This post is a compilation of some pretty strange & unfortunate things that happened during the month of November. However challenging & slightly painful these things were… It shaped my Philippine experience even more. I believe this events also taught me a few lessons to change my way of thinking. This is a long post… Hang in there. Thanks for reading!
During the first week of November we were invited to Taklong island in Guimaras to help with coral and seagrass assessments. The purpose of these survey’s is to gather information on the health of the various marine ecosystems surrounding the 80+ islands of Taklong, to make this region an official marine protected area (MPA). We also attended a lecture given by Senior Advisor of GIZ, Terence Dacles on the importance of considering carrying capacity once this MPA is in the position to host eco tourism activities. SO.
Unfortunate event #1
We conducted shallow coral assessments as well as deeper coral assessments. The shallow coral surveys were much more shallow than I expected… I couldn’t even float over top of them without touching them. I was assigned to macro-invertebrate counts. So I was basically just counting the animals we saw (star fish, sea cucumbers, nudibranchs, sea urchins, etc.), while my colleagues took note of the coral structures. So what I tried to do instead of swimming, was choose my footing very carefully and crouch down where ever I could. Hard on the knees & back… As careful as one tries to be, a coral will think differently and bite your ankles (not literally bite, but you know). I now have scratches and scars everywhere. ):
During one of the deeper water coral assessments, I got stung by a friggin jellyfish. You might think “it’s just a jelly fish, I’m sure it wasn’t that bad,” um no. You don’t understand. Well, yeah. It was THAT bad. But had it been a larger jelly it would have sucked. I was SCUBA diving but not very deep, maybe about 5 or 6m. I was in the middle of reading points off my transect when I felt a siting on my face, so I turned to look and quickly felt a worse sting on the back of my upper leg, right under my bum. I knew I wasn’t near any corals that would have released stinging spores, but I also didn’t see any jellies! So the culprit must have had wicked long tentacles. Any who. I continued reading my transect and though the saltwater helped the sting sensation subside, I put some vinegar on it once I got out of the water as well. Later on I noticed tentacle shaped scratches and a big bruise around where I felt the sting! As each day passed, the bruise got uglier and uglier. So below you’ll find an evolution of a jellyfish sting healing… I’m just glad the sting on my ace didn’t turn out to be this bad!
Unfortunate event #2
November 22-24, 2016 was my coral gardening project in the Igang Bay Marine Sanctuary in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. Well… Not really MY project. Read details here about coral gardening.
We finished all our work on Thursday, Nov. 24 before lunch. Our supervisor told us our reward could be a fun dive in the afternoon! When I say “us”, I’m referring to myself, my roomies/colleagues/fellow interns, Conor & Jan. As well as Adam, another Canadian that had bumped into us during our work a couple days before & ended up volunteering to help us. So anyways. We ate lunch at about 12:30pm and the tanks were expected to be filled and brought back to us around 2pm.
…At around 2:45pm the tanks finally showed up. We were also informed that a typhoon was approaching & the boats would stop running back to Iloilo city at 5pm. Despite this information that probably should have prevented us for going for the dive… We went for the dive. I made sure we were down for max 30mins despite our air consumption. Even that was pushing it… Anywho. We were on the way TO the dive site. The boat that was transporting us to our site was super small. So all our gear was loaded onto the boat and we were sitting/hanging off the side of it & I was definitely dragged through a mine-field of jellyfish… Things aren’t always by the book here hahahaha.
Unfortunate event #3
Remember that typhoon I mentioned? Well by noon on Friday Nov 25th, it reached signal 2… Out of 5 apparently. Despite my supervisor telling me to stay home & recover from the week of coral gardening we had in Guimaras, I went to work anyways. There was an email sent out that office would only be until 3pm due to the storm. So by that time, everyone had cleared out and gone home. Since we have no wifi at home, Jan & I decided to stay and take advantage of the fact that the office wifi had gotten quicker after most of the people in the building had left.
Well. It was about 5pm when we decided to brave the torrential downpour outside and try to make it home. The ENTIRE campus was flooded and when we tried to get to the street, we were almost knee deep in water. We stood on the side of the road trying to get a taxi or jeepney for about 15 minutes before we quit and went back into the office. My umbrella was super saturated at that point & wasn’t even keeping me dry.
Upon receiving a text from our other roommate, Conor, telling us that our house was drowning in about a foot of water, we just laughed and stayed put in the office… The media productions office has two lovely couches that we hung out on and watched Gossip Girl for a while, until we got ahold of someone with a vehicle to rescue us from famine. At that point, the rain had finally stopped but I still wasn’t ready to go home and face possible electrocution if the water levels reached the outlets…
So, I went back to the office with my supervisor and again, took advantage of the wifi and let the anxiety sink in, while the boys went out for some drinks. By the time we finally went home at almost 2am, the water had totally retreated out of the house. Other than some dirt and a few small puddles, everything was totally okay. All of our personal belongings were safe and dry on the second floor of the house. So after all the stressing I did (again)… Yet again, there was nothing to worry about.
So there you have it. Despite the amount of fun I’m having, there have been couple of slip-ups. Nothing major thank goodness… Is it weird that 2/3 of those stories are jellyfish stings? Ah well… Just means I’m spending tons of time in the water. 🙂
It’s more fun in the Philippines…