Second week as a MWSRP volunteer

First week’s encounter count – 21.

This week’s encounter count – 8.

You would think that with the drop in WS encounters we would be getting bored right? WRONG! Things just keep getting better and better. The biggest day was on the Monday, the first day for Fernando, the last person of the MWSRP team to join us (and not the WS Fernando). We ended up seeing 5 WS in rough and strong currents, but they were beautiful encounters.

Neal, Fernando and I also got the chance to swim with a pod of either pilot whales or risso’s dolphins. The two fellas sped ahead towards the pod, whereas I swam briskly but carefully because I didn’t know how they would respond to us being in the water and joining them. They pretty much just swam together, and eventually pulled away. They were not too interested in us, but it was still and wonderful experience!

Pilot whales/Risso's Dolphins? Does anyone know?
Pilot whales/Risso’s Dolphins? Does anyone know?

Admittedly, the days are beginning to merge together. Days are jammed packed full of activity from 6:30 through to 9pm but for me, I love each and every moment. Even though I’m suffering from the most annoying and persistent case of heat rash. While spotting WS we do come across other cool animals like dolphins, sailfish jumping out of the water, turtles and stingrays! When we are on our lunch break in and around Lux, we have been swimming with white tips and black tip sharks too! They are sooo cool, and my fear of sharks has quickly disappeared!

Bonjour! A turtle! Rach thinks they are French. I'm beginning to agree!
Bonjour! A turtle! Rach thinks they are French as they stick their head up for a quick breath and then dive down in a Frenchy-like way. I’m beginning to agree!
A stingray stealthily swimming on the ocean floor.
A stingray stealthily swimming on the ocean floor.

Dhigurah

We had an overnight stay on a local island called Dhigurah (which means ‘long island’). It was a great experience to walk around the streets of the town and just observe life there. The community is very close knit, and extremely curious of foreigners.

Trekking off to explore Dhigurah
Trekking off to explore Dhigurah
Bright flags in the streets of Dhigurah
Bright flags in the streets of Dhigurah

We had short eats at a cafe; which consisted of fried pastries with tuna inside and some cake. Neal also introduced us to ‘Betel Nut‘. It was an experience. It’s like chewing on bark, but then there is this spice that is somewhat menthol-like and then there is this overwhelming feeling of heat that rises in your cheeks. (Well it did in my case). Neal loves the stuff. I don’t mind it, would have a chew if it was offered again and was feeling game at the time, but I don’t think I’ll order it.

"Betel Nut" Neal loves this.
“Betel Nut” Neal loves this.
Kev outside the Dhigurah power house in crazy winds.
Kev outside the Dhigurah power house in crazy winds.

 

The MWSRP team: Fernando, Kev, Me, Neal, Alissa, Katie and Chris. Ben and Rach were leading a school tour at the time.
The MWSRP team: Fernando, Kev, Me, Neal, Alissa, Katie and Chris. Ben and Rach were leading a school tour at the time.

At night, we went to visit Ben and Rach who were looking after a school tour. We were able to watch a traditional Maldivian dance called the Boda Beru. I was dragged up to dance but I was so exhausted. Then all of a sudden in a red flash, there’s Kev next to me dancing his heart out. Shake-shake here and a shake-shake there. The dancers loved it, and so did the school kids! According to Rach, the students loved Kev so much, that he ended up being a highlight of their tour and featured on their slideshow summary as ‘the dancing guy’.

Kev impressing the locals and Ben and Rach's school tour with his dance moves during the 'Boda beru'. The school kids called Kev 'the dancing guy'.
Kev impressing the locals and Ben and Rach’s school tour with his dance moves during the ‘Boda beru’. The school kids called Kev ‘the dancing guy’.

After a good hard workout, we all returned to the Dhoni which we converted into a dorm. The sleep was not too bad actually, given that the floor was hard, there were mozzies and it was a little damp and hot. It’s pretty much like camping but on water!

Our Dhoni converted into a dorm!
Our Dhoni converted into a dorm!

Stephan, the cute whale shark

So, the most memorable encounter for the week for me is with little Stephan. He appeared last week with the grand travelly. Last week he was so wonderful, he kept swimming up to us, and I remembered that I had to keep on trying to swim away from him. Yesterday, we had one WS encounter. He was a little guy, and he swam around us. He kept circling us while feeding. When I say us, I mean the MWSRP team and then like 30 other tourists that dove in after they spotted our Dhoni at a stop. It’s quite frustrating as there’s fins and splashes in your face. But the WS was unphased. He (I knew he was a he as I swam under him to check out his bits) just kept swimming around us and was completely chilled. I was so eager to find out who he was as he was extremely cute, and when we ID’ed him and found out that he was Stephan. It was no big surprise that he was so friendly. I really, really do love him now. 🙂

ID shot of Stephan
ID shot of Stephan.

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