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Madagascar, conservation week - Tamzin Howard

The first week of volunteering work was all so new and exiting. Unfortunately, there was just not enough time in the week, nor enough energy for me, to try out all the activities. However, I could wake up in the morning knowing that I was going to be kept busy.

Walking to Angpang, 2pm. To get the week started all the newcomers to the camp were left to do whatever they liked in the mornings. Older leapers like Adya, Ben, Harry, Kate, Izzy and Jack went teaching. We were then taken to Angpang. The path to the village, as expected on Nosy Komba, was practically non-existent. Half of the walk involved scrambling over rocks. This was particularly difficult as the tide was quite high when we first went. Other times during the week I would make sure to walk over during low tide, which allowed me to walk on the sand instead of the rocks.

Llo village restaurant and Chez Yolande were the places most of us headed for. That is, as soon as we had finished inspecting the markets on the way; wooden sculptures, local art pieces, food and clothes were in high demand. We chose those restaurants because of the access to the Internet and the charging facilities. The food at Ilo’s was great, famous for its pizzas. Although the prices were fair for Madagscar, they provided you with old western comfort foods. At 5pm we took the boat back to the camp for just 2,000 Ariary*, although you could walk if you wished.

At camp after supper we were sorted into our activity groups. I was put into my first forest group, alongside Minna. And introduced to the head of bird walks, Lucy and head of reptile walks, Caitlyn. Both made the transition into working camp life a breeze.

Of the other leapers who were on the boat trip with me the boys: James, Jack, George and Hugo were put on construction and Adya, Ben, Harry, Bella, Bea, Kate, Lau and Bloem were put into teaching. However, these weren’t necessarily fixed and the camp leaders would have been happy for any of us to change if we wanted to.

First morning of volunteer work, 8am meeting time in the main house, the lemurs walk was cancelled as Jimmy was ill. So all the lemur walkers joined the reptile walk. We walked T4, this is a type of track-past Kely camp, one of the schools which the leap caters for. At first the walk felt a bit overwhelming.

However, the next morning at 6:30am we were to go on a walk up to the Church on our Island on T1 & T2 walks, which were a lot longer. The reptile walkers in my group went up T1 and the other group which Minna had to join walked T2, notorious for being the most difficult walk. After these walks, every other walk was much easier. We discussed later in the week the possibility of sleeping at the church, the food was meant to be very good. There were a quite a few keen leapers who wanted to go, but those who were leaving the soonest got priority.

The most relaxed walk so far was the bird walk because instead of constantly looking at the floor, you could give yourself a breather by sitting and listening for different types of bird. They were also much more active and easier to spot. I’d love to take part in these more and learn to recognise the bird from their call. Today I saw a Boaba, Kooka and a Drongo.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to teach as students were left to work (to earn money). But, I’ve been told that I will be able to next week so fingers crossed.

Overall, the week’s been full, with plenty of down time too. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Helville at the weekend.

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