Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No wind, lots of rain

One of the interns for the season is Joe Daniels. Joe is passionate about photography and his pics so far are amazing. He is a really worthwhile photogropaher to watch. Here are a few of the pics he has taken this season. Pretty hey! :)

Oh! Is that not just like murphy! I am having difficulties iploading pictures. Will keep trying but it does not seem to be working for now...

Of course, the beauty of these calm days is often off set by rain. And the rain can come down in buckets – the likes of which few have ever seen. The torrents are so overwhelming that it often makes you sit up and take note. At this moment I am sitting on my veranda and admiring the rain. It seems to soften the green edges yet those yellow coconuts stand out even more as they shine and glimmer in the wet. I do admire the rain but perhaps it is not a thought shared by those who want a tropical island holiday and the associated sunshine one dreams of. It does dampen the whale shark trips and prevents aerial support. For locals I guess, it fills the few fresh water dams, something the island desperately needs.

Talking of fresh water, this year it has rained more than any of the previous years for as far back as I can remember – a fact that the fresh water lake I often fly over testifies to: it is fuller than I have ever seen. That does not mean it is full – something I wonder if anyone has ever seen, but the rain is needed by locals. They still have serious water restrictions with water supplies being cut off at certain times during most of the days. It is hard to imagine a country with so much rain to have a water shortage. Of course it is also something that obviously is born from bad management. Private freshwater tanks should have been part and parcel of each house right from the beginning. Ironically, the country invested heavily into a desalination plant some years ago. Even that has not been sufficient to fulfil all their needs and all the rain bucketing down just flow right back from where it came – the sea.

Another change the calms and rain bring is the swing in wind direction. The southeast will eventually make way for the northwest but before it does it can bring those dreaded southwest and westerlies. When these arrive the flying becomes horrible. (To get a good idea of what I am talking about check out last year’s entry in October – I think it is called the event of the year. It will give you a good idea of the kind of conditions I am talking about. Besides it is actually a cool story too. ;)

But the fact that the southwesterlies are coming is a clear as day. The only option we have is how we negotiate them. Fingers crossed!

Wish you were here!

Monday, September 27, 2010

What calms...

It seemed I spoke to soon.

Yesterday the wind came back with a vengeance. Even worse, it rained too. The stormy weather put a damper on things but senses prevailed and the day was cancelled. Just as well. even later in the day the winds pick up even more with frequent gusts over 30k at the airport. I sure am glad to be on the ground.

Eisha, a young local dive master who works for the Dive Centre was suppose to come flying with me. Instead, all we could do was watch the weather and talk. Of course I am always up for a chat and it did not take me long to carry the conversation to God and the importance of making Him part of your life.

Especially if you are going to fly in a tiny little plane like our micro-light.


Wish you were here!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The calms are approaching….

Today I noticed far towards the north the mirror calm surface of the sea. These are the days of zero wind, absolute calm when not a ripple is in sight. Can you believe it is a promise of even better times to come..?

We have been moving towards the end of September – the end of the South East Monsoon season. This marks the end of the windy season. The last week or two have seen a steady drop in wind strengths – the usual 15 knot plus days making way first for 10 to 15 knot days and then the 5 to 10 knot days and now, finally the days with less than 5 knots. These are the days when the island life become the best there is. I am taking nothing away from the windy seasons that carry its own special charms but there is just something that mirrors the soul when these windless calm days reflect not just the drifting boat or the rocky point but part of you.

It is a funny thing this calm reflection. It does seem to be part of being human. Somehow we all long for some peace of sorts and in whatever form your life needs it, it is brought out by these tropical reflections. Everybody is happy.

Neil and I have been sampling some of this good weather and it has been a bonus – adding to the joy of this work.

Here is a pic I got of some of the whale shark action yesterday. (There is a shark in there too!) The wash was strong towards the rocks and in the effort to get away from them some of the snorkelers put in a few extra kicks in a bit of a panick to get away from the rocks. Of course, as experienced divers we know what frantic panicky kicking does in a wild ocean – an ocean with sharks. Out of the blue a few black tip reef sharks appeared and rushed at the divers. They circled the brightly coloured fins for a while and I guess not finding any trace of blood, (OK, I am dramatizing here! ;) disappeared into the depths. But for a while there were a few pounding hearts doing the rounds! The tourists loved it though and after diving on 8 sharks swear the experience was the best they have ever had.

