Katarina in Verona: All You Need is a Hint of Spontaneity

February 19, 2020

I woke up to the typical Saturday morning rush of diesel engines periodically coasting by one floor below my urban apartment. A faint beam of sunlight streamed through my translucent curtain. Keeping with my new routine, I made a simple breakfast of cereal, stracciatella yogurt, and a cappuccino. My day was overall free except for plans to prendere un caffe with my friend Silver from Italian class.

My phone chimed at around noon with a message. Silver and his cousin had spontaneously decided to visit the famed ancient Roman arena of Verona to take pictures. Perhaps the old version of me would have preferred at least an hour’s notice to plan, but this was not an opportunity to pass up. I had never been inside the Arena di Verona, and I was sure it would have more majestic views than the bustling university coffee shop we had originally planned to visit. Thirty minutes later, the three of us met up downtown at the enormous black iron gates to the arena. Tourists milled about posing with selfie sticks and eagerly shifting angles to capture all 365 degrees of Piazza Bra’s beauty.

I had no way of estimating the immensity of the 2,000-year-old limestone arena until I took my first steps into the dirt ring where gladiators once fought for their lives. I stopped immediately in awe, pivoting in place to admire the view from the center of the ancient stage. It’s hard to imagine that the 30,000 stone seats above me used to accommodate 30,000 people. My friends chuckled at my reaction and asked, “Is this your first time inside the arena?” The answer was probably quite obvious because of my wide-eyed gaze and enormous smile.

Arena di Verona

The next hour was spent alternating who was in front or behind our various cameras. We scaled the steps at least 60 feet up to the top row of the arena. We certainly made a wise decision to visit on a relatively chilly February day. Climbing stairs with a foot-tall gap between each step is really a workout. The ancient Romans must have been incredibly fit. From the top we circled the perimeter taking pictures every time the breathtaking views of the bustling city below changed. Then we descended to the eerie, echoing dungeons where the Roman prisoners once dwelled.

When it was about time to conclude our adventures through the maze of underground hallways, we made yet another spontaneous decision to visit the overlook at Ponte Pietra. I quickly agreed to the trek across town to see the number one place on my Verona bucket list. The walk through the cobblestone streets was beautiful and served as a much-needed break from stairs. Reaching the overlook at Piazzale Castel San Pietro involves climbing about one kilometer of stone steps. Finding our way was easy once we spotted the narrow pedestrian street that transformed into a seemingly never-ending staircase. I was impressed to see residents walking up in unison with us, on their way home to their hillside apartments. About halfway to the top, I was sure that I had found my dream house. It was a pastel peach abode with a barrel tile roof and walls that seamlessly met the stone of the hill.

Dream Hillside House

Everyone was silent when we reached the top, both out of awe at the view and because of the workout we just had. Once again, I was pivoting in place, wide-eyed at the panorama that stretched for miles. Even with the slight afternoon haze obscuring some of the sprawling city, I knew instantly that I was standing at the peak of one of the most beautiful places I had ever witnessed. The effort to get to the top seemed like a minuscule price to pay for the landscape that we towered over. Below us, the swift current of the Adige river snaked through the labyrinth of streets and rooftops. I thanked my friends for showing me this wonderful place and sat down with them to take it all in. We took turns with the cameras once again and began our descent from the hilltop. Even long after I was back in my cozy apartment, the moments spent high above the city that day felt surreal.

Piazzale Castel San Pietro View

 


Katarina in Verona: Benvenuta al Nord

January 29, 2020

9:45 a.m. EST – Dulles International Airport

            Today is the big day. The one when I leave my rural hamlet of Middleburg and all of its touristy farm-town glory. I arose at 6 a.m. to make sure that my two immense blue suitcases were zipped up and ready to go. Before sunrise, my mom and I pulled out of the neighborhood, together in our gold Ford truck for the last time until August. We exchanged heartfelt goodbyes at the East Security Gate of Dulles Airport and there was no turning back. It was time for my journey halfway across the world. Now, waiting for my brief flight to New York, dubbed the shuttle, I look over logistics for my arrival in Verona one more time as 2000s alternative rock plays faintly on the overhead speakers. My recent camera roll on my phone has become a detailed index of boarding passes, train line information, and bus route numbers.

