Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saints in the Bahamas: Snapshot Reef, French Bay Picnic, Lindsay's Reef and Dinner in Town

Day 6 - Last Day on San Salvador

Our last day was definitely one of our best days on the trip.  We finally caught a break with the winds and things settled down.  We first went to Snapshot Reef where we had amazing views of many of the fish that inhabit the waters off the island.

Lucas says: "I think my (favorite) moment was when we were able to go so far in Snapshot beach.  The freedom we were given made me feel more responsibility for my actions and beach buddies.  The beauty of the beach and the beauty of the fish was breathtaking.

Michon, Yukt and Frankie at the beginning of their snorkel in Snapshot Reef.

We had lunch at French Bay where we had one of our best snorkels at the beginning of the week.  The water was too choppy today, but we ate and played in the tidal pools.  Frankie says: "Another really enjoyable part of the trip was when I walked down the tidal pool and saw all the cool sea-life like Gobi fish and sea urchins (and anemones)."

We then went to our second study site, Lindsay's Reef.  It is a highly degraded reef.  It has amazing coral pillars and mazes to swim through, but they have very little living coral left.  We got to see some more beautiful fish.

Chris dives at Lindsay's Reef with Will Coward behind him.

At the end of the day we finished off with a group dinner at a local restaurant.  The kids were able to try conch fritters and Nassau grouper, which is all local cuisine.  They all seemed to enjoy the new dishes.

Tonight we pack up and get ready to start our trip home tomorrow.  It has been a wonderful experience for all of us.  We will leave you with a few words from our kids about their experience:

Yukt - "I enjoyed going to Snapshot beach and catcing a glimpse of underwater life.  I also enjoyed going through the underwater cave and the many truck rides were fun and scenic."

Adrienne - "My favorite part of the trip was swimming through the coral today at Lindsay's Reef.  I got to see great fish that I had only seen in pictures and never imagined I would get the opportunity to see in real life.  It was mesmerizing to be surrounded by the picturesque coral and sea creatures, almost like I was in another world.

Saints in Limbo (, France, that is)

Well, we should be arriving home in another hour or so.  Only we aren't.  We are here in the Campanile Hotel near Charles de Gaulle Airport, courtesy of Air France.  Due to a problem with the aircraft, AF had to bump 200 passengers so as to fit into a smaller aircraft, and so we spent most of the day in the airport making alternate arrangements for 20 people.  The AF attendants were incredibly helpful and pleasant, despite their own frustrations with the situation itself, further complicated by a computer system in mid-upgrade.  I think we all can imagine what that must be like for them!  After pulling every string they could to try to bump 20 other travelers in order to get us onto our flight, they finally had to give up, and they found us a direct flight to Dulles tomorrow morning, arriving around 2:15 in the afternoon.  By the time we got to the hotel, it was too late to try to go into Paris, so we planned on a trip to a nearby mall.  That, too, fell through, when the bus schedule proved to be somewhat misleading.  So we stayed in the hotel for a leisurely evening and a very large (and free) buffet dinner. 

Starting with an emotional departure from their host families at 6:00 this morning, this whole day was a bit of a blow to the students, as one might imagine, but they have been almost entirely positive and making the best of everything.  I am very proud of them.

I have no pictures to illustrate this particular posting, but I will share a quotation that has been going through my mind all day.  My grandmother had this in her house, and I find it to be particularly apropos:

"Why were the saints saints? Because they were cheerful when it was difficult to be cheerful, patient when it was difficult to be patient; and because they pushed on when they wanted to stand still, and kept silent when they wanted to talk, and were agreeable when they wanted to be disagreeable.  That was all.  It was quite simple and it always will be."  -- Source Unknown

Saints in Greece: Marathon, Lake Vougliameni, and Cape Sounio

March 29th
After sleeping in until 8am and enjoying a leisurely breakfast, we took a bus to Marathon to see the site of the ancient battle.  A museum, timed perfectly with the heavy rainfall, allowed students a chance to see a few more artifacts.  We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Alonia, at which a plate full of assorted, grilled meats was served to each person.  We went to Lake Vougliameni where all the kids swam and enjoyed snap-chatting photos as they were nibbled on by fish. Cape Sounio, the southern-most point of Attica and possibly continental Greece, was our last visit of the day and of our trip.  We quite literally watched the sun set on our trip to Greece; we will be leaving tomorrow morning before the sun rises.  What an incredible trip this has been!   The kids are quite aware of how great it has been.  Here are more thoughts about the trip.

