Back Home…

Hi Everyone,

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but to be fair, we’ve been busy. Since our test on Saturday, we had to cram in as much touristy sites and places in two days as we could.

First of all, the test went well. After studying until 12 to 1 am every night preparing from the test, it was all over in a couple of hours. I was fairly confident when we finished the test, and was very happy with my grade when we got the tests back later that night. Now all we have to do is finish up our binders before the end of January. Hopefully I will have a little of time before the semester gets too busy to work on it.

After the test was over, we headed down the road about 45 minutes to Dunn’s River Falls. This was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. We actually got to walk up a water fall, splashing and playing the water the whole way up. Not only was it a beautiful sight, but it was also a fun type of exercise. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is traveling to this area of Jamaica. Dunn’s River Falls is even on the $100 Jamaican dollar bill, it’s that cool.

After getting back from Dunn’s River Falls, we had dinner and then one more lecture about the religion in Jamaica. We learned more about Bob Marley (who I am starting to like a lot) and the religion he followed. After the lecture some people went out for one last night snorkel and then we sat by the docks just talking and relaxing (since our test was done), enjoying Jamaica fully for the first time. We then headed to bed because we had a big day ahead of us in Ocho Rios.

The trip to Ocho Rios was the farthest trip we had taken yet. It took about 45 minutes to an hour to get there. The first stop we made was to the Walkershore Spice Factory where we learned about different plants and spices and how they make their famous jerk sauce. We then had the opportunity to buy some marinade and sauce, which I’m excited about using. After the factory, we stopped along the road at Fern Gully. There are over 500 different types of ferns that are found in Jamaica. Fern Gully is a trip of road where ferns are lined all the way up the hills on the side. We stopped and took a couple of pictures and enjoyed the beautiful plants. Then, we went up into the hills to a garden that had an amazing view of Ocho Rios. We were taken around and show the many different types of plants that were in the gardens, and we even saw a Doctor Bird – the national bird of Jamaica. Finally, we headed into Ocho Rios for some shopping. Jeremiah Drews and I ate at Mother’s, which is a place that sells Patties (my favorite Jamaican food), which are pastries with filling (chicken, beef, veggies, or fish) inside of them. After that, we headed into the market. It was very exhausting haggling with the many different vendors, but I think I got some good deals. After a long day of shopping, we headed to the beach to catch a few rays. Unfortunately, it was sprinkling on and off so it didn’t get too sunny. We then headed back to the buses to be taken back to the lab after a long day. That night they brought in a mentos reggae band and we had a jerk chicken barbecue along with ribs. It was a delicious meal and a great way to spend the last night in Jamaica. We also had a dance party and I think we entertained the band as much as they entertained us.

The morning that we were leaving, we all grudgingly got up and made the final preparations on our suitcases. We headed down for breakfast for one more meal with Precious (the cook), and then we packed up the vans and headed to Montego Bay. We then had a couple of hours to shop or go to Doctor Cave Beach (one of the most famous in Jamaica, possibly the whole Caribbean), which is featured on the back of the $50 bill. After an hour or so of on and off sprinkles, the sun came out and we got an hour or so of sun before we left. I don’t think anyone wanted to leave that beach to go to the airport, but it had to be done.

After we got through the check-in line, we had a couple of hours to waste. Several of us went to Margaritaville, which was right next to our gate. The food was good, but the service was terrible. We made the best of it however, and had a a nice time with each other before we had to say goodbye.

Our flight was suppose to be early, but we ended up leaving an hour later than we were supposed to because of a connecting flight and luggage that was running behind. We also ran into some storms while we were traveling, and it wasn’t until after the flight was almost over that they told us we almost landed in Arkansas. I would have been upset because once I left Jamaica, I just wanted to be home.

Customs went very quickly – the longest part was getting our luggage. Finally, it was time to say goodbye to our new friends. It was hard to believe for me that I had only know some of the people from MLC for only a week and half – if felt so much longer than that. Hopefully, we will all keep in touch with each other, and not forget the time we spent together.

