Well I have landed! After making my way to Grand Cayman and hoping a 12 person plane to Little Cayman. Along the way to LC I found three other students to chat with along the way. (They all wore something Rutgers… I however did not. Go figure)
Once here, I was amazed by the sheer beauty of the island… LC itself has one road and one central location which encompasses the airport, post office, fire station and police station. By the airport( I mean a strip of paved road) with a wooden room. It has the cell phone numbers of the 2 police men posted and invitations to a island wide birthday party for some person….and nothing else. I think the general store is somewhere in that vicinity but we have yet to take an island tour. The first day was full of introductions and inquiry but we were all eager to learn. I dipped my feet in the water and instantly felt the need to go in – but we have the buddy system here.. You cannot go anywhere without a buddy off campus. What I mean by campus is running, biking, or anything on the water. The campus itself is a large beach front home like setting that you would see anywhere in the Caribbean. Its brightly colored walls have a few main places kitchen, bathroom dorms etc. The bathroom is an off the grid composting facility and there is very little water usage.(Its not as bad as you would think. Its not an outhouse, but there is no running water. ) Lights are conserved and internet is only available in the classroom. The classroom faces the ocean and is unlike any typical stuffy classroom. The sea breeze cools the room and makes the weather almost perfect.
Internet is generally good with some touchy times when everyone is on. Our meals are prepared by a cook but we were warned sometimes the supply boat will not come. From this, we have been warned we may need to survive on PB&J for a while. (that hasn’t happened yet) The food is ok, mostly a southern type that I generally do not care for but…. Everyone has to eat!
The night was hot and the bugs were EVERYWHERE! Thankfully they were not generally in our bedroom but I have never seen so many bugs at one time. Lights went out at 9ish and the entire island is pitch black. The only light that can be seen was the experimental sea column about a mile off shore and some lightning that broke over the ocean.
Days start early about 7 am and don’t end until 9 or so, so everyone was excited for the action packed day. After breakfast (cereal) 3 of us went out for a snorkel to Grape Tree Bay and were amazed that merely 50 ft offshore from our bedroom was an extensive coral reef. The reefs are shallow but beautiful. ( about 8-10 feet at max) I have taken some pictures and hope that everyone can see them! I also took a video… its hard to stay stable in the moving ocean! Hopefully I will get better with time.
At 9 the class went out for snorkel exploration. 30 minutes to explore some of the area and record what we saw on our dive slates…. writing underwater….. is like learning how to write all over again. We did another 30 minute dive using a quadrant and meter stick to record one small area and took a coral tour. All of this was less than 100 meters from our home.
Lunch (I made PB&J) and then an extensive lecture where we learned over 25 identifying ways to categorize coral and fish. The lecture was so informative that all students were actively trying to categorize their data with the information. Afterwards there was a knowledge quiz that was based on fish markings, fins and fish families. We all were amazed at how much we had already learned in less than a day at sea.
The rain has rolled in and has come down on and off the whole day. Rite now I’m waiting for our evening lecture and student presentations to begin. Our pre-course work was to complete a 10 minute presentation based on a topic from our textbook and article readings. I chose Marine Protectorate Areas and thoroughly learned a great deal in my Environmental Policy courses back home. An article even referenced Dr. Bonnie McCay (my professor)!
Tomorrow is a full day where we will snorkel again at the other side of the island at Preston Bay. We will do a cross section diagram and lobster, conch, diadema and lionfish distribution study. After that we will have an island tour….and hopefully I will be able to tell you a little more about LC.
There is just so much to tell…
I hope all is well… because I don’t think I ever want to go home!