The “real” final day of our trip was a whirlwind one. We woke up around 6 a.m. to make sure that we hadn’t forgotten anything. After one last look around our room and from our balcony, we gathered our bags and went down to breakfast. Most students left behind a pair of tennis shoes that had been used to climb the rocky shores, the mangrove swamps and Dunn’s River Falls. The shoes were pretty beat up, but the staff at the Marine Lab would give them to people that needed shoes. The french toast we had for breakfast was delicious, but I think I’ll miss the guava juice and fresh pineapple. After devotion, and the surprise news that two of the people on the trip got engaged during sunrise, (their names are omitted because they’ll have more fun telling you all about it when we’re home, plus, it’s not my news to tell), we loaded up the vans and headed for Montego Bay.
There we went to Doctor’s Cave Bathing Club (a beach) for one last time to tan and swim. The water was crystal clear, but had a high salinity. There were shells on the beach and floating trampolines. I think every girl got thrown off/pushed off the trampolines at least twice. Thanks Dave for that “friendly” bonding. We were able to get our hands stamped and leave the beach to go get lunch. I hate to admit it, but Scott, Amanda and I went to a Burger King – I know, I know, but there was fish and festival bread on the menu. We ate our Jamaican version of American fast food as we watched the activity in the bay. Then the news went around that the yacht that we were looking at belonged to Bill Gates! How cool is that?
From there we loaded up the vans one last time to head to the MoBay airport. We unloaded all of our bags and jumped in a very long line to check in. That took so long that we had to be taken from the end of another VERY LONG line and rushed to the front of the security checks and emmigration so we wouldn’t miss our flight. Most students did manage to do one last speedy shopping trip through the airport before running to Gate 5. We said good-bye to Jamaica and landed in Memphis where we had to get in another long line for customs and security where we were told to just drop our bags and run to Gate 4. Dr. Klockziem got held up a bit because he wanted to try to bring back one of our coffee bean snails, but the customs guy stopped him. The customs officer said that if he could get a hold of a vet and get clearance for the coffee bean snail, he would mail it to Dr. K! The customs officer used to be a scientist and empathized with the coffee bean snail situation.
Once we were on our final flight, we were listing all the things we were going to miss and what we wanted to do when we got back. Most of us listed different things we were going to miss – I’ll miss the fresh fruit, the sunshine, snorkeling all the time, Starla the Sea Star and George the Squid, and getting to know all the students on the trip so well. Yes, Starla the Librarian we have pictures for you. However, we all seemed to want the same thing when we got home: to see our families/friends, a hot shower, a glass of milk, and pizza. I guess there are somethings that home can always offer that being away just can’t compete with. So now that I’m home, unpacked (all the souveniers made it in one peice), have had a hot shower and am going to be eating pizza shortly with my family, I can honestly say, it’s good to be home. Then again, I did wake up at 5:30 this morning… darn internal clock!
I completely recommend this trip to any and all students. I think that no matter what major or grade you are, you’ll find that the Marine Ecology trip is a one of a kind experience. My roommates and I are now really good friends, I made some more new ones, I’ve definitely gone outside of my comfort zone (boats, ahem), and I’ve eaten a lot of new foods (although I couldn’t quite make myself eat ox tail – yeah for fish). Even if you share germs and get a cold and pink eye with your roommates, lose your glasses in a waterfall, land in a puddle of mud in your last clean outfit, and have to sprint to make your flights – it’s all worth it. It just makes for better stories when you get home. Jamaica is a land of interesting people and creatures (you know God has to have an amazing sense of humor to create sea cucumbers), beautiful colors and scenery, and experiences that will last a lifetime. Then again, home is home and that doesn’t change.
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