Wish you were here!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Coco nuts and dogs

Spot the rabid dog...
23 September 2010

Today I went for a walk to the internet café. I had been brooding about updating my websites and finally decided to pay the exorbitant browsing fees these old age internet shops charge. (They are still on a time basis and not a data rate – which is made doubly frustrating because the connections are anything but fast. (No such thing as broad band here).
I (or the webhosting site!) made a hash of things and ruined a whole hours’ worth of work. It was time to call it quits and retire to a more off line based web design package – one where I could take my time and not have to pay for it.

Well, the walk is what is quite cool. It is a short cut and you end up walking through the rural back yards past little homes on a little access footpath that winds its way down the hill towards the central part of the village. It is quite an experience. Steep in places (very steep!) that make you kind off catch your breath about slipping and falling, and every now and then you walk right by a back yard with a line full of washing. Invariably you lower your eyes in case they wander inadvertently into a kitchen or bedroom and see something private.

It was on the way back while brooding about the internet woes, that I got bitten by one of those stupid Seychelles dogs. They have a bad reputation let me tell you and I am no stranger to these temperamental dogs. Anyway, I got a good squeeze on my right calf and two neat holes where the long K-9 teeth sunk in. In a way it was my own stupidity and I am perhaps more peeved off with that than the fact that the dog bit me.

She was a black half breed of medium size and quite obviously breast feeding. She just jumped into the road out of nowhere and growled. It was a warning to me – I should have known her pups are nearby. Yet I kept on walking, ignoring the stupid animal thinking that I am not scared of dogs – also nothing wrong with that but my mistake was as I passed I looked away, just for a second or two and that’s when she took her chance. There was this sharp pain in my calf and before I could react she was gone, down the slope and out of reach. No amount of cursing from my side could undo the two blood seeping holes. And no amount of calling in any manner could get her to come back towards me (She knew what I had in mind!) Of course it is not her fault. I was supposed to be the intelligent animal and failed miserably.

Plastered up with Bactroban I should be ok but for my dented ego. What on earth beseeched me to turn my back on such an obvious dangerous animal – a breast feeding mother!?

Oh the woes of paradise!

Wish you were here!

PS: Neil had a fantastic days flying – light winds and he is stoked. We should get a pic from him soon too.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More coco nuts...

Here is a picture of a Coco de mer in its more common state. It is de-husked.

And my price-less immigration stamp.

The Coco de mer is a seed and not a fruit as some people think and the biggest in the world at that too – sometimes weighing as much as 20kg. (No wonder you die if it falls on your head!) It is unique to Seychelles and not surprising has become an unofficial National emblem. My pass port is full of coco de mer stamps too. Every visit for the past 9 years the immigration officials have adorned the inside pages of my pass port with this priceless stamp. I have come to like these cute little stamps with growing affinity. This year however I got a different stamp. I almost want to call it a traitor stamp. A bland stamp. A stupid stamp. Have the local officials gone nuts? What on earth could have persuaded them to discard this priceless stamp?

After some inquiry, it turns out that an Islamic leader complained that the stamp was too “explicit”. Apparently it reveals too much of the nature of a woman. Of course I can’t help but think it takes a foul mind to think like that – even if there is a striking resemblance.

Hey Seychelles government. What’s up with that?

It of course brings me to another subject. A more controversial one and one that I am probably going to put my foot into, no matter how delicate I try to handle it. Consider the fact that Islam extremists have burned heaps of bibles and nothing happened. So one Christian Pastor wants to burn the Koran and all hell breaks loose! (Pardon the pun.)

Poor Pastor. I mean, think about it. He is probably very aware of the Islamic influence in his country and of the 9/11 disaster and of the heaps of bibles that has been burnt and one can understand how perhaps he has just had enough. It is of course NOT the Christian way of doing it (The modern Christians do not go about burning other religious books) but heaven knows, I can sympathise with the man!

Double standards?
It seems the pastor is not the only one who is getting fed up. Apparently the French have banned the wearing of the traditional face cover for Muslim women – with a 200$ fine and up to a year sentence for men who are found to have enforced their wives to do so. Of course I am aware that this has nothing to do with the Islamic religion either but it serves to illustrates my point.

Interesting indeed!
:) Perhaps this is what I should write about to get some feedback. Let’s see…

Yes, I know this has absolutely nothing to do with flying or sharks…

Still. Wish you were here!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Risky but fun...

