PROLOGUE – THE DECISION
And when you think you have it all planned and figured out for your 2 months travel to Bali, you end up finding yourself on a local island in the heart of the Maldives volunteering during Christmas. Now I can totally check that off my bucket list. Long story short: one volcano erupting in Bali, one flight ticket canceled and 3 days before departure I found myself with no destination to go. My mum as smart and lovely as she always is asked me directly: “why don’t you go to that turtle program you found in the Maldives? You always wanted to volunteer abroad and since you came back from your last Bali adventure you just talk about turtles ALL the time”.
Half a day later I had the plane ticket booked, paperwork done, insurance signed, ready to pack and hit the Maldives within the next days. The standard procedure is planed in advance and takes some time, but those amazing devoted volunteers in the Maldives made it possible for me to join right away.
Naifaru, the island where I was volunteering is 3 hours away by speed boat from the capital Malé, Maldives. It is a local island and it host the marine conservation centre where I just booked my adventure. Their main conservation programs are turtle conservation, coral monitoring and Clown Fish breeding.
Those 2 weeks passed by like a dream cut out of one of those 1001 nights. The 3 hours small boat ride through the heart of the Indian Ocean, the atolls, the local markets with fruits I have never seen before, living on a small local island with own culture and tradition, everything was more than fascinating. There was also the tropical island life with it´s own time ticking and rhythm. The day were always warm, the streets sandy, the locals were active late night and the mornings were very quiet. The sunsets were the best of my life. Check for yourself Maldives in 14 sunsets if you don’t believe me. I was really content being there and being lucky enough to witness all of this beauty and marvelous experiences.
THE VOLUNTEERING PROGRAM
The days volunteering at the Atoll Marine Centre had pretty much the same structure and offered a sweet island life routine. In the morning we went directly to the center to say “Hy” to the turtles there, had breakfast in the bar next door. We made afterwards breakfast for the turtles and cleaned some tanks. Sometimes we received visitors form other resorts to show them around the center and to teach them about marine life. After the morning shift we went to lunch and had some free time. Usually we were wandering around, interacting with the locals and the local culture, small shopping or whatever suited us during the hot midday.
The afternoon always came with “ocean time”: together with the marine biologists and other volunteers we went in the ocean and monitored corals or took a swim with Nadia an injured turtle. The day ended with an amazing sunset (see for yourself in the post Maldives in 14 sunsets) and dinner time with funny table games.
And then there was resort day. The day you get to live the high life of the Maldives you see only in internet pictures and travel brochures. Kuredu is the resort that accommodated us that day, being one of the supporters for Atoll Marine Centre’s Programs. Having one of the best diving spots in the Maldives it guarantees to see turtles in their natural habitat. Here was the place I did one of the best snorkels of my life. In one swim we saw 2 green turtles, 1 hawksbill turtle, 1 reef shark, banks of unicorn fishes, parrot fishes, many Dory fishes (blue tang) and not Dory (blue Surgeonfish) and even a trigger fish that followed us to protect his territory.
All in all it was a once in a lifetime experience, an unforgettable and memorable adventure that I will for sure tell stories to my grand children.
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