Brown. Brown dirty ground, the wet soil, the gross land of mud that is my world.
Blue. The vast sky that surrounds my world now crying the day before I leave.
Gray… gray, gray, and gray. The color that makes my world seem all that much more sad.
How will I miss you St. Joe?
I really cannot believe this is happening to me. No real school, no real home, no real family… I’m getting a stomach ache just thinking about them. I feel like I have just died and it’s too late to show them how much I really appreciate them. I’m at the airport now and my last goodbyes have already been said that morning.
After a few snacks to calm myself down we start heading toward the gate. Once on the airplane I sit and try to breathe and not think about all the people I’m leaving behind, everyone I love, and what will happen to them if something happens to me…
I start munching on some dried mango stripes my mother gave me for this kind of situation. I finish three stripes, put the bag up, and put my head down to rest. After several tries I’m dreaming of my sixteenth birthday, friends and family surrounding me, and a cookie-cake my grandmother made me. I wake up missing my home even more. On the bright side we will be landing in Florida soon and I be to busy looking at all the cool new things I’ve only seen in pictures before to be thinking of my loved ones.
After waiting for everyone to get off the airplane I grab my luggage, fallow everyone out the exit, and find myself one of the last people to join the group. I feel so out of place with everyone on the trip. Everyone already has friends on this trip, and I’m the only one trying to make them as we travel along.
We grab what is left of our luggage and head outside to be picked up by the hotel bus. It is warm and kind of muggy, but still better than the ice cold A.C. we‘ve been in all day! And I see my first personal Florida palm tree. I smile even though I think my arm is going to fall off because of how heavy my backpack is. I pull down my shades so I can look at everything and just take it in, but really there’s not much more to take in besides concrete… still, it’s the first time I’ve been to Florida so I’m pretty excited.
We get to the hotel and we have thirty minutes till we walk to dinner. I was going to save this white cotton dress for the last day, but I feel so happy I put it on and fix my hair and take some before pictures so I can see how dark I get at the end of the week.
On the way to dinner I find myself taking pictures of everything I see, flowers, an old fashioned movie theater, a pretty stream. When we arrive to Hollywood Ale House, we sit outside and I order the largest seafood dinner I can find. When the waiter brings it out, I find that I may have bitten off more than I can chew. There are four crab legs, a lobster tail, four small red potatoes, five oysters and five clams. I cracked open a clam and fell in love. The smell of the salty sea and the taste of the creamy butter all wrapped up in one juicy bit. By the end of the dinner I have a full belly and a clean plate. The night is still young and I yearn for more Florida adventure. Silly enough most of us go to a local K mart.
We all act like little kids and do what mother told us not to do, even Mr. Nash. We play with toys we don’t intend to buy, talk too loud and Mr. Nash tries on a girly hat he will never buy that makes local costumers stare. This is all very silly but it makes me feel more certain of my new family for the next eight days.
We woke up at six a.m., took our last American shower, and headed off to the airport by nine. Once we register at the airport and go through long security we find our flight has been delayed till 3:30 p.m. Mr. Nash did not want us to leave the gate and so I am left starving thinking I only wish to spend my money on Bahamian items that I can take home to my family. I try to nap but that doesn’t work, then I remember I’m still in the United States and I can call home for free!
After my last goodbyes I feel more home sick than ever before. I decide to try to spunk up and think “Only eight more days left, practically only a week! Can‘t I handle a week?” After what seems like forever we board the twenty passenger plane, and I feel the butterflies in my tummy.
My sister gave me a book gives you tips on how to survive a vacation, so fallowing those tips I take the seat nearest to the emergency exit, and in the back half of the plane.
The landing was smoother than I thought it would be. I still held tight to my seat cushion though because I was three broken planes at the end of the dirt landing strip. After we all finished grabbing our bags we hastily drove to the dock with a crazy driver who thought it was smart to drive over eighty m.p.h.!
Once at the dock I thought about kissing the ground but stopped myself because I remembered I was trying to make five new friends, not make five awkward shipmates.
