Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 1: July 18, 2011

    My eyes gaze down on the world and new world below me. The water is never this clear on the coasts, but in the Bahamas everything is different. But let's take a step back and start at the beginning.

    I woke up at 2:00a.m. this morning to catch my 6:00a.m. flight from Moline, Illinois to Atlanta, Georgia. I never seem to get stopped at security, but today was different. Packing 2 weeks worth of clothes in a small carryon suitcase was a bad idea. Not only did I get chosen for the random check, but I also had my suitcase checked out. Unpacking the tightly packed suitcase was kind of a disaster for the security guard. With a happy smile, however, he let me pass through smoothly. The first flight was dedicated to sleeping. Having gotten only two hours the night before, sleep was imperative. Upon arriving in Atlanta, I thought for sure I was going to miss my flight to Nassau. As I rushed to the international terminal, I was relieved to find that not only my plane was still there, but another Earthwatch volunteer was there also. After meeting Betsy and getting to know her some, we boarded the plane to meet up again when we reached the Bahamas. This flight was also spent sleeping.

    Arriving in the Bahamas was a little scary. I walked off the plane to find the bright sun shining in my face. I walked back into the building utterly confused about where I was supposed to catch my connection to the final island. As I followed the crowd, I ended up in a sketchy situation. The airport had some remodeling going on and many of the walkways looked highly dangerous. Immigration was also confusing, but the green Earthwatch shirts led my way. The immigration officer was pretty scary as well. He didn't smile and I was concerned I wouldn't be admitted into the country. With a few short questions I was in.

    Outside immigration, I met up with more Earthwatch people. We introduced ourselves, grabbed a bite to eat at Wendy's, and headed to our next flight where the troubles began. We were in line for about thirty minutes to get our boarding passes and had moved nowhere. Our departure time was quickly approaching and people kept going in front of us in the line. I got my pass and went through security with part of the group. As we listened to the last call for boarding we ran down the terminal. When one of us realized half the group was still in line, someone ran back to ask if we could board without them. The lady at the gate would not let us wait. One of the group members talked to the flight attendant to tell her more were coming. She was quite helpful, and we were relieved to hear her say we could wait a few minutes. I sat next to a native of Eleuthera and listened as he told me about his chickens. When the rest boarded, the plane started moving, but lightening lit up the sky. We were then told the plane wouldn't take off for a while. From there I drifted off to sleep until the roaring engine awoke me to take off.

    The plane rose into the clouds. This plane, unlike the rest, was quite small with propellers and all. The jolting of the storm took us in its hands as the clear water appeared below. The view was breathtaking. Here came my first realization; I am in the Bahamas, a place many only dream of coming to. When the plane landed we were at an extremely small and run down airport. Literally, there was only one room crowded with people without air conditioning. Just imagine.

    Annabelle and Danni, the researchers we will be spending our time with, met us. Then we loaded up the vans and were off. Driving through the townships, I once again came to sense with how lucky I am to live in a nice house with a basic kitchen. I don't have to worry about safety or education, things many of us take for granted.

    When we arrived at the institute, we rushed to dinner, as we were late. The food was interesting, and unfortunately I ruined my salad with a super spicy dressing, so I didn't end up eating very much. After dinner we were briefed on a few things. The institute runs solely on wind and solar energy. The water used is collected rainwater. As you may have imagined, rooms were filled with bunks without air conditioning. Roaches and lizards run wild. But isn't that all part of the fun. The view is amazing. I feel like a real researcher. I walk outside and see a beach leading to the endless ocean and where I will be spending my time in the coming weeks. I haven't fully understood where I am or how much of a dream this really is. Regardless, this is where I want to spend my life. This is why I work so hard in school. To spend days without air conditioning in blistering weather and stare out at an ocean full of so many mysteries.


Highlight: seeing the crystal, clear water from above

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