2:45 p.m. EST – John F. Kennedy International Airport

            The 45-minute flight from Washington, D.C. was seamless aside from the turbulent winds that made the small aircraft tremble during take-off and landing. New York was just about the biggest contrast possible to the countryside where I began my morning. A singular terminal (there are eight), must have been about a mile long, complete with its own miniature shopping mall. Everything was there, from perfumeries lined with the latest Ralph-Lauren fragrances to three Shake Shacks. After about a half hour of walking and perusing the stores, I reached my gate at the end of the terminal. With almost three hours before boarding, I decided to write and relax while I watched other planes majestically enter and exit the cloudy sky.

Plane Wing

7:55 a.m. CEST (Central European Standard Time) Milan Malpensa International Airport

            The plane edged closer and closer to the immense runway surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It was a short and smooth seven-hour flight from New York, but I was eager to get going. Sleep had come to no avail, as is usually the case when I am restrained by the perfect posture of a minuscule airplane seat. I wish I hadn’t done the math of how long the journey would be: nearly 24 hours. After a long line at passport control, it was time to get on the Milano Centrale train. To say the airport was in the outskirts of the city would be a stretch. It was nearly in another province. An hour later, the train stopped in the depths of Milano’s underground, and I had to switch to my final train. The screenshots from Google Maps that I had taken way back in Virginia were my savior to plan this four-hour extravaganza of trains and buses.

Skyline with Mountains

12:00 p.m. CEST Verona, Italy

            Keys to my apartment finally in hand, I scanned my student card at the immense burgundy doors that marked the entrance to the student residences. I knew there was potential to have anywhere from zero to 6 flat mates, so I knocked lightly on my first-floor apartment out of curiosity. All of my baggage and I were greeted by a tall girl with short blond hair and a cooking spatula in hand. I was ushered in through the door with a friendly welcome and pointed in the direction of my room. My arms were absolutely numb from hauling my suitcases for at least a mile on the cobblestone streets. In addition to my suitcases I had been given my linens for the apartment at check-in. When I emerged from stockpiling my things neatly in a corner of my room, I emerged to find three more girls waiting to greet me from the kitchen. To be honest, their names flew by in my blur of exhaustion, but they all seemed very pleasant. We had a brief conversation and then another girl came into the kitchen, introducing herself as Maria and the last of the five people in the apartment at the moment.

Verona Bridge

            A brief nap in the soft glow of afternoon sunlight brought me back to functionality. I quickly became familiar with where my flat mates were from, what they were studying, and how long they had been in this majestic city. Two are from Poland and three are from Spain. Everyone had been here since the first semester and was eager to explain to me the ins and outs of daily life here. I was quickly inundated with all the information I could need for my first few days here: including a Post-it Note of hand-drawn directions to various grocery stores and a comprehensive tutorial on how to use the induction stove. It seemed things were off to a great start in the beautiful city of Verona.


Camellia Travels the World: Mid-Semester Break!

November 22, 2019

After two months of learning, we finally had a break! We were so lucky to enjoy our mid-semester break in Nepal. Some students decided to stay in Pokhara and relax with serenity; some took an adventure, going trekking and reveling in beautiful scenery; I, on the other hand, invited my parents to Nepal and explored the country with them.

As you may know, Nepal is a very diverse country. It has 126 ethnicities and more than 100 indigenous languages. It is the origin of Buddhism and predominated by Hinduism. Nepal is situated between China and India, and its geographic diversity is also a main reason to attract world travelers. Because of our limited time, we planed to visit three major places: Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Chitwan.

Kathmandu

In Nepal, especially in Kathmandu, you can find “a temple every 5 steps and a stupa every 10 steps”. Kathmandu, as the capital of Nepal, has such a rich history and culture. There are numerous places to visit in Kathmandu, and some top attractions are Boudhanath Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple, Monkey Temple, and Kathmandu Durbar Square. Besides visiting these sites, I find it also fun to wander in neighborhoods, observing people’s routine rituals, appreciating community worshipping temples, and enjoying exclusive street art.

Family photo at the Kathmandu Durbar Square. Unfortunately, a large portion of buildings was damaged by the 2015 earthquake, but reparation work is in active process. I sincerely hope to see the Durbar Square in its original beauty soon!

 

Street art in Patan. Graffiti is such a beautiful way to express opinions and appreciate cultures. In Kathmandu, one can find incredible artworks on walls anywhere. Stop and look at them!

