It seems practically impossible to cover the entity of my three weeks with Ocean Spirits in brief, so let me focus on my favorite part – the night surveys.

Levara, a 1,53 km stretch of beach, palm-fringed and white sanded, became my terrain throughout the nights I worked as part of my volunteer program in May. I walked back and forth its length more times than I can recall. I ran on it, trying to get from one turtle to the other in time. I slept on it with the sound of the ocean in my ears, admired the stars and exchanged ideas with fellow volunteers and local staff. I worked in absolute darkness or moonlight, almost as bright as daylight. I shared great laughs with people I had just met. I got soaked in rain showers that came and went so quickly that you had almost forgotten about them an hour later. And of course, I learned a great deal about the magnificent leatherbacks that came to nest. Their unwavering maternal instinct drawing them without fail to the beach and their gentle demeanor moved me deeply. I experienced new life come to be when little hatchlings made their way into the ocean, facing a life of treacherous dangers and great adversity. All in all, it was an awe-inspiring experience, and, as I have told anyone who asks, one of the finest of my life.

But don’t be misled. It is hard work and physically challenging; nothing that can’t be handled, but certain to give you a few sore muscles that you didn’t know you had.

I would like to send out a big thank you to Kate and Kester, who went through great lengths to make our stay as joyous, exciting, educational, memorable and fun as could be, as well as Vicky and Nico for their superb supervision at the beach.