Layover in Abu Dhabi

Even though we only had a few hours in the airport while waiting for our final flight to the seychelles, there was a lot to see in this airport. Everywhere you look there is something to see,  whether it be the melting pot of cultures all waiting for their flights or the crazy bustling crouds even at 1am there are people everywhere! Now we are leaving for our final flight after trying to sleep for an hour or two, which didn’t happen of course. Only a few hours left of traveling!

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8 Weeks to go!

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It seems like we’ve been waiting for a long time but it’s only 8 weeks until our adventure to Seychelles! The idea of being able to be halfway across the world from what we’re accustomed too makes us excited but anxious too! Physically we will be traveling from Chicago, to Dublin, to Abu Dhabi and finally to Seychelles. We will be going from a house that has a bed, unlimited electricity, food that comes from the fridge, electronics around every corner and wifi to very basic living accommodations, no running water except in the kitchen and showers, absolutely no wifi and the only way of getting electricity being a generator for a few hours at night.

It will definitely be a big change, but we are both looking forward to living in a culture that is so much different than what we are accustomed to.  Though we won’t have access to wifi where we are staying, we will be able to visit wifi cafes every week or so when we travel to the main islands so we will try to post in the blog as much as we can!

We will try to keep everyone updated in the coming weeks!

Getting All of our Equipment Together!

So it’s almost exactly 3 months until we’re Seychelles bound for 2 months to study sea turtles and do environmental conservation! We’ve been buying equipment for quite awhile and it looks like we have almost everything we need!! IMG_1319 IMG_9815 IMG_0583 IMG_0127 IMG_9189 IMG_0744

We have everything from rash vests and dive slates to mosquito nets, solar powered lanterns and so much more! Luckily most of the equipment we needed we already had from our last trip to Ireland so getting ready for the Seychelles isn’t as bad as it could be if we had to start from scratch! Now we’re just working on the smaller things to ensure we have everything we need while we’re overseas!

These next few months will go by pretty fast so making sure everything is ready to go is a priority!

“You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown. You travel for the unknown that reveals you within yourself.” – Ella Maillart

Studying up for Seychelles!

Since we only have exactly 4 months until we leave for Seychelles, we thought it would be a good idea to start looking through our training manual to start studying what we’ll need to know when we get there! Our internship is all about environmental conservation and sea turtle research. So that means we’ll have to know the different kind of mangroves around the island, how to distinguish them from one another, how to know what kind of sea turtle we’re looking at, how to know what kind of sea turtle came on the beach based solely on it’s tracks and everything in between. So, what better way to study this then to make flash cards?! IMG_0073

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Can anyone guess what kind of turtle this is?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Props to you if you knew this WITHOUT looking at the card with the answer 🙂

Wish us luck with our studying!

Plus, Look at how full our “travel corner” is getting!!

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“One’s Destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Ireland Round 2!

After our time in Seychelles, we’ve decided to spend a few days in Ireland! It made sense since we’re flying through Dublin already, and it actually saves us some money on the flights to stay an extra couple days in Ireland on our way back. Since we will only be there for a couple days, we were looking at just spending some free time in Dublin, maybe spending a day or two traveling around and seeing attractions, but overall just being able to walk around the city and experience more of the Irish culture. The Dublin Pass is a great tool for being able to see many of the great attractions in Dublin which we’ll take advantage of for sure, from the Guinness Brewery to the Kilmainham Gaol the pass has a lot of perks and saves you a lot of money, rather than paying for each place individually! There also are many day trips you can take from Dublin, and since the one place we weren’t able to travel to last time around was a pretty well known spot in Ireland, we’ll be taking a day trip to the Giants Causeway, and even have some time to stop in Belfast in Northern Ireland as well! Hopefully after two months in the Seychelles we’ll be up for some more traveling, but I’m not too concerned with that. 

Until then we’re just continuing to prepare for our time in the Seychelles, 4 months to go!

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