St Eustatius: Part 2

S’up Guys!

What happened there?! I know they say time flies where you are having fun, but the last two weeks have been a real ‘blink and you’ve missed it’ situation. I am currently sat back in Leeuwarden, it is 2 degrees outside and I’m wearing multiple layers of clothing, but how about we rewind a bit and talk about happier sunnier times? I will try not to cry too much.

Week two began- well let us say ‘sun kissed’ after a Sunday spent avoiding the heat by diving through the waves, instead of doing the sensible thing and finding some shade. The duration of the presentation about the Queen Conch research that was being conducted on the island was very interesting but also a little bit painful for some of us who were ‘sun kissed’ in the more sensitive areas. And then Tuesday and Wednesday were for the real fun: diving.

Now, diving is incredible: going beneath the waves to the blue depths surrounding yourself with creatures you could never dream existed let alone be in your presence. But it also requires a fair amount of skill and coordination, of which I have none. Yes, I am qualified but this was the first dive since gaining that qualification and I hadn’t even thought about the processes in nearly a year! But of course after a little bit of encouragement from the incredible dive leaders, it all went smoothly, and we even managed to conduct a little bit of research whilst we were down there.

Diving was beautiful and we were all exhausted, but then on Thursday we were treated with visiting a Tropic Bird nesting site to assist with surveys, it was a bit of a scramble but so worth it when the gloves went on and the birds came out. Unfortunately I was struck down with the worst tooth ache of my LIFE and couldn’t enjoy the morning as much as I would have liked but hopefully the pictures show how beautiful these birds are and how much fun everybody else had.

That evening, drugged up on some hospital prescribed painkillers, antibiotics and a whole lot of saltwater gargling to try to help my tooth, I was luckily able to rejoin the group for the Science Cafe. This is an evening held every Thursday by the CNSI (Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute where we were staying), open to the entire public, with talks and presentations for anybody to talk at and listen to. This week our two lecturers were talking, one about our course and excursion and the other about his work with AROSSTA; the artificial reefs project off the coasts of Saba and Statia. Oh and did I mention there was free food and beer?

Friday we had a research methods workshop in the morning, then at night it was time for Karaoke!! We started by heading to the STENAPA accommodation and hanging out with the group of interns we had met last week, after a few drinks we piled in to the pick-up and headed in to town. Beers were drunk and songs were sung, and as the clock struck midnight, we all gave each other a look of ‘We have to be up at 6 to hike the volcano’ and some of us did the sensible thing and trudged home. Others, decided another hour would be fine and went on to the next bar where we carried on the party. The clock hit 1am… I looked at Danielle and said ‘Mate, we have to be up in 5 hours’ to which she looked me dead in the eyes and confidently replied ‘Give me 4’.

So I did.

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And true to form, a 6am we were up. Slightly groggy and worse for wear but we were up, and that was all we needed. Armed with sun lotion and all the bug spray we set up for our hike up the Quill. It started off not so bad, we saw a Red-bellied racer and met a very intrigued Pearly-eyed thrasher, but the hiking itself was easy enough. That is until we reached the rim of the crater. From here is was ‘just’ 20 minutes to get to the panoramic viewpoint, but those minutes turned out to be more of a climb than a hike! Using various roots and branches to pull ourselves up, getting covered in mud in the process but we struggled on to the top, and how it was worth it!

But then it came for the climb down… we started by going very VERY slowly and heard many disgruntled comments from behind us but we kept at our steady pace and thank goodness we did… every single one of the disgruntled followers slipped, tumbled and fell multiple times. But we made it down eventually (some on their bottoms) and all in one piece.

We made it home sweaty and tired, to find out the water at CNSI had been turned off again and there was no chance for a shower so instead we picked up our stuff to and headed to the beach to shower in the sea.

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And that was the end of Week 2!! This ended up a lot longer than I was expecting so week 3 will be separate and uploaded at some point in the near future hopefully!

Ivy and Danielle x

 

 

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