The adaption to the surroundings has been quick and easy. The prominence of elaborate noises are now a background song of routine and comfort (but it has to still be one of the noisiest places by far). Relationships and understandings with the locals eased quickly and finally I feel comfortable with haggling for ‘no special price’ on the trike and only paying 30 peso.
The main highlight is the wealth of character within the people of the area from the locals to the foreign guests and workers. The shy children of the countryside who hide behind their mother’s legs and can’t stop their smile from escaping at the sight of a white person to the energetic and optimistic youngsters of the towns who see white people as an opportunity to make sales.
From the tiny local fruit woman at the age of seventy five who still carries a large basket of fruit for sale on her head along three coastal bays all day and the western man of eighty who has three girlfriends and runs each morning from White Beach to Aninuan (for those who don’t know the area the distance may not seem great, but the hills are worse than in Devon). The feeling of being part of the community is now prominent as the on the morning run individuals now wave with greetings and faces are becoming more familiar and are followed by conversation. The local dogs cannot be forgotten fleas and all, with a few being adopted and given some very unimaginative names: Bridge and Bridget (the dogs who live on the bridge), Mrs Jingles (she has had so many puppies her teets drag on the ground and jiggle when she runs), and Floppy (the one with floppy ears and hair)!
Projects are underway and assessments are taking place as the work of Green Fins is being spread across the bays. The challenges coming for personal reasons, logistical factors, and from the dive centres have been addressed, confronted, and resolved. Seagrass surveying has turned out to be slightly more hazardous than previously thought. Sea snakes swimming through quadrats, urchins hiding in the meadows, and accessing them through mangrove swamps. It turns out that befriending staff on a boat can be very helpful when you have to attempt to navigate your way to the water avoiding clusters of urchins, sticky sinking mangrove mud and large sticks that pierce through the mud; they find it very funny, but will point a safe route through! Training presentations and asking dive centres weird questions about septic tanks and recycling are becoming more natural and have even lead to being asked on dates.
Me: “so does the dive centre separate their trash (they don’t understand rubbish)?”
Employee: “do you have a phone, we could go on a date”
Me: “hhhmmm, not sure that is where the trash goes!”
All in all it is the people in an area that make it special and this is one of the most welcoming areas I have been. Now the projects are underway and the friendships have been built only more good memories and stories can be formed.