What a day, or rather, what a night I should say! Before I get ahead of myself though, we will start with the beginning of the day and progress to our fun night time adeventures on the beach.
Our day started around 7:45 when we all piled into the cars and headed to UWI (the University of the West Indies) to hear a lecture from Dr. Brinsley Samoroo on the history of Trinidad and Tobago. After fighting our way through rush hour traffic headed to the Port of Spain, we finally arrived at 9am and learned about the discovery of the Trinidad by Christopher Columbus and the numerous groups of people brought to the islands to be labourers on the cocoa and coffee plantations- Amerindians (indigenous people), Africans, Chinese, and East Indians. He lectured for about an hour and then we asked a few questions. After, we walked around the campus and finally found ourselves at a coffee shop where we all ordered either strong, hot coffee or smoothies and food. Once we got back to Simla (our researcg station), we did the usual for lunch (sandwiches, cereal or other grabbable lunch items) and settled down to a brief lecture by Doc (well, it was suppose to be brief, but a few tangents led it to be about 105 minutes long instead of 60. After lecture we visited a pond out back and looked at some amphibian foam nests (which, unfortuneately, were laid in a pool of water that was drying up) and then broke for a few hours to give the students time to study for their exam (which is Thursday). Dinner consisted of red beans and rice, fried plantains, and corn/carrots and green peas.
Okay, now on to the SUPER EXCITING PART! After dinner we drove about an hour and a half to the coast to look for sea turtles. Now, we have looked for sea turtles before (as agroup and individually in Tobago), so none of us were really holding our breath. But, we found them. And, not just some, but maybe 10-15. We saw several mothers struggling up the beach, some already up the beach digging deep nests for eggs, some headed back after laying and we even saw hatchlings come out and head to the water!! The turtles were leather backs (the largest, I believe) and looked so majestic and surreal on the beach. We were really careful not to disturb the ladies while they dug their nests or ascended the beach. We did stay and watch one turtle dig a deep nest and sat there silently for thirty minutes or so while she laid her eggs (the eggs were about the size of a baseball, pure white and she laid more than 50!). The hatchlings were adorable- so small they could fit in the palm of your hand. It was truly a magical experience (as Whitney said, "This is better than DisneyWorld." The ride home was late- we didn't get home until after 12:30- and the drive was rather quiet. I am not sure if the silence was because the students were sleeping or because every one was just digesting the experience. If you have never seen a sea turtle- DO IT. Really, it was amazing!