Friday, September 12, 2008

Bartolome, San Salvador

I hadn't planned on participating in the early morning hike, but one of the other passengers says it is not to be missed, so I promise her to wake up at six am to walk to the top of the hill on Bartolome Island. Worried I won't wake up in time, I wake up as the sun rises and can't get back to sleep. At six, I run my head under the tap and grab a cup fo tea to wake me up. The hike begins. It's not really a hike -- everything is boardwalked and stairstepped, and it's scarcely longer than wandering from my old Chicago apartment to the Point. But we move more quickly than usual and I reach the top of teh hill feeling at least like I had walked a short distance. The top is an "unparalleled" view of teh islands, a panoramic shot of martian landscape and flat blue water. Once we're there, Matt and Ken's mother insists on taking a video of us all, to remember the trip. First she lines us up against the railing and says "Do something," clarifying only with the suggestion "Imitate a blue-footed booby. I bet Elizabeth could do a really good job." (I take this as a complement, not knowing how else to take it.) When we ask her for more direction, she agrees that she'll film us walking down the hill instead. It's only slightly less awkward; Matt hums an annoying tune that's been stuck in his head (and publicly so) for several days, and we all turn to glare at him. Then we clambor back to the boat.

The rest of the morning, we snorkel, examining coral-covered rocks for sea lions, penguins, sharks, and rays. On the beach we see sharks (three of them!) patrolling for baby sea turtles. In the water there are sea lions, this time slow and lazy and taciturn, and penguins (four at a time!) dropping like bombs in search of fish. Then it's lunch time, and talking about leaving, and I start doing my stereotypical Elizabeth morbid everyone-is-leaving-and-it-is-analogous-to-death stuff, or perhaps I realize that I'll have to start all over with a fresh batch of people when I hit the mainland again, or perhaps I just don't want to leave paradise, but I hole up in my shell and I do stupid stuff like not put on sunscreen, and walk all over the slippery rocks, and break my camera. (Don't worry, the pictures are safe on my SD card and undamaged. I've checked. I have an SD card reader in my computer, so this will in no way stop anyone from getting pictures of me.) A long shower and a mental slap-on-the-head makes it somewhat better, but being able to simply say "I don't want to go home" to someone makes it a lot better.

Jessica, her family, Matt and Ken and their parents, and I all have dinner together. It felt nice and celebratory, and the dramatic display of baked Alaska (to the tune of "Old Fashioned Rock and Roll") was wonderfully hilarious. We are the last people to leave the dining room, and the kids head outside to play Mao on the boat one last time.

I don't want to leave -- it's been absolutely wonderful. But it is time to start my new life, and if this week has taught me anything it's that I'm not as socially awkward as I might think I am, and I need to make some long-term connections in Stanford already. (Also that tortoises are pretty awesome, and snorkelling is a blast.) I've done enough floating in the middle of the ocean, and it's time to commit to a place for a while, at least.


Embly said...

sounds like your trip has been everything that you needed it to be. Awesome times and a little perspective!

Anonymous said...

...if this week has taught me anything it's that I'm not as socially awkward as I might think I am...

I had a similar realization upon heading out from Chicago. I think we learn to 'tell the story' of the U of C, which isn't as true, in all the details, for all as it is for some. Rock.