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Cruisin' the Amazon!


You, whose day it is, 
get out your rainbow colors 
and make it beautiful.
-Nekoosa Indian Poem





Hello from the Amazon River!  When I first saw the itinerary for this trip so many months ago, I thought it was a typo when it said we would sail up the Amazon River.  No river I had ever seen could support the passing of a ship!  Turns out, they make rivers a bit different here.  When we first entered the river a few days ago no one would have  even known other than that the water turned from deep blue to chocolate milk brown and the captain made an announcement.  The river is so huge that we couldn't even see either shore the whole first day we were sailing on it!  Now that we are almost to Manaus, we can see the banks but it is still a huge river.  





I've been spending my days in class, resting, eating, or in talks and my evenings hanging out with people or staring out at the river and shore from the deck right outside my room.  I have been seeing some truly remarkable sunsets!  No wildlife to speak of yet other than some bugs that found their way to our ship, but I'm promised much to see once we are on land.  Another strange sight is to see what is floating past our boat in the river.  Since it is the rainy season here, a lot of the vegetation has gotten washed out of the rainforest to bob along in the river.  It's strange to be gazing at the mucky water and suddenly a whole tree taller than a house goes by!
Yesterday three people from the U.S.Embassy came aboard to give talks and lead Q & A sessions.  Even though one of them is a little goofy (and possibly a little too anglocentric) I've learned a lot from them!  So much so that it is a bit to much to process and share, but I will include highlights in the Fun Facts below. 







I am eagerly waiting my adventures in Brazil that will start tomorrow!  I am going to be quite busy with all-day field programs each day (and an extra one at nighttime tomorrow.)  I'm a little worried about the heat and humidity of course, but it really isn't that bad.  I am far irrationally fearful of the bugs!  I learned in global studies about all the heinous bugs and parasites here which freaks me out disproportionately to risk.  I will surely be lathering up with the bug spray!  From what I have learned in the pre-port sessions, I am really looking forward to meeting new people in Brazil and looking for non-bug critters in the rainforest.  Especially the monkeys!  

Fun Facts #3
-As recommended by a biology professor on the ship, "Definitely poop in the rainforest.  Then sit there and wait and you'll have dung beetles come and start rolling your poop away!  It will be neat!"  umm…ok?
-On an ocean voyage, you know you are getting close to shore when you start seeing smaller birds.
-Piranhas don't actually eat you if you swim in the Amazon and a case involving the "penis fish" has never been substantiated.
-Brazil is divided into states 
-A big mac will cost about $10 in Brazil!  (High prices are mostly due to high taxes and difficulty with transportation of goods)
-Brazil is undergoing lots of positive growth including a large and expanding middle class.
-Some federal government workers in Brazil 100% pay as their pension!
-Brazilians are traveling more and more.  When someone from Brazil travels to the U.S. they spend an average of $4000 while they are there.  
-Brazil gets most of the energy it needs from hydropower.  

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Clubs!

