A Bahamian Fourth of July

By: Sarah Donelan, high school alumna High School Study Abroad, Marine Biology, Wildlife Biology

This was the best Fourth of July ever! After a small sleep in, we woke up to Jordan blowing the conch shell horn. It is such a great way to start the day; it sure beats an alarm clock! We soon found out, much to our chagrin, that today’s morning exercise would consist of a triathlon. This was no wimpy triathlon that our six crazy- awesome instructors had planned, either. So they took us down to the beach, split us into teams, and just as all of us were getting into it, the six of them burst out laughing and told us it was a joke! Haha…not funny! They sure fooled us. In the time we had left for morning exercise, we played our favorite game- KEEPAWAY! – staff vs. kids as always. We then ran to breakfast and enjoyed a meal filled with the usual laughter, jokes, and great conversation. This, however, was mixed with some seriousness; we were taking our midterm that morning. But everyone felt confident after last night’s group review and this morning’s panic study and the test turned out to be great for everyone.

After the test, our anticipation mounted as to how we were going to spend our Fourth of July on Eleuthera. It turned out our staff had another secret. We biked down to the marina, found loads of great looking food and coolers there, packed it all on the boats and jumped on. We sped (and I mean sped!) across the gorgeous turquoise water, over the big waves, and under the Bahamian sun to an uninhabited island with the most beautiful beach. It was like a scene from a movie, it was so perfect. All of us, including the instructors, marveled at our awesome surroundings. After we unpacked the boats, the afternoon was spent laughing in the pristine water, playing keep away, and lounging on the beach writing in journals and talking. Almost everyone went snorkeling, too. There were tons of great fish in the shallow waters, huge schools of bright colors. My snorkel buddy and I even saw a nurse shark! We also played a group game of greasy watermelon (loads of laughs) and as the evening started, a bonfire was lit and our yummy barbecue began. Once again eating off our fins (no paper plates = less trash), we watched the sunset over the sparkling water. But the day was far from over.

Since it was the Fourth, we had surprise sparklers and s’mores. We then noticed that M.H. and Dave (two of our instructors) were missing. Just then, a huge red firework rocketed into the sky and we heard whoops of laughter from our “missing’ staff. The students and staff all laid next to each other, put our arms around one another, and watched the display. The night concluded with glums and glows around the fire. Everyone said that this was the best day of their life, and it was true. I even got a little teary eyed as we went around saying how much we loved each other. My glow was that I was able to spend my favorite holiday in a beautiful place surrounded by people I love. Smiles broke out across everyone’s faces as they nodded their heads in agreement. As glums and glows concluded, I saw people laughing, hugging, and sighing. This was amazing. Sure this day was extra special, but every day here in Eleuthera was. The people (staff and kids), the places (on land and in the water), and the activities (mango picking, lectures, and church) were amazingly magical. This trip is not even half over and I’ve already got Bahamian sand ingrained in my skin, Bahamian fun ingrained on my mind, and Bahamian love ingrained in my soul. Here’s to an even better (is that possible?) second half of the trip.