My favorite experience or what I liked best...
One of the things that struck me most about this trip is the fact that every place we went and every ruin we saw was once a thriving place full of life. In a place where nothing but rocks were left, once was a place where people gathered together to converse and worship. It's hard to imagine sometimes that in the places where I stood so did famous people who I've only read about in history books. It was also nice to see where a lot of our culture and politics originated from.
-Sarah Wilton

This trip has given a great deal of perspective for all of the history that I have learned over the years. I finally got the chance to see all the things that we have discussed in either history or Latin class. I keep wanting to pinch myself overlooking the views from high hills because of the intense beauty of the landscape. Exploring the towns is a valuable experience, a chance to explore the modern Greek culture, and we have plenty of time to roam and explore around town. I think because of this everyone has found their home away from home, a restaurant or cafe that will drive them to come back. The food and culinary culture is delicious and organic. We got the chance to visit an orange grove and see how a Greek farmer actually goes through the growing process which is a unique, fascinating experience and is exemplary of the inherent community kindness in Greece. 
-Dokken Shapero 

This trip has been an amazing experience and was definitely the best trip I could have gone in for my first time in Europe. It is amazing to think that every place we visited, although now ruins were once thriving with life. The views on the drives to all of the different locations never bored me and every mountain and site truly amazed me. I am so glad to be able to spend time with my friends, get to know people better, and meet new people as well. I can't wait to come back and visit Greece again someday.
-Julia DeVico 

During our trip to Greece, the birthplace of democracy, we have visited countless sites that contain a plethora of information concerning not only the Greek culture but also our own culture that is heavily influenced by the Greeks. No matter where we visited, the Parthenon, Acrocorinth, or Delphi (just to name a few) we have been exposed to a culture rich with ancient myths and history that has captivated the minds and hearts of our entire group.
-Zachary Tilch 

From the imposing Urban sprawl of Athens to the very small and quiet town of Delphi, this trip has been fantastic. We saw the ruins of great ancient cities buried beneath the structures of the new modern age. The ruins ranged from the enormous Parthenon to the wild flower adorned hill of the Athenian tumulus at marathon. While I learned a great deal from these places and I was amazed at being in the cradle of western civilization, my favorite part of this trip has been wandering around the three cities in which we stayed. I've always felt that one of the best ways to really understand a place is to just get a little bit lost and try to find your way back. In doing this you can truly get a feeling for the atmosphere and culture of an area. I did my best to lose myself in Greece's rich culture and history and I feel like I have learned a whole lot not only about about the country, but also my friends and myself.
-Rice Tyler

Greece is unlike any place I have been before. The cities contain both modern and ancient architecture, which is integrated into the lives of its people. In Athens the people try to maintain as much of their ancient traditions as possible. The construction of modern-looking buildings is frowned upon and nothing can exceed the height of the Acropolis, the sacred crown of the city. The cities in Greece are also interesting in that they stretch for as far as the eye can see. Even from the Acropolis in Athens, I could not see an end to the city limits. The sea of buildings just kept going. However, we did not confine ourselves to the urban areas for the entirety of the trip. We traveled a long way to Delphi, a small town in the mountains. The views were breathtaking. However, the views in Delphi paled in comparison to those of Acrocorinth. The ancient acropolis of Corinth sat on a tall mountain. From the top, it seemed as though we could see all of Greece. From the snow-capped mountains to the Peloponnesus and the cities in between, that view was truly extraordinary. The birthplace of Western Civilization has provided me with experiences that I will never forget.  
-Matthew Ray

This entire trip has been amazing. The cities we've visited and things we have seen have all been wonderful. But if I had to pick the thing that has been my favorite it would be Ares' rock. It's a huge rock that is located by the acropolis in Athens and at night when you go up on it the view is just breath taking. I've been up there every single night we've been in Athens. I found a natural slide that is so much fun. (Don't worry it's not by the edge.) I will always remember the rock (except I'm not supposed to call it the rock because Dr. Grissom said it would upset Ares.)  I love it up there and always will. 
-Cleo Potter

I love so much in Greece, and I find the country absolutely amazing, whether we are eating the delicious food or seeing the stunning views. But what I appreciate the most is seeing the sights, ruins, and pieces of art we have studied in art history. We spend so much time talking about these extremely influential works, from the Parthenon to a classical sculpture by Polykleitos, that having the pieces in front of me was overwhelming. 
-Maggie Hughes

Wow this trip has flown by! It feels like just yesterday we got off the plane to arrive here in Greece. From hiking up 895 steps to reach the Palamedes or simply exploring the shops of Athens, I have been amazed at all Greece has to offer. Personally I have enjoyed the picnic we had at the top of Acrocorinth. After a steep hike up the mountain we were rewarded with a amazing view and a picnic of traditional Greek food. Everything we have done on this trip has made for one amazing trip that I know I will never forget!
-Katie Henshaw

Students in front of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio before a final sunset on the Greece Trip

Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio

Sunset at Cape Sounio

Students in front of the Temple of Poseidon

Seniors at Lake Vougliameni

Enjoying the fleeting sun at Lake Vougliameni

Fish nibbling toes at Lake Vougliameni

Alex can't handle the fish!