 

Pokhara

Another popular destination is Pokhara, for its magnificent view of the Himalayas and the natural beauty of mountains and lakes. On Saturday morning, we went kayaking in Fewa Lake, which used to be a part of the royal summer palace. In the midst of the lake, there is a Hindu temple on a tiny isle, where villagers row boats to the temple and perform rituals. We went to the island without knowing about Saturday practice, and we are so fortunate to see many believers come to the temple to worship.

My mom and I in the middle of Fewa Lake.

In addition to the landscape in Pokhara, one can also visit the Shanti Stupa on Anadu Hill. Shanti is a Sanskrit word meaning peace, and thus, the stupa is also known as the World Peace Pagoda in Nepal. It is a symbol of collaboration among Nepal, Japan, Thailand, and Myanmar. When one enters the space, one can find a sign requesting to keep silent and enjoy the tranquility. I walked in, taking off my shoes and going up to the second tier. The white pagoda has two tiers for tourists and religious visitors to circumambulate (a little tip: when circumambulating a stupa, walk clockwise). As I was strolling down, I stopped here and there to examine statues given from all parts of the world as well as the Annapurna mountain line across from the pagoda. Standing still in the midst of everything, I felt the ultimate peace and transcendent grace of nature and humanity.

Chitwan

On the India-Nepal border, there is a preserved area for wildlife. Chitwan National Park is famous for its biodiversity, for rare mammals like Bengal tigers and one-horned rhinos. I especially enjoyed the options of ecotourism. We went canoeing in the river and walking in the jungle. When the guides were preparing us for the jungle walk, they taught us techniques to protect ourselves from rhinos. (They really got me nervous for a moment 😂😂) Following the guides, we started meandering in grasslands. Slowly, we approached a small pool, where a mommy rhino and her baby were chilling. They looked at us for a few seconds and then turned their heads away, and we took some photos silently and continued our journey. The route was not so exciting for a long while, and suddenly, a giant rhino was right in front of us chewing (actually devouring) grass. This was a truly intense moment; the guides whispered to us to freeze, and they held the bamboo sticks tightly. The rhino spotted us yet did not move at all. After a minute or two, we quietly rushed behind his back and left. One little regret was that we only found tigers’ footprints; nevertheless, it was such an extraordinary adventure.

Another choice of touring is to take a jeep safari ride. The National Park is massive, and thus, this is a popular choice for exploration.

We spent a whole week touring in Nepal, yet, I still felt that I have seen too little. Luckily, Nepal is a neighbor of China, and I will definitely find a chance to return and experience more. I hope this blog can pique your interest in visiting this treasure of a place. And if you do, I wish you the best of luck to spot a Bengal tiger 😉


Camellia Travels the World: “Defending the Land is Defending Our Mother”

October 29, 2019

Mari Mari, my friends! (Hello in Mapudungun, the native language of the Mapuche people).

After weeks of crazy busy city life in Santiago, we escaped to the south of Chile. No, it is not Patagonia, but a lovely town called Curarrehue. On the border of Argentina, Curarrehue is home to the Mapuche people, an indigenous community that inhabit south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina. We stayed with community members while learning about their ideologies and struggles through talks and site visits.

My host mom Ida. She is the kindest person I have ever met in my life. She makes the best Chappi (hot pepper sauce) and sopaipillas!

 

Ida is an amazing artisan. She makes beautiful hand crafts to decorate her home. She also gave me a small handmade basket as a gift.

The Mapuche community has a strong connection with nature; to be more accurate, they are considered to be a part of nature. “Defending the land is defending our mother,” they repeated many times. Thus, they are willing to do anything to protect mother nature, against the biggest perpetrators – the Chilean state and private companies. Because of their geographical location and potential resources, many mining companies come into their space, using hydro-powered machines to extract minerals. The Chilean state, even though declares water as common goods, sells the use of the river to private companies. The Mapuche people know that they don’t have power to resist companies from coming, thus they turn to nature and pray for rivers to protect themselves. The people believe in the spirits of nature and share their lives with these spirits.