That’s when I saw it, my new home for eight days. Sirena was her name as she floated in the water, bobbing as the waves rose and fell. She was long, tall, and tough. She had two masts with sails deep blue, as deep as the ocean blue was in the distance behind her. I took in the smell of her salty fragrance and the small bite that went with her.
Harvey the captain of this beauty looked old with sun kissed splotched white skin and flimsy gray hair, but he proved his strength as the week went on. Judy, Harvey’s significant other, had a red glow that came from a recent sunburn that was trying to fade. Her long blonde hair and bright youthful eyes made it easier to accept her youthful spirit. If it wasn’t for a few wrinkles I would say Harvey was a big time player. My self and the others all gathered our things and neatly stuffed them into the yacht.
Be for dinner the kids went exploring! We walked down the dock to the beach where we found a passage way to an old light house. While others climbed the tower I stayed on the ground heading toward the ocean. I felt like I was saying hello to a long lost friend. I let the waves lick my toes before I waded into the water. I didn’t jump in because Mr. Nash didn’t want us swimming so close to dark, so I just collected seashells till dinner.
When we were done eating and talking to each other I watched the sunset and kissed away my first day from America. What a new day. I slept in the cockpit, hoping to see some stars, but to no avail.
Today on the third of April I woke up around eight a.m. to a rocking ship. We were still eating scrambled eggs when déjà vu, the other boat, was headed out to sea. Our ship is controlled by computers and very little manpower, so while Levi and Mr. Nash helped Harvey, the women enjoyed the sun.
We sailed to a place called High Cay, and had our first snorkel before lunch. It wasn’t that impressive at all. It was just a small blue hole with a group of sergeant majors. The saltwater almost made me sick. Just because the water is clear, does not mean it tastes good.
After eating a lunch of sandwiches, we snorkeled on the other side of the Cay, and it was so vast and exciting. I was very happy to see this coral was a thousand times larger. We saw a lot of dead elk coral and a lot of parrotfish though. The parrotfish were likely there to eat all of the dead elk coral. I was chasing a queen trigger fish as he was trying to get away. I saw a stingray and took a pretty good picture of it as it laid in the sand.
As I swam through the vast coral, I
started to feel more at home. The giant elk coral opened its arms to me. The sea waves letting me know I was never alone. There were not many fish, but more so than the last snorkel.
When we all got back to the boat, we headed for Middle Bight going south because we started on the north end of the island. We ate a great dinner of chicken and mashed potatoes and watched the sunset on another adventurous day.
After breakfast we applied five layers of sunscreen and headed for a blue hole nearby. I did not find the blue hole until the very end, but I did see a huge barracuda as I was just getting in. It was thigh thick and as long as my leg. I got salt water in my mask again so I jumped in a dinghy and fixed it. I almost got sick because of how much salt water I ended up drinking.
When I finally found the blue hole, it was a 20 to 30 foot crystal clear hole in the deep blue. I saw some bigger sized angel fish at the mouth of the giant hole. I watched as they swam in pairs, and I can relate to them, because I wouldn’t want to feel alone in this big blue ocean either. But as they swam further along, I lost sight of them easily because of all the sand in the water. I heard from Harvey that they had a windy winter, which had a negative effect on the coral according to Mr. Nash.
Then we headed to a shallow beach. About half way through, I pulled an Aunt Marcia and Grandma and got my mask filled to the top with salt water. I start at panic because Mr. Nash told us to stay horizontal with the sandy ground, but I am two inches from the ground with tons of tiny organisms that I might smash if I tried to free myself. So blindly I turned around and swam to the dinghy to the best of my knowledge. The wind has picked up and the waves are trying to drown me against the bottom of the beach, but I pulled through and made it to the dingy. I flung off my mask and snorkel, and I saw a huge stretch of snot. I understand the coral now, and how they build up mucus to get things off of them.
