Midterm exams are OVER and break started out with a bang. Hard to believe all that has happened in the past week…. Starting with 3 hour written essay exams that had us staying up to all hours of the night (or all night for some of us…;), a group trek all over the other TCI islands, and then a wonderful week for me in Jamaica.
Last Sunday started our adventures away from the center, with our whole group waiting at the docks with our backpacks and miscellaneous other stuff to take the ferry to North Caicos. Yes, we were going to camp, first of all to save money (likely) but also because there aren’t any accommodations on North large enough to fit our group of 40+ people (students, interns, and staff). I think we were all in awe a bit to be separated from the Center and South, which is all we've known for the past 6 weeks…literally I have probably ridden in a car twice this whole time! It had been a busy week so we all crashed on the ferry ride and woke up to see half-started developments on North and the sights of a “typical” tropical island---palm trees and lush vegetation! Unlike rocky South, North Caicos is dominated by trees and has several communities rather than one lone town, so it seems much bigger. Unfortunately, with the trees and quantities of rain that North receives, this island is also known for its bugs…which are ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE. And not just mosquitoes. Yes, there are mosquitoes in abundance but also ants in HORDES and little gnat things that bite and leave hundreds of red bumps all over your skin. (As campers, we experienced these in full). It has now been a full week since the days of camping and I am still covered in bites.
Upon arrival, we loaded into a schoolbus and drove to the “campsite”, which was actually a local’s backyard. After setting up our tents we loaded into the bus to see several examples of ecotourism on North. The evening consisted of dinner cooked by a local woman, a walk to town for some (to buy soda and stay cool!), and sharking for others. As it got dark early, most of us were in bed by 9 or 10 to get some sleep (as much as you can when sleeping on a rock colony;).
Tuesday morning we drove to Middle Caicos over the causeway that connects the islands. We toured some caves there and then went to a Mudjin Harbor, a secluded beach that has the idyllic white sand and turquoise water but none of the crowds of touristy beaches. It was a wonderful end to the afternoon to go swimming in the gorgeous water and explore the beach. Our wet and sandy group then packed back into the bus to see a government seed farm before dinner back on North. I joined the sharking group that evening and since we were driving back to a site on Middle Caicos, we were going to miss dinner. Our professor pulled off at a hole-in-the-wall convenience store for us to buy stuff for dinner and when someone was buying a box of banana oatmeal cookies, the local at the counter sheepishly said that the cookies were free because they were outdated and he couldn't sell them. Of course that meant we all got a box, even though they were dated from May (Come on, we're college kids!;). Anyway, dinner that night consisted of crackers, fruit loops, expired cookies, and Diet Coke. Consumed on a rickety van ride across the island and sitting on the edge of some mangroves watching a gorgeous sunset in the middle of nowhere. We thought sharking might be successful because Aaron saw a turtle poke its head up soon after we set the net, and then we caught a bonefish...all good signs of shark habitat. We ended up empty handed, but did see an amazing meteorite shoot across the night sky and had a good evening of camaraderie (but horrendous bug bites). I was sent out towards the end of the night to bring the GPS out to the far end of the net, and with the murky, waist-deep water and uneven substrate---at night---it was a wobbling trek out there. The Cassiopea (jellyfish that release their sting when the water around them is agitated... in other words, when you walk by) were abundant and of course I didn't know what else I was walking over, so I was a bit hesitant. Besides the Cassiopea stings, I ended up falling on some rocks (I kept my head up though) and scraping up my leg pretty bad. It wasn't too deep but the blood rolling down my leg looked legit when I finally made it back to the shore! It's a good story to say I got it sharking (but of course it wasn't actually from a shark;).
When we made it back to camp at 11ish, we found that they had saved us dinner in tinfoil wrapped plates in the giant cooler. But ants had gotten through BOTH of those barriers and had infested most of the plates...leaving most of us with no appetite. The boys still dug into their food and said the ant flavor wasn't too bad. Ahhhkkk!!;(
Clearly, the next morning we were all THRILLED to be packing up and headed on the ferry to Provo.... CIVILIZATION!!! SHOWERS!!! REAL BEDS!!! NO BUGS!!!
To be continued in the next post...
[The six islands I made it to on this trek were South Caicos, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, Providenciales (Provo), Miami (a stretch I know;), and Jamaica... all from Sunday to Sunday!]
I'm a twenty-something from the Pacific NW making home in new places as I follow where God leads.
My intent is to show Christ's love to the world and use business to solve some of the social problems we face: hunger, illiteracy, healthcare, economic hardship. For now, I'm in a stage of learning. A little adventuring, a few books, some good friends, and a whole lot of prayer and life runs on.