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Diving, kittens and a full moon party - by Ellie Harland

We have a new mascot in the shape of Nugget the ginger kitten rescued from Ampang by Emily after being abandoned. Drawing on her experience from home she has brought the kitten onto solids and made a temporary home for him in a box in her hut Chicken Coop.

Ed, Will, Courteney, Emily, Fred, Freddie and Emily have all started Marine this week with Izzi also starting a little earlier. They have learned how to set up their kit and practiced RDP tables. The kit consists of a yoke or din regulator, a BCD and a tank. Soon they will get to go on their first Confined Open Water dives with our Scuba Instructor Kyle. Here they will learn basic skills such as how to partially and fully flood and clear their masks as well as fully removing, replacing and clearing their masks, they'll also learn how to find their regulator, should they drop it, and how to purge the water so they can continue to breathe.

For those of us whom have just finished Marine, with the exception of Arthur, we have now had our first taste of forest or community. While Sophie, Ben, Brinley, Harry, Hettie, Cressie and I have opted to do forest, Alex, who began teaching now and again while still on Marine will be continuing in community.

So far on forest we have participated in one wild and one domestic Lemur survey which consist of 2 types: Scan and Focus. Scan is the observation of the behaviour of a whole group across an hour at five minute intervals while Focus is the observation of the behaviour of an individual within the group each minute for half an hour. We also did Agroforestry where part of the group helped plant banana trees and the rest flowers alongside the local school children who were very eager to help. We also got to try the delicious banana juice on offer.

Friday night was the long awaited full moon party organised by John, the French gentleman who runs Ilo Village which we usually occupy on a Friday evening. The party was situated on the sandy shore of a tiny little island where entry to the forest is prohibited on account that it is a cemetery. John provided beer and particularly good rum punch at 5000 Ariary each, as well as food. There was music and a disco ball as well as a bonfire.

It was a very good night and a nice way to spend what will be the final Friday for some. Jazz, Jess, Issy, Tilly and Coco are counting down the days both in anticipation and in shock at how fast time here flies. Emotions are definitely mixed. Soon they'll be back home, indulging in good veg, full English breakfasts and BACON, according to Coco, plus the luxuries of television, private bedrooms, hot water, AC and central heating and finally, a distinct lack of bugs.

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