Saturday, March 22, 2008

Day Five

Today we woke up to rainy weather! A big shame because we were planning to go snorkling, but the water is hard to in when it's rainy and overcast. We hope it clears up tomorrow so we can go one last time before we leave!

In the morning, however Austin and I went snorkeling on our beach where the water is shallow with Chelsea, Jesse's girlfriend, as a guide. Our mission was to find echinoderms for Austin. Once Chelsea pointed out the sea urchins to us, we could suddenly see them everywhere! The most common kind is brown with white needles. We mostly saw these and a few baby Spiny Urchins, which are the blackish kind with very long needles. Austin and Chelsea then found a very uncommon urchin called the Pencil Urchin, which has few, very wide spines. It was an exciting discovery!

In the afternoon Jesse and Chelsea took us on a hike to the highest point on the island where there is the foundation of an old Spanish fort. This was truly "bush whacking." Jesse carried a machete up front, and it was obvious the trail is not traveled often! There were many things to watch out for like vines that trip you and all kinds of needle bushes. The worst enemy was the poison wood trees, which have a distinctive peeling bark, but the young ones are sometimes difficult to identify and often in a convenient place to grab onto. The itching doesn't start for several days after the exposure so we won't know if any of us got it until we are back in Vermont! The other enemy was the rain which was light but made the limestone slippery. The entire island is made up of this stone from the ages of coral reef depositing calcium. Over time the rain has turned the stone into swiss cheese, which is responsible for the giant blue holes as the rutty surface. There are holes everywhere of all sizes, some that look like tiger traps and others that look like a nice place to put your foot in and break your ankle! It was a shot path but needless to say it took a long time to travel! However it was wonderful to see the view when we reached the top of the island. You could see the rest of the bush on the western side of the island, and too bad it was overcast; otherwise we may have seen the ocean on the other side!

The moon is full tonight and we are going to the festival to see live music, eat food, and celebrate with the locals. The Back to the Island Festival is held to celebrate friends and family coming back to their native islands for Easter weekend. It is smaller in comparison to the Homecoming festival in June, so I hear, which is held just for an excuse to go home and celebrate! But we are so lucky to be here this weekend and see this festival, however small!

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