Thursday, 14 October 2010

The End :(

Following my last blog I bumped into several of our other volunteers from Lacacao over the course of the day (Sal Rei is like that, sooo small) as they were set to leave the island the following day :( We arranged to go out for a meal for their last night. That evening we all met in a bar for a bite to eat. There was Isabel and Angel from Madrid were the nicest couple, really genuine and caring people. Then there was Sandra from Portugal, a stunning lady- you would never guess her age. Daniela from Switzerland, Rudy the local, the Sergeant of our soldiers and Dominguez, one of the local assistants. It was a nice good-bye and good to socialise out side of the campsite. Just a shame the others could not be there with us.

The following day I eventually arrived back at camp and opted for an early night as I was set for the Censos at 4:30am. I awoke at 4 for my routine coffee bread and jam and had a good feeling. Whilst I had been away for the previous day 11 hatchlings had been found left in one of the nests and a few other nests had hatched. As me and Bid Joy (all the soldiers have nick names) strolled down Lacacao beach we came across 2 small tracks, these were definitely not crab tracks. We each followed a tracked each; they looped up towards the construction site and back down towards the sea. Gradually more and more tracks became apparent and as we neared the nest tracks ran in every direction, up the beach, down the beach around and around, everywhere. It was sad to see so many that had headed the complete opposite way to the sea, the lights from the construction site the culprit for sure. Once we had checked the tracks heading the wrong way to see if we could save them in time (with no luck) we set about excavating the nest for research purposes, and to see if there were any left that were unable to get out.

We found 3 alive and kicking hatchling, 80 empty shells that had hatched and made it out of the nest (we know this as there were so many tracks) 5 that had not made it out in time. There were just 2 eggs that ha not hatched at all so we re-buried these, just on the off chance.

Once we had finished the excavation we set about releasing the 3 hatchlings that we had saved. Usually its something that you do at nighttime to minimize the predator factor but as the sun had just come up we decided it was better to do it then (previous times the babies have been kept at the camp throughout the heat of the day and not even made it to the evening to be released)

It was an amazing feeling, my first releases. The feelings of satisfaction, triumphant hope, and the journey ahead all mixed together. The finish line had been reached for these hatchlings; the ultimate reason beyond the poachers, tagging the mothers and collecting the research came at this point. The final part of the reason I was there, the moment I had been waiting for was bliss. They wobbled and dragged them selves down the sand, fighting against the waves as they swept through and push them back. 10 pulls forwards, 15 back. They were persistent though and did not stop trying, again they pulled their way forwards and as the next wave washed past them they used their remaining energy to surf their way back on the retreating water.

They had made it.

We then completed the Censos on Lacacao and headed for the next beach to survey, Curralito. As we passed along the cliff overlooking the beach I suddenly spotted tracks running down, similar to the nest we had just seen but this time almost all in the right direction :) We excavated the nest and found 1 alive hatchling, again the same feelings returned as we released him. As we returned to camp I grabbed my snorkel and U-turned straight to the beach. There was an extreme calmness about the sea today, no waves at all, something I have not seen since my arrival 5 weeks prior. I spotted all kinds of fish and sizes; it’s a magical world. Sometimes I wonder if lived in the sea in a past life haaaa.

The following day (05102010) consisted of lots more snorkeling. Its something that I had not had a chance to do in all my time here so I was making the most of it. Later that night with minimal mosquitoes about I lay on the sand gazing at the stars listening to some phat tunes. I reflected on my times here so far, where it was taking me and indulged myself in the peace and tranquility, what a space to be in.

On the 6th I completed the posters I had designed for our beach clean up. We were set to put them up at the construction site, we felt it an important thing to try and engage them within the work, it might even put the beaches in better stead for when we were gone, the cam and the project the following week. With no one to overlook the beach it was now down to who ever was about to keep an eye on things. We headed to the site to put the posters up and have a nice cold refreshing beer, well deserved :) After this I went for another snorkel and found a small lobster covered in a purple shell. When I got back from the beach Ukie was dropping off our supplies and there to say good bye. He had 4 days work on another island and most of us were set to leave within that time. What a good man and cool friend. Later that night I was set for a patrol on Curral Velho the beast of a beach, my favorite patrol (after the censos) but one I had not done for a long time. When I got back I remembered quite how long and hard the patrol can be- I already miss it.

