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Bethany's Volunteer Experience in Italy

The Sunday we stepped onto the boat for the Dolphin and Marine Research project happened to be my birthday. The group was gradually introduced to each other and the crew as we each arrived. First mate, Rossana briefed us, the volunteers, on the purpose and the scope of the project as well as general operations, while we sat on the deck and munched on slices of sweet watermelon.

After the briefing, we walked to a private cove with a hotel and restuarant, where we swam in the sea and dipped in warm pools. While I floated on my back in the cool water I had to acknowledge, this was a perfect day. We enjoyed a lovely dinner and watched the sun set before walking back to the harbor. I slept on the deck that night and every night during my time on the Jean Gab. 

I immediately fell in love with boat life as well. I loved how everything had a place and everyone had a job. I also loved the fresh air and the rocking that lulled me to sleep anytime I let it. Angelo, her captain is clearly in love with her as well. After seeing his garden in the harbor, I decided that I too could live on a boat. To think I had been nervous about spending a whole week on a boat. 

From the moment we left the harbor that first morning, Rossana began educating us on the local wildlife. She has such an eye for spotting a bird or splash of tuna in the distance. She was easy to listen to because of her passion and so knowledgeable. On our second day at sea we encountered a pod of 20 or more spinner dolphins. Time speeds up when you are watching these animals

Our last day out, we had the opportunity to track down a young male sperm whale named, Brunone. It is a labor of love to find these beauties. We listened and moved and stopped and watched. Until finally, Rossana spotted his spray in the distance with binoculars. Our efforts were rewarded and we were fortunate to encounter him for a short period and log his activity. 

By the time we said our goodbyes, our little crew had begun to feel like family. I felt lucky to have met such a great group. I gave myself a couple of days after the week of volunteering to explore Ischia and unwind. I hiked to the top of the volcanic island, bathed in the thermal pools and explored several picturesque beaches. I highly recommend giving yourself some extra time on either end of your trip to see Ischia. I plan to go back annually if possible. And I will definitely use GoEco to help me find opportunities on future travels wherever I go.