From over 34,000 applicants the Stockholmer has made the 50-person shortlist for the so-called ”best job in the world” – six months as caretaker and chief blogger on Hamilton Island, off the coast of Queensland, Australia in the midst of the Great Barrier Reef.
Melá is 26 years old and of Swedish-Greek origin. He's a cool clubland DJ, looks pretty hot on the beach and, what's more, he's a clever chap too, currently studying for a PhD in Neurogenetics at Karolinska Institutet. That's not to be sniffed at and neither is the 150,000 kronor a month salary that comes with the job. But does he have what it takes to land the desert island dream? The Local's Christine Demsteader finds out.
Congratulations Felippe – how does the prospect of half a year in paradise grab you?
It's been an amazing experience so far and I'm really excited to see what's going to happen now. I was born in Stockholm but moved to Greece when I was 3 years old and spent 20 years growing up in a country with sun and beaches. So I don't have anything against almost being on holiday and getting paid for it. And I've never been to Australia before so this would be a great opportunity.
Now, you moved back to Sweden in 2005 – why did you apply for the island job? Are you really desperate to get away from here?
Well, I started my own website a couple of months ago and got into blogging, which I really enjoy. But I suppose it was just a spontaneous act of amusement. Of course I like adventure and trying out new things but there are thousands of other people in the world who do too. But I think they're looking for someone who could do this in an entertaining way so visitors to the blog won't get bored. Some of the other applicants are really serious about it – that's not a bad attribute - but it's not really my style. I see this in a bit of a different perspective. Did I think I would get down to the last 50? No! But I thought why not send in an application and see what happens.
Tell us about your application video.
I was inspired by the Obama presidential campaign which was really big at the time, in early February, and then I just made a bit of fun of myself and hoped the jury would have the same sense of humour as me. [See Felippe's application video here].
What would you miss about Sweden?
The weather. Definitely!
Who would you choose to be your Man Friday?
My colleague who edits the videos on my blog.
What happens now?
Now it's just a waiting game. Eleven finalists will be announced on April 2nd – ten chosen by a jury and one wildcard chosen by a public vote on the website. I'm not really relying on the vote as there's a girl from Taiwan who already has around 60,000 votes and I'm a bit curious about how she managed that.
As caretaker of Hamilton Island, you're job would be to promote the islands and the natural wonder that is the Great Barrier Reef. What do you know about it?
I don't know so much actually.
So you don't know how many miles long it is? How many individual reefs there are? The number of coral and fish species perhaps?*
No. But I do know it's the biggest coral reef in the world and that it can be seen from out of space. And that's cool.
*The Great Barrier Reef is 1,600 miles long. There are 2,900 individual reefs, 400 species of coral and over 2,000 species of fish.