The following day (08102010) was spent largely reflecting and realising how little time I had left. Asked if I wanted to choose my patrol for my nearly last patrol, I jumped on the censos for Lacacao/Curralito.

Up at 5 with my Cafe and bread with jam n peanut butter mmmmm. This was the best day, best patrol, or easily one of. Lacacao 1 hatched nest with 4 babies that we released following the excavation. Curralito consisted of 3 hatched nests, tracks running everywhere :) We excavated finding 3 hatchlings in the first, 7 in the next and in the 3rd there were none but this is actually a really good thing because it means they were fit and strong as all had hatched, none were dead and no signs of crabs :)

It’s really hard and is almost unbelievable that it’s really nearly over. 6 weeks have flown by and I wish they were not already ending. I headed for a snorkel, I was really keen to spot some sharks as a lot of people have spotted hem now. It was still fairly early, around 7.10am following the censos so I sat and gazed in to the sea for a while. Suddenly I spotted 2 baby reef sharks so ran down to the water, as I began to snorkel I spotted them but they were gone in an instant. But there it was, albeit only for few seconds.

The last day and night at Lacacao :( The 9th October 2010

Again I opted for the censos, finding a further 5 hatchling for release :)

The day of the beach clean up. It was really successful! A number of the construction workers joined us for the clean up and the beach was spotless by the time we finished, making it even nicer than ever. Following the clean up Bid Joy, David, Matss and I decided, as it was the last night we should probably have a beer or 2 to celebrate, the only problem was that the bar at the construction site would be closed within 10 minutes. We sprinted our way down and just about made it, a cold beer was needed. There was lots of laughing, joking and dancing before our final patrol. I headed to Lacacaco beach with Carrie to head the patrol and it was strange, the last time I would walk these sands.

Ok picture this. Pitch-black darkness with the clearest twinkling stars with the waves crashing around you. Now X the number of stars in your imagination by 20. This is not the sky that night or any other night. As we looked down when we were half way along the beach that is what we saw. Following a high tide a large pool of water had been left to slowly drain from the beach, leaving a sky of sparkling plankton in its wake

'Its often mislabeled as "phosphorescence" which is a kind of chemical reaction. The tiny phytoplankton that create the glowing sands phenomenon do so by a biological process called bioluminescence' - (ref: )

It is one of the most spectacular things I have seen and is truly amazing how similar it looked to an extremely stary galaxy. I knelt down by the hallow pool of water; the sparkling plankton consumed the edges of the pool. As I levitated my hand 1cm above the water the bluish lights came to life. Suddenly the whole puddle began to light up and close in on the centre of the pool, it was incredible, and I was almost left speechless. It began to look like a birds eye view of a city from above. Science and nature truly can be magical! Wish I'd had my camera with me :(

10092010. A sad day for all. The soldiers are heading back on their boat for Sal Rei, Volunteers are flying back home and the camp will be taken down tomorrow. Then that will be it. Our campsite and work is finished. I have not met or spoken to another British person for 6 weeks and it has been refreshing. I have gained friends from all over the world- Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Cabo Verde, USA, Switzerland and Germany. I realise how lucky I have been to work on this project and with these people. I really, truly recommend that you consider experiencing this next season. You can spend 2 weeks or even 2 months, either way you will have the time of your life. I have learnt so much and have already begun to take the next step.

I received a response for the RFA job I applied for in Costa Rica and it has been accepted. I will be flying out on the 18102010 and be spending up to 4 months on the project. I am bursting with excitement and cant wait to see what adventures and stories are in store for me.

I really hope I get to see you over the next few days, and if I don’t look after yourselves. I will be way for Xmas but will see you all in the New Year. Big love. S x

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Beginning of the End

So... last blog I was pretty gutted at being able to make the 2 dives on the friday but hay, these things happen. Later that day I arrived back at the camp and as I arrived Amanda and Carrie were set to leave for a few days off and Daniela and Andreia had now left. It felt a little bit odd once the car traveled off into the distance, it was always me, Carrie and Amanda from the day I arrived so the camp had a different feel to it without them, kind of empty. My shift was 1-6am and one of the more comedy shifts. I was set to do the censos on the way back so spent the first couple of hours patroling followed by an hours sleep on the beach. I remember waking up at one point with a sudden pain on my finger, opened my eyes to see a crab on my chest, grabbing hold of my finger. With that I flinched my hand and the crab flew through the air. Huh, wont be trying to eat me again hay. So back to sleep and shortly after 2 smaller crabs were nibbling my toes, cant a guy get any beach sleep around here!

