March 4th was our “monthaversary” at the Center for Marine Resource Studies (CMRS), and in that time I’ve come to find what a special place South Caicos is. Perhaps the thing that has struck me most is how welcoming the community is. I was fortunate enough to have spent some time in Italy last January, but unfortunately Americans don’t have such a wonderful reputation there. Arriving in South Caicos I was prepared for a somewhat similar reception, but I could not have been more thrilled that reality was just the opposite.

Over CMRS’s 20 years, its students and staff have built up a wonderful relationship with the community and it truly shows. People wave to you when you pass them on the street, and they’re more than willing to talk to you or teach you how to play dominoes. The children also love having us at their schools during weekly outreach, and even though I don’t think I’m very good with kids, these interactions have been some of my favorite memories thus far.

Life on South has been basically my dream come true, and just when I thought things couldn’t get any better—it did.  Last week before a reef fish ID session we spotted whales! There were two humpbacks spouting fairly close to our boat and we even saw the tail fluke of one. I was so happy I started crying, and everyone was screaming.  We had another whale encounter the next day after a dive, where we saw some whales breaching and waving at us! Some dolphins even followed our boat when we were headed back.

Our first set of exams start next week and then it’s already Spring Break! This past month has been the best of my life, to say the least, and it’s amazing how quickly time has gone by. I can’t wait to see what surprises South has in store next!