So, generically, I’m not really sure about how you start a blog. It’s even a little nervy. But I guess arriving in Dumaguete is as good a place to start as any. Flying in was nice, I appreciate most airports where the plane is bigger than the airport and customs consists of a baggage carousel and an open door. It immediately lends a place a Walter Mitty-esque feeling of imminent adventure. I do however always find myself hesitant to leave those airports, it feels wrong to leave so easily, like it’s almost a test to see if anyone is silly enough to make a break for it. With that in mind I made sure to leave approximately 30th, that many people can’t possibly be wrong.
By the time I had built up the courage to trust that it was an exit, not a customs sting, I had been spotted by the people who would soon have the ordeal of teaching me. Relatively tall (so not that tall really) blatantly english guy with obviously too much luggage and a look that says he clearly paid for it. It’s hard to see how they spotted me so easily. As first impressions go Sam and Alan seemed nice, of course I did think actually Alan was Dolf, but it turns out he’s cool too.
We then split up, myself and another ZEP person – Martin, who, landing two hours before had woken up at about 4/5am only then to have to find out he’s gonna wait for me – going with Dolf to the Marine Conservation Philippines site and Sam and Alan hitting the office. It was a good chance to get acquainted, and I felt it had to be good considering by this time Martin must only be awake on account of the caffeine coursing through him.
Marine Conservation Philippines is where we ZEP people would stay for the first 2 weeks of intro lectures. It’s very cool. I’ve only been to a few conservation projects but one consistent feature is that beds are often so used they begin to represent quavers, in both curviness and thickness. But here. Well. The mosquito net was intact, enshrouding what can only be described as a memory foam dream. I can’t over stress this place enough; the site is in an arboretum (to which I nodded along as if I knew just what that was), which is very wet and an ideal place to feed Mosquitos, yet incredibly beautiful. The site itself has solar power and internet and a fridge that works for the whole day and incredible food that somehow never gets repeated twice and taps that you can drink out of. Mental.
After all that, the people of MCP have earned the right to be terrible human beings, but they’re just as nice! They’re a very passionately lead NGO with a strong team and judging from past experience have strong strategies – not that they need that confirmed by someone not even qualified in the right sector.
As the ZEP people began to arrive and mingle it became clear that we have very varied backgrounds, stretching from a successful career in pharmaceutical sales through to instructing at dive schools in South East Asia. And that’s just one guy. There’s a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw from and adapt in this team, we’re quite lucky in that really. I think regardless of how the team is split we’ll all find a way.
The learning part is coming to a close at the end of this week. It’s been interesting, a very generic comment that explains nothing about anything, I know. But it has been intense, it’s hard to keep up with how much we’ve done in the past week really. Everything from striving to find the most comfortable way to sit in plastic chairs for hours to creating and presenting a simulation group funding proposal in 24 hours. A feat that left me needing a wee every fifteen minutes until it was over I assure you. That said I can tell it’s been invaluable, I can feel that sort of enthusiasm and boost of brain capacity that kicks you into gear when you’ve found something that you want to achieve, and achieve well. This is going to be an interesting couple of months, I really can’t picture myself at the end of this journey just yet, but it feels good.
Ps (if anyone reads it of course) I’ll put some pictures in the next one. Promise.