We had a temporary new addition to the camp in the form of Rudy, a Boa Vistian tour guide who was having a bit of a holiday and break from the tourists and was allowed to join our camp on the terms of helping with patrols. He brought 2 surfboards with him, what a legend!! So as you can guess I was over the moon and on the 25th we went for a surf. He is a bit of a pro surfer and surfs a modest 5 foot 2 board, the one I lent must have been 5 foot 5 tops. As a bit of a begginer its fair to say this was a hard surf, great fun trying though.

Since I arrived here I have done a lot of drawing and had some compliments, with which for some reason I find really hard to accept, but am obviously over joyed when I have received them. The soldiers and locals have paid particular interest. I have made a few tshirts for the soldiers, including their military logo design. I have a few more Tee designs to print when I get back :) I have also been working on a tattoo design for myself but cant quite get it together. Its something I have been meaning to do for a good few years but its hard, and weird, the thought of putting a mark on your body for life. Maybe it will never happen.

In my 5 weeks since I arrived I have turned a corner with reading. I have never been a big reader, not because I have not been interested or find actual reading hard but because I find it very hard to get into a book, one- because they're to small. and two- only certain books have grabbed my attention enough to get to the end. There really have only been a handful of books that have entertained me enough to finish them in recent times. I can honestly say ´Atonement´ has been really influential on me. I think it has helped me to write this blog, the descriptions given and the story are a must read for anyone who has not already.
I then read ´Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy´within a day or two, again this is also a must read, so funny and I swear the author must have been high when he came up with the plot, im guessing it was written around the time acid was everywhere.
Since then I have also read ´The Kite Runner´which provides an insight into culture in Afghanistan, it takes you on an experience of emotions and is ultimately a sad story of two friends. I am sure if you have read any of these books then you will agree the recommendation, if you have not already then check them out.

Any way thats my book critic section over, back to the campsite and Rudy is cooking up some food (which will turn out to be the best meal in CaboVerde so far) I have lent him my speakers to play his Ipod through and he has put on some 'Saydi' tunes. Not my kind of music but they made me think of you sis, looking forwards to getting back and catching up with you. He cooked a 3 coures Italian meal and it really made a pleasant change from the usual rice, vegetables and canned meat. I have pretty much become a vegetarian most of the time out here, I find the concept of canned meat unappertizing an just not quite right.

On the 27th I had the early morning shift of 6-10 for the Censos again. The early morning sun is usually the cooler part of the day, but not today! The blistering sun on your back is a force so strong, all you can do is try and press on. Eventually we came across some palm trees and it was sooo nice and cool stepping into the shade. That feeling of walking through a desert trying to escape the heat will be a permanent memory for me.

Later that night I was out on patrol 9.30-2.00 on the same beach as the morning (Curral Velho) the beach is about 5.5k walk so 2 round trips totaled about 22k that day, and this is walking on sand, its really hard work but really rewarding when you get back and think of what you have done. On the patrol we found 3 dead hatchlings from a nest which had hatched ealier that night, and one that the dog got just before us. The dogs are not supposed to come but will sometimes turn up on the patrol. We took the turtle back to camp to try and save him but it did not make it through the night. Thus providing further reasoning, along with the obvious fact that dogs are one of their main predators, that they should not be there in the first place.

I was then up again at 5.45 the following morning (28th) to help with the excavations. We dig up any old nests that look like they have been sabotaged by crabs, already hatched or may be at risk (so for reloaction) We came across a few dead hatchlings that had not been able to make it out of the nest. A lot that had hatched and even more with only a few shells left in the bottom. These ones have been eaten by crabs. Later that eve was a sleepy one, I was knackered.

The following day we received a special visit. In my time since I arrived we have had several visits including some by the organisers, the German camera man making a documentary and various other related guests. Today was different though, through the planning it felt like we were expecting royalty. The visitor was the Minister of Defence for Cabo Verde. The soldiers were in formation and the camp cleaned up to an appropriate level. We introduced ourselves and answered a few questions. She came across as a really pleasant woman and thanked us for our participation and work within biodiversity, she also recognised that it was quite an experience for us as well which I thought was nice touch. It shows she had really thought about it and ment what she was saying.

