Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Six Year Veggieversary!

Today marks six years since I declared myself "vegetarian." Over the years, my definition of vegetarian has changed, and I think it is an ever-growing process of self-discovery and finding balance.

When I first transitioned, I was still eating fish pretty regularly. Then, I transitioned to occasionally eating fish. Next, I ate absolutely no meat at all (true vegetarian). I eat no eggs, do eat dairy, and am finally becoming more flexible with my eating habits. Why have I become more flexible? I fell in love with travel, and eating in restaurants or having others cook for me means that I have to be more flexible.

Everyone can just feed me this

When I was in Europe this past summer, the only area I felt I "skimped on" the experience was in the food department. Many traditional meals contain meat, so I missed out on that. I did find an amazing vegetarian restaurant in Dublin, but other than that, I did not eat many outstanding meals. When I work in Costa Rica, my host mother usually has a hard time figuring out what to feed me. One plus side, however, is that Costa Ricans do not a TON of meat, so I don't ever feel like too much of a burden.
Cornucopia restaurant in Dublin

I currently live in the Bahamas and still eat relatively little to no fish. In fact, the only meat I will eat is lionfish because it is invasive. One of the reasons that I am vegetarian is for environmental reasons, so it makes sense for me (in my values and convictions) to eat lionfish. I still do not eat eggs, even if that means having a very small breakfast when eggs are served at the dining hall. However, I have had to learn to have blind trust in those preparing my meals (the women in the dining hall), because they are preparing meals for 200 people, 3 times a day, 6 days a week. It's a lot of work. So, instead of panicking that I might have ingested chicken broth (i honestly don't know what their ingredients are, so I trust they are cooking true vegetarian), I serve myself the soup they spent hours preparing. I miss having control of my food, I miss certain aspects of my diet, but I am appreciative. I will continue to grow as a person and a vegetarian, as life is a learning process!

Do you have any food fears? What's the hardest part of traveling for you?

Monday, February 16, 2015

That Time I (Accidentally) Stole a Child's Shoes

This is a story from November that I've contemplated sharing on the blog for a while, and I've finally decided to A) write a new blog post and B) share some hilarity with you all.

On Black Friday (just a regular Friday in the Bahamas), I decided to run home from work. The distance from the front door of the research institute to my driveway is 5.3 miles. I wanted to do 6 miles total, so when I came into my settlement, I took the back road to add some miles. Because the distance from our settlement to work is so long, we have a shared shuttle service between the two locations. I had asked a friend to take my backpack home and set it outside my door so it would be there when I got home from my run. On the side of my backpack, I had stashed my hot pink, Old Navy flip flops (this is important, including the color) in the side pockets of my backpack, stuck the bag in the van, and headed home.

The shoes that started it all

When I got onto the back road, I saw a pair of small, hot pink flip flops (I wear a size 6) in the middle of the street in front of the building where some of my coworkers live. I figured that my shoes fell out of the van when someone was getting out, so I picked them up and carried on with my run. Instantly, two local boys are chasing me yelling "Those are my shoes!!" These kids are always knocking on our doors asking for chocolate, money, or other items, so I just assumed they were hustling me. I yelled back "No! These are my shoes!" and they kept chasing me. The older one finally caught up to me and said "Lady, those are my shoes!" To which I responded, while still running, "No, these are my shoes, now leave me alone." He finally let me keep running, but he looked defeated.

Me trying to avoid the children and take "my" shoes

I rounded the corner and headed to my house. I ran up the stairs to my apartment door and my stomach dropped: my backpack was sitting outside of my door, complete with my small, pink flip flops in the side pockets. I had stolen that child's shoes.

I immediately sprinted down the stairs and another quarter mile before I found the boy. I gave him back his shoes and apologized profusely. He simply took the shoes, looked at me, put them on his feet, and walked away. I felt AWFUL and hoped he didn't get in trouble with his mother. I can just imagine how difficult, if not impossible, of a story that would have been to believe when her son told her why he was shoeless.

Later, I told my friends about the incident, and multiple people responded "OH! So that's why they were asking me if I knew that lady who was running with no shirt on. They said she stole their shoes." I was running in my sports bra, so that shirtless, shoe thief, was me.

Have you ever gotten into a situation like this?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Obligatory End of the Year Post {2014}

I recently posted about my running goals and how 2014 did not shape up to be my year in running.

Despite all of that, though, 2014 was a pretty great year for me. It started off rough, with a breakup that I didn't want to happen, but went up from there. That breakup definitely spurred the purchase of my trip to Europe at the end of January, but I'm thankful for that relationship. We went on a couple dates when he got back from deployment, but that was two weeks before I moved to the Bahamas. It's clear there's still a connection, but timing was never our thing. Everything happens for a reason!

In February, I ran two half marathons and PR'd in both of them!

I got hurt shortly thereafter, but I passed my Oral Comps exam for grad school in April! 

In May, I graduated and left for Europe! I spent a month abroad, sometimes with friends, but mostly on my own, and had the best experience ever! 

I came back for a month, then left for Costa Rica! I was there for two weeks and then came home for two weeks...when I then moved to the Bahamas!!

It's hard to believe that I've been in the Bahamas for 4 months already and that I'm returning in a few days for six more months. 2014 has been a great year, but I'm excited to see what 2015 has in store for me! 

Happy New Year and Be Safe Everyone! 

What are some of your highlights from this year?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Turtle Tuesday #9

There hasn't been much going on lately in the turtle part of my job since my last Turtle Tuesday post. I went out last week with a visiting school group and we caught one turtle, but that was it! Most of my work has been office work, wrapping up the end of the year and doing lots of data analysis.

Because we were killing it

However, last week, I had the chance to go out with the sustainable fisheries team and do lionfish and rugosity (height/amplitude) surveys of the patch reefs off our campus. Lionfish are an invasive species; they are native to the Indo-Pacific and have no natural predators. Because they have no natural predators, they reproduce very quickly, out compete other reef species for food, and eat lots of tiny reef fish, upsetting the health and balance of the reef ecosystems. You can find more information about our sustainable fisheries program here.

It had been a few years since I had been diving, but we did 5 dives on Monday and 2 dives on Thursday (the team did 16 dives total over 4 days, but I only went out two days). I cut my hand on a coral during our first dive, and I was a bit nervous I would attract some sharks (I didn't, just some angry stingrays!) It was cold by Bahamian standards (24C/75F), with a water temperature of 21C/70F, but I was really glad for the opportunity.

I lost two hair ties during Monday's dives, so I essentially looked like a sea monster/mermaid. My hair was basically dreaded when I got out of the water and I had to brush it in the shower in order to get some of the knots out! I couldn't even get the salt out of it until Thursday.

I saw some really cool things - loads of lionfish, small reef fish, a barracuda, a couple yellow stingrays - and I got to be a mermaid again. It was lovely! The lionfish surveys were conducted on both removal (all lionfish are speared or removed from the reef) or non-removal sites (lionfish are only counted). These sites are visted quarterly and the data collected is used to see how quickly lionfish numbers increase on removal vs. non-removal sites. Pretty interesting!!

A baby yellow ray (not in the wild, born in our lab!)

Today, I'm probably going diving one last time before I head back to the states for the holidays, this time at our coral nursery! Wish me luck :D

Share some fun facts with me - about anything!