Just as every other day, we ate a tasty breakfast at 8:00. By 9:00 (ok, a bit past 9:00) we embarked on the vans towards the southern side of the island. It was rather windy, so we tailored our schedule accordingly. Our first stop was an optional snorkel in Lighthouse Club Marina. Over half the group swam up a fierce current in a prom-like procession of pairs of two. Major complaints were made about the strength of the current (very) and the fact that our spacing was inadequate to prevent a flipper to the face. The fish were abounding, however. On the tough trek up and the lackadaisical ride back with the current, we saw some wicked colorful fish swimming solitary and in schools. Some people even observed a yellow and brown spotted octopus chilling on a sandy bed underneath a fiberglass hull. Our group had lots to say about the snorkel:
“If I weren’t in the water, sweat would have been dripping down my brow”
“I was breathing so hard through my snorkel, and the sound was hunting. It sounded like a shark attack movie.”
“If I had stopped swimming for my life I would have been swept out to sea.”
Post-snorkel, we took some time to walk about the Lighthouse Club Marina, which had once been the swanky haunt of the likes of Frank Sentara. Story goes, the owner of the Lighthouse Club was a player. After getting a local woman pregnant, he was cursed by her mother who just happened to be a wood witch. He would never return to the island once he left. Thinking the curse was crazy, the man took off. While starting the propeller on his plane for the return trip to the island, a propeller went rogue and sliced off his head in one swift action. His decapitation shocked the locals, who abandoned the club in droves, leaving food on tables and beds unmade. For years, the club stood abandoned. In 1968, a major hurricane decimated all of the buildings. Recently, the Lighthouse Club has been rebuilt. We spent some time exploring the modern club, especially the lighthouse itself. Perhaps most importantly, we ate lunch: deli sandwiches atop the sunny marina pavement. While we ate, a school of dolphins swam by, and we raced along the pavement to catch glimpses of their dorsal fins in the water before they took off into the open ocean.
Full and almost dry, we trooped back to the vans to deposit our snorkel gear before walking down a short dirt road to the Ambrosia factory, a business where locals employ a traditional Batik technique to dye and color fabrics. We walked through the three rooms of the small but spacious cement building. In the first, sponges dipped in hot wax are stamped on the fabric in a planned pattern. In the second, the fabric is dipped in a bright dye. The dye is set in hot water, which also melts the wax. The result is a vibrant color on all but the stamped pattern. Finally, the fabric is brought to the sewing room where it is cut and sewn into all sorts of products: large men’s shirts, backpacks, and tablecloths. Final products are either sent to customers (in the case of a commission) or more likely, placed in display in the factory store. At the factory store, we were dazzled by the wide array of products on display, everything from placemats to full-length dresses. There was never a shortage of us around the bandana rack, trying to find the “coolest” way to wear their fabric. Also, many of us came to the consensus that the most appealing gift to parents would be a canvas bag with various patters “they can store groceries in it,” we all claimed. I guess we kids really only think about food.
Returning to the vans, we headed out to a blue hole, with a small pit stop at the convenience store (so David could go to the bank). Along the way, we sang along with the harmonies belting from the speaker connected to the intern’s I-pod, displaying our slightly atrocious singing skills. At the blue hole, we jumped off of the 20-foot dock one by one, into the crystal fresh water below. Fighting with our BC’s, we swam the length of the blue hole, joking and diving along the way. After some final cannon balls into the hole, we dried off and headed and piled into the buses to head “home”.
After a dinner consisting of tuna casserole and banana pudding, we headed to our seven o’clock lecture on fish ID. The lecturer was quite surprised that we actually had some inkling of the material at hand (go Waynflete science!), and we readily enjoyed expanding our knowledge of vertebrates of the vast blue.
At ten o’clock, we headed into our cabins to reminisce about our amazing day, and dream about the adventures to come.
Following are some video highlights of the day: