Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adjusting to Life in a New Country

I'm going to be honest here and say that it did not take much for me to get adjusted here in the Bahamas. Having been in Costa Rica and spent some time in a very poor area, I knew sort of what to expect when I was told that the settlement I would be living in on Eleuthera was "remote and developing." Granted, I have internet and air conditioning in my apartment, but there are many things that are different here than in the States.

Most people envision the Bahamas as (I'm assuming) the highly developed Nassau or the pristine beaches that are accessible from the cruise ships. However, that is not what every single island or every settlement looks like in the Bahamas. For example, there are no stoplights on my island at all and the island is 110 miles long. There is no public transportation system here, no hospital, and two clinics. Even though I look at this view every morning when I leave my house:


The other side of the street (and the rest of the settlements I have been to on Eleuthera) looks like this:


There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, I feel like it will be weird to see my house in a few months when I go to visit my parents. I am already so used to the different way of life here, that I cannot imagine what I will feel when I go back to the States. Here is a list of some of the new "norms" I have been living with in the Bahamas:

- hitch hiking is safe and 100% normal (I have hitch hiked solo to work before)
- I am safe walking through the neighborhood by myself at ALL hours of the day (yes, men still say things to me, but I have felt safe 98% of the time. I usually have a male counterpart walk me home after parties/in the dark, though.)
- Seeing the stars CLEARLY every single night
- Losing power any time it is windy or rainy (the entire settlement loses power at one time)
- Drinking rain water (it's filtered)
- Taking "navy showers" (wet self, lather, rinse, repeat)
- No running water between the hours of 12 am and 6 am (seriously, the water gets shut off)
- Driving on the left side of the road
- Drinking rum because it's cheaper than beer (unless you win free Kalik!)


- Not having any major kitchen appliances (except for two burners and a fridge)
- Having conversations with the locals that I do not understand because they speak so quickly ;)
- Having a pack of pot cakes (stray dogs) follow me wherever I go
- Being without a cell phone (I can communicate when connected to wifi, but that's it!)

Often times, if I describe my living situation to my mom, she takes pity on me. I think it is because she has not experienced anything like this before. However, I am incredibly happy and this is my new life. I'm making do with what I have and I don't miss as much as I thought I would. I miss cooking and I REALLY miss Greek yogurt, but other than that, life in the States is slowly becoming foreign to me. I'm curious to see how it'll be when I visit my parents for a couple weeks during the winter!

Until then, I will be enjoying life as a mermaid :)


Has life in a new place ever been different than you expected it to be? Has your vision of "paradise" ever been changed after a trip to paradise?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Turtle Tuesday #6

I skipped last week again, sorry guys!

This post is going to stray away from turtles, because I strayed away from turtles this past week! This past Thursday, I went out with the lemon shark team! We released a few of the sharks they had for their trials, and we also went out seining in the hopes of recapturing two sharks that had accelerometers on them.


One of the graduate students here is studying bioenergetics of juvenile lemon sharks. Basically, he has attached devices to juvenile lemon sharks in local mangrove creeks that track changes in speed of the animal. He's using this data to determine the metabolic rates of lemon sharks.

He first released tagged lemon sharks in the creeks from which he originally collected them. Lemon sharks are born in these protected mangrove creeks and live the first 4-5 years of their lives there, so he wanted to make sure that these sharks went back to where they came from. I didn't get any photos of this because he was in a hurry and the wind was insane (aka boat was rocking like crazy).


Then, we placed the seine net at the mouth of one of the mangrove creeks at high tide. Because of the blood moon, the tide was SO high. The graduate student running this project is very tall, but when he jumped in the water, the water was up to his neck. Being the shortest person on the boat, everyone turned to me when he jumped in because we knew I would not be able to touch. Sure enough, I jumped in and couldn't touch with my tippiest of toes. I had to swim to shore and wasn't able to touch until I was about six feet from shore. It was insane!