After I recover from lunch, we made an amazing discovery at a small beach of another blue hole. But first we went to another blue hole with an enormous crack in it. In this blue hole, you cannot see the bottom. I started to panic because I am afraid of heights, and I know it sounds odd, but I am still frightened. We saw many small organisms, but the greatest was a cream colored lobster with purple spots which I would’ve loved to eat.
Then we got out and walked across the limestone, and found a brand new smaller blue hole, but it still had a huge crack, and I saw three, almost two foot long parrotfish. It was crystal clear water in this blue hole. There was plenty of live coral, so you know no one has messed with the area before. We even saw some upside-down jellyfish. But I swam away in fear of sea lice.
Today was a gloomy day because we were supposed to do some beach exploration, but it rained. As we were walking on the beach, the sky unleashed a gentle but unwelcome shower. But at least we got some pretty good conk shells while we were there. The rest of the day, we sailed to South Bight, and just enjoyed the day with the rest of the class.
I woke up to find a mess of our head, the restroom. It was left that way by a few of the other ship’s students, (not going to name any names) But I decided to be the grown up, and I cleaned it up. I headed off the ship to the ramp that leads into the water to wash off. But just my luck, I slipped and fell into the ocean. I was soaking wet when I got back to the ship. Thank goodness no one was up yet, and that they didn’t find out. Our first snorkel was around a little cay called Golding Cay. But you would not believe how many fish there were. Well, we started out in some deep water, so I thought I would see a shark, but I was wrong. As we keep swimming along, I see two lionfish, a smaller barracuda, two good sized parrotfish, and a large gray angel and French fish.
Then the water gets shallow about three feet deep. And just around the corner is Atlantis! Not really, but there was so much live coral and schools of fish swimming around. It was beautiful. Now the water is fifteen feet deep, and there was room to move and swim with the fish, so I do. I felt like I was a part of God’s beauty.
On the way back to the dinghy, everyone is in the shallow area. I am looking at all the things that Mr. Nash is showing to them. I think, “How am I going to find an adventure if I am looking at what everyone else is looking at?" So I swam out a bit and saw these weird fish that are swimming with things that look like flatworm sides, but when I get closer, I see they are legs, and realize it is a group of squid in front of me. I was so surprised and happy.
After lunch we did another snorkel on a thin line of reef. But the coral was so thick and full. It was so windy, all the things in the sea seemed to have been bowing, and in my mind, the song ‘How Great is Our God’ and the whole reef was bowing in time to the song.
We went for our final snorkel today. It was a lovely finish to a wonderful week, besides the fact that it took an hour to get to the blue hole. I still had a blast though! I swam around and just played in the water with the fish! I dipped, I dived, and I kicked my little heart out and fell in love with God’s creation! I swam with some rather large Gray Angel fish and I kept an eye out for sharks, but there were none. On this last snorkel I did see a very large sea cucumber as fat as a wine bottle.
When we got back for lunch we all walked around on land and saw some pretty neat shops and houses. The natives were very nice, and I bought two sea shell hair pins at a grocery store. When we finally got back to the ship it was too dark to snorkel. We just enjoyed everyone’s company.
Right after a breakfast of whole wheat pancakes, we left late morning for North Bight. There was no rush because our boat is very fast. Half way, we passed déjà vu and caught two dolphin fish. (Not the same as dolphins). When we got to North Bight, we ate lunch and went shopping. I bought five skirts and a shirt for my mother. Once back on the ship, I fell asleep. Little did I know, I slept for four hours, and it was almost time for dinner. The ladies dressed up and I wore a new pink dress. At dinner, I ate a fish meal and had two sprites. I felt very proud of my week here in the Bahamas.
As I'm waiting here in the airport, I think of how happy I am to be in America again. I called my family to tell them I was safe. I was so happy to hear their voices again. But since we arrived in Florida at 9:30 a.m., we had to wait several hours for our six o’clock flight. I didn’t realize how hungry I would be, but I was starving, and I only had seven dollars left. I spent four of that on a nasty burrito thing that was some kind of Italian. I then spent one dollar on an ice cream, and another on a chocolate chip muffin, and it was delicious.