One big thing that has happened to me in my time in St. Kitts is that I have fallen in love with the ocean. My only two experiences with salt water before coming here were Florida when I was thirteen and Hawaii when I was seventeen. When we went to Cancun when I was eighteen, I don't think I went in the water once other than a jet ski excursion where the coral was brown and the fish were scarce (a dead reef, all too common these days). But none of those experiences inspired me in the way that living down here has.
When my family was here I was happy to show them my favorite restaurants, beaches, and where I go to school. But I couldn't share with them part of what makes this place so special to me, and that's what lies under the ocean surface. My mom and my aunt went snorkeling with me once but my mom got so sick we had to turn back, and it doesn't really compare to scuba diving, anyway. That's something special that I get to share with my husband when he visits, because we both love it so much and have so much fascination and curiosity about salt water life.
Diving with the research project has expanded my knowledge of reef species and in a way has helped me to feel more connected with the ocean. Like being able to identify and name the fish that I see is a form of communication, or something. It's hard to explain.
"De salt life" is definitely a part of me now. I'll miss it terribly when I have to leave. Of course we have coastal waters in the U.S. where I could dive, but nothing even remotely approaching the beauty and diversity of the reefs here.