Things are really starting to click. I knew that everything would get better once clubs started! I'm way more in my element now.
Today was a "reading day" which is kind of like a substitute weekend since we don't actually get weekends off. I was able to get a lot of homework and logistical stuff out of the way which was really nice. I met the academic dean who is a really cool guy! He is going to help me make sure that all these trips I'm signed up for are as accessible as possible. To me, that is going above and beyond and I very much appreciate it. I'm used to trying my best to inconvenience people as little as possible, but he insisted that it was ok for there to be extra work to ensure that I have the same educational opportunities as everyone else. I know this is the law, but I'm always surprised when people live it. It was a really good meeting!
I spent the middle of the day resting and writing. I think I have been doing things backwards by trying to do everything starting at 7:00 in the morning and going straight through the day. I seem to do much better and have a much higher energy level if I take a good long rest break during the day. I'm hoping to stay up until the end of a meeting that starts at 10pm tonight which would be way later than I have been able to stay awake previously.
After my rest I attended my first ever Shabbat dinner! I felt like I had a big sign on my head saying "Poser!" at first because I didn't know quite what to do, but I quickly realized that lots of the people there were new to everything. (I wasn't the only one who forgot not to mix cheese and meat on my plate. haha) It was really nice getting to learn more about being Jewish because that is half of my heritage that is largely unexplored. My goal is to learn the standard prayers by the end of the voyage. Shabbat Sholom!
I went right from Shabbat to the first Diversity organization meeting. The people there were really cool and funny. We basically just got to know each other and brainstormed ideas for events during the voyage. It was really cool to hear what ideas students brought from other universities and to share some activities I learned from WOW (Week of Welcome.) My main goal for the meeting was to bring up discussion on disability as a component of diversity. It is something that is so often neglected and something that is obviously pretty important to me. Everyone was really receptive and even excited that I brought that to the meeting. I talked with the RA and student leader afterwards and somehow volunteered to lead talks and Q & A sessions on disability. I guess I forgot that my foremost disability is my fear of public speaking! haha
As I was talking to the student leader she said that I guess tons of people are all talking about me and wondering why I do things like wear my dorky (aka awesome) bright blue cooling vest and sit down on the ground in awkward places on tours. (And they haven't even seen Benny the wheelchair yet!) I felt oddly amused that so many people were talking and wondering about me. As someone who's main goal for the majority of my life was to be invisible, it is an amusing situation. I wouldn't say I mind, I just wish we lived in an environment where people wouldn't be afraid to just walk up to me and ask. People are so afraid I will get offended which is pretty hysterical knowing me. Something needs to be done to promote acceptance without making people afraid to say the wrong thing. Maybe doing the talks will help people feel more comfortable in my little corner of the world.

Fun Facts #2
-Shaving one's legs on a rocking boat is a whole new kind of challenge. (Sorry no new for seriousness fun facts today.)




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Back at Sea On My Way to Brazil

Hey Dad! Guess what! Grandma bought a house!

I'm settling in to shipboard life. I think I have the food situation worked out by eating smaller meals like I'm used to and then being a little more hungry between meals. I do much better being hungry than over-full, so it has worked well. The sleep thing is also getting better. Since I can rarely sleep in, I've been going to bed embarrassingly early so I have good energy during the day. I even managed to get close to 12 hours of sleep with this strategy! Seasickness is not a huge problem. I tend to get a bit woozy in the afternoons, but only some days. I am a complete mess when trying to walk aroudn the ship with the rocking and it is really fun! When I had a stroke I said if felt like I was on a rocking boat. Now that I am on a ship, I say it feels like the fun kind of stroke. haha Luckily this time, other people feel the rocking too. :0P

Yesterday was a little rough for me because the excitement of everything has worn down and a bit of homesickness set in. It's that difficult part of any new thing where I don't REALLY know people or have a group of friends yet. Meeting new people constantly is really fun and exciting but also exhausting. It's all part of the adventure though. :0)

In my melancholy mood I did some thinking about what I want to do with my life and what kind of person I want to become and then wrote it off as a waste of time because the answer is always "I don't know." I just worry that having a chronic illness forces me to live too much in the moment without thinking of the big picture. Whatever, I'm only 23. I'm not supposed to have it all figured out yet. I decided to watch Doctor Who instead of continuing that internal dialog.

Since I am learning so many new things about the world, I wanted to add a "Fun Fact" section on my blog to summarize what I found most interesting in the past few days. So here goes.

Fun Facts
-Remember that powder I had a picture of in my last post? The one that is from a cassava root and used to make bread? Well I tried some that was unprocessed figuring since no one told me not to, it would be ok. And today I found out it contains cyanide. Good thing I only had a little! haha Maybe I'll ask before I taste next time.
-Dominica has 365 rivers!
-Many cultures that practice animism dance to invite communication with the spirits. The spirits love to dance so when they see people dancing and having a good time, they can't bear to miss out on the fun.
-Brazil is one of a very few countries that was named after an export. It was named after Brazilwood which is a firey red color and used to make many musical instruments.
-Next time you are relaxing in a hammock, you can thank the Tupi, a native group in Brazil
-1 in 10 species (I think of just animals, but maybe animals and plants) lives in the Amazon
-My Grandma did not actually buy a house. It's an inside joke with my dad.

