Okay, so here is the latest Marni update. I am currently on Heron Island and loving it despite one truly hideous ferry ride where I hurled not once but eight times. According to my friends my lips were chalk white and I looked like death zapped in a microwave for thirty seconds. Thankfully, I’m much better now—although dreading the ride back. On the plus side, because no one wanted to disturb me while I slept off my seasickness I now have an entire dormitory room all to myself. This is truly wonderful and not a luxury I take for granted.
But back to Heron Island. This is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
I still can’t believe that I’m getting school credit for being here. Let me describe what I did today. I woke up around 6:30, ate a delicious breakfast with my friends and headed straight to the beach. We all read and relaxed, looking up at intervals to stare in awe at the ever-changing water which is streaked liberally with teal and royal blue. In the morning light the beach glows peach and the gray clouds only made the whole scene more dramatic and picturesque. I swear to you it’s like standing in a postcard. We had our lecture for the day on reef ecology at 10 o’clock only to take a “tea break” at 10:50. Then the real work did begin. We broke into groups, plotted out a research project (checking out the biodiversity of corals in three different zones on the reef flat) put on our water suits and began collecting data.
Now normally I would complain about being forced to do science. But since my group was really good about letting me focus on my strengths (like coming up with all the puns for our presentation) I actually had a good time. It also helps that I am at the Great Barrier Reef! My friends saw some little reef sharks and I saw a manta ray, electric colored clams, shock blue starfish, spotted sea cucumbers and oh did I mention the green sea turtle hatchlings!
Let me back up for a second. We picked the perfect time to come to Heron Island since all the hatchling turtles are making their run for the ocean (not an easy task with all the silver birds and crabs waiting to snatch them up for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack). It’s both tragic and beautiful. We cheer on these turtles and stand near them flapping our arms to scare off any birds that get too close. Then we watch as they get picked off right before our eyes. Still, last night we all went for a walk on the beach and a whole group of sea turtles were suddenly surrounding us, scrambling for the waves and crawling over our feet in the process. It made me feel gigantic in comparison to these delicate hatchlings and yet humbled at the same time. These guys are facing down serious adversity and at least 90% of them won’t make it to adolescence. But each one is so determined to make it into the waves that they make you believe it’ll be the one to beat the odds. This also makes it even more heartbreaking when a bird snatches them up right in front of you.
As for the rest of my day: just working on the project and eating dinner. I might do some writing in my room . . . or I might not. I have successfully plotted out a lot of my current work in progress so that’s a small success.
My novel plans . . . cool, right!
I feel like I’m on vacation right now. I’ve also been asking all sorts of great questions that might find themselves worked into a novel down the road. The funny part is that a UC group of students are also here are they are working significantly harder. Poor saps. Of course, we LC kids think it’s hilarious that every time we see them they are working and every time they see us we are enjoying another “tea break.”
What else . . . well, the snorkeling here is fantastic. I’ve only been once so far but that will be rectified tomorrow. Lots of fish to be seen and hopefully some sharks too. There have already been a few shark sightings (the variety with teeth not just the little reef guys I’ve already seen) but apparently they are not really a danger. I just need to avoid cone shells, which sting you if you pick them up. Did I mention they kill you in roughly fifteen minutes and that there is no existing anti-venom? Yeah. Our first day here we had a lecture on everything deadly and dangerous. Derek must have noticed our nervous expressions because he finished all calmly by saying “I’m not saying this to freak you out.” To which all of us thought: yeah, well, you succeeded anyway!
But it’s not so scary. To be honest everything here is so freaking gorgeous that you forget about the potential for danger. And as long as I don’t do anything insanely stupid I’ll be returned to the US in mint condition.
So this update is coming to you courtesy of the resort that is on the island. Internet access costs three bucks for twenty minutes so I was careful to write this blog out beforehand. I am also probably not going to be in contact with you guys again before my return to the mainland on Saturday. So think very good thoughts for my ferry ride back.
P.S. I was going to send this last night but I didn’t want to get lost on the island in the dark with only the light of my iPod to guide me. I am choosing to ignore all of you out there snickering. I’m glad I tried though because I went out on the beach and the stars are absolutely stunning here. There is no pollution to interfere with the view. I could see bioluminescent jellyfish bobbing onto the shore too. Just beautiful.
P.P.S Internet here sucks. What else is new? Pictures will be added soon though!