I honestly did not quite grasp their belief in spirits of nature until I sat by the river and watched the flow. All I could see was the beautiful view of the mountains, and all I could hear was the harmonious sound of water. At that moment, I finally started to comprehend the worship of water and worship of nature. This scene also took me back to my freshman spring semester, when I took a class called Geographic Dimensions and Human Development. I read an article about Fiji indigenous people’s struggle with the Fiji Water industry. Again, I had some sympathy for them at the time, yet I did not quite understand their difficulty. This serene moment by the river finally made me comprehend the issue for the Mapuche and for Fiji Islanders. Water, as a natural resource and an essential need, should not and never be a privatized source for profit. It is such a capitalist idea to take water away from human lives for money; this is a serious violation of human rights.

The river at Regiolil near Curarrehue.

Forests also play a significant role in the Mapuche culture. The people go into the mountains for months, dancing and singing by the woods, giving trees love and company. In their philosophy, one should always ask for permission from nature when entering an unfamiliar place. And to show their gratitude, they also bring some offerings to nature as well.

On the weekend, we went hiking near Volcano Lanin. Before we started, we came by a river at the foot of the mountain. Our guides told us that if we ask for permission from nature sincerely, then mother nature will protect us in the wilderness. Thus, I closed my eyes and prayed in my mind, “thank you for letting us into your space. I promise I will take good care of all my actions in your place.” After praying, one guide took out a bag of flour, grabbed a handful, and placed it in the river. “This is a gesture to thank mother nature,” another guide explained.

After the ritual, everyone felt refreshing and well-protected; thus, we started hiking. For the first few minutes, it was just like other hikes in the woods. However, after a moment, there appeared patches of snow. Then, without knowing, we were stepping into several feet of snow. Two years of life in Virginia did not prepare me well to walk on snowy land. I slipped several times and fell into the snow twice with snow up to my thigh. Luckily, there were many friends well experienced and managed to pull me out of my plight (literally and figuratively).

Our group picture in front of Volcano Lanin.

 

My roomie and me presenting Volcano Lanin.

The whole hiking trip was about five hours. We stopped here and there to appreciate nature and views, and we also learned about special species of trees and seeds in the woods. One guide recounted that he used to come into the woods with his family, helping to find good spots to plant seeds. Yet, the trees’ rate of growth was much slower than the humans’ speed of cutting. “Those Europeans love turning woods into furniture,” he joked.

It was a very short and joyful hiking tour, and I had a taste of the Mapuche’s intimate connection and affection of mother nature. For a people that have been living there for thousands of years, nature runs in their blood. The Mapuche people faced Spanish invasion and Chilean oppression, yet they are staying strong to defend themselves and defend their mother nature. This is a spirit that I shall carry forever.

A meeting cabin for leaders. On the left, you can find two flags. The one on the left is the flag of Chilean Mapuche, and the one on the right is the ancestral flag.


Camellia Travels the World: Stepping out My Comfort Zone

October 9, 2019

Hola, Amigos!

I have been in Chile for a while, and I am finally starting to adapt into this new environment. To be honest, even though I have already experienced studying in another country (the United States) for six years, it is still uneasy for me to be in Chile.

Panorama of Santiago area from Cerro de San Cristobal. (Look closely to find Gran Torre Santiago, the tallest building in South America)

First and foremost, there is a huge language barrier. In Chile, almost 90% of the population speaks only Spanish; and unfortunately, my six years of French is unhelpful in this situation. Even for my classmates who have learned Spanish, the Chilean Spanish is still difficult to comprehend, because Chileans speak very fast and use a lot of slang. Therefore, it is my daily struggle to navigate and order food in Spanish.

Furthermore, the language barrier extends into classroom. Even though we have an interpreter for every site visit, and she does a wonderful job, there is still always a giant wall between me and the speakers. We practice consecutive interpretation, which is an interpretation done by repeating in chunks; so I always have a delay in reacting to what has been discussed (when the Spanish speakers laugh at jokes or frown for displeasure, I just look confused). Also, it is difficult for me to concentrate when stories are broken into pieces; thus, even though I am listening to all the interpretation carefully, I feel that I am still only getting half, if not even less, of what the speaker is conveying. Nevertheless, this is a practice that I have to work on for the rest of the trip and in the future.

Another challenge is cultural custom. One of the most common etiquette in Chile is that people greet by hugging and kissing on the right cheek. I learned this in the orientation, yet I forgot about it in the blink of an eye. Thus, when I first met my little host brother, he opened his arms when I was reaching out my right hand. He looked so confused, and then he turned to his mother, using his puzzled eyes to ask her what to do. Finally, in order to not embarrass me, he gave me a handshake and then hugged me. Nevertheless, I was still abashed by my mistake. Ever since that moment, I engraved this local greeting gesture in my brain.