Well, here is another pic. Far out to sea... But Abi seems very happy and enjoying the experience. She is one of the MCSS teamleaders and certianly knows the score! ;)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Risky business…

The last two days have been hard days – strong winds and rain storms. The flying has been extreme and it is no wonder that only the most experienced pilots can do this work. Although Neil is not very experienced when it comes to micro-light flying he is very experienced as a pilot. Not only is he a commercial helicopter pilot but he has been flying paragliders and hang gliders for a number of years. It is on these grounds that I chose him for the project in the first place. Of course the fact that he flies hang gliders was really what swayed him in favour of the project. You see, I know what it takes to fly a hang glider, not just because of the knowledge you need of micrometeorology but also being able to judge glide angles and being on the lookout for landing areas and the mind-set that goes around flying these types of aircraft. I do not believe any pilot can get a better foundation for any flying career than starting with hang gliding.

Needless, Neil is still enjoying a very steep learning curve.

The day before yesterday he pushed it a bit – according to me. Of course he is the pilot out there and making the decisions, however inexperience sometimes can make you shave off safety issues in favour of the whale shark project. I know. I was there once too. Of course the truth is nothing is worth compromising your safety.

This brings me to another topic – that of the nature of the flying with the whale shark program. Let’s get one thing straight. This is not a passenger commercial flight service. There is absolutely nothing in our flying that is geared towards flying passengers. If anybody comes flying with us, it is as our guests, non-paying guests at that. They get to see what the marine survey pilots do, how we do observational sampling and gather all kinds of information pertinent to a project of this nature. They certainly do not get a “how cool is it to fly!” kind of stuff. Instead they get a briefing about the dangers of the type of flying we do – that it is for research purposes and not with the safety of the public in mind. We take risks, (As Neil told a lucky guy who was flying with him, “We break almost every rule in the book…” which made the poor guys eyes bulge! Neil quickly set him straight though. We do not break every rule in the book. Just one – we often fly out of glide of safe landing areas.) What I am getting at here is that after having made a statement of ‘nothing is worth compromising your safety’, we find ourselves involved in a project of this nature. This seems quite contradicting, and it is. But let’s make sure who ever comes flying with us, is aware of that. They are putting themselves at great risk.

It can also be a pretty damn cool experience too…

Wish you were here!

PS: The pic shows the flying - stormy rain clouds and out of glide of beaches...

Friday, September 17, 2010


Today looked like a difficult day. The wind was blowing near our limits for the morning. I sure hope Neil is coping. Yesterday I had a nice day by comparison. The morning was clear with few clouds. Only by late afternoon did some large rain cells move in from the south and I had to run for the airport. It was a great afternoon though – a south day. The two groups on the boat had a, wait for it, here it comes.., a whale of a time! :) (OK. I won’t use that cliché again) Here is a pic of some of the action we had. Can you see the whale shark?

Has the whole world gone nuts?

While on the subject of coconuts, I am sure you must have heard of the famous Coco de mer? For those that can’t speak Arabic, it means “nut from the sea”. This was what they were named when these very peculiar nuts washed ashore on the northeast African coast some 1000 plus years ago. No one had any idea were the nuts came from except that they were from the sea, and highly sought after. Trading in these nuts was a lucrative business. Sometime later a few Arab traders must have decided to try and trace the source of them and followed the trail “up current”. It is believed these traders were the first to discover and set foot on Seychelles. Of course because the traders were secretive about their sources, they kept no record of it. However, it is pretty official that they traded in fresh Coco de mer’s , indicating that they must have discovered its source. That they discovered Seychelles perhaps as early as 500AD remains the unofficial version. This is a pic of a few Coco de mers in their natural habitat.

Wish you were here!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yellow coconuts...

