Warm memories from Eleuthera

By: Snehal Sangani, high school alumna High School Adventures, Marine Biology

As I am sitting writing this, snugly wrapped up in a woolly jumper and a long scarf drinking hot chocolate, it is pouring outside in a thunderous storm; cold fat raindrops run like tears fast down the pane. It is at times like these that I wish I were far away from dark dreary London and back in gorgeous Eleuthera, Bahamas, where rain was deliciously warm and infrequent.

This summer I went on Broadreach to Eleuthera, an island in the Bahamas. It was an academic program and although learning marine biology sounded brilliant, I was more excited about the diving because I had only just acquired my Open Water Diver certification and couldn’t wait to dive amongst beautiful coral and incredible fish. I had only dived before in a murky reservoir in England where I had had to wear the most ridiculously loose wetsuit as the water was so cold. In the Bahamas the water is crystal clear and shockingly warm. On the first few days I was completely bowled over by everything – prior to the trip I had just spent a week camping in the mountains of Wales in the most atrocious of weathers so the hot hot Bahamian sun was welcomed most appreciatively, as was the stunning scenery of the island.

I learned a lot about myself after being put in such unfamiliar surroundings. Usually I love meeting new people and can’t stop chattering once started, but for the first week I was intensely quiet and shy. When the others in the group arrived though, excitement overcame my shyness and I soon felt as if I had known everyone for years. Friendships made on the trip are truly strong as you have to live with people and all their quirks for a month. I have to say that I truly miss a lot of my Broadreach friends because you really do tend to bond when you do everything together and share so many experiences. Every day something reminds me of someone on the trip. “I Will Survive” came on the radio today and I suddenly found myself on one of the morning exercise runs to high rock, for which Ellen, Emily and I would bellow out this song as loud as we could manage whilst running.

Handling new situations, learning new skills and having great experiences has left me with a great sense of achievement. One of the things that will definitely make this summer memorable was that I learned how to ride a bike. I had never been taught when I was little and I had never learned because I did not need to. Thankfully, I picked up riding fast after deciding that I didn’t want to walk everywhere and also because my friends and the counselors were so supportive – they never minded riding slowly alongside me. Impressed upon my mind is the way that everyone helped everyone else out, even revising for the midterm and the final was made enjoyable because we all collaborated in devising ingenious ways of remembering information: Purple Cats Are Mating At Every Corner… remember that girls?

Reflecting on the trip has made me realise how many incredible things that I did over the summer, every day led to a new adventure, be it going to Bahamian church or conch fishing. The memory of Bahamian church really makes me smile, the whole experience was sooo fun- Bahamians really know how to sing and they do so with such enthusiasm that is infectious. Although we found it hard to sing so unrestrainedly at first we soon got into the swing of things -Tyler especially. I can’t imagine Bahamian church in any other way. I really loved the whole attitude to life there which was summarized nicely by the title of the number one song while we were there – “No stress, No stress.” Very appropriate!

I am also really amazed at how much I learnt and how much I enjoyed that aspect of the trip – lectures were interesting because it meant that you knew what you were looking at the next time you went diving. Oh the diving! This was definitely the part of the day that I would look forward to the most – every single dive was absolutely amazing. From singing Britney loudly in the chickie boat to the crazy navigation dive where Lisa and I got ridiculously lost, from getting attacked by scary remora to seeing a huge turtle, countless sharks and beautiful fish, it was all such a buzz. The diving on the trip has made me decide that I would like to train as a dive master – I have signed up for the Rescue diver course and I am now saving up for my equipment. I have been inspired in so many ways by the trip. I have become really interested in Environmental Art after learning about it. Coincidentally, the artist we learnt about had an exhibition near me. I have also realised how interesting marine biology is and that I may like to study it later.

Most importantly, I have made many lifelong friends who I shared all of these incredible experiences with, friends with whom I was able to cry as well as laugh with and who I knew I could trust. So as I gaze out into the rain, I am not really that sad, memories keep me happy, and I know that next summer is approaching. Life really is an adventure, however exciting as you want it to be.