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Sam Spooner

A basic guide for survival on Curieuse Island


(For beginners)

Before arriving in the Seychelles, I had never washed my own clothes. Ever. I wouldn’t even know what buttons to press on a washing machine to get it going. Luckily, this lack of experience is not a hindrance on Curieuse Island. You know why? Because we don’t use a machine. No. We use buckets.

At first I was skeptical, but after a few washes, and after experimenting with various detergent brands, I found success in using the buckets.

All that is left to do after washing is drying, which in the sunny Seychelles takes no time at all. I found that the best place to maximize sunlight is the volleyball net, thus drying clothes has become its main use.


(Also for beginners)

Like with laundry, cooking was to begin with a daunting task for somebody like me, whose previous culinary experience stretches not far beyond microwave meals.

Each week a new combination of people are assigned daily duties. The main duty being the preparation of all three meals for everybody in camp. The food is mainly basic, but filling, and some find it harder to adapt to their new diet than others. Due to the difficulty of obtaining many of the easily accessible ingredients back home, a lot of experimenting goes on in the various pots, pans and trays. For someone like me, any form of cooking was an experiment. Either it is going to be edible, or it won’t.

The first thing I learnt was baked oats. A popular breakfast choice here, due to the ease of making them, and the risk of a disaster is fairly low (as even the burnt oats get eaten). Simply pop the oats in a tray, add some margarine, a bit of sugar, some cinnamon and you’re good to go. Whack it in the oven and in 30-40 minutes you have lovely golden-brown oats. A side of fruit and various toppings such as peanut butter (smooth and crunchy), honey, jam etc. and you’re good to go.

As my food preparation experience began to grow, I was suddenly faced with my toughest test yet. Myself and a fellow volunteer were handed nine mackerel. Our task was simple. Gut them.

After watching a demonstration, I was struggling to keep down my baked oats from that morning. However, after succumbing to peer pressure, I got myself a knife and went to town. About two and half fish in and I was actually starting to enjoy myself. Though not the most pleasant of activities, it is certainly a useful skill that I can use in the future.

My proudest achievement came just a week later, when I was asked to fillet a much larger fish. With my new found confidence I wasted no time getting stuck in. The result? The best tasting fish I have ever sank my teeth into. Delicious.

Daily Chores

(Not as bad as they sound)

 Every day starts at the same time. 7am. (Actually, mornings where we go sharking start earlier. 5am to be precise. Now I look silly because I immediately contradicted myself.) There are two chores which are done by everybody other than those who are on duty. The first being the bucket run. As the facilities here are more basic than compared to back home, the toilet is another area where people may need to adapt. They don’t flush. You have to wash away the contents with water in a bucket. That water comes from the sea and is stored in a huge container next to the two loos. This obviously depletes as people flush. Therefore it needs to be restored each day, hence the need for a bucket run.

Depending on the size of the group (and the toilet habits of the volunteers within the group) this takes anywhere from five to twenty minutes.

Once the bucket run is complete, everyone grabs a rake and tidies the whole camp. This shouldn’t need explaining as I assume everyone who is reading this knows what a rake is and how to use one.

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