I will never forget the time I spent in Jamaica. Although at times I was homesick, and this trip made my month long Christmas break so much shorter, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I also would recommend this class for anything considering going. For the three credits that I will earn, the work was definitely worth it. Although at times it was hard, it was fun to learn about all the organisms and if you are not really into science this is the way you should try to learn. For how much you get, the price of this course is completely resonable. Hopefully, everyone else had just as amazing of a time as I did and that the future courses are just as good as our was.

It’s been a joy blogging to you, and hopefully you’ll enjoyed my thoughts and descriptions.

For now it is time to say goodbye, but hopefully sometimes in the future we will meet again. :)

Until next time,

Katie

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God Bless America :)

I’m sitting here at WLC waiting for my parents to come and pick me up (they just got a flat tire, boo!), so I thought I would write about our experiences yesterday. First of all, the Jamaican barbecue on Sunday night was so fun! The WLC/MLC students had a blast dancing to the reggae band’s music. We even got them to do two encores! The food was wonderful, and it was a great way to end our time at the Discovery Bay Marine Lab.

Yesterday morning we had breakfast at 7 followed by our last devotion. Dr. Olson told us some of the reasons why he would argue our marine ecology class is the best in Jamaica, if not the whole world… We do a ton of things for a minimal cost… We study the ecology AND the culture… WLC and MLC students have a great time getting to know each other… We have devotion every day… We study everything with the understanding that God created it… He listed many wonderful reasons, and all of us completely agree with him!

After devotion we said goodbye to everything and everyone at the marine lab, loaded up the pick-up truck with our luggage, and headed to Montego Bay. It rained a lot of the way there, and many of us were concerned because our luggage was piled in the back of the truck with no covering. Everything ended up being dry though! We parked near the entrance of Dr. Cave Beach and hit the shops. We found great deals! Then, we went into the beach. It rained off and on toward the beginning of the morning, but after that it was beautiful! It was even beautiful when it rained, because there was usually blue sky even during downpours… weird! The beach was gorgeous: beautiful sand, different colored umbrellas, staff bringing pina coladas and daiquiris. We spent the morning tanning, swimming, and jumping on the huge inflatable trampolines out in the water. A lot of us rebelled and decided to use minimal sunscreen, or none at all. We figured it was our last day, and we all wanted to come back to Wisconsin with some color! We all left the beach around 1:15, and everyone wished we could stay in Jamaica for just a little longer.

There were lots of lines to wait in at the airport, but we all got through relatively fast. When I went through customs, the man asked me what I was studying in school. I told him communications and Spanish, and all of a sudden he started speaking Spanish to me! I had to respond to the rest of the questions in Spanish… sheesh, as if customs isn’t nerve-racking enough! Many of us were starving, so we went to Margaritaville. Andrea and I shared a jerk burger… a hamburger smothered in jerk sauce! It was very tasty and spicy! Then we had time to check out the airport shops and exchange our money back to American. We boarded our plane at 4:30 anticipating a 5:15 takeoff. BUT, there were people who needed to connect to our flight, and their first flights were delayed. We had to wait an extra hour on the plane for those people to board and for their luggage to go through security. We didn’t takeoff until 6:15. While up in the air, the captain informed us that weather was pretty terrible in the midwest. We almost had to land in Arkansas because of storms. Nevertheless, we arrived at O’Hare around 9:15. Going through customs was a breeze, and although it took forever for our luggage to come, everyone’s luggage did arrive safely. We were back to Milwaukee by 11:30ish, listening to Bob Marley the whole way back. I think being in Jamaica has turned me into a Bob Marley fan!

Today I had a hot shower and devoured a hamburger and Starbucks! It’s wonderful to be home, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences in Jamaica for anything. We did so many things in the last 11 days that many people won’t do in a lifetime. I’ve made wonderful new friends, actually learned some things about science, and experienced a whole new world. Thank God for keeping all of us safe during our travels. Thanks for reading! Pictures will be coming soon, promise! No problem, mon!

Hannah

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Last Blog in Jamaica, Mon!