A family photo with my two host siblings, my host mom, and my two roommates.

Apart from those challenges, I am enjoying a variety of things that Santiago offers. In the metropolitan region, there are several cerros (hills); my friends and I hiked Cerro de San Cristobal to see the panorama of the city. At the Central Market, there are many restaurants (touristy yet still worth a visit); my friend and I had fresh seafood for a Saturday brunch. At Plaza de Armas, there is a big square with neoclassical-style buildings around; we sipped pisco sour (a typical Chilean drink) as we imagine being in Spain.

At the center of the Central Market. There are numerous men in red sweaters waiting for tourists to come. They can greet them in many languages; one waiter greeted us in Japanese and Mandarin. It was also interesting to me that a group of restaurants use the same menu.

The city of Santiago presents itself with multiple facades. Spain subdued and colonized Chile from 1540 to 1818 (Chile declared its independence on September 18, 1810, yet it only won its formal independence when it defeated the last large Spanish force on Chilean soil on April 5, 1818). On account of its colonial history, there is strong reminiscence of European footprints across the city. On the other hand, there are also segments reflecting the modernistic industrial period; the apartment buildings demonstrate the emphasis on simplicity, economy, and functionality. Moreover, the post-modernistic skyscrapers are also scattered in the city. Overall, the architecture in Santiago is quite diverse (sometimes I find elements of Asia as well), so it is very enjoyable to stroll down streets and experience different ambiances.

 


Madelyn In TCI: Class in the Field

October 4, 2019

This morning was a relaxed one; after a simple breakfast we had a morning debriefing for the day, and then I was free for the rest of the morning while another group went out to do the field exercise. I laid in the hammock garden and did some of the readings for our classes; it’s mostly scientific papers on fishery management, which I actually enjoy. Tropical storm Jerry is coming towards us and rain is forecasted for the next week and a half, so I enjoyed the bit of sunshine while it lasted. Lunch was delicious and healthy, as always. I was on kitchen crew today, so we cleaned up the food after lunch and washed all the dishes together. After lunch, my group and I grabbed our snorkel stuff and piled into the two trucks with our professor and teaching assistants. I sat in the bed of the truck because I love the breeze and the views, despite the mosquitoes and dust. On the way to East Bay Beach we passed the salt flats and saw numerous flamingos, which never seems to get old! As soon as the truck stopped by the beach, the mosquitoes began to swarm. It’s been raining more here, which means there is standing water on the island and hordes of mosquitoes. At least we can have freshwater showers now though (we collect and filter our freshwater from the rainwater). There’s always a silver lining 🙂

At the beach we split into groups of three with our underwater slates, a 100m transect line, and a ½ meter square made out of PVC pipe. One student in each group swam directly out from the coast laying down the transect line and sat out in the water alone until joined by the other members of his or her group. Meanwhile, the other two snorkeled along the transect line and dropped the PVC quadrat at 5 random distances, and on their underwater slates recorded the percentage of different seagrass coverage within the quadrant. Once they reached the third group member, they swam back all together and recorded all of the invertebrates they saw.

Seagrass meadows are homes for the juveniles of lots of different aquatic species; there are plenty of places for them to hide from predators until they grow up a bit. They also help keep the sediment in place and take excess nutrients out of the water, making the water more clear.

It was so much fun to do class exercises while snorkeling, and also very exciting to have a research purpose while snorkeling. It also provided a new perspective on the ecosystem; I was rather surprised at the count of live conch we found! We also found a lobster hiding in an old conch shell, several Giant Caribbean Sea Anemone, and a beautiful sand dollar.

A sand dollar in the bay

Seagrass meadows

When it was my turn to take the transect out and wait alone in the water, it was beautifully unsettling. The seagrass waved gently in unison in the surge and an occasional fish rushed by. Coming towards me from the distance I recognized a distinct, elongated shadow. Barracuda don’t actually attack humans, but they show a disturbing lack of fear around us and they simply look very mean, a perception that doesn’t improve when they allow their sharp teeth to show. They also have a very radical display when they’re hunting or aggressive: they flash black. This particular barracuda was pitch black, easily half a foot in diameter, and longer than my leg. It came up so close to me that I nervously kept my fins between us, unsure of how it might act. When my group members arrived and we swam back together, this barracuda followed us so close I was afraid I might touch it. Our data may have been a little bit skewed on the return because we were so distracted and somewhat terrified.

