Saturday, October 2, 2010

Exam in the Water? I Think So!

Long day!

Well, again, we have a test on Saturday. It's really starting to piss me off that we have cancelled two dives to take exams on Saturdays now, but its ok, at least I have one extra day to study. We got to sleep in this morning an extra hour, but we headed right into Saturday site cleaning. Our room got assigned to beach cleanup today which was far less back-breaking and time consuming as our previous Saturday activities. We only cleaned for a half hour since the small beach was fairly clean already and we got to enjoy another half hour of free time, instead of being the last ones back. I prepped a study guide to quiz myself on corals and spent the next few hours hitting the books hard in prep for the exam, while the first group was out taking theirs. After lunch I joined Mike our site manager, Allie and Ben for a cleanup at Long Cay, somewhat easier than teaching Excel, like last week. Long Cay (pronounced here like Long Key) is a 4 mile or so island across the channel from South Caicos. It is mainly rocky with few beaches but enough shoreline to clean up trash. Along the backside of Long Cay are most of our dive sites. We anchored at a small beach to start cleaning but ended up just manually towing the boat in the shallows as we walked the shoreline for an hour and half, picking up random trash. Most of the garbage on this side is trash from South Caicos itself, as the currents drag it onto the shoreline, as opposed to Shark Bay. On the eastern side of the island, the currents bring in global trash. We mainly found beer cans and bottles, gasoline containers, netting and foam, and plastic utensils. Long Cay is relatively untouched by humans, as it is uninhabited, which is a good thing. The island is home to lots of iguanas, native animals not found on the main island due to the infestation of feral cats and dogs (MOM WE NEED TO TAKE HOME THE CUTE BLACK KITTEN!! ITS ALREADY PREPPED FOR OUTDOORS!!!!!!) We were also on the hunt to remove Australian Pine trees, an invasive species that outcompetes native trees and shrubs. We mainly talked amongst ourselves about the beauty of this island, the theories of Aqua-apes (the theory that humans were once close to evolving into water animals...way cool and makes sense...ask me about it later), Mike's real world college experiences at 40 years old, and his mink tattoo. It was a fairly easy task and when we were done, we scaled the 20 foot dunes to look over the other side at a fantastic view of the cobalt blue drop off on the other side.

We got back to the Center and prepped for our coral exam. The exam was out at HDL, and it went very smoothly, another test I will have aced, meaning 30% of my Marine Ecology grade is a very high A, a comforting thought. After our snorkel exam (and YES I do have exams IN THE WATER) we went straight to dinner and then prepared to hit the town in the evening, finally free of exams and scientific names. A few of us went to the hotel for free appetizers but didn't stay long, seeing as the bugs were once again, voracious. Of course, Money and Goochie Man were there to keep us entertained and were in true form dancing and making fools of themselves. When the rest of the group got there, we all trekked back to the night club for a long night of dancing to caribbean music. And Michael Jackson. "Juice", a wealthy local business man met up with us there and taught some of us how to salsa dance. The staff turned up around 11:30 and were dancing with us until it was time to go back. We had a small sing along with Chase and the guitar, some conversations replaying the evening, a raucous card game and watched some drunk ping pong. Good times. An hour later we headed to the boys' room to watch Wedding Crashers, but I passed out sitting up on a bed a 1/4 of the way through. I woke up to Pags' elbow in my face and decided it was time to head to sleep in my own room.

Savanna, Mikenna, Sway, Myself, Dan, and Chase

Savannah, my country tomboy friend :)

Mark and "Money", our local character

Go Broncos! :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tore Up From The Floor Up. :(

I'm Going to Join a Leper Colony.
Just float me away on a raft of reeds.

After a whole day of constant suffering and itching and pain and fear of scarring and epic gross-out at my own feet and wanting to just cut them off, I have survived, but with the will to be a leper. Im also sick, hating my most recent group project, way out of food, and extremely itchy still, but I'll live.

First things first though:
Woke up this morning itching. I was itching in my sleep and woke up to it at 6 am. Went back to sleep until 745 and jumped out of bed to our morning meeting. Apparently I haven't noticed that they don't make breakfast for us on Monday mornings. I was counting on snagging muffins or something, but that didn't work out, and we're completely out of almost all food, since we're at the end of our shipement. And when I mean out, I mean, we've been eating hotdog buns as toast, bagels, garlic bread, and hamburger buns for days now. ALL WE WANT ARE SOME FREAKIN BAGELS! But enough of that. For now. I itched all through the first 3 classes and kept leaving the room every 30 minutes to make more tea and milk & honey concoctions to soothe my sore throat. I napped after lunch and got up around 3:30 for my coral ID session. We have less coral to learn than fish, but its more confusing because more of them are very similar. Like, you have to look at the shape of their pores or how deep the grooves are to tell some of them apart. Coral are easier, in a way, because they're stationary and you can swim up to them for an indefinite amount of time. However, they're much harder to identify just by pointing at them. And their names are even more convoluted than fish. Oy. The ID session was neat though, back at HDL, and there were so many cool coral to see. I was itchy, as my booties covered every single damned bite I have, but the salt was nice - it dried the bites out so it was bearable being on land again.

