This past week has been really tough. The outcome of the election in the US has barely scratched the surface.
On Wednesday morning, as the world was waking up to the news that Trump had clinched a victory – despite losing the popular vote – we were waking up to far worse here in Tofo. A girl who had just finished a 6 week conservation volunteering stint here was found dead.
Elly was just 20 years old, and was passionate about marine wildlife and conservation. She talked a lot about her plans to go travelling all over the world, and her acceptance to university in Australia to study marine biology. She was due to fly home today. She had dived with manta rays, whale sharks, turtles and all sorts of other amazing animals, and was having the time of her life. Just last weekend we were on a big group trip to Zavora, diving with mantas and sharks.
We’ve all been knocked for six. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet. Tofo is a safe place, but I think we’re all going to be on our guard from now on. We don’t know what happened to her yet, the police investigation is ongoing, but the media is doing its best to stir up horrifying rumours. If you read those stories, please remember that none of those claims have come from the police or anyone involved in the investigation.
I’ve been here for 5 weeks, and this week was the first time I felt homesick, horribly homesick for my family, the dogs, my horses, and the familiarity of normal life. I have wonderful friends who have been endlessly supportive and cheering back in the UK while I felt so down, and I’m so grateful to them for that.
I think my parents are probably silently tearing their hair out, and when I spoke to them on Thursday night and broke the news, a small part of me was half tempted to agree to their plea to come home.
A lot more happened that Wednesday, including the election result, a phone call about a turtle who had been killed and her eggs believed to have been stolen, a malaria diagnosis and a bad bout of food poisoning, so team morale was at an all time low. But if anything, it brought the team closer together, and I’m so glad to be surrounded by such warm, generous people at such a tough time. Everything just seemed to happen at once.
We have just come back from a weekend in Barra, our second visit there. It was definitely what we needed – some time out from Tofo, away from everything. We all hope that there will be answers soon, and meanwhile, keep Elly in our thoughts while we work on the conservation projects that she was so passionate about.