Its early morning following patrol. As I unwrap my plastered foot, as if it were an unwanted xmas present, I just for one minute look forward to giving my feet a chance to heal. My feet are covered in bites aswell but it is the layers of blisters that are causing the problems. Sand constantly enters my shoe and revolves around. Every time one blister has nearly healed another bobs up from below the previous. You manage though, as soon as you are on that beach in the moon light amongst the turtles you forget about any of that, and realise again that it really is worth it.

30092010 brought about the next soldier exchange and there was a buzz about Lacacao. We would be welcoming back a few of the previous soldiers and I knew at least a few of us who were keen on this. The current ones had been ok but the feeling around the campsite had not been the same as before. Later that evening I had to miss patrol as had begun to feel ill again. When I awoke in the morning I felt much of the same, fortunately this fell on my day off, I was set to head back to Sal Rei.

We arrived in town and instead of doing the sensible thing and getting some rest we went for a beer, later that night, after a pizza snack, Carrie and I cooked up some british fish and chips for Ukie as we were staying at his appartment. A few more beers and my head was banging, I hit the hay and was out for the count.

Today (02102010 + only 9 days left :( Today I have been mostly updating this for who ever may read and myself in the future. I am still really annoyed that I have been unable to share my photos but this will be done when I return to sunny ol´ England. I now know my plans for the rest of the trip and have mixed emotions. I arrive back in England on the 12th, in Manchester of all places. I have however had some contact with an organisation in Costa Rica and applied for a RFA (Research Field Assistant) placement. It would mean no cost to be there and all accomodation/food etc supplied. I would just need to pay to travel out there. I have spoken to a lot of people here who have been, and told me how magical it is. You can be in the rainforest amongst waterfalls one minute, then the next jumping into the tropical sea. I look forwards and hope that my trip takes me to anywhere slightly as incedible as this. The work will again be with turtles, but I will then be looking to extend my trip and work within the rainforest. I love life.

There will be one last blog around the time I get back to the UK, I really hope you have enjoyed the read and look out for pics soon!! See you soon. Sam x

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Middle

I arrived back at the camp shorly after my previous post. It felt like I was returning home as our 5 dogs (dont think i mentioned in previous post) barked, growled and chased us along the bumpy track as we left a cloud of dust upon our arrival. We had a new volunteer with us (Andreia) and a new set of soldiers. Dinner was ready and waiting, every meal is pretty much rice with vegetables and meat or pasta with veg and meat, you get used to it and it gives you plenty of energy for the patrols. Immediately after dinner straight out on patrol, not much to report and upon returning my legs were like jelly and I was ready for sleep, its really hard work after a few days off.

The 11th was overcast again and quite nice, so its a good time to catch up on much needed sleep. I think average sleep is about 4 hours a night so you learn to make the most when the sun is not melting every part of you. I also started making a flag for our Lacacao campsite with the new volunteer Andreia. That night I took her out on patrol as she had not seen any turtles the previous night and I have been lucky with the turtle count. We saw three turtles, two nesting and one on a half moon.

Today was really cool, as in temperature, well and amazing too. I managed to sleep until the afternoon for the first time since I arrived, tiredness had stored up and took a while to off load. 9 of us then set off on the task of making a volleyball net which turned out really well and we had a big game, MILITARY Vs VOLUNTEERS. They won, but only just. Patrol was incredible that evening. In terms of turtles not especially, we found a couple of half moons and one making a half moon, this is where the turtle enters the beach but then heads back down without nesting. But we had the most amazing lightening storm! There was no thunder to follow but the whole beach would be illuminated for anything up to a second and the brightness of everything increased compared to the usual contrast, the sand was bright yellow, the sea unbelievibly blue, it was awesome. I love that feeling of slight danger and excitment that you get from a storm, when natures in control.

Today (13th) we welcomed another new volunteer, Mimi from italy. A really sound guy and the first thing he said made me laugh "wow this is like being on the moon" so so true. Almost every one I have met here has been really honest, genuine and friendly. Its refreshing and an amazing lesson in life being here. Every one is from a different background, a different country, working in different roles and yet we work so well together. Most people have not worked in this environment before and I feel it works as a bridge to connect you with people you would not usually socialise with or get the chance to any way. Being here is not just beneficial for the turtles, its also about living and working together with people who until now had not existed in your life. It really is a great lesson and experience.