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Dominica (Day 2)


I am seriously in love with this country!  I had another beautiful day in Dominica today and was very sad to leave.  






I decided to be a bit gutsy and didn't even bring my wheelchair on the field program today.  Turns out I didn't' need it even though I was a lot more tired today.  Today the trip was a bus tour to the Carib Indians, the indigenous population on the island.  The drive was beautiful and our guide was fantastic.  I'm going to call our bus The Little Engine that Could because it definitely had to struggle up those hills and through the potholes!  The roads in Dominica can get quite rough.  Sometimes we were driving through the rainforest on a tiny uneven road and then a car would be coming at us head on!  What seemed to barely be a one way road then had to become a two way road.  Despite the rough condition of some of the roads, I felt safer there than driving in LA.  The drivers all knew what they were doing and went as slow as was needed to be safe.  (Something many LA drivers should learn.)




We stopped briefly to hike through the rainforest to a waterfall and emerald pool.  I went about 3/4 of the way and turned around because I was getting tired and the rest of the way was really steep up and down hill.  I'm already putting my poor body through enough!  haha  It was very peaceful walking back through the forest alone (don't worry mom and dad, I asked my guide if it was safe first).  I also had some time to peruse the two little shopping booths at the entrance to the trail.  I didn't buy much because it was pretty touristy, but I did get a couple trinkets.  I also got the rare chance to see an agudi (correct spelling pending…) which is kind of like the awkward love child of a gunny pig and a weenier dog.  With long skinny legs.  





Back on the bus and some more treacherous driving (to us city kids) we arrived at the Carib Indian community.  It pretty much was like any other place we had driven past which was  a little disappointing at first.  We had brief glimpses of daily life (which is pretty much like our own: work, school, laundry…) but mostly we toured a few different set-ups where community members showed us some daily tasks from their lives. 




First stop was learning how to juice sugar cane.  It was pretty cool and a few of us actually got to try our hand at it.  The juice tasted very strange, not just like sugar like I expected.  It had a kind of grassy aspect to is, but wasn't unpleasant.






Next we learned about basket weaving and tried a bit ourselves.  The baskets are made with different patterns in each community so you can tell where they came from.  In daily life, the baskets would be used to wrap gifts and store jewelry.  The lady said that one basket would take her about two hours to make. 



The next stop was something about medicinal herbs but I couldn't hear because:
A.)  I was pretty tired at this point and seeing more of the view bellow than whatever herbs were being discussed.




B.)  A very cute distraction in the form of ATTACK PUPPY.  (I think you can see where he go this name.  He really enjoyed chomping on whatever he could reach.)  Don't worry mom and dad.  He didn't break any skin and I purled the heck out of my hands afterwards.  haha






The final station showed how they make flat break out of powder from a root.  I tasted the powder pre-cooked and it tasted pretty much like flour.  The bread however was fantastic!  It kind of tasted like really good sourdough bread.  We also got to sample some fresh coconut on the way back.









BEfore we got back on the bus, there were more local treats for us including green bananas (tasted like bread!), slices of a root (also tasted like bread!), more coconut candy, and a really good fish salad.  

The ride back to our ship was rather subdued since everyone was so tired.  I got a last few pictures of the island and then it was unfortunately time to leave.  I am DEFINITELY coming back here!





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Dominica!!! (Day 1)

Dominica is completely amazing!  I don't think any of us were incredibly excited about this unknown place until we got here and discovered how beautiful it is!  If you ever get a chance to go here, do it!