Yesterday was amazing. Dunn’s River Falls was soooo fun! We honestly climbed a waterfall! Granted, the rocks we climbed up had been scraped of algae to prevent slipping, and some foot holes holes were added. Still, it was hard work and kind of scary! We didn’t have to sign a waver or wear any kind of gear! Most of us climbed up the waterfall at least once, but most of did at least twice. It was definitely an amazing experience. I can’t wait to see Dr. Anderson’s video he took of us crazy kids. We stopped in town after Dunn’s River Fall, had supper, a lecture on the religion of Jamaica, and then a big group of us went night snorkeling. Many of us were bound and determined to use the underwater flashlights we had purchased, and last night was our last chance. It was a little scary, because we never knew if there was a diadema waiting to poke us. We all made it out without any injuries, and we saw many amazing creatures that only come out at night. For example, we saw spotted sea hares mating in a circle, releasing purple ink. We also followed an octopus! I’m glad we worked up the courage to go.

This morning we woke up for breakfast, had devotion, and then hopped into the vans to head to Ocho Rios. We first drove through the fern gully (note to next year’s class, if you get carsick, take dremamine!). We then toured Wood Walker’s hot sauce factory. It’s won many awards and has even been visited by the Queen of England! A lot of us stocked up on their $1 bottles of sauces. What a deal! After the tour we went to Shaw’s Gardens. We saw many more flowers and plants and the country bird, the Doctor Bird. Finally, we headed into the actual town of Ocho Rios. Some of us went to the Hard Rock Cafe to eat, others bought more of the Jamacain patties (like what we had at the Seville Great House). Then we went off in groups to explore the markets! It was so much fun bargaining. Most of us bought so many things we didn’t need, and we all agreed that we won’t even be sure of what we bought until we look through our purchases as we pack. Now we are back at the lab. We are having a big barbecue on the dock and a reggae band is here to play for us! We already took pictures with them, and they seem so fun.

It’s been wonderful being a tourist. Tomorrow we are leaving at 8:00 so we can check in at the airport. Then we are going to Doctor’s Cave Beach to sun and swim until our flight leaves around 5. We should be rolling into WLC around 10:30 or 11:00 o’clock tomorrow night! Don’t worry, I will write a post-trip blog.

Here are some things that people are looking forward to reuniting with again in Wisconsin:
Fast Food
Starbucks
Boyfriends
Friends
Our beds/ pillows
Hot showers
Cold drinking water

But, we are sad to leave behind:
Warm weather
Sun
Ocean
“Jamaican time” (flexible schedules)
The caring staff
The friendly Jamaicans
The new friends we made on the trip

It’s been a fun, crazy 11 days! What a wonderful experience! Pray for our safe return!

No problems, mon
Hannah

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VICTORY!

Well, I probably shouldn’t be saying “victory” yet… But, I am DONE!  I just finished the test.  I haven’t even gone back to my room yet, but I decided to blog since I didn’t have time yesterday.   After devotion yesterday morning there was a terrible discovery.  Almost ALL of the creatures that we had been keeping in our wet lab died overnight.  It has been really windy here, and I guess that a lot of debris got caught in the filter that brings fresh sea water into the lab.  The water must have stopped pumping sometime during the night, killing almost everything.  Dr. Anderson ran into the wet lab and began taking pictures of all the organisms (dead or alive) so that we could still have the test this morning.  Generally for the test the students walk through stations in the wet lab, identifying creatures and answering questions that the professors post.  This year, due to the death of our specimen, we had to identify the specimen via pictures that Dr. Anderson put on a PowerPoint.  Anyway, back to yesterday… Yesterday morning we went to the Green Grotto Caves.  There were two caves that we walked through, the Green Grotto (duh) and Runaway Cave (named because many runaway slaves hid there).  We had a hilarious tour guide named Chedd.  He was Jamaican, but he did Crocodile Hunter impersonations, pretended he was Will Smith, sang, and many other fun things.  There were bats everywhere and many low areas, so we had to wear hair nets and hard hats.  When the tour ended we all received complimentary rum punch.  Apparently it was fruit punch with rum in it.  We came back from the caves, ate lunch, went in to town, and then buckled down to start the studying marathon.  From what  I could tell, most of us studied all afternoon and all night.  We would float around from group to group studying the specimens and the essays we had to write.  This morning we woke up and brought our notebooks with us to breakfast.  Then we studied feverishly until our exam which began at 8:30.  We all sat in the conference room and saw pictures of the specimen followed by anywhere from 1-3 questions about it.  After that, we were given two essays to write out of the four topics we were supposed to learn.  And now, I AM DONE! :)  I have a little time before lunch, and then we are going to Dunn’s River Falls!  The weather is still windy and overcast, but I think we will all have a fun time climbing up the waterfalls without the stress of our test!  We are now free to be tourists! :)

Enjoy your weekend,

Hannah

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Blogging early…

Hello all!