There are a couple of bright yellow coconuts hanging from a tree outside our apartment. Though they have been there ever since we have moved into the apartment I only really noticed them from the comfort of my hammock. You would forgive me for saying that they have been on my mind and thankfully not on my head. You see, I have strung my hammock between the said coconut and a hefty jack-fruit tree and it was whilst lazing in my hammock that I looked up and noticed the bright yellow coconuts. Of course the first thought that crossed my mind was the fact that every year more people die of falling coconuts than shark attacks. Quite a ridiculous thought actually but it set my mind into action. I wondered too if most of these people were lazing in hammocks at the time of death. Of course it is authentic and traditional to string your hammock between coconut trees. In hindsight it was perhaps not the most intelligent of ideas but one can understand the temptation to use coconut trees given their usual idyllic locations. My trees too are strategically placed, offering a splendid view of the bright bay of Beau Vallon – the turquoise waters just adding that extra dimension to a session in the hammock.
I pondered too if hammocks were traditional to times of sailing – you know, in those old pirate ships, where below deck strings of hammocks with smelly, farty old sailors come to mind. Perhaps those same hammocks were strung between two coconut trees after a shipwreck and that was where the coconut-hammock tradition started.
A sudden gust made my hammock sway soothingly from side to side. The coconut tree however creaked ominously. In a quick scramble I made an about turn. It was an easy solution. By placing my head under the canopy of the jack-fruit my toes were left to ponder the notion of falling coconuts.

I’d say, a worthy sacrifice with this kind of view…

Wish you were here!
PS: We have had some good flying and great whale sharking. I spotted 42 whale sharks in one flight the other day! Not bad! :) Today is windy and rainy and tom looks like more of the same. It has been a slow day for all...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

8 sharks without eyes in the sky...

As you can see from the caption the boat managed to get onto 8 whale sharks without aerial support. It was Neils turn to fly and the regular rain cells coming through was enough to keep him on the ground at the airport. So sounds like he missed out. He sure seemed glad for having stuck to his guns and staying on the ground. It is easy to be pressurised into flying when it is not really safe to do so. Of course I support Neils and his decision completely. Here is a pic of Joe on his birthday. Pretty good gift hey!?

Wish you were here!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Storms and sleeps...

Here is a pic of the two of us near Conception Island. There is a little glory on the cloud below...

Neil and I have the windows open while we sleep. The south east breeze blows through the room all night which helps to cool things down a bit. Right next to our room is a small bit of tropical forest. There is a tall Casuarina tree, a Bodiman tree, an exceptionally large mango tree, a Jack fruit tree and some others I am unfamiliar with, the leaves of which orchestrates into a scary rumble when a wind of sizable proportions comes by. It serves as a warning to those sailors taking to the seas or sky – beware the swaying trunks and rustling leaves spell. A spell that sometimes creeps through your sweet sleep we so desperately seek. Our desperation is evident too from the ingenious ways we have found to block off the outside world, even while you are smack bang in the middle of it. I for one have the most softest and sound proof earphones for my MP3 player. With these babies in my ear and my black eye patch cover on it can be midday while the party is my room and I would sail away to another world… Well, you get the idea at least. Of course sooner or later you need to switch of the music – which has happened sometimes an hour or two after I should have been sound asleep. In semi-wake mood the player is switched off and the pillow ear plug removed. The upper ear is still needed for those pesky and irritating barking local dogs. They really are a problem on this island.

Sleep is hard won.

Later I walked into the MCSS staff house with the words, “Right. Who ever does not get scared easily can come flying with me…” Outside the ocean was white with spray. Leaves where swirling about inside the kitchen. Suddenly everyone was busy or ‘still sleeping’, and 2 minutes later I left – alone. It was of course just a tease from my side. No one was actually going to fly today…

Ironically I managed to get airborne just after 3 in the afternoon managing a great flight around the island on my own. Coming back I flew high above the island and clouds – the usual safe and turbulent free route.

Today Neil is up. Though windy it looks fine. Some developing clouds around but sunny mostly. I am sure he is having a great time and will sleep well tonight.

It is 7:30 in the evening and it is raining outside. Neil's flight went well but he said he just managed to scrape into the airport before this mother of low clouds with rain swept into the airport. It has been with us for a while. Like I said. Sweet sleep for him tonight.

Wish you were here!


Steep learning curve...

4 September 2010

It is Neil’s turn to fly today and even if I thought of going with him yesterday the good weather made me think otherwise. He was sitting on our balcony overlooking the bay. From here you could see the strength of the wind lines.
“Looks good.” I said as I joined him with a bowl of Pronutro.
“Yes. Nothing too bad.” He answered.
“I am not going to go with you but you can take one of the interns with you.”
“If it is ok, I would prefer to just fly on my own first.”
“Sure. You get settled and when ready the guys can join you.”
“Is it ok for you to come with me just to the airport? That way at least you can use the car…” It was a generous offer but probably more a ploy to entice me to go with. Smiling, I politely said no. It was time to cut the apron strings.
“Call me if you are not sure but go out there and enjoy yourself.”

