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01869 338890

Madagascar Summer Expedition-Sean Francis (26)

When I first discovered Blue Ventures, I had a list of criteria for myself: 1. I want a chance to get out into the world; 2. I want to expand my world view; 3. I want to develop a deeper appreciation for the ocean. Blue Ventures met all of the criteria and more. As a volunteer surveyor in the Madagascar village of Andavadoaka, I came to appreciate a simpler life while contributing to a worldly renownedeco-tourism organization.

Having had no experience as a scuba diver, I was concerned if I would be a slow learner and be of little use to Blue Ventures and their conservation work. But Blue Ventures’ well trained and patient dive instructors made me feel at ease when taking my first breaths underwater. Even if I felt a little shaky in the beginning, I ended up diving an average of twice a day, five days a week. I became comfortable with the ocean very quickly. Partway through my expedition, I felt like I had been born to live in the water. As for the field scientists, they were remarkable in their ability to help me memorize and identify the corals, fish, and invertebrates in the ocean. By the end of my expedition, I could comfortably and confidently identify the vast majority of the marine life.

It is not all work and no play while on the expedition; there was plenty of time to explore the village and see the unique Vezo people. These genial people greeted me with smiles and their welcome “Salama”. Children run through the streets and jump in the water, laughing and playing without a care in the world. Adults dutifully work and sell their wares on the main street but are eager to share their world with volunteers. There were also many opportunities to sail to nearby islands, explore Baobab forests, and visit other villages along the coast. I am happy to say I jumped at every opportunity provided on my expedition. Rarely would other volunteers find me resting in the hammock.

Blue Ventures attracts a full spectrum of people: medical doctors, scientists, gap-year students, vacationers, and photographers, amongst others. Although we came from all corners of the globe, we shared the same passion for the ocean. Within a few hours of meeting, we all had become colleagues, days later we were friends, and by that sad day at end of the journey we were family.

The friends and memories I made on my Blue Ventures expedition will last me a lifetime. I will cherish every moment I was there; it went by far too quickly that I debated about extending my stay as I neared my departure date. In the end I knew I had to leave, but I know I left a piece of myself in that far away village.

This is a trip of a lifetime that you will not want to miss.