I started out my first day in Dominica by sleeping in.  It was only until about 8:30 but that's way better than the few preceding days.  I of course wanted to get off the ship and go exploring first thing, but 
I knew that I should save my energy for the field program I had at 2:30.  It is pretty difficult to pace myself when I know that I'm not going to be back here soon, but it's better than making myself sick and missing out completely.  I've decided that at each port, my main goals will be to participate in the field programs I have scheduled and any other time exploring instead of resting is bonus.  Going off with a group of people not on a tour presents many difficulties anyway.  For example, I don't' want people to feel burdened by me because I'm slow and may need help being pushed in the.  Also, if people go out and I can't stay out as long as them, I would have to get back on my own.  On the tours, we all stay as a group and the guides are used to helping people with disabilities.  It's a better set up for me so I am glad that I have so many tours scheduled.  :0)

Ok, back to my adventures.  I showed up really early to meet with my tour group to let the people in charge know that I was disabled and needed to bring my wheelchair.  It turned out to be way less painless than I anticipated!  People carried my chair down the stairs and off the boat for me, and I could push it from there.  The tour I went on was a 4X4 adventure tour of the island which basically means I got to ride in the open air on the back of a jeep.  Think Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland but for reals.  haha  Every single part of the tour was amazing!  The driving part was really fun with all the bouncing and getting to know my fellow SASers.  We had a great group of people so there was lots of laughing and exchanging stories.  Our tour guide was fantastic and she did a great job explaining what we were seeing and other aspects of the island.  The scenery is absolutely amazing.  It reminds me of pictures I've seen of Ecuador.  :0)  Near the coast is was pretty hot and humid but as we got up to the rain forest and higher elevation (up to 2,000 feet!) it got a lot cooler.  The landscape is very rugged with winding roads and communities build on mountainsides.  


We made a few stops on the tour as well.  The first one was at the top of a hill that looked over the capital.  We could see many of the important buildings as well as your ship.  We moved on to the botanical gardens.   Though small, there was lots to see.  I made friends with a caterpillar that kind of looked like a flamboyant silk worm.  (I raise silkworms at home as a hobby.)  I had a bit of trouble at that stop because my cooling vest was not very cold and the temperate was pretty warm.  I sat down on the ground as we stopped beside each plant and other than a few strange looks, all was well.  The next stop was a bit of a hike up some stairs that led to a volcanic water spurting thing (I am blanking on the name haha).  As we got closer, the smell of eggs got stronger.  Luckily I don't' mind the smell at all, so I hung out at our destination a bit longer than some other people.  I kneeled down to take a picture of some of the crystals I saw on a rock and got a surprise that the ground was quite hot!  There was also steam coming out of various holes in the ground a long the trail.  









Our final, and most amazing stop was again a bit of a hike down a gravel trail.  I was a little confused once we arrived because I knew we would be swimming, but I could only see a small, shallow pool of water.  Then I looked to the side an realized that what had appeared to be a sheer rock face was actually a huge gorge.  Leaning out further I saw that the gorge was so tall and steep that it looked more like a cave than anything.  If anyone has every been to The Narrows, it was kind of like that, but with black volcanic rock and vegetation outlining the distant sky.  Getting into the water took some courage.  Our guide described it as "refreshing" which naturally means mind numbingly cold.  Geared up with my waterproof camera case and a super sexy floating belt I went in.  I quickly found out that doing nothing for four years left me ill-equipped to swim up current to the waterfall that was our final destination.  I was definitely glad that I had that floating belt because I needed to stop and rest every half of a minute or so.  This was actually a good opportunity to float on my back and gaze up at the jungle and very blue sky.  After much struggling (the fun kind) and help from some very nice people, I finally made it to the waterfall (which by the way was used in the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie).  I clambered up onto a rock ledge, caught my breath, and then jumped in to the base of the waterfall (another thing that took some courage.)  The way back was with the current, so it was much easier.  I was a little worried that all the exertion would take a tole on me, but I was fine getting out of the water.  There was a small display of tropical fruits awaiting us and I helped myself to some sugarcane and pineapple.  I also bought some coconut candy which was delicious and I had lots left to share.  A common local snack is a coconut bun which is coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar wrapped in dough and then cooked.  Delicious!  The coconut candy was pretty much the standard filling with the addition of ginger.  Getting back on the jeep, I felt very accomplished that I got through my first field program without incident and WITHOUT NEEDING MY WHEELCHAIR!  