The 14th day of september, and my trip was the hottest day so far. There is really not much that you can do in this heat apart from swim in the sea then hide in the shade. Gustavo began to feel unwell so I covered his shift from 8pm-12am then grabed a few hours sleep before my patrol 4am-7am. The really early shifts are part patrol but we also do the censos on the way back, this is where we tally up all the half moons and nests from the previous night.

We also add all the nests to our GPS network so that the data can be used to locate the nests and also see any corrilations between times and nests.

I had quick sleep when I returned and begun to feel ill myself. Later that evening 2 other volunteers fell ill as well. We think it was due to some un filtered water but cannot be sure. We are all extra careful now.

When you are a long way from home and feeling ill it is tough, you think of home and all the things you have left behind you. Having no phone or possible way of being contacted, you really are cut off from the world.

On the 16th we had the best surf since I have been here. Really wish I had my board here but I made the most of it body surfing, the waves were crisp, love it! I was also on the look out for some sharks as they had been spotted earlier that day but didnt see any :( At around 3pm the sky began to cloud over, there was a slight breeze in the air, yet the temperature was still rising! This place truely is a desert, and we are camping on it. Crazy!

The following day after an afternoon nap I awoke to the sound of voices, one of which I did not recognise. In my bewildered state I turned around to see a random guy standing in the middle of our camp speaking to Amanda. I said "is there a guy in just his pants asking for directions in the middle of a desert" apparently there was. This caused fits of laughter with Andreia and still makes me laugh when ever I think of it.

That evening I was feeling alot better and that evening went on patrol with Andreia. We discoverd a trurtle nesting, but this was no ordinary nest. When a Loggerhead turtle nests she will dig a hole approx 20cms wide and fill it with eggs, usually. This turtle decided to dig 2 holes, each the normal size and with a 3cm gap apart from each other, she then filled up one side with eggs and the other side about 1/4 full and buried. This was either an incredibly clever turtle, or maybe she had some brain damage. . . either way a special turtle. When we reported this to the foundation it had not been seen or heard of before, as far as I know.

The next day I awoke to a stinging sensation across parts of my body. The mosquitoes had been really bad the previous night. As counted 30 bites across my 2 hands I wondered what they find so delicious about an english guy. I seem to get more bites than most.

On the 18th Carrie and I treated our selves to a real breakfast for the first time. When I say real I mean something other than just bread and jam or Nusco (chocolate spread) So I fried up a couple of eggs and made some fried bread, I even found some ketchup tucked away in the fridge. Wow who would have thought an egg butty could cause so much excitment. It was needed after the previous night, patrol was really tough, I had 1/2 hour sleep before leaving for patrol and awoke in a foul mood. Your body gets so warn out at times, getting rest in the day is essential. On patrol I could tell I was not the only one feeling like this.

19092010 and 2 new volunteers arrived from spain as a few others leave. Over tiredness is still there, everything has been so exciting, fun and draining and tonight it is taking its tole. I took one of the new volunteers on my patrol and we soon came across a turtle entering the beach, she was quick to nest and gave the volunteer a great start to his experience.

On the 20th I awoke feeling great, a fresh new day and I had shaken off the tiredness. We had plenty of beach action and again the swell was really great, most of the waves were perfect for some body surfing but occasionally there would be one wave that would drain all the water back and dump you straight onto the sand. The last wave I got that day did this and was nearly twice my hight.
When you body surf your going head first to catch the wave, kind of like body boarding but without the board. I hit my head and bent my neck back, it was painful but could have been alot worse, just a little sore for the following days. Face plant!

Later that day we headed for the construction site on Lacacao, one of the beaches we patrol. They are mid way through building a vast hotel complex, it is huge and completely out of place. Its 40 miutes drive from any shops or any real civilisation. It is on a beach where the turtles nest and the water is not safe to swim in, especially not for children. You really have to question why it has been allowed to be built there. The lights from the construction are on all night long and confuse the turtles. We have had many that wonder in to the site as they look for their way back to the sea, I have no doubt that the lights will have also put off any potenial turtles nesting from time to time. The construction site has a bar for its workers so we grabbed a cold beer, it was so refreshing but with a hint of 'why the hell are you here'.

