In Andavadoaka with Blue Ventures

Andavadoaka Travel Blog

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We had lunch midway in a small place called Salari, where as we later found out the local kingpin had made tourist exploitation and general intimidation a lucrative business. On this occasion, as we had brought our own food and had no way of comparing rural-Malagasy beverage prices, we did not notice. After seven more hours of a bumpy ride, we arrived in Andavadoaka from whence small boys chasing wheels raced after the truck up to Coco Beach, an assemblage of perhaps fifteen huts plus toilets and a restaurant, where we would stay for the next six weeks. It seems there was some woohooing by the staff and long-time volunteers although that appears unlikely in hindsight since it must have been 11 o’clock at night….

Soon we had settled into the special big-couple-bed-hut we were assigned, were used to the goats eating our laundry and at every meal were rising to the support of the good-but-monotonous rice-and-fish diet the-mostly English-volunteers incongruously kept complaining about. We had sat through two dry days of protocol delivered by Jenny, the camp manager who left to go on vacation halfway through the expedition, so we never got to know her well.
The one picture of her that stands out is seeing her side by side with her boyfriend in full dive gear striding down the path to the boat launch�"their blonde athletic purpose made to beam from a recruitment poster for the Hitler-Jugend, To be sure that’s a merely superficial observation which has no bearing on either one’s character, but it comes to mind regardless.
We had studied and learned benthic (corals and mollusks) qualifications and advanced-diving theory. Now we were eager to go diving!!! Alas, the weather was not playing nice. For one week, southerly winds kept churning up the sea, rendering the visibility zero and kept us land-bound. Maybe this fact contributed to the group’s slow gelling process that eventually prompted the staff to come up with special bonding exercises….

When the weather finally turned, volunteer life became seriously busy. A stringent schedule kept us on our toes -- 8am breakfast, 9am diving or boat marshalling or shore marshalling. 11am the same. 1:30pm lunch. 3pm lecture. 5pm studying 6pm duties 7pm vao vao 7:30pm dinner 9pm pass out tired.

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photo by: tpuell