Hello! I have finally gotten a chance to get into town! We have been on base for a week now, studying for our Advanced Open Water certification (Which I got yesterday! :-) and studying our target adult fish; I passed that test this morning, so I can now recognize 60 tropical adult fish :-) To get the Advanced certificate I have been on five dives and seen many beautiful fish - and recognized sooo many! The best so far has been the French Angelfish ( which are about a a foot long and about the same in height, and coloured black and yellow ) the Queen Trigger fish (which are slightly smaller but more colourful; I got to play with one of these when I was at 98 feet during our Deep Dive Adventure dive! Bigger teeth than I expected ;-), and the Porkfish, which are smaller again and are mainly yellow and white, with a black strip or two :-)
The group is really good also, with me being the oldest in the entire camp! - Maturity aside. There are about 30 people, inc GVI staff, comprising mainly of Brits, with some other Australians, some Canadians, some from the US, two Mexicans, a German, a Spaniard, and a Frenchman. Currently, we are all getting along well with a full range of personalities, and none that I expect to go nuts or demand two much attention. The days are really long, but now that we have finished the Advance Open Water stuff, less reading should be involved. Next week we start doing our fish counting, and move onto memorizing another 25 Juvenile and about 70 fish found in the area, but are not included in the fish that we count.
The living conditions are very basic (see photos), with a very short shower every four days, and one bucket of water to get through the other three! - I am currently stretching this, but the water allowance is for clothes also, so I think I will just get them washed in town :-) Cooking is done in groups of five to six, and I have had some great, but simple, meals, since we have no refrigeration. In fact, we only have power for a few hours a day, and that is used to power the projector for lectures and lights for three hours in the evening. The main source of power is from wind and solar, offset by a generator. The other daily jobs around camp include removing sea grass from the shore so that we can get to the boats when fully kitted up, racking the sand to reduce the number of sand flies, cleaning the main meeting area and toilets, preparing the boats for diving, and putting the boats to bed at the end of the day. I have also been put in charge of entering dive data after a day of diving and running fresh water through the boat engines at the end of the day.
Apart from all that, the sand flies and mozzies are extream, with everyone wearing shoes, jeans, and jumpers at the end of the day to reduce the number of bites - no cream, potion, or DEET enables anyone to get through a day with out having an increase in their bite tally. My mozzie net wasn't up to scratch in the first few days, and I awake for a scratching frenzy in the middle of the most nights.
Anyway, that's enough to start. I am having an amazing time and get excited every time we get into the boat for a dive. The staff and people are the best anyone could ask for, and everyone is both friendly and generous. The location is awesome, and the four dogs that hang around camp are fantastic also!