by Francisco Correia
Trash, trash, and trash. This was mostly what we experienced today. While I could not dive and pick up trash from the reef, like the rest of the group, I still got to experience this in our evening beach cleanup on the eastern coast of Bonaire. When we first got there, we could not see any trash. However, after 30 minutes, we had found enough trash to fill up all our bags.
After cleaning up, I felt great, but there was something that deeply upset me. Much of the trash that I cleaned up was everyday items that much of us use. While doing these cleanups can be helpful, the trash will just keep showing up. The only way to fix this is to stop purchasing single-use plastic products. However, in today’s society this is nearly impossible. A question that I keep thinking about is: What can we do to stop this problem? Is there even a solution, or are we helpless? I still do not have an answer to this question, but I hope that I do by the end of this trip.
This experience so far has made me feel powerless, but hopeful. I know that no matter how much trash we clean up, more trash will show up. However, if we can learn from this trip and share our knowledge with others, we can make a difference.
by Claire Schumucker ’20
“It’s too busy, let’s do the paperwork later” was one of the first sentences that we heard two days ago as we were leaving the Flamingo Airport in Kralendijk. The laid-back and casual nature of this comment struck us all. There we were, on a foreign island, about to dump our gear into local pickup trucks with keys hidden under the floor mats and the legal, logistical work was just completely and utterly brushed over.
I share this phrase simply because it encapsulates the general laid-back nature of much of what we have experienced on the island. We were practically the only people at Mi Banana, the restaurant where we had dinner last night, and the owner and the owner’s family walked us through everything on the menu and made jokes and conversation the whole night. This interaction was unique because of the uncharacteristically authentic and warm interactions.
The warmth and positive energy have radiated through our diving experience at Dive Friends Bonaire as well. Today, this morning, we conducted open water dive #2 and #3 off the western side of the island. We practiced navigating with a compass, both at 15ft under water as well as on the surface. Also, in dive #2 practiced surfacing (from approximately 20ft) by using our buddy’s (dive partner’s) alternate air source. We headed back to land, got new air tanks, and headed back into the water for open water dive #3. Here we explored the reefs at around 35ft and various schools of fish swim and float by. Being 20ft underwater with only an apparatus that lets me stay alive forces me to stay present in each of my tasks. I become aware of my position, depth, and I also become more spatially aware. Because of this necessary awareness I am immersed in the spirit of diving and became present in the moment. Since we stepped out of the airport, the busy work and trivial tasks shave been set aside. Both under water and above the water I have felt particularly aware and present. The almost slow-motion experience at 20ft underwater surrounded by only natural rocks and animals is an unfamiliar experience.