So week 2 of study abroad has gone by and classes are officially in full swing. Our schedule usually starts at 7 AM with breakfast. At 7:40 we have our morning meeting and then class starts at 8:00. Between 8:00 and 10:00 we will have 2 classes and then morning snack. After that, we will have class from 10:20-12:20. At 12:30 we have lunch and from 13:00-14:00 we have break (everything is in military time). Depending on the day from 14:00-18:00 we will have class or do a field exercise (usually go snorkeling).
This week we had a ton of full days of class. Wednesdays are our dive/snorkel days and do an hour of community outreach at the local primary school. I was with a 3rd-grade class and did arts and crafts project with them.
In our policy class this week we learned about the history of the TCIs and it was very interesting. The island’s main trade was salt until 1964. Then the main trade became fishing (conch and lobster mainly). Now tourism is the island’s main income which unfortunately is not a very sustainable income. This is because the resorts do not hire locals, they bring in people from other countries and the money being made is not going back into the local economy. There is also a lot more history that I can go on about, but that would be my entire blog.
Friday our Field exercise (FEX) was going to the mangroves and practicing our ID-ing. We learned 30 organisms, their characteristics, and scientific name. Near the mangroves, there are these jellyfish called Cassiopeia (Upside Down Jellyfish). The thing is you don’t have to touch these to be stung, they release their sting into the water (which doesn’t hurt, it’s just really uncomfortable) and it was really funny to see everyone’s reaction.
After the exercise, I went down to the dock and met some local fishermen, they are all super friendly. Here on the TCIs, the local fisherman mainly free dive for lobster and conch. They are also opportunistic, so if they see a fish they want while underwater they will spear it. The other method is just line and hook. That day they did both methods. We asked how far they had free dove that day, one said 90ft (That is on one breath. I don’t even go that far SCUBA diving and I’m breathing). It was pretty awesome to meet them.
Saturday I went diving at the plane. This is a sunken airplane wing. While there I saw some barracuda and jacks. There is also a wall the just drops of into an abyss. We swam over to it and I thought I heard something but was not sure what it was, maybe my gear. The second time I didn’t hear something but my dive master Sarah gave the hand signal for a whale. What I had heard was not my gear, but whales. This was definitely the highlight of my dive. After the dive, we had community outreach again and I taught swim lessons.
Now, it is Sunday and we are all just chilling at the center. Some are studying for our ID test, some are out and about, and some are just relaxing. I can honestly say that so far I love it here and all the people in my program. Excited to share more, but until then here are some photos from the past week.
Until next time,