Travelling on a gap year is always a fantastic experience, made even better when one gets the chance to volunteer for something they love. For me, that chance came through Reef Doctor. I have been in Madagascar for one month now, and I will be staying here for five more. I’m here on the Research Assistant and Divemaster Internship offered by Reef Doctor. It’s a fantastic opportunity to spend my gap year not only scuba diving and doing other marine-based activities, but also learning the skills required for scientific diving while helping the local community through English lessons and beach cleans.
So, as I am here for a while, I have volunteered to document my experiences once a month through this blog! To introduce myself, my name is Esmee, I’m 18 years old and British. I just finished sixth form and decided that, instead of going straight to university, I wanted to travel somewhere first to learn more about about the world!
The first month in Madagascar has been amazing. Though it was stressful travelling so far by myself for the first time, I managed to meet up with a fellow intern for the long haul flight over, and it was definitely reassuring having someone who really knew what they were doing. My first impression of Reef Doctor’s camp is a little faded even now, everything seemed to go by so quickly!
Getting used to a new way of living was difficult at first. The sun rising at 5:00 am always managed to wake me up, along with all the noisy birds starting their raucous morning conversations with each other. Luckily, every day is jam-packed with new and interesting experiences! I’ve already participated in coral cleans, seagrass surveys, sponge searches, turtle tagging, and fish point outs. There is always something new to learn!
The people here are all welcoming and kind, especially when I was feeling homesick. Sitting with everyone on the porch in the evenings overlooking the water has never failed to get my mind off of my worries. It’s fun to spend time with my fellow interns as well, we have already spent a weekend together, visiting the nearby spiny forest and relaxing on the beach. Everyone comes from such different backgrounds. The experiences that they have had, never cease to surprise me.
I still have 5 months ahead of me, and so much more to do, so I hope you hang around and continue reading these little posts, and that you find them to be an interesting window into life here in Madagascar!
By Esmee Tobin