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As K1+2 settle into our academic week, sending thoughts of good weather to our friends on kayak, we fondly remember our expeditions that we have returned from. After 8-day, my group had a day off to rest and play, and then we headed off on our Down Island Trips. Emma, Caleb, and Louisy led K1 and made the trip exciting and hilarious the 12 students. Our van was packed to the brim with backpacks, food, sleeping bags, tents, and hammocks. Caleb kept a cool playlist of music playing on our van rides, and we had a lot of fun touring the island and seeing how tourism has affected Eleuthera. Down Island Trips get their name not because we are traveling south down the island, because we are actually traveling northward up the island. We call it a Down Island Trip honoring the fact that we are going down with the current. The first day, we went to Harbor Island. This is a very poplar and expensive tourist destination. It is a tiny island accessible by a short water taxi ride from North Eleuthera. Once there, we were given a couple hours to explore the island and interview people about our central question: How does tourism shape a place? We talked to shop owners, hotel employees, and the like. We observed a big difference from the main island of Eleuthera in the high-end shops and hotels. Later, we explored the abandoned U.S. naval base, and had a blast bodysurfing on its beach. This was especially fun because it is the only beach we have seen with big waves so far this semester. We camped at Preacher’s Cave the first night, which was where the Eleutheran Explorers, or the first people to settle on Eleuthera after a shipwreck, made camp and lived for a long time.

The second day, we went to Spanish Wells, another tiny island with a much different cultural and ethnic makeup. It was a stark and intriguing difference in atmosphere from the main island. As we interviewed people, we learned that it has always been a mostly white settlement, and it is much less of a tourist destination than HarborIsland. The main industry there is fishing. One of my favorite parts of the trip was going to the HatchetBay caves, a long and deep underground maze of stalagmites and stalactites. We climbed down into total darkness, and ended up hitting the groundwater and finding some mud to play in. After resurfacing, we found a salt pond and snorkeled for a bit. That was the first time a lot of us had seen seahorses.

The last night, we camped at an abandoned Club Med. It was creepy to see the previously successful and bustling resorts so deserted and overgrown. We had our last campfire and went to sleep.  A couple of us woke up in a puddle in our tent at 4am and ran to the van to seek shelter. Quite an interesting night. The rain cleared the next morning in time for us to drive to the Leon Levy Preserve, get a nice walking tour of native plants and Bush medicine, and take a hike in the woods to a watchtower, and have a Harkness discussion. After that we headed home to dry our tents and reunite with K2! We shared memories of or trips and are ready for a week together of classes until everyone returns from their kayak trips and we are 48 strong once again.