Our introductory week as volunteers for Love The Oceans (LTO) began on Monday, with our lectures and beach practical finishing relatively early so we had a chance to go for a swim whilst the sun was still up. The volunteer group spent the evening chatting and getting to know each other over an amazing local curry.
We were supposed to complete our coral reef transect training dives on Tuesday morning, but unfortunately the wind picked up and it got quite stormy, meaning the dives had to be called off. Instead we cracked on with more introductory lectures to set us up for the rest of the data collection activities. In the evening we unwound over a big group game of cards, which we have found is the best entertainment when everyone is eager for dinner!
The next morning we were up early again to try and fit in our dives but the wind and surface current were still too strong. Also due to the bad weather, the electricity in the LTO classroom was down and so we gathered in the kitchen to go through the humpback whale and megafauna ID lectures and get some fisheries ID practice. We also had a very entertaining practical after this with Kealan providing very convincing humpback whale noises in the pool to help us understand how to use and deploy the hydrophone. The group then went on a car trip along the bush roads and we saw some local agriculture and where we will be carrying out fisheries research.
Thursday started with a beach clean at Guinjata Point. After an hour and a half in the sharp wind, the group had collected an impressive 24 kg of trash. After lunch the LTO Beach Olympics extravaganza began. Among other things this event included: building the highest sand structure; guiding our team members through a maze while blindfolded; and creating LTO art in the sand. Tensions were high as the score reached 4-4 before the final event, ending in the victorious team winning by just one point. We then had a friendly ‘game’ of beach volleyball in which the aim (based on our skill level) was more focused on just keeping the ball in play… which we just about achieved!
On Friday we had a morning lecture about Guinjata and Paindane schools and LTO’s achievements and aims so far. This was followed by a check of our fish ID’s that we’d completed earlier in the week, surprisingly we managed to get most of them right! For the rest of the day we headed out to visit both of the schools, which effectively meant lots of football playing with hundreds of very enthusiastic kids. After dodging several electricity wires from the back of the truck, we arrived at Pascal’s (LTO’s translator) house to meet his family. After helping collect several buckets of water from the well, we were generously rewarded with a coconut each to drink and eat. Feeling a little rejuvenated, we did some dancing (but were hopelessly outmatched) and then began yet another mass football game, eventually retiring to enjoy some delicious matapa.
We can’t believe we’ve already had the July volunteers for over a week! It’s been amazing having you and we’re looking forward to the next month in Mozambique with you!