I must have died and gone to heaven. In Arno.
On Monday and Tuesday I "toodled" around Arno Arno on a fixie beach cruiser with my local guide Tonta is search of fossil corals. Besides a brief moment when I was chased by a scary looking dog, it was one of my favorite bike rides (and for that matter days) of all time. Riding over palm fronds along a faint car track, it was basically mountain biking "island style".
Tonta and I rode side-by-side in the two single track bike trails created by the few trucks on the island over the years. Every so often, we would have to dismount our bike or ride slowly through/ under a softball or volleyball match between the local boys and girls.
Then suddenly the thick canopy of palms opened up to a sight of the turquiose lagoon as we rode to the end of Arno Arno, where we spent much of the day in search of coral. I baked under the tropical sun in the guam dress that I wore out of respect for the local culture, but I loved every second of being in this enchanting place. Plus, I've never looked so nice while sweating my buns off working in the field ;)
I arrived back to our house just as a tropical rainshower started pouring on me. It was admittedly quite refreshing given that I was covered from head to toe in glistening sweat.
|Arrived back to our hut completely stoked and soaked :)|
As I dashed under the tin roof, my colleagues handed me a fresh coconut. An extremely refreshing treat after a long, hot day; the perfect end to a perfect day.
On Tuesday we biked towards the other end of the island along a thin strip of the atoll-- the turquise lagoon on our one side and ocean on the other-- looking for fossils.
But the highlight was definitely when Tanta and I rode down the lagoon beach to avoid the angry dog. It was quite a work out and absolutely gorgeous.
Meanwhile.....my colleagues Simon, Sara and Emma had an exciting day surveying the reef (to say the least!). They caught a ~120 lb yellowfin Tuna, which Emma ended up helping reel into the boat! While they were all laboring as a team to bring in their catch, a pilot whale was breaching nearby. You can read more about their crazy adventures on Sara's blog.
I was bummed to have missed what was quoted as "the most insane 10 minutes of their lives", but my time spent on land was incredibly rewarding in itself. In some strange way, I was thankful for my surgery, because it gave me the chance to take advantage of the opportunities on land that I otherwise wouldn't have had.
Life is good. And science is awesome.
I'll have to save the details for another day...