project review

Camp fires, long drops, turtles and sharks

Review submitted by Carly Howes
Review date 6 Mar 2017

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After spending a week in the Capital, Suva  (as we couldn’t make the trip over to Gau island due to bad weather), all the volunteers had already become very close and I was really excited to arrive on the island and see where we would be living for the next few months!

The island was very basic with campfires to cook on, a long drop toilet and a ‘’classroom’’ and bedrooms made out of woven palm leaves to live and sleep in! There was no running water (only a water tank we refilled once a week), very little electricity and baths were in the sea!!  All the staff were very enthusiastic and friendly and were always willing to help!

I had never dived before going but this was no problem and the dive staff were very patient making sure everyone was comfortable and knew exactly what they were doing and everyone passed their PADI open water and advanced open water diving qualifications very quickly after arriving.

I also chose to do the BTEC qualification whilst in Fiji which I really enjoyed as I studied the relationships between anemones and anemone fish. As lots of us were doing the BTEC, having to do some extra work here and there and complete a logbook wasn’t too bad as we could help each other and we were all in it together.

I really enjoyed all the scientific research we did including nudibranch surveys, sea grass surveys and the BSP’s which everyone gets involved in after studying and completing some tests on their chosen subject (either algae and invertebrates, fish or benthic).

Everyone was assigned a Fijian family in the next local village which was a great experience. On Sundays we went to church with them and ate a traditional Fijian lunch they had cooked for us. My family always dressed me in bright clothes when I visited and on Wednesdays I loved going to the kindergarten to help teach the local children. They were so friendly and welcoming towards all the volunteers and it was definitely one of the highlights of my time there.

Weekends were always exciting as we had ‘’fun dives’’ to famous local dive sights around Gau.  Saturday party nights were fantastic too! We always chose a theme and throughout the week would make costumes for the next party night! We had a tribal party, mythical creatures and battle of the bands to name a few!!

I had amazing experiences in and out of the water and was very sad to leave (although we were all looking forward to a MacDonald’s back in Suva!!)! Diving amongst sharks, turtles, manta rays and thousands of beautiful fish will be an experience I will never forget and the close friendships I made on the island will last a lifetime.

 

Read more about the Fantasy Gap Year.