Marathon museum

Marathon in front of the tumulus, a mound containing the burial of the dead soldiers

Cape Sounio from a distance (photo taken from the moving bus)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Saints in the Bahamas: Lindsey's Reef, Watling's Castle, Lighthouse and Lighthouse Cave

San Salvador Day 5: Avoiding Chaperone Fears
Mrs. Myhre
We were very excited this morning as we went out to the second of our study sites, Lindsay's Reef.  The ocean was smooth over the reefs so we unloaded all of our gear and went in the water.  Unfortunately, after 3 or 4 days of churning seas the turbidity was so great that visibility was down to one foot or less.  We had a couple of equipment losses before we realized the problem.  We were all very disappointed that our first smooth day still had unfavorable research conditions.  If the kids have learned nothing else on this trip it is that field biologists suffer the whims of mother nature.
So since Marine Biology wasn't in our morning plan we decided to do some cross-curricular activities.  We drove down to Watling's Castle to learn a little history.  It is neither a castle nor was it owned by Watling.  These are some of the remains of one of the British plantations that was on the island before plantation owners realized how little agricultural potential this island has.
As a girl raised in New Orleans, there is a deep love and knowledge base of plantation homes and how plantations were laid out and built.  I hope I was able to share some of that with the kids.  Here is the kitchen which is in a separate building to keep heat and incidental fires away from the main house.  I can see a pig or cow's leg roasting in that.

After lunch we headed right down the road to the working lighthouse on the island.  It is the only kerosene fueled lighthouse still working today. 

This is the only shot that I got of the nearby town before the extreme height forced me back into the lighthouse.  The kids didn't seem to have a problem standing out on the rails around the top of the lighthouse, but I had to let Mr. Yoder finish up outside with the kids.

Tight spaces, big heights and treacherous stairwells are not my thing.  Fortunately, the kids had fun.
Right near the lighthouse is a path that leads to Lighthouse Cave.  It is a cave that has access from the top but has an inlet/outlet to the ocean.  Therefore, the majority of the cave is partially to almost fully underwater depending on the tides.  Mr. Yoder wasn't a fan of walking around in small, dark spaces with waist-deep water that you couldn't see into.  I can't imagine why.  So, I took over this one.  We had a nice lesson on the geology of caves and got to see some amazing stalagtites and stalgmites and column formations.
Here Will and Chris, armed with their flashlights, get ready to descend into the cave.  Again, the kids loved it, but the chaperones were a little less enthusiastic.

Saints in Greece: Nafplio, Venetian fort, orange orchard, Corinth andAcrocorinth, and Athens

March 27
The birthday of two tour members, Dr. Klein and Cleo Potter. We visited two outstanding archaeological sites, Mycenae and Epidauros. Mycenae, with its famous lion gate, was dug by the legendary Schliemann, who also excavated Troy and named the various tombs after Atreus, Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, etc.  We had seen some of his exquisite gold finds in the National Museum of Athens, though the Mycenae museum has replicas. At Epidauros, an ancient center of healing, we were enjoying the cool breezes and classical atmosphere when hordes of Greek high school students descended on the theatre. We have first-hand evidence that the ancient acoustics still work! At night we ate in Nafplio, a taste of home dinner of pizza and pasta. The group sang happy birthday to Dr. Klein and Cleo and shared in some Greek cake with chocolate sauce. After dinner many group members returned to the famous Italian gelato shop or the Greek doughnut shop for a good night treat, then strolled along the seafront. We have fallen in love with Nafplio and can see why it is a popular vacation destination for Athenians. 
-Roberta Klein