The rest of the day I again reigned myself in and had an quick dinner and an early bedtime.  :0)  

P.S.  I really don't have time to proofread these, so I apologize for what I imagine are many typos.  

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Time on the Ship


I'm really learning that you have to be easy going on a trip like this.  Today has been a parade of complication after complication.  First, I found out today that the field program (kind of like a lab) section for each of my classes is different from when I signed up and payed for the non-refundable field programs.  So currently I have all these awesome field programs that I don't get me any course credit.  The options I've been hearing are not passing the class, dropping the class, or working something out with the dean.  I'm going to choose option three, but haven't had a chance because so many other students are in the same situation.  I'm not sure why the requirements changed and why there aren't accommodations being made for the situation, but maybe that is to come.  I also just found out that I will not in fact be able to get currency for the other countries on the ship in $25 increments.  SAS only offers exchanges for a few of the countries and it is in increments of $50 with a $15 additional fee.  (I'm not sure how much it would be back home, so maybe that is an ok fee amount.)   I just have to keep in perspective that I am still having an amazing time and it will still be an amazing trip even if I have to drop a class or miss out on some of the planned field programs.  Ain't nobody gonna take my safari or trip to Tibet away and those are what I am looking forward to most.  :0)  

In my quest to figure all of this out, I found a really nice homework spot on the ship right outside my room.  It's the smoking area so hardly anyone comes by and it's nice to have a bit of time to myself for an hour or two a day.  I have to tell you it really beats studying in a dorm room!  haha  It's also completely impossible to stay stressed with the gentle sway of the ship, salty wind, and beautiful scenery out here!

I am completely looking forward to my first port tomorrow!  We will be stopping in Dominica (pronounced dom-an-eek-ah) for two days.  The program does a lot to help prepare us and educate us about the ports.  For example, I learned that Dominica is not in fact a Spanish speaking island off the coast of Brazil like I had initially thought.  (I feel rather silly now.)  Dominica is an island in the Caribbean that is unique in many ways to the other nearby islands.  One aspect is that it has very rugged geography which prevented some of the stronger influence of colonialism.  (Couldn't grow the crops that were popular at the time.)  The politics have been relatively stable, especially in the last decade with less corruption than some of it's neighbors.  The economy is not doing so great as their previous main export, bananas, is not doing well after having to compete with the larger corporations of banana farmers.  The government does have several strategies to address this and the future will tell us how these strategies work out.  In our pre boarding cultural talk, as well as global studies, the uncomfortable subject of tourist resentment that was brought up in the book A Small Place which I plan to discuss in a future post.  The subject is uncomfortable because in some ways I feel like we deserve the resentment, and in some ways, I feel like the resentment is unfair.  I'm realizing that so much of this trip is finding out where I fit in to the world.  Am I a tourist, traveler or student?  What is my role when I visit these countries and what should my role be?  These and many more I will continue to ponder as I excitedly wait the first destination.

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I'm On A Boat!

I don't think I mentioned this in my last post, but we actually didn't leave the port yesterday. There was a problem with people getting Visas to Brazil so they are stuck in Florida still. Being an already awesome community, the boat is not leaving without them. :0) We actually set sail just after 12:00 today but only to swim around for a bit and then get back to port to pick the students up by 5:00. I think the time we will actually be off on this incredible adventure is going to be around 8:00 PM tonight. Even though the sailing at 12:00 wasn't us officially leaving, it was still very exciting. I was out on deck with a new friend and her family so I had a good view of everything. It was really fun waving to the people on the shore (even though my mom and dad were actually at the airport already. sad face.) and cheering with everyone when they blew the horn. I got some great pictures and bit of shaking video footage of the whole thing.



The rest of the day has unfortunately been filled with rather tedious meetings. The usual "don't cheat, don't abuse substances, don't attack anyone" that is really important but also pretty boring. The speakers did a great job of making it as painless as possible which is a commendable feat. Especially because many of us were feeling the first touches of seasickness during the meetings.




