Location: St. George's Bay, Grenada

Hello! I would like to begin by saying that accounts of my interactions with animals on this trip have been greatly exaggerated and mostly made up.

That being said, there’s a whole lot to cover today, so let’s dive into it! (haha)
Morning: Mackenzie’s chef team started the day right with orange-glazed scones for breakfast! They also set out a packed lunch for us because we have yet another outing day! As cleanup finished, we jumped into Irv and drove to Port Louis Marina, where we were able to drop off laundry! I was more grateful for that than I can express because I ran out of shorts and was too lazy to wash them, and so I have been almost exclusively wearing sweatpants for the past week…not a smart move in the heat. That important task taken care of, we met our tour guide for the day, Michael. He started out by asking us all about our state of origin and, from then on, almost exclusively referred to us by our state. For example, Sierra became “Ms. Vermont,” and Sunny started off as “Ms. Idaho” but was slowly renamed “Ms. Potato” throughout the day. To my delight, the van had seatbelts!! Roads in the Caribbean seem to lack the comforts that I have grown up with, such as lane dividers, stoplights, and turn signals. Drivers often manage to squeeze through seemingly impossible gaps between moving trucks, and I was much more comfortable with the added safety feature. Michael took us to the lake we saw on the Mt. Qua Qua hike yesterday, a 12-15,000-year-old lake called Grand Etang, a 28 meter deep (over four times the depth under O star right now!) volcanic lake, with manually introduced fish to control the algae. Then we drove to the other side of Grenada as Michael taught us some island facts. (Grenada island is 120 square miles, I won’t forget!). We stopped in what used to be a plantation, and Michael showed us wild plants of cinnamon, allspice, and Grenada’s “Black Gold,” their main export, nutmeg! They look like little green-yellow peaches, and when ripe, they split open and show a black core with red waxy lines all over it: the second spice in the nutmeg fruit, mace. Luckily Sprout (Amanda) was not with us, as she is severely allergic to both cinnamon and nutmeg! We smelled these spices, plus fresh ginger, and so experienced our first fireworks of the day: the fireworks of the nose.

Then we drove through a village bursting with gorgeous gardens full of flowers! We pressed against the windows as the colors whizzed by. Sam said, in awed tones, “they’re like fireworks of nature!” The entire island is blooming with life and color, and as we rushed by the vibrant flowers, it really did look like fireworks bursting past the bus. And so we saw our second fireworks of the day: the fireworks of the eyes.

Next, Michael took us to a small chocolate factory, “Jouvay,” built next to an abandoned, derelict rum distillery that had been repurposed into a cacao garden. We were led through the sequence of cacao harvesting, sorting, and processing to create fresh, rich chocolate. At the end of the tour, we got to sample the results! They make no lighter chocolate than 60%, and their darkest chocolate was 100% pure cacao! None of us were brave enough to try it. We were all definitely brave enough to try their signature banana chocolate smoothies, though! Lunch with the smoothies was magnificent, and thus found our third firework, the fireworks of the mouth.

Michael returned us safe and well-fed to the marina, and those of us with finished laundry picked it up and returned to Ostar. We had an Oceanography class on beaches and coastline formation, and then half of us practiced navigation with Hedrek. Hedrek bribed our attention by throwing an ice cream party before class! It worked until the sugar kicked in, and we ended up giggling over the charts as we tried to plot running fixes while hyper from the two enormous tubs of ice cream, which we ate with spoons on deck.

After dinner, we split into two groups and prepared for a real treat: night dives! The first group grabbed their dive torches and jumped in, swimming down to enjoy the bioluminescent dinoflagellates (question mark?) that permeate the waters. As group two (my group) jumped in and prepared to dive, we saw a chilling sight: a sea wasp. The sea wasp, Alatina alata, is a type of box jellyfish, the most venomous class of cnidarians (stinging celled organisms). Ash says that the time he was stung by one was one of the worst pains in his life. The sea wasp is not lethal, but it sure can sting! Those of us in short wetsuits quickly exited the water and put on skin protection, but as we went to jump in again, Sam and Fizz got a faceful of box jellyfish each! Unfortunately, sea wasps are also nocturnal and are attracted to lights, such as the dive lights we keep on at all times while in the water (in case we drop them, we can find them in the dark). Group two hastily but composedly rushed to exit the water. Brett took a tentacle to the hand, but eventually, everyone got out safe. Sam, Fizz, and Brett said that though the sting hurt and left a distinct mark, it was not as bad as they had thought. They experienced our fourth fireworks of the day, fireworks of the face. The cure for sea wasp stings: very hot water…not attractive on the face.
Group two did not end up going night diving today. However, group one completed it successfully, meaning that Kelly, Savannah, Sarah, and Mackenzie are all Advanced Open Water Divers!!!

Today was a busy one but full of adventure and experiences like always. I’m looking forward to another (hopefully) box jelly-less night dive soon!
For now, another wonderful day on the starship has ended.
Over and out!

1) the lake and a hug! Also, a different view of Mt. Qua Qua in the background
2) Michael shows us spices
3) Nutmeg!
4) View of Grenada
5-9) chocolate tour!
10) Ice cream party! Thanks, Hedrek!
11) Nature’s fireworks