In the past two weeks we have welcomed a new volunteer, Bridget, to the Beqa camp for 3 weeks. Bridget has already completed her dive training in South America and is ready to start surveying as soon as she has passed her coral tests. During her first week with us, Bridget went on a shark dive and managed to get some amazing GoPro footage. Hopefully we will be able to get a sneak peek of the footage added to our Instagram page.
Randomly enough, the camp managed to rescue three people’s personal items from the sea just by chance. Flash, our Dive Officer, was reunited with a pendant which has a lot of sentimental value. After being separated for a couple of days, we didn’t think we would find it again and then during a routine dive it was just found lying at the bottom of the seabed, directly at the dive site. Teo, our Research Officer, was reunited with a bracelet she had lost months ago and had given up hope of seeing again. Luckily, Flash managed to find it in good working order at the bay where we moor our boat.
Photo credit: Frontier
Last but not least, Elin was reunited with a fin she managed to lose on her night dive a couple of weeks before she had to leave. Even though it didn’t hold any sentimental value for her, Elin did seem ecstatic when Mac, Sowanna’s husband and one of our Fijian boat captains for the crossings between Beqa and the mainland, handed the fin to her at the leaving dinner in the village alongside a bowl of kava.
We’ve now said moce (goodbye in Fijian) to three of our Marine Conservation volunteers, Emily, Will, and Elin in the past fortnight. They’ve all headed back home to get ready for the British summer and their upcoming first years at university. Sadly, we also said a very begrudging sota tale (see you soon) to Teo who has been working on Beqa for over 8 months.
Photo credit: Frontier
Teo was a fundamentally important member of staff, not just because of her immense knowledge of (and passion for) all things marine related, but also because of her patience in teaching about marine biology to others, and her seriously hard work ethic. Although, let’s be honest, the things we are going to miss the most about Teo are the surprise cinnamon coffees she made for us in the mornings and the very intense games of Trump Ten and Bananagrams we played in the evenings.
The constant ebb and flow of staff and volunteers arriving and leaving the camp is one of the more difficult and bittersweet aspects of volunteering abroad and you never quite get used to it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you come and stay in Fiji for a week or a year, somehow Fiji, the people you meet, and the way of life you get used to, becomes familiar and a home away from home in no time. This often means that leaving becomes a difficult concept, both for those who stay behind and for those who have to leave. Be prepared to fall in love with Fiji, it usually sneaks up on you without you even realising it and you’ll end up leaving a little piece of your heart here when you go.