In addition to the movement of the boat, I'm noticing a few things are going to be a bit challenging for me. Like eating what is cooked for me and only at meal times. i usually eat really small meals (of whatever won't make me nauseous at that time) throughout the day. No can do here. I know that I will adjust though. The lack of sleep in another new thing for me. So far there have been meetings that go until 10:00 PM and then start the next day at 9:00 PM which leaves me far less than the 10-12 hours of sleep a night that I am used to. I don't see anything as something I won't get used to though. One of the good things about having a disability is that I'm very used to challenges and getting over them. It's almost like I've been in the travelers mindset for the last four years. :0)



As for the people sailing with me, everyone I met has been extremely nice and fun to talk to. I thought it would be overwhelming to meet so many new people, but I'm actually enjoying it. Each time I go to a meeting, wander onto the deck, or sit down for a meal, I meet new awesome people. As the trip goes on, we will probably all settle into groups, but now it's mostly just meeting as many people as possible.
I'm having a great time and I know it's only going to get better!

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Embarkation!

I'M ON A BOAT!!!!!


I still can't really believe I made it! I feel so lucky to be here and have this opportunity!
Embarkation day started VERY early. We had to wake up at 6:00 AM (after loud drunken kids kept us awake all night) to get ready and leave for the port at 6:45 AM. We were expecting to hit lots of traffic, but the streets were not busy yet so we got to the dock about 50 minutes early. After I got over being grumpy about waking up earlier than I needed to, I was glad to be second in line for the day. My parents and I chatted with the other SASers in line as we waited for the doors to open.



 As we got closer to the 8:00 boarding, I was getting a little nervous about saying goodbye to my parents. I think they gave me enough hugs in the last ten minutes to last me for at least half of the trip! haha The doors finally opened and we gave our last hugs (and no one cried! go us!) and I stepped into the security building on my own. I didn't really have time to process because I was whisked through security and onto the boat. Once on the boat, I went through a really short registration type process and then headed to my room.
I was surprised how nice the room is! There is a huge window and a bigger bathroom than I have at home. (Yay for being disabled!) The only drawbacks are that there is less storage than other people but I'm easily making that work. I'm on the 5th deck right by one of the dining rooms and the deck is just a few steps from my door.




 My roomie showed up a few hours after me and I knew that we would get a long right away. She is really nice, easygoing, and considerate. We've been hanging out a lot and going to most meals and meetings together along with a friend she met at her hotel.


My first public display of dysautonomia was during the safety drill. (way sooner than I expected my incognito to be compromised.) Basically, the drill consisted of putting on long pants, a sweatshirt, and those sexy life-vests and then standing straight for a half an hour. In the middle of the day in the Bahamas. I'm proud that I lasted about 15 minutes before I had to sit down, and 25 minutes before I was discovered by the crew members. The people right around me were really cool about it and were laughing with me as I tried to explain to them my er...quirks. The crew kind of freaked out because I didn't adequately convey that my condition is chronic and they thought i was dehydrated or something. The con of this was that there was a little bit of commotion and I had to disrupt the drill as they figured out what to do with me, the pro was that I got to go back to my room early and take those dreadful clothes off.



The rest of the day was spent unpacking, touring the boat, meeting new people (yay catchphrase!), and going to orientation meetings. By the end of the day I was beyond tired and a little homesick, but I just read for a bit and was able to get to sleep feeling content.
P.S. I can receive e-mail right now but can't send, so the blog is probably going to get a whole bunch of posts at once when I finally figure this thing out.

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Nassau!

 






    I'm really glad that the boat leaves from Nassau because it is a really great place to spend a few days exploring.  The downtown area and the area right by the hotels is a bit touristy.  (OK completely touristy).  Luckily, it isn't difficult to find things to do other than shop at outrageously priced jewelry stores and restaurant chains we have at home.

