Day 1


          I wake up at 7 with the familiar thin layer of grime encasing my skin, a product of the incredibly humid climate. I drag my rank body to the shower and let cold water power wash every inch of me. I grab the disposable razor graciously granted to me by Doc Gruninger, smirk, then shave my spotty, adolescent beard. After breakfast at the teachers’ cabin, Glen drives us down to the marina. It was a slow, technical day on the water as the dive instructors wanted to be sure we knew how to dive safely. Before we pushed off, Gaz, the captain of the Sea Dragon, briefed us on the correct way to set up our scuba gear and the procedure of a buddy check. He’s a legitimate Brit, calling us “chaps” and significantly changing the pitch of the last syllable of his sentences. I could listen to him talk all day. Our destination was George Dog Island of the Dog Islands. These islands inherited their name because when Columbus sailed through the Caribbean claiming territory for his motherland, he heard the vicious barks of the Caribbean Monk Seals coming from the islands. He wrongly identified these barks as rabid dogs, and, wanting to spare his crew from such wild beasts, slapped the label “Dog Islands” on the landforms and went on his way. Becca gave us a quick rundown on what to expect at this location and the safety drills we would be performing on the dive. The dive location was barren, a wasteland of sand as far as I could see on all sides — perfect for dive practice. Underwater, everyone formed a semicircle around the instructors and individually performed a specific skill such as taking the regulator out of one’s mouth and returning it while purging, and clearing one’s mask of invasive seawater. After this, we practiced maneuvering around the water, getting back into the swing of things after not diving for a year. The dive lasted about 45 minutes. We had a required surface interval of 35 minutes to let our bodies recover from its sustainment of the water pressure. Our next dive was at the Coral Gardens along the coast of West Dog Island. A sunken plane was the highlight of this dive. We swam through the entire body of the plane, observing the abundance of staghorn, elkhorn, brain, and fire coral which take shelter along every surface of the sunken aircraft. This dive was packed with marine life, from critters such as Peterson and Pistol Shrimp, to larger creatures such as lizard fish, parrotfish, and even a school of barracuda. The boat rides back to the marina are sublime — sitting on the upper deck of the ship with the wind blasting my face and violently whipping past my ears as I gaze in awe at the vast layout of mountainous vegetation before me. After a much needed cheeseburger, I took on the Baths. The Baths is a hiking trail among enormous boulders formed by molten rock from the Earth’s interior, leading to Devil’s Bay. They are called the Baths because there are multiple huts along the path, used during the slave trade, where slave traders would gather and hose down large amounts of slaves after being shipped in unsanitary boats across the Atlantic. The Baths is recognized for its world-renowned rock climbing as well as hosting the 2013 Sports Illustrated Tyra Banks swimsuit photoshoot. Next, we snorkled from Devil’s Bay back to the beach of our homes at Guavaberry, where we had delectable lasagna for dinner. Two peers and I were the late-night entertainment due to miscellaneous irresponsibilities we committed. We were forced to dance to “Single Ladies” by Beyonce. Needless to say, I nailed it — entertainment gold. I had been waiting for someone to force me to dance to that song for a long time now.