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Location: Bonaire

February 26, WHAT a day… Everyone was gleefully woken up promptly at 7:00 to the delightful sounds of Harry Styles. Their joy was evident by the numerous groans and pillows thrown over heads. After a delightful brekky prepared by Kirby and co. we split into teams; the divers and the navigators. The divers were either working towards their certification (they are so close!!) or doing a navigation dive (working towards advanced certification). On the dive, many a critter was spotted, including a baby (?) sea turtle napping, an evil lionfish plotting, and a sea snake (perhaps). The other group (the navigators) navigated using charts (not maps). I can’t speak to the specifics as I was lionfish spotting, but it sounded like a good time. During this time, Miles (photographer of the day) took .5 pictures of the cast and crew. See attached images. After diving, we had some free time before yummy sandwich lunch. During said lunch, Allie ominously asked for ‘all the leftovers from the fridge.’ Yes, you should be afraid. We quickly (like herding cats) collected to hear the details of the long-awaited and much-anticipated challenge course. Our challenge, should we choose to accept, was to first eat a bowl of leftovers mixed with peanut butter as fast as possible with no hands, run a relay to the dinge (dingy), complete a scavenger hunt in town and then make it back to Vela as soon as possible (you will soon learn that the scavenger hunt actually included many a different task). With students split into groups and spirits high, we dug in (literally) to the leftover concoction, my team (team one) absolutely killed it and won by a landslide (shout out to Ben, Charlie, and Ted for that). Then a task was presented. The other groups were to pick someone from the other groups to have a special role in the relay. Those picked included Carla, Daphne, and yours truly (me). After we were picked, our job was announced; to end the relay by doing a backflip off the dinge. It should be noted that none of us had ever done a backflip <3. The relay involved swimming out to the dinghy and climbing onto it and diving back off (seems easy enough, but they were covered in soap), free diving sown for a weight belt on the sea floor and swimming the weights back to shore and finally, the swim to the dinghy to backflip off of it. We dutifully headed to the beach, and after a long struggle and three (3!) successful backflips, team two came out victorious, and the scavenger hunt began. With shoes on, we sped into town carrying none other than our Gumby suits (see giant red lobster suits from day two). If the suit touched the ground, the team got an automatic 15 min penalty. Although the town is pretty small, the teams didn’t see each other until the halfway point… the laundromat. Here our next challenge was presented… fold a fitted sheet, this turned out to be much easier than anticipated, and both teams were out within a minute. You may be asking yourself, “Morana, I thought there were three teams?” you would be right. There were three, but two were much (much) faster, so we left the others far behind. Arriving back to Vela was very close, with team three (?) arriving just before team one (we literally walked back to the ship together). We got together to clean up the peanut butter leftover nastiness (imagine baby poop or vomit, but it’s dried onto the deck). During this time, the question being thrown around was, ‘where in the world is team two? they should be here by now!’ a text 10 minutes later would reveal that they decided to detour the challenge, to a restaurant, for smoothies… so we decided to also go get smoothies (a 10/10 decision). Back on the ship, precisely in 1800, dinner was served at a respectable 1812 (a lovely chicken noodle soup). Question (squeeze question) of the day was ‘what is the best meal you’ve ever had?’ we had answers ranging from a bowl of cereal to pads of butter to a jar of pickles. Everyone had a story as to why that meal was their favorite, many of which included long stretches of hiking. Immediately after dinner, a group of us (including me!) got to go night diving for the first time! We saw less species than earlier in the day, but Carla saw five (5!) evil lionfish. At the end, we saw giant tarpon, the little sea turtle from earlier in the day, lots of coral that glowed in UV light, and (my favorite part) bioluminescent plankton!!! When you waved your arms around in the water (with lights off), they lit up like fireflies of the sea. Although maybe not known, Carla lost her mask way back at the start of the trip (literally the first dive). Today, as she (very kindly) helped me with a leg cramp at the surface, she again lost her mask. After a thorough search, it was thankfully recovered (ocean: 1 Carla:1). Now we’re all winding down (except for the group that headed into town for ice cream), especially those who are getting up early tomorrow morning for a dawn dive!
Lots of love,
Morana

P.S. Hi Mom and Dad and Jolynn and Martin and Betsy and Tim and Nico and Fig and everyone else (I can’t write you all, but you know who you are!), sea life is great. I’m dropping out of college to become a pirate (jk) also, we got buzzed by the Venezuelan government on the way here. love you, bye!

Photographs:
1 – Everyone at the relay race
2 – .5 selfies of all of our faces
3 – during the leftover contest
4 – after the leftover contest
5 – one of the scavenger hunt items
6 – dog on dinge spotted at dinner