Andrew Ritchie - Madagascar 2003
Andrew Ritchie was a Blue Ventures research volunteer from Australia. He took part in the December 2003 expedition in Andavadoaka, Madagascar.
My experience in Madagascar with Blue Ventures:
When I first mentioned the idea of joining a voluntary expedition to Madagascar amongst my family and friends down here in Australia, most responded with a fairly perplexed look. It seems that everyone had heard of Madagascar, but no one actually knew where it was. When I intelligently informed one of my best mates that Madagascar was in fact the chunky island off the east coast of Africa (after having only worked that out a few minutes earlier myself), he was even more confused. “Oh. And I thought we were the chunky island off the east coast of Africa,?” he said. Well, whatever tickles your fancy. Fairly typical of the insightful and rigourous analysis one can expect from an Australian.
And ultimately, this was what drew me to Andavadoaka, the tiny seaside village on the west coast of Madagascar. I wanted to get away from it all, to experience a way of life fundamentally different to the one I enjoy each day at home, whilst also contributing positively to a local, and ultimately global, community. To capture my experience in Andavadoaka in a few humble words is a difficult task, made more so by the fact that individual experiences in Madagascar can vary as much as a pousse-pousse fare in Tulear. But, in an effort to satisfy the curiosity of the reader, I’ll give it a crack.
I flew to Madagascar, flippers in tow, prepared for everything. Or so I thought at the time. For most of you, Madagascar will be unlike any other country or region you have travelled to. It is hot (everywhere), hectic (in parts), corrupt (everywhere) and dirty (in parts). And yet everywhere you travel in Madagascar you will be presented with its rugged charm, be wrapped in the feeling of adventure and be humbled by the genuine hospitality of the Malagasy.
Volunteering in Madagascar will enable you to fully appreciate these underlying qualities in a country where the word diversity should have originated. Aside from diving almost everyday (which was an incredible, awakening experience), I was able to teach English in the local primary and secondary school, as well as be involved with giving swimming lessons to the children of Andavadoaka. This wonderful feeling of helping others, combined with an amazing crew of staff and volunteers from all over the world, and a location that is simply stunning can make for an experience of a lifetime.
A trip with Blue Ventures is not just a diving expedition. It is an opportunity for you to further your understanding of yourself and the world around you by helping and engaging with others. You will make great friends, amongst the Malagasy, the BV staff and of course the volunteers that will share your experience with you.
And you will discover just that little more about yourself.
All the best,
December 03 expedition