This morning started the same as yesterday. Breakfast, devotion, and lecture. Except this time, the lecture was on the mangrove swamps. We drove out to the swamps at 9:30 and began our trek to the actual part of the swamp we wanted to explore. The swamp smelled like sulfur and was kind of disgusting. The sand was like quicksand, and lots of us found excitement in trying to make ourselves stuck and then pulling each other out! It was neat seeing the different mangrove trees growing from the swamp. We searched for snails and crabs. The crab we were supposed to look really hard for was the coffee bean snail. One of our professors has been trying to hunt one down for years. The group that went down two years ago found one, but the professor couldn’t manage to get it past customs. This year we found a TON of them! We will have to see if he can take one home with him this time. After the swamp we went to the beach in Priory. Some people swam, but the wind today is unbelievable. The ocean has more humungous waves than any of us have seen this trip. Either people didn’t want to get knocked down by the waves, or they were afraid of being too cold when getting out of the ocean. We got food from a local restaurant, and then we headed back to the lab. So, here I am at 3:23. We have nothing else scheduled for tonight except supper and small group study. I can’t wait until the test is over on Saturday morning so we can all just be tourists until we leave on Monday!

Have a wonderful afternoon/evening!
Hannah

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Busy Day…

Today was a very busy day.  We got up at 7 for breakfast, and had devotion, and then a lecture starting at 7:30.  This lecture was about the Rocky Shore, which is where we would be traveling later that morning.  Once we got to the Rocky Shore, we had a trek in front of us.  There were very sharp rocks all around us.  Good thing we all had old tennis shoes on!  We all also made sure to lather on the sunscreen, since the sun was very hot today (not that I am complaining).  Once we were at our designation spot, we had an experiment to complete.  What the professors had us doing was taking a tide pool, or a pool of water in the rocks that gets water from the ocean fairly frequently, but it sort of cut off from the ocean so a pool forms.  Each group had a tide pool and we were to measure the depth of the pool and points both vertically and horizontally, make a map of our graph pool, and account for any animal living or residing in our tide pool.  At first the project seemed confusing, but once we got into it, it cleared up.

Next, we went to the Seville house, which used to be a sugar cane plantation.  First we ate what were called patties.  They were a taco shaped food that was filled with either chicken, beef, or vegetables.  They were really good and I would want to eat them again!  It was really interesting to go around the house and get a tour to see what life was like on Jamaica back when the Europeans were in control and they had all these big plantations.  We had a very nice tour around the house and property, and also were able to look in the gift store.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any money with me, but there were some pretty neat things in there.

To complete our days activities outdoors, we went to the Cranbrook Botanical Gardens to walk the trail through their acres and acres of land filled with many unique plants that I had never heard of, or seen before.  We got to see a cactus like plant that can be used as shampoo (and we tried it out!), a fern that changes color when the sun hits it, and a plant we could make a roof out of.  The best part was at the end of the trail was a fresh water pool where we got to go swimming.  After trekking around all day in the hot sun, it felt nice to swim in the cold water.  There was also a vine we could swing from and jump into the water.  It was a lot of fun!

After a long day out in the sun, we headed back to the lab for dinner and our last lecture for the day.  This lecture was about the culture of Jamaica.  After that, most of the students pulled out their material for the ever quickly approaching test that we had on Saturday to study.  Now I am writing this, but am thinking I should get some sleep so I can get up tomorrow and do just as exciting things!

Until next time,

Katie

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Finally… A busy day!

