The past few days on the island have been the most eventful and productive days all of us had probably ever had. We’ve each experienced both mental and physical exhaustion, but more than enough laughs to make up for it all.
Our field research was hectic at first as groups struggled to fit their predetermined methodology into the unpredictable nature of fieldwork. Whether it was duct-taping big rocks to quadrats that float away and get lost in the water, nearly drowning each other trying to hammer a PVC pipe into the sand, or facing the fact that neither the salinity meter nor the dissolved oxygen meter could calibrate properly after water damage from a hurricane; we all survived and powered through our obstacles to get the data that we needed.
Not only that, but in the UTM290 class, you’re never working on just your own project: you are a part of everybody’s project. As part of the group collecting water and sediment samples from San Salvador’s lakes, Mercy and I received gracious help from every single person on the trip. In every lake, Johnathan, Hibah, Mishika, Ayesha and Mercy stepped into knee-deep water and muddy sediment and onto slippery rocks of the lakes to collect the water and dirt samples for us. Shaishav and Thomas wrote down in our field notebooks the readings from the meters that I called out to them from the water, as well as any qualitative observations of the lake and its surroundings. Sarah took pictures of the lake and its surroundings and helped to seal the sediment bags, which often got pretty messy — not to mention smelly. With every person helping us like this, we managed to get each lake sampled in just under 20 minutes, leaving most of the days to help collect data for the other groups’ projects.
On this island, we’re all family, and we don’t let anyone go through anything alone. Living with these same eight people 24/7 for six days straight so far, it’s hard to imagine it being any other way.