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GVI Marine Training kit

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

In the aftermath of the first weekend off on base, I look around and see how effective some time off  is at breaking down social barriers. What was one week ago a group of strangers from 13 different countries, of varying ages, backgrounds and experience levels, is rapidly becoming a close-knit bunch, united in our love of diving, passion for marine conservation and hatred of biting insects. Many psychologists dream of a social experiment with these ingredients. Completely isolated from the world for 5-6 days a week, showering every 4 days, cooking for each other and sleeping in close quarters... tolerance and a sense of humor become survival skills. After only one week, I am looking forward to see where we stand after two, three and eventually ten weeks. For many in the group, this is their first long diving adventure, and for some their first time in such rugged conditions. Knowing this, I'm incredibly impressed to see the positive attitudes shown by everyone. We are truly lucky to have such an awesome bunch of people in this phase.

Diving is wonderful here in Mexico. Whilst we are not diving in a protected area (we are collecting data
to compare with the surrounding protected zones) fish life is abundant, and the water is a balmy 31
degrees (Celsius) so a bikini is ample exposure protection. After a few days of heavy rain, we have also
been blessed with beautiful weather. Stunning sunrises begin our days as we go about our morning
duties, cool breezes relieve the heat and insects, and the moon is getting fuller every day, making the
evening ocean glisten.

We are all beginning to adjust to life on base. Time management is becoming tighter, with today being
our first four-dive day. We all wake up just before 6am, and most of us are ready for bed by 9pm. Our
bellies are starting to adjust to smaller portions of vegetarian food , and with bucket flush toilets this is a
wonderful thing. However the line for seconds at every meal is rapid, large and enthusiastic as each duty
group competes to produce interesting, nutritious and elaborate food with our basic ingredients.

Words like "caudal peduncle", "muchos gracias", "Dendrogyra cylindrus", and "slippery dick" become
normal, as our collective brains process fish morphology, Spanish, coral genera and species, and
common names for reef fish. Questions such as "I am an emergency first responder may I help you?"
and "what shall I do with these bad boys darling?" become normal as we learn first aid and English
West-country slang. The sounds of slapping, yelping puppies and squeals from the landlord's daughter
punctuate our days, and all of it serves to make for an enjoyable, challenging and overall satisfying start
to what will be a brilliant 10 weeks in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula.