After another timely breakfast at 7:30, we had the morning to oursleves. Some of us went to church again while others stayed at the center and studied, worked on journals, started research papers, or just relaxed. Church was interesting this morning because it began to rain on the way there. Normally this would not be a problem, but remember we are riding on the back of a truck. We attempted in vain to avoid the rain drops as they pelted us at 40 mph. However, all ended well as we were only slightly damp for church.
Non-Death March Hiking at North Point
After lunch, we headed back out to North Point for an adventure hike, of the non-death march variety. Walking along the road, plants were singled out and identified by leaf, flower, and smell. Granny Bush and Wild Sage smell rather nice, Sea Grape (picture) and Poisonwood have some very definitive leaves, and almost everything has flowers. As he's been our Plant Identification Master for most of the trip thus far, Austin B. (Cholo) took rear guard while Dr.s E. and L. took the lead to make sure everyone got the plants down correctly. This worked relatively well. For the first five minutes. Soon after we left the GRC gate, the group started to split, with fewer and fewer people branching the gap until there were only five of us left behind with Cholo. Like the bubble gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe and there's that little bit that still tries desperately to stick to the ground as you walk away.
I (Kari) was in the group bringing up the rear with Austin B,. Joe B., Trevor D., and Nicole P., but we had every plant pointed out and correctly identified (Cholo also had the plant ID book). We took time to examine the leaves, the stems (or trunks), and the flowers, with Cholo explaining various aspects of the plants. Poppy Potcake--previously Roscoe, previously Terror-of-the-Beach-and-Taker-of-All-Loose-Clothing-Items (including Isaac E.'s keen watershoe and Dr. Larsen's rash guard)--was our mascot
I (Jennifer) was not lollygagging and was actually present for Dr. L's mini lecture on how the plants of San Salvador survive the wind, sun, salt, and lack of soil. Such as growing in kromholz, having their leaves point upward to avoid most of the sun, or having suculant leaves that hold in water.
Land Crabs, Spiders, and Feral Cows?
After class, some of us went on the Land Crab Hunting Excursion. We hiked only the last part of the Saline Death March Trail, so no Pain Pond, random holes that threaten to remove a leg, or sharp pointy rocks pretending to be a trail. There was Poisonwood and Manchineel (newly added to our "No-Touchie" list), and several rocks in the trail, but these are manageable in small quantities.
We found some land crabs, and sent Cholo after them (We've learned that if you spot something cool that you don't really want to pick up but want a closer look at, all you need to do is say "Hey, Cholo! Come here!"). The trick was to pick up rocks along the trail, and to listen for the sound of scuffling leaves. If you ever happen to go hunting for land crabs, pick them up with a net (Isaac E. was the only one to bring one. Smart kid...), or behind the pinchers. They may be small, but they have some power in those things. The crabs were about two inches across, with dark purple backs and light yellow-ish bellies. Except for the crab that was more like six inches across and tried to take off Cholo's fingers.
In addition to land crabs, we found some rather large spiders that we had to walk under, some interesting insects like a stink bug-of-a-sort (picture), a tiny little tree frog (that had Cholo hopping. Literally.), and a couple of geckos in a truck and the iguana compound. We also found a lower jawbone of a cow, for which Dr. Eichinger promptly supplied an explanation: There are feral cattle on the island. The cattle are apparently the descendents of a small herd that made a daring escape from pasture 100 years ago when the island's inhabitants were plantation owners (or so we've been told; don't quote us on this). Any beast of the bovine variety shot and killed on the island is butchered, and half of the meat goes to the descended family of the original owners. Though we have yet to see any wild cows, we have seen several cow pies near the paved hill that is used to collect rain water.
We apologize for the delay in our blogs. We have been really busy land crabbing and study for our test.