Yesterday was a long day of travel. We had to be at the airport by 5:45 in the morning, where we sluggishly met up with Mr. Waits outside security. After parents snapped countless photos of us, barely functioning, we went through security which was actually pretty painless; except for the fact that I put my carry-on in the X-ray machine the wrong way which appeared to really get the goat of the TSA officer. I guess that’s understandable (probably the end of his shift). From there, we flew to Miami, caught a connecting flight to San Juan, finally arriving in Tortolla at around 9:00. We then took a short boat ride to the Virgin Gorda, during which Dylan and I discussed which of the surrounding islands we would swim to in the unlikely event that one of us were to fall off the back. By the time we got to our cabins, my cabin mates and I were fairly tired so it wasn’t too hard to fall asleep.
This morning I awoke to the startling cock-a-doodle-doo of a rooster, conveniently perched right outside our window. He seemed to be communicating in some way with his other rooster friends who would echo back an equally annoying cackle. After showering, we made our way down to the cattle guard. From there we took a taxi to breakfast at Old Yard Village. There we met our instructors, Casey, Laura, Caitlin, and Jeff, who went over the ground rules with us and gave us some really interesting lectures about the geography of the islands, as well as the various marine species that we would be privileged to experience later on in the day. After a lunch of sandwiches, French fries, and guava berry juice which had a surprisingly good aftertaste, we took another taxi to the dock where we split up into our boat teams (I’m on the Sea Monkey) and loaded our gear on the boat. When we got to our dive site which was just around the corner, we suited up, and were briefed. After that we jumped in the water and the fun began. It was awesome! The contrast between diving in the ocean and diving in a lake is immense. I had always heard from my peers and instructors that it was going to be a lot different, but could’ve never imagined the degree of the contrast. We dived for 45 minutes and saw a large array of marine life from fire corals to trumpetfish to sea fans. We came up, wide-eyed with bursting bladders. When I back got on the boat I used the restroom which was horrifyingly difficult especially on the choppy waves. When we got back to shore, Caitlin dissected a lionfish for us. She showed us a half-digested fish that she forced up into its throat which was simultaneously off-putting and intriguing. Later on at night, we went to Mad Dogs and had a pizza dinner.
I was surprised by how easy-going and pleasant everyone on the island is, and I can’t wait for tomorrow.