Day 35: Tempolove

Madagascar

First real science dive today!! I am feeling quite useful actually ‘doing’ research. It’s crazy to think that for a 6 week expedition, 4.5 weeks is spend training the volunteers in science and scuba skills. After our dive today the volunteers went to Tempolove (pronounced, Temp-oo-la-vay).

After a short car ride and a very wet motorized pirogue ride, I now have complete faith in my dry bag. The hotel we stayed at was very cute. There are individual huts for rooms (complete with mosquito nets) and there is a very welcoming outdoor dining area. There are bucket showers and one toilet in the courtyard for all guests to use. I’m becoming much more comfortable with this way of life however that first warm, fresh water shower I take when I get home is most likely going to be a long one.

Once we were settled into our rooms we all met to get ready to go to a local families house for dinner. My family was so kind and welcoming. They had 6 or 7 kids, some of which had prepared a dance for me. It was sooo cute and they were having so much fun! DSCF1044 DSCF1047

The little girl with the wide eyes… she looked cray in all the pictures I took! I can’t stop laughing when I see that face!! This was the family that I had dinner with. They are sea cucumber farmers in Tempolove. Purposefully we were placed with this family to learn more about what they do as we get the chance to experience a piece of sea cucumber farming, later tonight. Unfortunately we didn’t speak the same language so it was slightly awkward and quiet but also a great experience.

After our dinner all of us volunteers stayed up until 1 am playing cards waiting to head out to the sea cucumber pens to learn about s.c. farming. Walking out to the pens was magical. It was the darkest I’ve ever seen the night. I’ve never seen so many stars and the milky way was extra milky. We walked about 250 meters over ocean floor as the tide was receded. We have to be doing this at night as the sea cucumbers are nocturnal and this was when the tide was low. The Malagasy families each had their own oil lantern and they were scattered along the trail heading out to the pens. DSCF1052

Once at the pens our role was to pick up the sea cucumbers and put them into a bucket. After all the s.c. were picked up the lady counted them all and then recorded the number. These funny looking things feel like old leather and when you take them out of the water they ‘pee’ a fluid out of a hole and slowly deflate. blahah.

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We finished picking sea cucumbers at 2:30am and I never would have known. Time flew by. It was quite cold in the middle of the night and after 1.5 hours of standing the water my toes were so cold. Once back in our room it was hard to warm up. There is no relief from the outside temperature. Forced air heating is a wonderful thing.

Some daylight pictures of the sea cucumber pens.

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