Breakfast was at 7 this morning, and we were in the conference room for devotion and a lecture on the rocky shores by 7:30.  Those finished at 9:30, and then we were on our way to the rocky shore.  It was about a half hour drive to the location, and the whole time I was a little nervous because our professors had warned us to be careful because we could end up with deep wounds or broken legs if we weren’t cautious.  The hike from the van to the area of the rocky shores we wanted to go to was quite long, treacherous, and HOT!  We basically baked on the rocks that we were standing on.  We were divided into five groups, and each group was assigned a tide pool.  Our task was to measure our pool and identify the specimen in it.  It was hard to maneuver our way around the jagged rocks while waves were crashing into us, but it was a good experience.  When all the groups finished, we hiked back to our van and headed to the Seville Great House.  We were given a guided tour of a home that used to be a plantation.  While getting ready for a group picture in front of an old waterwheel, one of the MLC students, Marshall, took a step back and fell straight down to the bottom of the (non-working) waterwheel.  We all thought he was dead, but he came away fairly unscathed.  We purchased food in Priory (the town near the Seville House) and ate on the Seville House grounds.  The lunch consisted of Jamaican patties (their substitute for a hamburger…. a flaky crust filled with either chicken, beef, or lobster and other vegetables).  After eating we went to the Cranbook Adventure Trail!  We walked a mile and a half looking at what appeared to be a tropical rain forest.  I know that many of the plants in the beginning of the hike had been planted, like a garden, but eventually we made our way deeper into the forest, oohing and aahing at the beautiful plants and the gorgeous river/waterfalls.  At the end was a pool of water which was freezing cold that many of us chose to swim in.  It was 12 feet deep and was freshwater!  It was nice to have a break from the salt!  There was a rope vine that you could get to by climbing a few rocks, and the brave ones swung from it and jumped into the water.  I did it! :)  Then, some people got REALLY brave and climbed to the rope that was even higher!  The setup was comparable to a low and high dive.  I definitely did NOT try that, and I was so nervous watching other people.  I couldn’t believe Marshall climbed up there after his earlier near-death experience!  After about 45 minutes in the water we had to hike the mile and a half back to our van.  It really was a very beautiful, tranquil forest!  We came back to the marine lab for supper and ate jerk chicken.  After supper we had a lecture on the culture of Jamaica.  It has been a really long day, but because we were busy passed quite quickly!  I’m sure everyone will crash tonight (if they haven’t already).

Sweet dreams!

Hannah :)

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Catch Up!

Last night was, of course, New Year’s Eve!  Due to all the excitement that I will be blogging about shortly, I was not able to write yesterday.  I’m going to give a brief summary to catch everybody up!

We DID go snorkeling yesterday morning, because the sea was quite calm.  However, some of us were too nervous to head out on a boat only 24 hours after getting seasick, so we were given the option of taking a van to a beach near the site where we were to snorkel called Runaway Bay.  11 of us eagerly piled into the van.  Because I was one of those eleven, I don’t know anything that happened on the boats, but  I do know that not one person got seasick!  I think the people that took the van got the better end of the deal though.  While we did have to swim all the way out to the snorkeling site, we were able to relax on the sandy beach when we were finished!   We met a very nice Jamaican named Stan who talked to us for what seemed to be forever.  He had some long-winded stories!  Snorkeling itself was very beautiful.  It was in deep water, which I thought I wouldn’t like.  But, I actually felt safer doing that because I wasn’t worried about bumping up against the coral.  Runaway Bay was by far the best of the three snorkels.  Yesterday we also had two lectures: the coral reef and the history of Jamaica.  Otherwise, we had a lot of free time yesterday to study and sunbathe :).  At 9:00 p.m. we watched a movie that Dr. Anderson made using the underwater film that the scuba divers in our group had been taking.  Then, we headed out to the Ultimate Jerk Center to bring in the new year!  We experienced jerk chicken, took lots of pictures, and met many Jamaicans.  I’m sure the group would agree that this was the best thing we’ve done thus far.  We all got to bed late after the party so we were able to sleep in until nine this morning.

