No, the School for Field Studies did not get a Thanksgiving break. But we go home on Thursday, December 5, so I guess that’s understandable. And we did get a Thanksgiving dinner, despite the fact that (1) as a study abroad program, we’re kind of by definition not in the United States, and (2) half of the staff members are British and are therefore horrified by the thought of sweet potato casseroles with marshmallows. It involved a bit of logistics, because if you want to make something, you have to order the ingredients far enough ahead of time for them to arrive via the infamous food ship, and then juggle the baking of various things with the restraints of having a single functional oven to cook for 50+ people.
In the spirit of recognizing that the semester is almost over, our last two dives were yesterday (diving in December without wetsuits!), so our gear will be ready to be packed up once it’s dry. Those dives, incidentally, are worthy of a blog post in and of themselves – the divemaster said we were going to drop in “over the big blue,” and none of us realized what that was until we backrolled off the boat into the water, let the air out of our BCDs, started descending, and realized that, despite the perfect tropical visibility, there was nothing around us. We descended without a single point of reference, freefalling into a sort of vast emptiness, before levelling off when we hit a hundred feet and swimming up to the wall of the reef, watching it slowly appear through the blue haze. I don’t know why we haven’t been doing that all semester, but at least none of us will ever forget those final dives here.
Final exams are over, data collection has finished, directed research papers are turned in, and research presentations, cleaning, packing, and an afternoon visit to the tiny and uninhabited Long Cay are all that’s left. When we first got to South Caicos, it took a while for me to really accept that this was going to be my home for three months. And now that it’s just about time to leave, it’s hard to accept that I am, most likely, never going to see this place again. I won’t miss the mosquitoes. But I will miss Cerano’s Jamaican jerk chicken.
It’s also just about impossible to picture the transition from 90-degree weather here to 30-degree weather at home in Northern Virginia. I don’t think I’ve felt a temperature below 75 degrees since May in Washington. You know the scene from Cool Runnings where the Jamaican bobsled team flies to Canada – how they feel the icy grip of below-zero temperatures through an open door in the airport and gape in horror? I’m unspeakably glad to not be flying from the Caribbean to Minnesota, like one of my roommates. Call me Sanka, but I somehow suspect that my cold tolerance will be a bit lacking for a while.