Today was amazing. I don't really have the words to describe exactly what I saw, but it was definitely one of the prettiest views I have seen in my life. I will step back a second and start from the beginning. This morning I woke up early to go on a early morning bike ride. We decided to follow the Island School kids on their six mile run. The path was paved most of the way. After riding through a forested area for a while, we came upon a swing and a beach. We realized this was the same place we got stuck at on the first snorkel. We then followed the path through the marina. Being out that early in the morning and looking and riding along is incredibly peaceful. I often times feel like I'm on a different planet.
At breakfast we had oatmeal and banana bread. It was actually really good. We also started playing this game called Assassin. What happens is each person is given another person in our group to "kill". The rules of the game require us to make up random day rules. For instance we have a rule of filling up water bottles while holding it with the left hand. If the person you have doesn't follow the rules, you can kill them and get their person to kill. The point of the game is to be the last one standing. My first person to get out is Abby, and after today I didn't kill her.
Today was the break day of the trip. Since we are officially half way done, we get one day off in the middle. In order to get our reward day, we had to clean the dorms first. Since the bathroom looked disgusting with hair and sand all over the floor, Camille and I volunteered to clean the Octagon. When we walked there, there was a class inside so we walked back. Annabelle told us to clean around them. The next task was finding the broom. Annabelle suggested we go through the dorms by the classroom to look for a broom. I felt like I was invading people's privacy by going through their dorms. I even talked to someone in a random stall to try to find one. We eventually came across one by the boys' dorm. After the Octagon was cleaned, we headed back to change and get ready for the beach.
Camille, Abby, Janneke, and I shared a car to get there. We stopped at the store along the way to get a cold drink, which is quite the luxury out here. We then got back in the "Serf" and continued onwards. While driving through the towns I noticed there were a lot of hitchhikers along the way. I inquired about them and the crime rates in the area. Hitchhiking is very common in the Bahamas since many people don't own vehicles. The hitchhikers are surprisingly friendly and the practice is considered safe. The institute has a good reputation in the community, so theft from the institute is low, but in the overall area theft rates are high.
After a long time we turned onto an unpaved path that headed to the beach. We were crashing into one another constantly, and the overhang continuously encroached into our vehicle. We were in a forest and I felt as if I was in the jungle. Even though the path was only a few miles long, the ride took quite a while. Eventually, however, I spotted the ocean. It was breathtaking. Never in my life have I seen such a clear and blue ocean. Once we got out of the car and started walking, the sand seeped through my toes. It felt as if I was walking on baby powder. The beach was quite remote and only another family was on it. I immediately pulled off my clothes and ran into the ocean. As waves crashed over me, the warm water covered my skin. It felt wondrous. Since only one of the cars (the one I was in) could go on the path, we were left on the beach alone while the driver went back to pick up the others. The group of us took pictures in the ocean and headed over to a cove area where we climbed rocks and took pictures there. We were later informed that going to the coves was not allowed; ooops. Once everyone arrived we had a lunch of freshly cut watermelon and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After lunch a group of us went for a snorkel. The current was tough, the waves were high, and the fish were lacking, so I decided to head back early; it wasn't worth the work it was taking. I layed out on the beach for a while and enjoyed the sun for the first time this trip. I cannot even express to you how relaxing it really was. After another swim and some rock climbing to look out over the beautiful water, we started to gather our stuff and head back. The driver brought with him a fresh mango and banana, and I had a bite of each. They were so sweet and perfect. While waiting for the driver to shuttle everyone back, the group of us looked for a coconut to crack open. Our attempts failed, but we brought the coconut back to camp with us to try later. (The inside ended up being too dry.)
On the ride back the sun had worn me out so much I fell asleep in the car multiple times. My group almost missed dinner and didn't get a chance to shower, but the extra time on the beach was worth it. For dinner tonight, rice and bean patties and potato salad were served. I wasn't a huge fan. I came back and was going to enter some reef survey data, but Annabelle thought that Harborne (the creator of the experiment) was going to change something. We also had the opportunity to skype with Harborne from Australia tonight. I think it is so awesome that I am actually doing something beneficial and helpful to his work. I asked many questions to him about interpreting data. Turns out, this is a three year project and we are just the beginning. We played games with the Island School students tonight. I never fully understood the rules, but Janneke and I hid in the bushes for many minutes on end; no one ever found us. We also attempted a dance with the students, but it turned out to be a disaster. No one really danced and the situation was a little strange. Maybe that is what happens when you spend too many weeks on an island.
That leads me to typing this blog now. And as I shut this computer and try not to cringe because of my slight sunburn, I hope I fall asleep to dreams of the fantasy of a place I was at today.
Highlight: being at the beautiful beach all day