The days in Andavadoaka always start beautifully. If you are part of the group that is on the early morning dive you wake up just before sunrise, put together your diving kit and head out over the crystal clear water on the trusty speedboat ‘AloAlo’. Behind you is the rising sun over Andavadoaka village and just as it comes over the horizon you dive into some of the most amazing sites in Madagascar. Once all the science data has been collected from the dive and you’ve woken up in the most spectacular manner you are ready to head back to camp to join the rest of the group for a well-earned breakfast. In keeping with the rest of Madagascar, piles of rice are served and there is always enough to feed a small army!
As the second group head out for yet more beautiful dives and more data collection there is plenty of work do be done on site! With an endless amount of projects to be started up/continued/completed there is always work to keep volunteers more than busy. Some of the projects and studies have included baobab and mangrove forests, birds, the education and social research in the village and more specific studies of seagrass, nudibranchs and the minuscule life within intertidal zones! However the ‘classroom’ on site is probably one of the most beautiful in the world, with views overlooking the coastline of white sand and turquoise water. Failing that, extra study is always possible from a nearby hammock!
Then its time for the ravenous volunteers to congregate for lunch and demolish ridiculous quantities of rice, beans and fresh barbecued fish. The rooftop room in which everyone eats has again some of the most exquisite views that anyone could ask for. As you consume seemingly yet another kilo of rice, you have a view that stretches for miles over the coast, village and hills. So in keeping with this tropical lifestyle there is a well-earned siesta after lunch to give you time to digest all that food. A word of warning; you have to be quick to get the hammocks!
Once the heat of the midday sun has subsided (although still over a blissful 30 degrees), work gets underway for the afternoon. This can mean a lecture on marine ecology, teaching English (either the children at a local school or the teachers themselves) or being taught Malagasy by a local teacher. This generally means ritual humiliation when asked to repeat a sentence to the class that seems to consist of nothing but vowels! Then those who were on the early morning dive go out on their second dive to spot even more fish, measure coral and if you’re lucky, any mega fauna. Not such uncommon sightings have included whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks and manta rays. Not to fear though, the others still have more work to do and there is always more fish to learn!
Once the dive is back and all jobs on site have been completed, the best way to finish the day is to jump into the sea and watch the sky turn red with the arguably the most impressively stunning sunset in the world. Then, you guessed it, it's'time for more food! To finish off a beautiful day, you can watch the shooting stars accompanied by a little local rum and know that you truly are in paradise.