Just before dinner, an announcement came in that another tiger shark had been caught, this one bigger than the last. However, by the time we got there, it was almost completely cut into indeterminable pieces. A few of us stuck around a little more, and then headed in for dinner. More uprisings about the lack of bagels, and we finally made it through to dinner, with more hotdog bun garlic breads, but some good tomato soup that felt amazing to my throat. I was on kitchen crew again, but we were cranking through the dishes like nobody's business. We were in and out of the kitchen in 20 minutes, an unheard of time, and we felt good about it. 7 o clock came around and it was time for the group project from hell. Somehow, the description of the project in class vs. the description of it online were different, and once our group reconvened to write the paper and the presentation, we were not on the same page. What should've been a 1 hour divide-and-conquer task, turned into 4 hours of bickering, storming off, arguing, dilly dallying and all kinds of behaviors that were not condusive to good grades. Turns out, we were not the only ones. Every group had trials and tribulations and was finishing between 11 and 1, having started at 7 pm. Horrible edits, skit formations, fighting, blowing off steam, cursing and eye rolls ensued throughout the whole evening. About 10 cups of tea and 2 cups of hot cocoa later, death threats and hate looks finally ceased and our group packed up for the night. Never again. It was way unproductive, I felt like I had nothing to do for hours at a time, and our cohesion was just not solidifying. UGH.

Fun facts:
1. Crickets here jump towards you. WHAT??!!!
2. Apples here cost $2.00 each. WHAT??!!!
3. I have found at least 8 new ways to tie sarongs. Go figure. I'm slowly turning into an islander, I won't know how to dress for winter when I come back. Scarf? Whats a scarf? It looks like a sarong.


And my feet still itch. Cool.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It Eez Not a Toomuh!

Sunday's are usually slow around the Center, and today was no exception. I woke up around 1:30 pm, (god love sleeping in!) to a very sore me. My knees were hating me from a full, but wonderful, night of dancing, but my back felt lovely after my late night massage swap. Then I looked down at my feet. To my surprise, they looked diseased and ugly. I couldn't figure out what was going on, until they immediately started itching. Somewhere in the course of Saturday evening, sand fleas must have thought my feet were a good place to have a rave, and they went absolutely nuts. I have about 30-40 bites on each foot, and another 30 on each ankle, finishing up with 10 or so on each knee. I have no idea where or when they occurred but my feet look awful. I'm sure I will come home without any feet if they keep eating my appendages as voraciously as last night, and I'll be a good foot shorter. For those of you that feel I'm too tall, here's your chance to rejoice. :/ I moseyed out into the commons and fumbled for some oatmeal leftover from 11:00 am brunch. The Center was pretty dead as everyone had dispersed for the day. I found some of the guys and we recapped the evening a little bit and headed down to the docks to snorkel. Most of them decided to go workout however, so I went back up and found Alex listening to music in his room. We chatted for a little bit and then I went back down to snorkel. The visibility today was phenomenal, one of the best days yet. I didn't have a buddy so I had to stay close to the dock, but it was a perfect day just to float and look for shells and sea glass, as there was perfect vision straight to the bottom. An hour of searching later, and I came back to the docks with a few really cool shells, product of lots of time spent floating. The fish were very mild and friendly today too, and it was easy to swim right up to them. Several cute damselfish or slippery dicks came in front of my mask and were just staring at me. I climbed out finally, cold and with prizes, and chatted with Savannah, a fellow tomboy, on the docks for a while. I was exhausted still for some reason so I puttered around a little more and then napped until it was time for dinner. Lasagna was tonight's feast of choice, which was refreshing. We are at the end of our food stores, so dinners lately have been heavily involving rice and beans, whatever spice combinations we can concoct to last us until tomorrow or Tuesday, our scheduled shipment arrival day.

Our litter assessment group met to discuss our plan of attack for Tuesday, and we split off to tackle our respective portions. The server is having trouble producing all of our documents in a timely fashion, so it has been really difficult to make progress this evening. Sway and I took a long walk just to get out of the Center, sometimes it gets stifling there. We've made it somewhat of a routine to walk and talk about life or trade crazy stories. Tonight's topic seemed to be boy scouts as we talked about various friends made and camps attended. It began to rain so we headed inside and grabbed oatmeal before reading some more and calling it a night.