It’s better in … Mississauga

Just kidding! It’s currently the morning after we got back to Canada late the night before. I slept for ten hours straight after taking a hot shower and washing the ocean salt from my hair (which never failed to style it fabulously). Getting up at noon feels like a shock without my Bahamas fam right next to me, without the fear of missing breakfast strictly served at 7:30am, or without Hibah shooting up from her bed to tell us frantically “Guys, it’s 7:14!” after none of our alarms managed to wake any of us up.

Our Facebook group chat is pretty lit now though, while before the trip I hadn’t even been added to it and the only person who really talked in it was Sarah. We plan to meet often for karaoke which everyone is hella pumped for (I said monthly or even bimonthly after the “pre-med” guys avoided eye contact with me given their commitment to their grades, but I’ll take what I can get.)

The last time we were all together was at baggage claim, and then Mish had to leave, so we all hugged her and I was sad to see my Baeshika leave me 😦 Then Shaishav gave each person a slip of paper as a memento from our daily games of Mafia on the island and my heart sank. I teased him about his latest sappy blog post since I didn’t believe he was this sentimental but now I finally believed it. (Btw I got townsperson again……… or did I? We’ll see when we all meet for lunch on Tuesday 😉 )

On the plane I sat with Hibah and Ayesha with Johnny, Mercy and Mishika in the row behind us, and somehow we had agreed to play UNO on the plane ride in this awkward arrangement. But before we knew it, we all fell into a post-Bahamian coma and didn’t wake up until we started to land. Thankfully, this nap prevented us from experiencing the killer ear-popping sensation, so bless!

I nearly cried at baggage claim, and I almost took Thomas with me to Cry Town. It would’ve been a mess so I pulled myself together. I had already cried enough the previous night when we went out to the beach and took a night swim in the ocean. I was so happy that we’d done that as a group as our last hurrah. It was scary not being able to see anything in the pitch-black water but the adrenaline rush was so worth it. Some mystery bugs were eating us under the water, which Johnny said were leeches so I freaked out but then Shaishav said that leeches don’t live in the ocean so… then I was more freaked out because what the hell were they then???

We then spent our last night in the computer lab, with each of us staying until our eyes could barely stay open, and I could ask for nothing more and nothing less from all of these people. I don’t think I’m mistaken when I say that we all feel extremely attached to one another. Johnny said that I looked depressed when I was looking out the plane window at Nassau as we lifted off, and he was right. Nothing in my life will match this week we spent in San Salvador. I hope to never let go of these new friendships that I’ve made. Now I’m going to take Johnny’s approach and write to each person personally:

Marc: Thank you so much for your belief in us and your constant support. You treated us like adults while also expecting us to act like adults, which caused us to step it up big time. I learned and grew up a lot as a person over this short week thanks to your hands-0ff (but with overseeing eyes) approach. You’re the master of fieldwork in my eyes, and your commitment to giving budding scientists real experiences of it is truly inspiring. I hope the organization of this course goes your way in the future, and you continue to garner great success in shaping young lives as you have ours.

Paul: No offence, but after this week, I never want to hear the word Ingamell’s again! But no hard feelings, since my group (Team 2 “Fresh” Lake) has a lot to thank you for. Thank you for guiding us in the right direction. Thank you for your interesting insights into the chemistry behind our busted equipment and the foam on the lake shores and the methods of chemical analysis that we’ll still have to do back at school. You really put us at ease after the first few stressful days. I hope you continue to find success in this course so that you can make it as accessible to students as you can. It truly means a lot to us knowing that you have our backs.

Tanya: Our trip-mom! Thank you for bandaging our war wounds and sticking up for us when we needed you out in the field and back at the Center. You were our relay between the cushy seats in the cab of the truck and the hard wooden benches in the back where occasionally we’d get whipped in the face by the flora of San Salvador, or by the towel of Agatha (I’m once again very sorry for that!!!) Thank you for keeping us sane in times of stress by taking us out to the beach to look at the stars, and by making us take time off to go play cards in the games room. Your approach made us calm down more and more each day and we grew closer in a large part thanks to you.

Team Coral/Finding Nemo:

Hibah: Hibae!!! I’m so proud of you, conquering all your fears and pushing yourself to every limit on this trip. You stepped it up on every level and you made your team and everyone who watched you very proud. You learned how to freaking swim in barely two days!!! Who does that!!! This trip was full of firsts for you and you went through all of them with a smile on your face and open arms. I think we all learned a lot from you, and you learned a lot about yourself as well. You also took the most fire pics, bae. I’m waiting on all of them to be uploaded to the Dropbox, even the ugly ones. We all know this trip was ugly but it was gloriously so. That cockroach on the shower ceiling died a mysterious death and we need to honour that.

Ayesha: Baesha!!! You’re an enigma, gracious and poised against all obstacles, even when the Purple coolers fell over on the truck and Shaishav let out a high-pitched scream. Here is the evidence I caught:2015-01-01-20-03-14 Look at that level of chill! Rip. You braved the ocean waters and worked some late nights identifying algae and corals and fish and you did all that while being the chillest roommate ever along with Hibah. Neither of you cared when I’d come in at crazy hours of the night and unzipped my obnoxious bed net while you guys were fast asleep. You are also such a wild card in Mafia that everyone is scared of you, especially when we play the rounds with a Jester. Do we kill you or do we avoid killing you??? We always seemed to pick the wrong option anyway. Please keep being you, you’re such a sweet person, so poetic, so smart, and so interesting.