On the 22nd I was set for a few nights off and this time did not miss the soldier exchange as my lift was with them. It was sad again to see them swapped but as I said before, and it turned out to be true, I am sure the new ones will be just as sound. I arrived back at the turtle foundation in the afternoon and set about arranging my scuba dive for the following day. When we spoke to the dive centre they informed us that they had found 2 dead green turtles, one the at morning and one the previous day. Me and Christian went down the cantre to pick up the one from that morning. When I got back I got to witness first hand a disection of the juvenile turtle. It was really interesting (and smelly) but we could not diagnose the reason for its death. We then watched a documentary by Mimi the italian volunteer on the life of a turtle and its journey on the projector. It was really interesting, even though it was in italian. Later that night I went out with Ukie again and had a really funny night, what a host.

The next day I was set for my first scuba dive in Cape Verde. The conditions were fairly rough but we headed out for dive site Bodega De Juan which was an 18 metre dive. The dive was cool, visability could have been better though and the strong currents were causing problems for may of the divers. Unfortunately we had to come up after 32 mins as people were struggling and running out of air, I was a bit gutted as still had 100 bar left. We got to see a few Moray eels, jelly fish and a huge lobster but that was about as good as it got. I was hoping for some sharks but not this time. I look forwards to my next dive. When I got back from the dive 2 of the volunteers Daniela and Andreia were at the turtle foundation as there fligths back home were the following morning. We went out for pizza (it was amazing) and a few drinks but was sad to see them go. Daniela provides alot of the life and soul of the camp and I got on really well with Andreia so it wont be the same when I get back to Lacacao

The following day we had 2 morning dives booked but knew it was unlikely due to the previous conditions. The dives were not on so no more dives for me (yet) It is a real shame as Joane and Christian were also going to come so there would have been four of us including a German guy who is currently making a nature documentary and had been filming at our camp (

Well that brings me up to right now, I am frantically trying to sort out my next destination as the season and camp ends here on the 10th of October and I currently have no flights or anything booked whilst also typing up this blog, hectic. And I wont have any internet access again until the end so I am really not sure how its going to be arranged, ill find a way! I am trying to arrange some more conservation work and the most likely destination seems to be Costa Rica, there is alot of volunteer and conservation work there, otherwise it may be Brazil. Oh its not such a bad life.

Peace xxx

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Begining

Wow. . where to start. Firstly sorry for any spelling and punctuation mistakes, a combination of my english skills, lack of time and a dodgy key board will surely lead to this. Also I cant get any photos up in the internet cafe I am at at the moment so they will follow shortly.

After a long period of traveling and more so waiting, whilst attempting to sleep at Brussels airport I finally made it to 6.30am and borded my flight. I touched down at the charming open air airport of Boa Vista where I was greeted by a surge of heat which washed away any tiredness and turned it into pure excitment and happiness. I went straight to the bar and sipped a refreshing bottle of orange fanta. I swear its nicer abroad, and in an ice cold glass bottle :)

Following my airport pick up we headed into Sal Rei and went to the Turtle Foundation office to meet the organisers Joanne and Christan. I then got a lift to the campsite that I was assigned to at Locacao a 40 minute drive from proper civilisation.

My initial thoughts as I arrived quickly changed from excitment to ´wow what have I got myself into´ but this was very momentary and just a few nerves kicking in, this combined with the desert, mosquitoes and just being sooo remote for 6 weeks. I met the camp co-ordinator Amanda (an amazing and really kind Brazilian girl) the other vounteers (Carrie from the US and Daniela from Switzerland) and the military guys. Every one was really friendly and welcoming. The camp is smaller than I expected. We have 3 large sleeping tents and a shade and shelter for the kitchen. A shower made from a wheely bin and a tin pot and an undesirable loo made with a small tent and a hole in the sand.

