On Thursday, our last full day on San Salvador, students took their final and then returned to Grotto Beach for a final relaxing afternoon before packing up and heading home. Our trip down the island was delayed by a passing thunderstorm, but once we got to the beach, it was beautiful if overcast. Everyone had a great time playing in the huge waves or simply resting on the beach, and nobody got sunburned!
In the evening, students shared progress reports from their research, with promises of more to come in the fall. We all packed up and got ready for the long trip home, and there was one final movie night of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
After loading our gear on the truck for one last ride, we took one more group photo at the GRC and began the long trip home. While waiting to check in to the San Sal airport, many students went across the street to Wendy’s (not that Wendy’s!) for an ice cream cone snack. The plane ride to Nassau was beautiful, with great views of the Exumas, Eleuthra, and Cat Island on the way over each of them. We did have some turbulence just as we crossed onto the island of New Providence, but landed fine and got all our luggage this time! After a long walk from the domestic terminal to the newly remodeled international terminal, we checked in at US Airways and got ready for the next wait… Customs and Immigration.
After a very long line, we got cleared into the US and finally made it upstairs for a quick lunch (at 3:30 pm, after breakfast at 7:30!) before the flight to Charlotte. From there, it was time for a quick dinner and then on to Columbus.
As we neared Columbus, the voices got more and more excited, with cheers of O-H I-O! and loud speculation on where they would be getting their first fast food meal. A huge cheer went up when the flight took us directly over the Horseshoe as we came in for landing. Little did we know what awaited us on the far side of security–a giant banner welcoming us all home with names of all the students and block prints of sea turtles, palm trees, and dragonflies (they probably couldn’t find one for no-seeums!). Thanks so much to Aly Saba’s parents for creating the banner and sharing it with all of us!
It was a great trip. Our time on San Salvador got off to a rough start with no luggage, but working through the difficulties together bonded the group. Students pushed their comfort zones and did things they never thought they could–from swimming with sharks to swimming over the wall, going up in a lighthouse or down in a cave. They learned as much about themselves as they did about the ocean. We are proud of them and thank their parents for entrusting them to us for three weeks, and we hope that they enjoyed the trip as much as we did!
‘Til 2014, Bahamas out!