15 August 2009

Quiet Afternoon at Horse Cay

It's been so quiet here since the students left, aside from all the hum about Tropical Storm "Ana". I wouldn't have expected this, but it actually feels a little lonely. I was really looking forward to the break, and I'm relieved to have time to get some of the chores and tasks that I've been putting off (laundry, cleaning, sorting papers, prepping for the Fall semester) finally done, but having this extra free time also makes me miss my friends and family back home.

"The Conch Wall", where the students like to sit and enjoy the scenery

I was fairly warned and fully prepared to be living and working closely with a small handful of people on a tiny remote island in the middle of nowhere (so to speak). I also knew full well that I wouldn't have access to much in the way of the community activities or clubs (like frisbee!), or shopping, or music, arts, movies, and other cultural events that I'm accustomed to in the States. And as much as I enjoyed those things when I had them, I really don't spend much time now at all missing them. The only thing I truly miss, which I hadn't even realized until this past group of students left and I had time to catch my breath and collect my thoughts, is being around people who really get me.

I have a positive working relationship and a good deal of respect for all of the staffers here at SFS-TCI, but none of them know me well enough to make fun of my quirky traits and to take the banter I dish out in the same vein. I miss the people with whom conversations can be about nothing or about the most important things in life, but either way they don't require effort or censorship, or involve any fear of judgement. I miss the people who make me laugh until I'm wheezing, and who constantly challenge me to be a more conscientious, informed, and compassionate person. The good news is that I do have one of these people on the island with me, and (although he stubbornly refuses to scrub the toilet) his company makes being away from the other people I love much more manageable.

Yesterday, Brett and I combined one of our SFS "intersession tasks" with a little snorkeling excursion. We drove the pickup truck (which has 5 new tires on it now!) out to High Point, where we picked up two posts that we'll use to set up a volleyball court at our center. The guys there even welded hooks onto the posts so that we can attach the net to them at the right height. There are about 50 guys who work at High Point, most of whom are from the Kerala region of India. They have a volleyball court of their own that they play on every single day, and every so often we drive the SFS van full of students out to High Point to join in. Yesterday, some of the guys told us they're glad we're setting up our own court so that we can practice on it and then come back to High Point with the Fall semester students and provide some actual competition! (It's true that we're not even close to playing at their level, but come on! They practice every single day! At least they're nice to us when we show up, and seem to enjoy the chance to play with a few new faces, even if the level of competition suffers.)

One of the post holes that Brett dug

Our soon-to-be volleyball court

After picking up the posts, we parked the truck just off the dirt road that leads to High Point, and snorkeled out to a tiny little island in the middle of Bell Sound called Horse Cay. Supposedly it's called that because there are lots of seahorses around the cay, but we didn't see a single one. The water was beautiful though, and so clear with just a hint of turquoise. It was extremely shallow the whole way too, so after lounging on the cay for a little while we decided just to wade back instead of swim, and to carry our masks and fins. It was quite a long walk, and my feet and legs are a little sore today just from having to balance myself in the sand and waves up to my waist, but it was a really nice little adventure for something different. It's good to know there are still so many little corners and crevices of the island that we have yet to explore!

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