Monday, January 8, 2018
My truly EPIC experience! by: Joseph O'Such
Hello all, I have not blogged in a while so I thought I would blog about something that is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Just over a month ago, I was blessed with having the option to go on an eight day research trip to San Salvador Bahamas. The trip was designed to get our feet wet in the world of biology, and did so with extreme effectiveness, and was the coolest hands on thing I will probably ever do. Below, I detail my trip day by day(Glossary down below for weird words).
The first day was one traveling, as I was on the go from 6:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. After a 5:30 wakeup, I departed my home at 6:00 and traveled to the meeting point, a local high school. We arrived at 1:30ish, but we were whisked away to catch our 2:30 flight to San Salvador. It was during this time I discovered Goombay Punch, but I will talk about that later. After dinner, we relaxed until 7:30 orientation, which essentially introduced us to the place we were staying at, the Gerace Research Centre. By 8:30, the proceedings were over and as a treat, we explored the unique creatures of the intertidal zone. We struggled back to our rooms at 11:00 and hit the bed hard.
From here to day seven, everyday more or less is as follows. I would wake up at 5:50 and run/watch the sunrise. Then there was 7:30 breakfast, followed by snorkeling in coral until 12:00 lunch. Then we had time to do some of our organism sheets (see glossary) before heading to 7:30 class. After class, we hit up the snack bar before heading to sleep. I will only talk about deviations from this schedule to repeat a lot of the same things.
Day two was the one day I didn’t wake up and venture out as we were told not to do so. However, we were going to go to the local church for a quick service but sadly, one of the islands inhabitants passed and a funeral was in progress. We instead circled the island, and what is amazing is how most of the island is desolate, but there are tiny towns that dot the shore.
This day was a very standard day, adhering to the description above, but this was the first day we started to delve deep into specifics in our nightly class. Snorkeling was very cool, as we snorkeled in a sea grass area with a lot of sea turtles, which are quite fast, despite their reputation.
Today was another day of standard pattern, but many people saw Stingrays, which are very majestic in the water. I also started playing a lot of cards, which is really fun when you have a lot of people.
Today a stray dog wandered into Gerace and befriended us. We also visited the islands light house and caves in the afternoon. The caves were filled with water, and I experienced true darkness for the first time. The caves actually used to be a hurricane shelter of sorts, before Gerace opened.
On this day, we experienced homemade Bahamian food. My meal consisted of Conch, fish, rice and beans, and mac and cheese. Bahamian mac and cheese is made like lasagna, and it is AMAZING. We also had fresh fruit punch, which is beyond description. Today though, I made a fatal mistake of drinking Goombay before bed time, which, considering it is more sugary than Mountain Dew, is a fatal mistake.
Today, instead of going snorkeling a second time, we just hung out on the beach to celebrate our last true day on the island. In class, we had to take a test on all the things we had learned, which was difficult but doable.
This was our departure day. We didn’t leave too early but it was still difficult getting up. We essentially went through the same thing as the first day, but in reverse order. I didn’t get home until 10:00, but I knew I had learned so much from this trip, and then I had to mentally prepare for the week of makeups ahead of me.
Although this was a rather crazy trip, it did cement my understanding in biology and definitely sparked interest in the field. Although this an extreme example of hands on, it still does illustrate the point that real life, hands on experiences rekindle interest and create excitement to learn.
Glossary (For random words so you don’t have to look them up…)
Nassau – main island in the Bahamas, the one with Atlantis on it
San Salvador – That one island Columbus landed on, and 4 x 12 miles
Gerace Research Centre – Not really a definition but a link, they have a super interesting history: http://www.geraceresearchcentre.com/
Intertidal zone – area between high and low water mark with creatures such as snails and urchins
Organism sheets – our homework which essentially were pages where facts about different creatures were placed