I quickly set about asking how hey have been getting on, how the work is going and general survival techniques. Usually you would not go out on patrol on your first night but I chose to, I really could not wait, plus it was too hot for sleep. The patrol was great, Only got to see one turtle and she had finished nesting but found lots of tracks and learnt alot about what we would be doing. Towards the end we went to one of the other beaches that we patrol(3 in total) Curralito. As we arrived we were welcomed by milions of very unwelcome mosquitoes and as it was my first patrol and soooo hot I was not properly prepard and got fully attacked. They are vicious and can bite straight through a t-shirt. When we got back to the camp I was ready for some well earned sleep zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

I awoke to the heat and dragged myself out of the tent and along a 5 minute walk to the beach. The waves are very strong and crash really close to the shore, the swimming conditions are dangerous wih strong rips but if you know me then you´ll know this wont stop me from getting in the sea. As long as you are a little sensible and dont go out to far it is fine and really fun. The morning was mainly taken up with body surfing the waves and then using my body as a solar panel, lyeing in the abrupt heat regaining energy, oh what a hard day. My day to day life goes like this- wake up breakfast coffee swim read walk eat swim games sleep, then it gets to the evening and eat patrol poachers tag turtle help turtle monitor turtle chill sleep. I love it.

My second patrol was hard work (02092010) The shifts range from 4-6 hours and I was on a 12-4am with Cerrie and one of the military guys. To minimise the mosquitoes you have to really dress up and you get seriously hot, drippingly so!! My muscles were still adjusting to long walks on the beach and we did not come across any turtles. On a positive note it tires you out enough to make sleepig in the hot conditions possible. Fuelled with 5 litres of water a day and your feeling fine. I have never felt so healthy, I have not smoked since I arrived, hardly any alcohol, eating fresh and healthy food and going on long walks every day, swimming and sun. I have lost a little weight and am feeling great :)

On the 3rd me and Fogo (one of our soldiers) went fishing from the cliff top. I caught one but chucked it back as it was t small to eat. Fogo caught a moray eel and a couple of decent sized fish which we ate for dinner, you dont get much more fresh than that. That evening the weather became overcast and to my relief the temperaures lowered and the winds picked up which it turn lowered the mosquitoe count :)

The following day was nice and cool (for Boa Vista) and a few us took advantage and went for a walk up on top of the rocky hill above our camp as the sun went down, got some nice shots. The patrol that nite was my best yet!!! I went with Amanda (plus 1 soldier) because it takes a while before you go out with just yourself and a soldier due to training. We came across 3 turtles all of which had not been tagged. Amanda had taught me earlier in the day so this was my turn to step up. I tagged using a Pit Tag which is a microchip that can be scanned to give an ID so that we know if they have already been monitored and nested before. The loggerhead turtles nest up to 5 times in one season and do this one in every three years. I was really lucky for none of them to have already been tagged as it meant I gained the experice quickly and by the third I was very confident. I also got to see 2 of the turtles nesting and laying their eggs, they are so smoothe and delicate with their work, its a great experience to witness. This patrol was really ace, Amanda is one of he nicest people I have ever met. It was a perfect evening.

04092010 Today I woke up really burnt :( I guess clouds are missleading when you are in the desert. . . ouch. Later in the day one of the previous locals, an ex poacher who worked with us turned up following being fired and caused some trouble with one of our soldiers, a fight broke out and tempers were high but this was quickly broken up. What a dick!
Following the previous nights success I was set to lead one of the patrols with the new voluneers Gustavo and Emanuel. There were 5 of us in total including another volunteer and soldier. There was a lot of activity on the beaches, we found a lot of half moons (the name given when the turtle enters the beach but then returns with out nesting- usually due to bad sand conditions or sometimes crazy turtles?? wo knows) there were loads of tracks but we came across no turtles and no poachers.

The following day I was set for my first solo patrol, this I was looking forwards to :) The evening was odd, something in the air. . . at about 6pm before sun down the clearest rainbow appeared, but no rain at first. . . then the sun set was as always amazing but extra amazing. When me and the soldier went on patrol the waves and tide was coming in an extra 30M to usual, apparently this happens rarely, maybe twice a year. so we did patrol barefoot as the beach was like sinking sand. Again as the previous night there was alot of activity and eventaully we came across a turtle that headed along the beach parallel to the water, she knew the sand was not right for nesting but was determined to find somewhere rather than returning to the sea. eventually she got stuck in the sand and was unable to move so me and the soldier lifted her out a little and helped her backdown to the ocean. You dont really want to be doing this usually but she would have been poached or just died if we had not. I really hope no others got stuck after we left. Only 1 out of 1000 hatchlings will make it to the age of 35 and 35 is the age when they are able to reproduce and nest, this is why our work is so important!!!