Of course the weather turned nasty. A big storm approached from the south east and before 11 in the morning I had received 2 phone calls and three sms’s. It poured and the whale shark trips have been cancelled for the afternoon. It is now after 1 in the afternoon and Neil is still at the airport weather watching. No doubt his learning curve is very steep today…

Wish you were here!

Word just in is that Neil did have a flight later in the afternoon. He said he only managed to do the survey on the south of the island before he had to scuttle back to the airport as another rainsquall moved in from the south. This is his first for the season and you can bet it won’t be his last!

Monday, September 6, 2010

PC problems..

Well, I have written a few entries but somehow managed to undo my wireless connections of my laptop. I am doing this from the work PC. Thought I would just let you guys know that we are working on the problem.

Today started with the bats going backwards and trees blowing over our high way. It was way too strong to fly, up to 35knots at times. But very late in the afternoon I managed to get a gap and did a survey around the island. It was a wonderful (and exciting!) flight. Managed to get 5 whale sharks on the north side near Conception island. Finished off with a very bumpy but aced landing! ;)

It is Neils turn to fly tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will bet better.

Wish you were here!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Solo pic...

This is a pic of Neil before going on his first solo around the island. I did the usual cheeky last minute, get off the plane move. It was a great day for a easy intro the the place in his own....


For more than twenty years teaching has been part of my life. Of course since most of that has been teaching pilots the art of hang gliding it will come as no surprise that my most favourite method is through a process we call self-discovery. Oh, I like other methods too but nothing quite equals that moment of eureka when your pupil suddenly gets it – with just a bit of your guidance he had worked it out for himself – and you as the tutor can relax for a moment.

Neil of course is not new to flying but I have been showing him the ropes to our air survey program and have answered the usual questions as he is getting used to the flying conditions around this Indian Ocean tropical island of ours. It can be very demanding at times. After his morning solo flight around Mahé I was looking forward to catching a snooze while he goes out for his second solo of guiding the boat onto the whale sharks. He had already done two of those flights with me and was fully capable of doing it on his own. Of course it was then that David advised that he had two boats going out. Now directing two boats at the same time can be a different ball game and putting my ideas of an afternoon nap aside I thought it better to go with him. You know. Just in case. So sitting in the advisory back seat position I settled in for the three hour flight. Neil soon got the hang of it though and I relaxed a bit, finding the time to have a snack – a chocolate to be exact. (On these long flights I often take a chocolate bar or two). And later when things were quieter still, I hooked my feet over the foot rests and snoozed.

Imagine that.

Oh, and would you believe, it was actually quite comfortable too…

Eureka! Wish you were here..!

All in a days work...

2 September 2010

I flew one of the interns this morning – in fact it was the first intern to go up in our little orange plane for the season. Karen is a beautiful brown eyed brunette. Originally from the eastern side of Australia, Brisbane, she got bored of her job as the Marine biologist for a popular tourist resort. The internship with the MCSS was a nice change in scenery, before she decides what to do next. Of course we had a great chat.

The weather was real border line. It put a certain ominous anticipation in our trip to the Airport. Even so, our conversation was light and easy. Then would you believe we got a flat tyre! It took a while to sort that out – the fact that we did not have a spare did not make things easier either. And then in my own way I pondered if God was perhaps giving me a sign that I should not be flying today… (Many times too I have told God that I am a thick skinned man and if he does not want me to do something to please hit me over the head with a large pole so that there can be no confusion! ) Of course all the time I was making light conversation with Karen. At the hangar it was drizzly but we went through the motions of preparing the plane – if we got a gap we could get up within just a few minutes. When it stopped drizzling some low level cumulus clouds whizzed over head at high speed but the wind was almost plum down the runway so up went.

Surprisingly it was rather good. The sun came out, the clouds parted and we had a clear run to the south. Once again, in my own way I relaxed knowing that God honored my usual request the other way round too. (If we were meant to go he would light the way:) Far to the south east the horizon was grey though. These rain clouds would not get to us in another hour at least. Of course Karen was overjoyed and who could blame her. Even I had that usual tinge of sincere appreciation of this work. It sure has its moments, often and then some!