We placed the net and then waited for six hours until the tide went out. This was to ensure that the lemon sharks couldn't leave with the escaping tide, but the water doesn't get low enough that they will be stuck in there with no water. It goes down to about 1 foot of water at the shallowest and 2-3 feet of water at the deepest, just enough for the sharks to still swim (they're small). When the tide was low enough, we formed a "scare wall" and basically just walked and splashed towards the net, while a person dragged the net to form a circle, trapping in anything that was in the path. We caught 4 or 5 lemon sharks, but they were not the ones with the accelerometers, so we released them. Sadly, we didn't get the tags back, so he had to go out the next day. He was unsuccessful then, too.

I didn't get to touch any sharks, which was a bummer, but I had an amazing day. I had spent the entire week in the office, so getting out in the field was really great. Plus, I was in great company! If you want anymore information about this specific project, let me know and I can send you a link!

Are you afraid of sharks? How would you kill six hours if you had to wait?

Monday, October 13, 2014

4 Months Post-Injury

My blog has sort of fallen by the wayside since I got injured, and to be honest, I'm not sorry about that. I still love blogging and I still love reading blogs, but my life is crazy and amazing right now, and I'm just focusing on living. I know I don't know anyone an explanation, but that's where I've been lately!

It's currently October, and it's been four months since I started running "consistently" again. I use consistently as a loose term, because I'm nowhere near the level of commitment I was before injury/during injury. We're lucky if I run three times a week now. Before, I was running five days a week, cross-training three days (because I was pulling doubles on two days), and resting one - two days.

Old training schedule for Princess this past year

My running has definitely suffered because of this lack of commitment. Surprisingly, I still have the mindset and the lung capacity to do "longer" distances, even though I was out for so long and haven't been the best runner I could be. Last Tuesday, I ran six miles, non-stop. However, it was slow for me.


When I was still running on my injured hamstring, I posted a sub-60 10k. That was phenomenal for me and gave me hopes of running a sub-2 half marathon. With the half marathon at the school coming up at the end of November (assuming I have the date right and will actually run it), there's no way I will reach a sub-2 for this half. In fact, it might be the slowest half marathon I have run to date.


I'm trying not to be too hard on myself, because I am the reason why I'm not running to the levels I was running before. I haven't been committed. I have barely done cross-training (I've done yoga a few times, a run-swim once, and that's it). I haven't done any strength training. I'm not the athlete I was 4 months ago.


I have talked about recommitment here a few times, but I haven't really done it. I'm trying, I'm developing my motivation, and I hope to be there again, someday. Right now, I'm just taking it a day at a time. I'll get back there...eventually.

Have you ever had a hard time coming back from injury? What are your suggestions for getting back to where I was before I was injured?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Turtle Tuesday # 5

Hey guys! Sorry I missed last week...I was so sick that being at work drained all of my energy and I couldn't even think about blogging. I did so much field work with boogers running down my face (just what you wanted to know, right?) But, I'm feeling much better now!!


I wanted to talk a little bit about the research we are doing with the class I am teaching. As I mentioned before, I teach a class at the school associated with the research institute I work at. This semester, the students in my research class are working on finding a relationship between body condition and foraging grounds. Basically, they want to see if there is a relationship between how much sea grass is in an area and how healthy the turtles are in that area.

Looking for turtles

This means that they will have to do some habitat mapping and abundance surveys in addition to the actual capturing of turtles. When we do catch turtles, they take all of their measurements and tag the turtle. They are also examining the plastron (chest) of the turtle to see if it is concave, convex, or flat. A concave (sunken in) plastron means that the turtle is unhealthy or not getting enough food, a turtle with a flat plastron is eating enough, but is said to just be in "fair" condition, and a turtle with a convex plastron is a fat and happy turtle.


For any recaptures, we take all of the same data we took initially, but we add on the plastron examination. We measure their carapace (top of their shell), take their weight, and note any abnormalities.

At the end of the semester, the students are required to give presentations to their peers and their parents about the work that they did. This requires them to interpret data and draw conclusions! We haven't collected enough data yet to begin the analyses, but I'm excited to see what they come up with!!

What was your favorite class in high school? Do you like to give presentations?