Laying out quadrats for seagrass coverage

When we finished our underwater surveys, my braid was entirely intertwined with a bushel of sargassum, which is a type of seaweed that has a particular affinity to my hair. It took me approximately 30 minutes under the saltwater shower to get it entirely out. The purpose of our field exercise was to collect and later analyze data on the effects of high quantities of sargassum on seagrass coverage. Sargassum is currently the highest algal bloom in all of the world of all time, and it’s causing a lot of problems all over the Caribbean, mainly with the tourism industry. Tourists don’t want to go to beaches that are clogged with rotting sargassum; it really ruins the aesthetic appeal. Researchers are still attempting to determine what is causing this massive algal bloom, but the most probable cause is from excess nutrients in the ocean due to deforestation of the Brazilian rain forest. One of our projects this semester is to help our professor determine the extent of damage that this excess alga causes on the ecosystem. It’s truly amazing to be a part of the worldwide effort to understand reverse climate change before it’s too late.


Madelyn In TCI: Diving with a Dolphin

September 23, 2019

We’ve finished Week 2 on the island, and I can’t believe it; so much happens every day! This Saturday was so unbelievably incredible. In the morning I went for a run along the salt flats of the island. The salt industry used to be huge on the island, but died off around the 60’s. Now the Salinas are a historical protected area that provide habitat for the island’s flamingos. It’s still very exciting to see their bright pink bodies apparently floating on a few feet above the water (their legs are too narrow to see from a distance). It was the full moon, which was still in the sky on the horizon as the sun rose.

Moonset over the beach.

After a quick breakfast I went on a morning dive, and the most incredible thing happened. I wore leggings and a rash guard instead of a wet-suit, which made me significantly more comfortable for the dive. The water is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, which is extremely comfortable even without a wet-suit. We dove below to the boat and there was so much coral and all sorts of fish swimming around it: Yellow Jacks, Parrotfish, Trumpet fish, Blue Tangs, and so many others that I haven’t yet learned the names to. The surf was very high, so a lot of the more flexible coral and algae swayed rhythmically as we swam along. About 20 minutes into the dive, I turned around and saw a huge shadow coming towards me. As it came closer, I wondered if it was a shark, but it wasn’t quite the right shape. After a few more seconds I realized: it was a dolphin!! It was much bigger than any of us, but I didn’t feel afraid. It swam right up to me, close enough that I could have reached out and touched it quite easily. Looking into my eyes, it swam right past me, and then circled around our group of divers, weaving between us and getting incredibly close to everybody. It also swam over top of us and I got the feeling that it was enjoying the tickling sensation of our bubbles as we exhaled under water. I was smiling so much that my mask kept flooding with water during the entire interaction, but I didn’t mind! Fortunately, somebody in my group had a camera on them and was able to film a good portion of it.

The whole interaction lasted about 2 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. It was truly the most amazing experience I’ve had. There are very few, random dolphins around Turks and Caicos, and I wasn’t expecting to see one this semester. Our dive master told us that he had been here for 25 years and had never had a dolphin interaction to that extent. I felt so blessed to be here and to have such an incredible opportunity. When we came back to land and I called my mom to tell her about it, I saw two eagle rays in the water just off the edge of the shore. It wasn’t even noon yet!

In the afternoon, we had our weekly outreach time, which is when children from the community come to our campus for games, swimming or snorkel lessons, and an all-around good time! The kids were so excited they were waiting outside over an hour before we opened the gates. This week I went out with a small group of children to the local beach with gloves and bags to pick up trash, as it was Environment Awareness Day. It wasn’t exactly fun, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There was a very simple but profound satisfaction with every piece of trash we picked up, and especially looking at the collective result at the end of the hour.

Picking up trash on the beach.

All cleaned up!

 We are working on a project to decorate and set up large trash bins at this beach because litter is a regular problem here. To be completely honest, I would really enjoy doing this more in my free time here. There’s so much plastic waste and I know that I can’t clean it all up. Even so, I stayed hopeful by imagining that every bottle I picked up was one less fish that would get sick or killed from pollution. Every bit counts!


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