At South point the wind turned on to nearly 30mph. No doubt those stormy clouds to our south east would be upon us a lot faster than I thought. Already they were just 10 miles away and looked pretty dark and intimidating – Karen had no objections to heading back earlier either. This is the nature of flying in Seychelles on those stormy and windy days. It does take a fair amount of experience to know the conditions and to judge just how far one can push it.

I let Karen fly back and like a seasoned champ she surfed the clouds and the rising winds.
“Just think of it as a surf board and ride it back home…” I said. Well, I just assumed she would know something about surfing coming from a coastal city in Australia. Either way, it worked and I took over just for the landing – the gauging water lines from the gust-front and driving rain just a mile or so away not even noticeable to her.

Safely in the hangar with smiles coming from the both of us, I realized that that was way too easy. Outside the rain was pouring down. Whether I had made it look easy or that God was looking out for us was not the point. Rather the fact that it was not easy at all. I pondered too the notion that perhaps I have become complacent. That perhaps others who look on could be deceived into thinking that this is easy…

God can be very subtle too. Perhaps tomorrow I’d better go to the airport with Neil…

Wish you were here..!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What a Spring gift..!

1st September 2010
(It is my parents anniversary today..:)

Neil has just taken off on his first solo flight around the island. I figured after three flights with him he knows enough to do it on his own. That is the best way to learn in any event. The winds are light. Looks like nothing more than 10 knots. The skies are over cast but with high cirrus clouds. There are a few scattered cumulus clouds around but nothing too threatening. It is perfect for him to go around and get the feel of the place on his own. He is a grown man and perfectly able to make his own decisions. (Well, so I argue anyway! ;) It is 10 in the morning and I expect him back by 11:30. So it’ll be a bit of a wait.

Here is another shot of Neil and I on our way back from spotting whale sharks in the north west corner of Mahé. Pretty spectacular hey! By the way it was just as a spectacular day. We found two aggregations of whale sharks feeding actively within two schools of bait fish. There were at least 8 sharks in each group. Neil loved their spots when we went down for his first closer look. Unfortunately I did not have my better camera with me so we did not get any pics… I will work on that!

Wish you were here!

Oh by the way, if you do like my blog and posts, please join the followers section. It makes a great change to know there is someone out there that is actually reading this stuff!

Spider spider on the wall...

Almost there…

Neil loves the bats and the spiders. On our arrival while sitting in the open aired airport cafeteria at 9 in the morning, in broad daylight he sudden dropped his yaw and asked, “Am I just tired or did I just see a bat the size of dog flying past in broad daylight..?” He has not stopped his fascination.

Neil is a great help. Thank heavens he has some electronic training too – we made short work of some faulty connections of the intercom and the magg switches on the plane.

Our accommodation this year is in the old Beau Vallon flats. They have been used on a yearly basis but mainly for the general staff, interns and volunteers for the program. Last year I moved into the top of these flat but it was just for the last half of the program period. (In the beginning I lived in luxury. Air-conditioning, satellite TV, washing and cleaning services. What happened to that?) The two of us have moved into the bottom right side of the units. It is a two bedroomed flat with a lounge, kitchen, shower-bathroom and a nice balcony. Four of us are staying here. Yes. Gareth and his girlfriend Laura has one room and Neil and I are sharing the other. Certainly nothing wrong with sharing but certainly nothing wrong with wanting your own bedroom too… It sure is taking some getting used to getting my mind back to the army days of sharing a room. Thankfully Neil is a gentleman. Even if he snores occasionally (he warmed me about it – I too warned him of being pelted with anything within arm’s reach at the time too!) but it seems to working out ok.

Upstairs we have Caiara, Abi and Jenny. Caiara and Abi are old-timers to the program – this year they are team leaders, while Jenny is new and one of the interns.

The interns went out on the boat on Friday morning for the first time. Would you believe they found three whale sharks!? They had a fantastic time by the sounds of it and have been on a real high ever since. On Saturday night we had our official welcoming bash at David’s house. As usual he excelled with a great feast. I loved the ice-cream and his special homemade chocolate sauce. Out of all the years in Seychelles I met another interesting person. Laura (I never got her surname) but she is doing some research into the socio-economic changes within the nature reserve areas of a few Indian Ocean Islands. And if that was not enough she turned out to be a balloonist (I’m sure there is a word for that?) What a grand time we had. Would you believe that Neil worked for a Balloon operator when he was 16 for 6 months, chasing around the country side for him and never even got to go for a ride once? Is life not just like that!?

Wish you were here..!