By Delaina Ross:
Feeding 20 people simultaneously on a small island has been a challenge. Organizationally, one must remember that we are living on island time- 12:30 means 1:15 and that just must be okay.
Breakfast has been fried dough balls, cinnamon bread, onion and cheese and meat enclosed in bread made by a woman who runs a shop right across from the hotel. On weekends we do fresh baked bread with peanut butter, Nutella, and Jam. On top of that everyone has been to the outdoor market area to stock up on mangos, bananas, and starfruit all grown on Union throughout neighborhoods and yards. We keep it light and simple before loading on the boat for our two survey dives.
The first 4 days of lunch was the same local dish, Roti. A tortilla with large chucks of potato, curry, and chicken. Though it had to be dissected to remove all bones.
Despite being surrounded by the water the main part of each meal is usually chicken, occasionally ribs. The style here is bone-in everything. Kill, pluck, spice and cook without much else done to it. As per usual for most places around the world, rice is always a side dish.
For those who don’t eat meat, we’ve been getting whole fish. Eyeballs, spine, tail, fins, some scales. It’s been a learning process to remove all the tiny, needle-like bones.
The island has no central water system. They rely on cisterns to collect rainwater and use it for all needs. It’s advised that because we are not accustomed to it, we boil the water before drinking it, but I just drink it straight from the tap and don’t have any complaints. Usually with meals we get various locally made juices.
Some have embraced what the island has to offer more than others, but we are all happy to buy snacky foods from the small shack vendors on the main street. This is the slow season and the people have been very happy having us come by to get our fill of snacks.
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. In 2019 and 2021, the course went to the Carmabi research station in Curaçao and dived around the island over a 10-day period, for training and to carry out research projects. In 2018, the group went to Soufriere, Saint Lucia, and took part in various projects in partnership with the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.