Today we did our ethnographic interviews.  We were put into groups of two or three and dropped off at various spots around the town of Discovery Bay.  My group and I interviewed two men, Dwane and Denvar.  We asked them questions about the ecology of Jamaica, such as what concerns they have about the environment and how it impacts them.  We also were able to talk about their jobs, education, and the government.  I learned more doing this than anything else.  I really enjoyed being in town and chatting with the locals.  After we got back, each group prepared a report and presented it to the class.  It seemed as if many of the Jamaicans we interviewed do not have a great concern for the ecology.  They are so worried about having food for supper that it is no wonder they do not stress about the coral reef dying.  Education is also very important to them, but it is expensive.  Unemployment and violence plague the country.  Young adults not attending school and not working creates a breeding ground for violence.  Listening to the locals definitely reminded me to count my blessings!

It’s only a little after eight, but many of us are still tired from last night.  The next three days we have field studies to various locations.  It will be exciting to leave the compound and learn about other parts of Jamaica’s ecology besides the ocean. 

 Happy New Year!  As many of us were saying last night, “2008 is going to be great!”

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Just In: Dremamine is NOT the cure-all for WLC/MLC Students

This morning we got up before 6 so we could be ready to go snorkeling at Pear Tree Bottom by 630.  This being Jamaica, we of course didn’t leave shore until at least 6:45.  I think all times given in Jamaica should have an “ish” at the end.  Anyway, we started out and began to realize that the bay was pretty wavey.  We figured this was how the ocean was.  None of us had a ton of “ocean experience.”  It turns out that even to many Jamaicans, the waves were a lot more vicious than usual.  Many of us became sea sick.  If the waves on the way there didn’t bring us down, then it was either the slow circling before setting anchor or attempting to snorkel with the waves crashing over us.  No matter the cause, I saw a lot of people getting sick.  The memories are too painful to extend upon :)  Somehow we all managed to make it back to the Discovery Bay alive.  I think many of us are still feeling the waves.  We are supposed to snorkel tomorrow morning at a location even farther down shore than the location today, and if any of us even see a ripple in the water, we will not get on that boat!

We were given a large break after returning to try and eat breakfast, shower up, and relax.  After lunch, we met for our daily devotion and then had four hours to snorkel or study.  A lot of us buckled down and at least attempted to study and organize our organisms.  Tonight at supper some of us tried goat!  I also tried shrimp, which may sound like a normal food to some of you, but it’s not a food I’ve eaten during the course of my life.  We just finished a lecture on the coral reef, and now a couple of crazy souls are going to night snorkel.  Those of us remaining will probably eagerly await seeing what the snorkelers bring in and then head to bed!

It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings!

 Hannah :)

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Rough Start…

Hi all,

Today got off to a rough start.  First of all, we had to be up and at the docks at 6:25 am to go out snorkeling at Pear Tear Bottom.  The night before, we had been told that it might be too choppy for us to go out in the boats, but in the morning they decided that it was ok.  Well, it wasn’t really ok.  Many of the students experienced moderate to severe sea sickness.  I wasn’t feeling too bad when we were on the boat until the very end of the trip, and then when we got into the water.  I thought that the water would help make me feel better, but it really didn’t.  I spend the rest of the time snorkeling and the trip back feeling very upset.  Fortunately, on the way back I was able to lie down in the bottom of the boat and close my eyes.  I actually fell asleep, and when I woke up we were back and I was feeling much better.  We then went to eat some breakfast – if we could.  The cooks had put out bananas which were nice and gentle on our stomachs.  The professors decided that we needed/deserved a break after the morning we had, so they gave us the early afternoon off.  I spent my time doing a little sunbathing, and studying the animals in the lab.  Then, at about 1:30pm, we had lunch.  After lunch we had a Sunday morning service and then spent the next 4 hours studying for the test we are going to have this Saturday.  After that, we went to the cafeteria for dinner.  Tonight we also expanded our food experience as we did last night.  Last night we had ox tail, and tonight we had curried goat.  They both were alright, and kind of just tasted like beef.  

I am writing this right before we are supposed to have our after dinner lecture.  I believe that tonight’s lecture is about the Coral Reef.  After that, we will either study, play games, hang out, night snorkle, or stay on shore and wait for the cool organisms to come in from the night snorkelers (last night they caught an Eel, Stingray, Scorpionfish, a beautiful Queen Conch, a Spotted Sea Hare, and many other cool animals and plants).  Tomorrow we are also supposed to go out in the boats, but we will see if the waves will allow us to or not -I’ll keep you updated :). 

Until next time,

Katie 

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