   The first day here was mostly just the evening by the time we were all settled in.  We took a bus downtown and poked around a little bit.  We kind of forgot my wheelchair and then I didn't need it even though we walked for hours.  That was a nice surprise.  We unfortunately had to eat at a chain restaurant because everything else was closed, but we scoped out some places for the next day.  The bus ride home was quite an experience.  When we got on the bus, it was full of locals chatting and laughing on their way home from work.  Then THEY got on.  THEY were a group of middle aged adults that were the very worst in American stereotypes.  They were completely wasted (at 6:30!) and completely loud and rude.  They sat on either side of this poor kid and were being horrible to him.  I was so embarrassed that these people would be lumped in with other tourists who were a lot more responsible and respectful, but I guess there is nothing that can be done.

   The next day was fantastic!  We went to our free dolphin encounter that came with the livingsocial hotel coupon (as did breakfast each day.)  I did one of these when I was little, and remember it being a complete tourist trap.  Even though we went to the same place as before, it was fantastic!  Each person got several opportunities to interact with the dolphin, getting hugs and kisses, dancing, and of course getting splashed.  I was impressed that the place was pretty accesible and well equipped to provide a memorable experience to people with different abilities.  There was a man in a wheelchair in my group and it didn't limit any part of the experience.  After the dolphin encounter, we had some time until the last boat to we did a little exploring around the island.  I actually wish there was more time because there was a lot to see (including baby dolphins!)




    On the way back from the excursion, our cab driver was kind enough to show us a great place to eat.  I skeptically ordered a whole fish which I normally don't like but I was pleasantly surprised.  The fish was amazing and I wish I had a bigger stomach so I could have eaten the whole thing!  Thanks to watching countless episodes of Bizarre Foods with my dad, I was brave enough to sample the eye and part of the head meat.  Just as good as my buddy Andrew said it would be.  :0)


   Today started off a little disappointing with the snorkeling trip we had booked not actually having room for us.  We decided to go to the Ardastra Gardens/Zoo which was a good choice.  There were quite a few interesting animals there and an opportunity to feed tropical birds.  I met another SASer there and we had fun chatting about classes and field programs.
    We grabbed a bite to eat on the way back at a place we knew would be good because it was filled with locals.  I'm pretty sure that I had the best hamburger of my life there actually.  We followed lunch with a few hours on the beach and now I'm out in the lobby of the hotel hoping to find some other SASers to talk to.  (As you can tell from the length of this post, no luck so far.  haha)
I'm really excited to board the boat tomorrow!  It will be bright and early at 8:00am so we will have to leave the hotel at around 6:45 because of traffic.  Eesh!  I'm actually not that nervous anymore.  I think I got all that out of my system before and now just want to get on that boat!

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Getting There

   I made it to the beautiful Bahamas!  It was quite a trip, but not nearly as bad as for some other people coming from California.  For some reason there aren't any flights directly to the Bahamas and the layovers I've been hearing about are crazy.  (9 hours in the middle of the night!)  I opted to have the trip take two days so we flew to North Carolina on Sunday, spent the night there, and then flew to Nassau on Monday.  Everything went really smoothly and I held up well even with the lack of sleep.   The most difficult thing was figuring out how to transport all of our luggage plus a wheelchair.   There were lots of other SASers traveling on my plane and it was quite a comedy to see us all struggling with a semester's worth of oversized luggage!
   I have been very much enjoying the Bahamas so far, but more on that later.  I'm off to go explore the nearby gardens and conservation center.  :0)
  

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Posted by Emily Block | 1 comments

Cleared for Take-Off!

I guess there won't he a packing part II post yet.  I just ran out of time and I'll try to add it later.


Aside from a few things (like the computer I am typing on) I am finally packed!  Even though I started packing quite a while ago, today was still really hectic.  I decided that no matter how prepared you are, no mater how many lists you make, no matter how much extra room you think you have, you will end up scrambling around at the last minute looking like this:


True story.
In addition to packing, I finished and sent in my applications to graduate school!  I'm just checking off more and more things off of my list! 


Other than that, the last few days have just been saying goodbye to friends and family.  It's sad to say goodbye, but I know that I'll see them all again before I know it.  :0)


I can't wait to get on that plane tomorrow and finally go!

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Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you!

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