March 28
Today we explored Corinth, hiked up the Acrocorinth, a fortified citadel used by many armies,  and had a picnic on the summit. While visiting Corinth we took many a sports action picture including cartwheels and jumping into piggy back rides capturing an excellent shot of Tara wiping out which was definitely funnier the second, third, and fourth times we looked at it. After leaving Corinth we drove up to the entrance to the Acrocorinth, promptly beginning our 30 minute journey to the summit where we enjoyed stunning views along with a picnic packed by our tour guide and bus driver of Greek olives, bread, feta cheese, and tomatoes. As we began back down the ancient fortress we had our second wipe out of the day executed by Katie Henshaw rolling majestically in the dirt coming off with only a few scrapes and still having an excellent attitude. But no need to fear, everyone made it back down to non-citadel earth safely. Even with our wipe outs, Corinth was worth every second because of the views of mountains, oceans, and Greek cities, walking on ground that people have been walking for centuries, and the laughs we have all shared. 
-Katherine Lucas

My favorite experience...
I have come to the conclusion that my favorite site that we've attended was the theater at Epidaurus, which we visited yesterday. It was very amusing to see nearly half of the Saint Stephens crew shout out ululations from the bottom of the theater to the other half of the Saint Stephens crew at the top of the theater. What can I say, I'm a little immature (if you haven't gathered). Also, I was able to justify all of that gelato after having climbed what felt like 500 steps to the top of that theater. 

   My favorite experience thus far has just been wandering the streets of Athens. It's really cool to experience another culture up close and personal like that. Doing so gives one a better understanding and appreciation for the ancient sites as you see the evolution of civilization. It's also nice to experience hospitality in a world where foreigners aren't always welcome.
John Carter-Hirt

Thus far, my favorite experience has been speaking with locals. Though not easy, it really makes one think about cultural differences and their importance or lack thereof. It has been fascinating to speak with certain locals about their thoughts on Europe as a whole, their experiences in other European nations and even which other languages they speak. These few conversations helped me to realize that the margin of difference between us and those from Greece is not as large as one may think. 
-Michael Colton
My favorite part of the trip so far has been hiking Palamedes, which is a medieval fort on the top of a hill in Nafplio. Although we had to hike up approximately 895 steps to get there (not including other steps inside the actual fort), the views at the top were phenomenal. We had the chance to explore the fort, climbing ever higher to find the best views. It was so much fun to have the chance to freely explore the fort with my friends, and the history and geography of its location made it even better. There was a beautiful view of the Aegean Sea and the whole town of Nafplio (we could even see our hotel and people eating breakfast on the deck). The only downside to our excursion was going back down all 895 steps....
-Ann Bailey

My favorite part of the trip so far has been the free time. Yes, the museums and historic sites and so on were amazing and really interesting, but those parts were already a part of the trip I expected. But in our free time, it was like we were on top of the world. We did what we wanted, saw amazing views and quiet streets that were serene, peaceful, and beautiful. Sharp graffiti, fried dough covered on chocolate, and laughing with friends so hard you can barely breathe has made the trip real.  Beautiful views made the trip amazing, but free time gave us the opportunity to appreciate the Greek society and lifestyle through the ages and it really gave insight into the true beauty of the classical world. I could understand and work through the beauty on my own time, and have fun while at it! 
-Bit Brown

Latin students (on top of the world) at Acrocorinth after a picnic lunch

Temple of Apollo at Corinth

Dr. Klein and former creative writing student Tom at Acrocorinth

Picnic lunch: olives, bread, oranges, feta, and tomatoes (a wonderful lunch)

Students looking at the amazing views before the hike up to Acrocorinth

Julia and Tara in front of the Temple of Apollo at Corinth

Temple of Apollo

Heather in front of the orange orchard outside of Nafplio

Cleo (The day of Cleo) the day after her birthday

Petros' house and orange orchard

Katie, Liza, and Dokken were three of the brave few to hike Palamedes
Fortress early in the morning (Ann, Bit, Sarah, and Mr. Hochberg also hiked)

View inside the castle

Liza inside the fortress

Cleo enjoying gelato on her birthday!

Island fortress as viewed at night from Nafplio

Mr. Hochberg hiking in tunnels

Mr. Hochberg and Dr. Klein on Acrocorinth 

Seniors on Acrocorinth

Dr. Grissom at orange orchard

Saints in Segovia.

Today, Thursday, we visited Segovia, famous for its acqueduct, the Alcazar and its cochinillo (piglet). We also visited the Escorial, a famous palace where most of the Spanish kings and queens are buried. We enjoyed some cochinillo in one of the best restaurants in Segovia, this included a show of cutting the cochinillo with a plate to show how tender it is. Here are some pics. Now we are ready to enjoy Saturday with families and get back home!

on Wednesday, We met Patrick Daly, Mrs Daly's son who is studying a semster in Madrid. We were happy to see him and share a coffee in plaza mayor and a visit to Prado museum.