Monday, July 15. 12:30 AM. I’ve finally put myself to bed, after an intense yet fulfilling week in Dallas, a week marked by long hours lifeguarding and several occasions of socializing, as is usual for this awesome summer. Two and a half hours later, my alarm sounds. I take my packed bags, my father, and and northwest highway, arriving at DFW at 4 AM, where I meet the rest of our ragtag team of marine biologists who don’t take no for an answer. That’s right, the journey has begun. MARINE BIOLOGY 2 SUMMER 2013. It’s finally here, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Our day of travel consisted of a flight from DFW Miami International, where, after 2 and a half hours delay at the gate, we left for Puerto Rico, from where we took a 45 minute island hopper to the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. There to meet our tired faces was Casey and Jeff McNutt, our excellent hosts, divemasters, and friends whom we have not seen since last year. From the dock it was a short ride to the island of Virgin Gorda, where we rendezvoused with our taxi driver, Glenn. After loading all our luggage into another truck, Dr. Todd Gruninger, AKA “Doc”, and I followed the taxi with my classmates to the Guavaberry resort. Guavaberry is made up of a series of cabins; the one I’m staying in has a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms. My roommate opted to move to the living room in order to use the fan, so I have the luxury of my own, semi-private master bedroom, queen sized bed included. At 11:39 island time, I sweated myself to sleep, happier than a lion fish in the Caribbean. (If you don’t get that joke, click here.)
7:30 AM. Doc wakes our cabin. I’m already awake and and ready, packed and excited. At 8 we all board Glenn’s taxi, where he takes us to another resort, the same from last year, where we eat a hot breakfast and prepare for our day. After breakfast, we are familiarized with the rules of the road and the motion of the ocean, so to speak, as well as with the staff members who will be joining us this year. During our three hours of refresher material, some swimming and frisbee was to be had; this led slight confrontation with the gentleman attending the bar at the resort. After appearing to be struggling to open an umbrella (I wasn’t), the man came over and did it himself, affronting my masculinity and asking if I’ve ever “held a woman.” After assuring him that I had and sharing a laugh in our mutual manliness, I returned to my group, the group that was ready to head to the marina for our first dive. And so we did.
Having just returned from a week of diving in Florida with the Boy Scouts, assembling my gear was no hassle whatsoever, and soon enough the rest of the group was ready too, and the Sea Monkey (our vessel for the day) was underway. Captained by Jeff (the other one, not Mr. McNutt), and joined by Casey and Laura, our group arrived at the oceanfront adjacent to the Guavaberry resort, where we had our refresher dive. Andrew Arbour, who is my dive buddy for the week, and I were first in the water, and once the rest of our group entered, we popped in our regulators and went down. Our group was split in to two, and Andrew and I will be diving with Laura for the week. As we followed Laura, the visibility proved to be excellent, the temperatures proved to be warm, and our group proved to be capable of SCUBA diving. Upon surfacing, I felt nothing but even more excitement for the diving on the rest of the trip.
After practicing free diving off the monkey (28 feet is current record to beat for the trip, 50 feet for all time), the boat headed back into the harbor. Once the gear had been put away, the group headed back to Guavaberry to prepare for dinner.
A short seven-to-ten minute walk down the main island road leads to Mad Dog’s, which overlooks the famous Baths of Virgin Gorda . After pizza and frisbee, Jeff and Casey led marine biology 2 through the setup of a big surprise: new underwater cameras. I can’t wait to take some rad photos of the even more rad flora and fauna of the underwater world of the Caribbean.
The evening has ended with a brisk walk back to Guavaberry, where I now sit on the balcony of our cabin, writing this very journal entry. After 48 hours of travel and re-acclimation to the Island/ Marine Biology groove, I can only say again what I’ve been saying this whole time: I’M SO EXCITED.