Goodnight from the “beautiful by nature” island of South Caicos! Using “goodnight” as a greeting is just one of the many new cultural customs we have begun to learn here in the TCI. As a sociology major, I have already been able to apply my curiosity to many of the experiences we’ve had since arriving just one week ago.

So far we have explored the town and learned of the TCI islands’ rich history that includes pirates, salt production, and Christopher Columbus. We have been welcomed with “goodnight” and have been told stories from the very friendly locals. We have seen wild donkeys, horses, and flamingos as we walk along the roads. Local pet dogs have come to love SFS members, probably in part due to our compost pile and food scraps.

We have learned about the SFS Center’s effort to conserve water and energy, including filtering run-off water for drinking, using salt-water showers, and (my favorite) feeding the horses and dogs our scraps. I have noticed that resourcefulness is a common characteristic on South Caicos. Commodities I was once used to like warm fresh-water showers, constant air conditioning, and shopping options are now being replaced with lessons in inventiveness. While on a walking from a tour of a conch processing plant, I was fascinated by glass bottles that had been re-purposed to balance on the property’s stone wall seemingly as a security alarm.

In lectures and in the field we have been learning about marine protected areas, environmental issues, and the life that is within the turquoise waters. My favorite experience so far (besides showering outdoors with 8 horses trying to drink the water) has been snorkeling along sea grass. We identified algae, fish, and even held a sea star weighing about seven pounds! I can’t believe it has already been one week and I look forward to the experiences to come!