I arrived on South Caicos not knowing what to expect. Walking up to the center I was greeted by smiling faces and warm welcomes, and was told that this was the start of the best summer of my life. At the time I didn't know how right they would be. The school work was challenging; from papers on the total economic value of sea grass and naming all of the life found under the sea. To a final that took 3 hours to complete and a final paper/presentation on conch density. I measured coral bleaching levels and was towed behind a boat counting conch. I caught a baby lemon shark and went hunting for turtles on a pitch black reef. I swam with eagle rays, nurse sharks, barracuda, squid, and too many different fish species to count.
Outside of the water I met 24 new and amazing people from all over the US. I'm not going to lie, it was a rough day having to sit next to the Blackhawk fans when the B's lost the cup...but other than that we all had a blast. From awkward ice breakers to taking even more awkward photos of people taking naps in the many hammocks, we became a close group. We explored the island from end to end, visiting the new Sail Rock developments, exploring the abandoned ship on East Bay, and climbing cliffs at the old coast guard station. We become friendly with a handful of the local members of the community, from our neighbor Saul who let us walk and play with his new puppies, to the kids we hung out with during outreach, to Darrel who owned the local bar and grill. We certainly left our mark on the island.
It's still hard for me to believe that I'm back home, far away from my ocean front view back on South Caicos. I'm back to my reality where I operate roller coasters and cook waffles. Like I said earlier, my original plan was to show you all an epic slide show of my entire trip, but I doubt any of you have an extra 35 minutes in your day to sit down and watch that. I'll eventually post it, maybe when it loses a scenery photo or two, but I wanted to give you all a proper send off.
To sum it up, this trip truly was life changing. For the first time in a long time I think I have some sort of an idea what I want to do with my life. I also now have 24 great friend all over the country who I fully intend on keeping in touch with. That place and those people changed my life.
"Beautiful by Nature"