Walking down the beach in pitchblack darkness is amazing here, following each foot step you get splatters of glimmering light from the plankton on the wet sand, wow!

I awoke early and went for a walk as I was worried bout the nests following the high tides the previous night. As i got to the beach I was shocked and sad to find 20 eggs washed up on a patch of the beach. I opened one up to check what stage the eggs were at; very close to hatching. I got Amanda to come down and we re-burried the other eggs just incase, sadly there is not much hope. I dread to think how many nests we lost that night.

Later that day we had some crazy rain storms, the rainy season is officially here.

Yesterday was my first night off and the storms continued. I was picked up at 4pm and usually it would take 40 minutes to get back to Sal Rei. On your day off you can choose to be taken here, back to civilisation.The journey ended up taking closer to 5 hours. We had to try crossing the desert and many alternative routes as the floods consumed most roads and crossings. We crossed through 2 rivers with caution and saw pickup trucks which had just been washed down with their owners stood on the roof for safety.

The last crossing we had to wait for a few hours as it was way to bad, 3 beers later (mmmm had been a long time coming) I was happy :) and we were on our way again.

Later that evening I was taken to the Turtle Foundations apartment which is over looking the sea, here I was given a real bed and took a real shower. It was lush :P Its funny but it had only been a week or so since my arrival at this point and in some ways it felt like I had been away for months, and in another way as if time had gone very fast. Get your head around that one.

There were three of us staying at the appartment, Ukie who is a really good guy and a top host, he lives in the appartment through out the season. Mark an American volunteer that had just arrived from a neighbouring island and myself. As we arrived Ukie and I agreed we would need or maybe I should say want a bottle or 2 of wine to unwined. We consumed these and decided to go for a quick drink at one of the local bars- as it was ladys night at Unico.

The following day it is fair to say I had a slightly sore head and felt like I had undone the weeks healthyness in a very short ammount of time, this is not the case (really?)
Later that day I had booked a scuba dive at a wreck just off the coast, but sadly following the previous conditions the water was too choppy and visability too poor. I will be rebooking this for my next day off (in 3 weeks :O) The day was spent exploring Sal Rei´s bars, shops and beaches. There are millions of chinese shops that sell pretty much everything. It is really expensive here, somethings just shy of english prices and some way over. This is due to being a desert island, practically everything has to be imported. Fish is really cheap and one of the main sources of food, yummy fresh fish!

Today (10092010) I have had a nice chilled out day, when I got back to the Turtle foundation office I was pleased to see Amanda had turned up, but then switched to feeling a bt gutted as our soldier had just borded the boat back to the military base, I was truely gutted as did not get to say by and get some photos with them. They were really funny guys. The soldiers spend 30 days on the project, 10 days at each camp, they the get replaced by another group after the 30 days are up, I am sure the new group arriving later will be just as cool. Any way that just about brings me up to right now. I did just get a Boa Vista hair cut and had to be quite clear not to bic it straight off as that is the general cut here, the guy was really nice, as are most of the Cape Verdian I have met so far.

Any way I will update again in a couple of weeks. I think my next day off will be quite a while away as I took this one quite early and it turned into 2 days following the floods. Miss you all but at the same time there is not much that could make me want to leave here right now lol. Hope your all well and would love to here what you have been up to and how things are going. Big love Sam

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Less than a week to go :)

Okay, i am going to keep this pretty short and if i am honest, it is just a tester for my first blog. But please read on :)

On Tuesday of next week I will begin an adventure that I have spent a good while planning, and way longer anticipating. At lunch time I will set off for Brussels with my life in a ruck sack and an i pod I won on ebay for an un-encouraging yet glamorous £13 and 50 pence. Happy days :)

I will arrive in Brussels later that evening where I will wine and dine and find some ways to use my time before a 6am flight to Boa Vista, Cape Verde. There I will be working for the Turtle Foundation to help preserve and protect nesting loggerhead turtles from the nasty poachers of Boa Vista.

Ill update my blog now and then (not too regularly as am going to be emerging myself in the experience) but enough to keep you guys in the loop, and a record of happenings.

Be nice to hear from any one if you get a chance.
Much love