Mishika: Baeshika!!! Mish, the Indian Agatha. I love you girl. You’re so huggable that it’s crazy. You also always have something insightful to say; I love talking to you. You have such a rich background and a bright future ahead of you as well. You work so hard and you deserve all the good things in life, and you should never feel alone. When Taylor Swift starts touring again, we’ll go see her in concert together! In addition to monthly (or bimonthly) karaoke 😉 You tried so hard to help your group despite your short stature, I really admired that. I’m glad that the flippers helped you in the end and I hope you’re not mentally scarred from swimming now lol. You have gorgeous hair as well and I lowkey enjoyed the pain of it whipping my face on the back of the truck. Keep it up, bae. You’re amazing.

Sarah: Baera!!! Sarah bae. You’re so special. You never backed down from a challenge. The field took everything out of you, and yet you still came back again every day, ready to do it again, and each time it went even smoother. Even when your ankle wound wasn’t healing, you went back into the water again and again, getting sand in it and making it even worse, until your group had all the data they needed. And then you stayed up late at night either to work on your project in the computer lab or to spend time with everyone as a group. When you finally crashed early on the last night, I don’t think anyone could blame you. You deserve every minute of sleep you can get after this trip. Rip you. I’m so glad to have met you and gotten to know you as I have. You’re committed to everything you do, and I know you’ll be committed to keeping these friendships that we’ve made on this island. You make and will continue to make the group chat very very lit.

Team Forams (feat. Violins?):

Thomas: Thombae!!! You pushed yourself out of your comfort zone on this trip and even though it really took a toll on you, I think everyone admires you for it. Whether it was getting drowned by your team (or me and Hibah) while coring and sampling forams on seagrass, trying to swim out to the corals despite “just panicking a little”, or opening up in our games like Cards Against Humanity or Mafia and showing your hilarious comedian side. You even played volleyball (and basketball probably but I didn’t watch that one) and you killed it! While I just stood there 🙂 I need to learn from you tbh. But I think you can learn from us a bit as well 😀 at karaoke 😀 monthly (or bimonthly) 😀 despite your busy pre-med life 😀 see you there, okay? 😀

Shaishav: Baeshav!!! I knew you before the trip but oh man did I get to know you better over the week. When you’re not stressed about school, you’re hella fun to be around. You were the rock of our group, whether you realized it or not. You put eye drops in Mercy’s eyes for her, you went to ask the convenience store clerk for a bathroom for me and then at the airport you went to solve my baggage issue without anyone even asking you to. You just take the initiative and that is so admirable. You were the main man of Mafia. You even played Mafia subconsciously throughout the rest of the day. You were obsessed with getting to know everyone’s sense of humour for Cards Against Humanity (especially Ayesha) and all of their tells for Mafia. You got everyone together to play volleyball and basketball and you kept telling us to get off our phones and spend time together. You’re one of the biggest reasons that we all got so close. Thank you for everything you did just by being yourself.

Johnathan: Johnbaethan!!! You are unfathomably selfless. You helped every. single. team. in their sampling. Every single one! You even got stuck in the poopy mud of “Fresh” Lake for my team. You helped us sample every lake, you helped the Coral team samples several sites, and you of course helped your own group. You volunteered yourself and you never thought anything of it, but trust me when I say that everyone else thinks the world of you. You never judged anybody, you always listened to everyone whether they were venting, raging or gossiping, and you never changed your heart-on-your-sleeve attitude. You were always up for anything… never mind that, but you were also always up! Go to sleep, dude. I don’t know how you do it. I want to be like you when I grow up, Big Brother (even though you’re younger than me 😀 ). I’m very confident that life will reward you for everything that you’ve done in your life for everyone around you.

I also hope the forams work out for y’all lol, you’re welcome for the two that I picked out 😉

Team Water Pollution/Anchor Management/”Fresh” Lake:

Mercy: Mercbae!!! Last but definitely not least, my bae of all baes, my partner in crime. We’ve been through so much sh*t together (literally, rip). The realest of real talks only happen when you’re crouched over, picking shells out of mud that smells like poo— I mean, egg salad. With black food colouring. You’re honestly such a sweetheart, and I feel like we’re practically sisters now. Your backstory is so colourful that I could listen to you talk about it for hours, as I have. You’re also the best listener, because not only do you listen, but you also give advice as well as tidbits of your own experiences. People like you are treasures, and people who don’t see that in you really don’t deserve your time. You work so hard as well, and I hope you realize all of your dreams because you more than deserve it. But please don’t stress so much about things like schoolwork 😦 I hate seeing you so quiet when the real Mercy is so bubbly and happy. Also, singing with you made me sound better somehow…? And you’re so observant that your impressions of all of us were so on point. Mercbae, you’re awesome.

photo-2017-02-23-9-36-59-pmFigure 1. Taken by Melissa the Snack Bar girl. She opens it at 9pm and closes it at 10pm. This is 7/9 of the squad + No Name/Dempster/Fish/Rover in the Snack Bar because who knows where Hibah and Mish were at the time ?

And that’s about it, although I could write for pages more, but I’m already at 2382 words as I type this. Rip. Thanks for the greatest experience of my life, everyone. I’ll tell my future kids and grandkids about y’all.




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