A few of us woke up early this morning to go play water polo with some of the high schoolers that are here at the Island School, along with some of the workers here. We swam from the Island School around a stretch of land to the next cut, where we set up some sticks in the rocks as our goals and the water dropped quickly enough from the shore that it was almost like playing in a pool! We had a good workout, from the swim itself and then playing for the next 45 minutes or so. Great way to start the day!
Then our entire group got in the van for another day of presentations. 6 people were dropped off at the Green Castle Primary School with Jay, and the other 6, myself included, drove with Janet to Tarpum Bay to speak at their Primary School. Brody, Rosemarie, and I spoke to the 4th and 5th graders, and Carly, Travis, and Nick spoke to the 6th graders. As soon as we got there, the kids were outside running around during their break and I immediately got multiple hugs by a group of girls and lots of questions. Then I was drawn into a tag game by about three different people, and I looked around, and everyone else I came with was involved in their own tag games too! We worked up a sweat before we even went into the building! The kids were so sweet, “Yes Ma’am” isn’t something that I was used to hearing before I got to the Bahamas.
We had the usual talk, and then we had some extra time at the end, so we made our class get up and do a relay outside, and when each person came back, they had to answer a question about diabetes before the next person could go. One girl in my line was so fast that I didn’t realize she was in my group because I thought she hadn’t even left yet! Then Rosemarie asked some of the girls to show us their Junkanoo dance moves, since the Junior Junkanoo is coming up at the end of January, and they started dancing for us. Eventually, we all moved back inside and the teacher put on Junkanoo music for us and the younger girls did their routine for us. Then the teacher called in the group she was in charge of, the 6th graders, and they did their routine too. I was having a great time but unfortunately, we had to leave and pick up the Green Castle presenters and be back to the Island School for lunch. It was so interesting to see how involved everyone was with the Junkanoo; the principal of the school was outside all day working on the head pieces for the Junkanoo costumes. Teachers were also outside decorating the costumes, and the teacher of the class that we spoke for was so focused on her group that when someone asked her a question, she said, “Shh, watch the girls dance!”
After lunch, we gathered up our snorkel gear and took a bike ride to a spot called Fourth Hole. It is a beach, and apparently, the area that we rode through used to be a resort but it hasn’t been for a while now. It is called Fourth Hole because there was a golf course, and that is where the fourth hole used to be. The area of ocean was a coral reef, and it was very shallow so I was worried that I would touch something– the lady who led us there told us that it takes ten years for coral to regenerate if it is broken! The spot is blocked off from most of the ocean, and there were lots and lots of baby fish, because that is where they stay when they aren’t quite strong enough to be out in the open ocean yet. Very cute, and we even saw a small nurse shark! He was curled up under a rock; he looked very cozy there. A few people saw a small octopus too! I wish I could have seen that, but I was on the other side of the reef when someone called it out. Then we relaxed on the beach for a bit--some people threw a football around before we had to go back for a meeting about our homestays tomorrow. All of us will be going in pairs. Allison and I will be staying with a family together. We found out the names of our hosts yesterday, but today, we were informed that all of the stays would happen as planned except one person, which happened to be the people Allison and I would be staying with. This is where that lesson on flexibility comes in because as of right now, we don’t know who we will be with! It will be a surprise for us tomorrow, and I am excited about the home stay no matter who I end up with.
We ended the night with a lecture from a professor on campus named Edward Brooks who is doing research with sharks. He talked about the misconceptions about sharks, as well as the research he has done with sharks in the Bahamas. He stressed the fact that there is so much about sharks that is unknown, and that 60% of the species are below the 200m water level. One thing that I had never heard of was the use of dried shark fins as food. In Honk Kong, many people cook dried shark fin into soup for special occasions. The fin, however, isn’t used as the meat, it is used as a noodle replacement because the cartilage texture of the sharks causes it to fall into little strips. Fun fact!