Location: Roseau, Dominica
Today we finished our last watch team rotations, our last moments together in all likelihood in these groups, gathered under the stars on Argo’s deck for the sole purpose of protecting these people we have come to love over the past 74 days. We awoke (if we weren’t already on watch) to Smudge’s good morning, good morning, good morning, welcoming us to Dominica. Within minutes of, in most cases, falling out of bed, the entire crew was awake on deck, heaving at lines, pulling at Argo’s massive sails, pulling them down, so that we could properly anchor. I was proud of us this morning, of how we were able to abandon any feeling of fatigue, hunger or even pain for the betterment of the group.
BA or Boat Appreciation is always tedious. Instead of anchoring and immediately delving into the new land we have come upon, we muster together, and clean Argo. This process is tedious, tiring and often frustrating, but it is also special because it gives us the opportunity to reflect on how important Argo is to us. She is literally the reason we have been able to make it this far; she has taken care of us, carried us across an ocean, and rocked us to sleep at night. Getting to rinse her down, and scrub off the salt water she has accumulated before doing anything else is a way we remind ourselves how important she really is. I was so proud of the crew today. After a shaky start flaking the main sail, the crew really came together and worked really hard to get everything accomplished. Students were asking where they were needed, and no one stood around for more than a second or two. We challenged ourselves to do jobs we haven’t done previously, and helped each other grow to learn.
This evening we had the privilege of learning about whales from a local whale expert who is conducting post-doctoral research on sperm whales. His presentation made what we have studied in oceanography and marine biology tangibly real. We could see and hear about the consequences of the negative practices we have written and debated about. This is only the beginning of what Dominica has to offer.
To anyone thinking about coming on this trip, I want to include this poem. This trip has been, and I’m sure will continue to be an amazing and yet unexpected experience. It is a place to challenge yourself to become the person you were always meant to be. While Kaptain Kris thinks that poetry is responsible for the destruction of the rainforest, I am going to include this poem that solidified some of the feelings that I had about this adventure I was about to embark upon.
Birth-by Leanne O’Sullivan
Now comes November,
My birth time, and white ribs of tide
uproot the silence of the bay.
Today I break from stone onto sand,
motherless, my mother a stone
bedding the earth and dreaming my image.
I stretch like a snail from a deep sleep,
my flesh gathering its warm fabrics
and un-knitting me from this womb.
I listen and mimic the flood-tide,
open my ears to the haul of shells,
sheer salts erupting my birth-cry.
My eyes lift as the day begins
to shape itself, light being emptied
into it as a soft fall of rain sweeps
my moss-lined palms. I tread
into this soaked brightness,
bogland and the air full of fuchsia.
This is the blood and bone of my mother,
sheets of grass and weed – all her flushing skins
I lean on with my hands and knees.
Feeling a thirst gently pull
I bring my mouth to the fall of water
from a leaf to taste the cool, plentiful drops.
I shake the drench from my branches, my limbs
and lips moving fluently, the way a full throat
learns to move for its earliest swallowing.
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