As we near the end of our trip, I can't help but reflect on all the things we have seen, done, and felt. As we look towards Hawaii, a common sentiment among my peers is a little homesickness and awe at how far each of us has come as individuals and as a group. I think it is safe to say that this voyage has been life changing. It certainly has made me think about my impact on the world and also how we can change things moving forward. I think the best way to reflect on our time here would be to describe my favorite day aboard the ship. There has been so many ups and downs here, but I think I want to share the best couple of days I have had here on the Robert C. Seamans.
June 10-11th 2018: Today we made it to Kiritimati! Despite the long wait for customs and immigration, we were still eager and ready to experience our last reef and stop along our cruise track. When we sailed into the harbor, we were given a warm welcome not only by the locals, but also the local sea turtles. Once we were all checked into the country, we were able to get some lunch and then preview our snorkel site. Even though this was the third snorkel site we had been to, I was still amazed and couldn't stop looking at all the sea life. Part of our excursions on shore included a song that we sang for the school children. So we practiced our song Lean On Me and the Hawaiian chant that Nat taught us entitled E Ho Mai. It is a really beautiful chant that is asking for passage and welcome into a new place. One of the other students who had a melancholy goodbye the next night, Darlene, was feeling better so she taught a group of us a traditional Samoan chant and then showed us a dance which she put to the journey song from Moana. We ended the night with stargazing on the lab top and watching the dolphins, crab and octopus larvae, and the school of milk fish feed around our ship. It was a really great experience to be able to experience a new culture and be able to hang out under the stars. During the active sailing portions, it is rare to spend socializing time outside of our watches, so it was really great to better get to know my shipmates.
The next day we went ashore and were able to explore the island which was in such contrast to Rangiroa. We also completed our reef surveys and had a great dinner with some of the local wildlife preservation team from Kiritimati. It truly was a great couple of days there and it was a really amazing experience to visit an island that only has about 100 visitors per year.
To conclude, a stanza from one of my favorite poems by James Whitcomb Riley. I think it sums up the homesickness many of us are feeling at the moment. Even though this voyage has been amazing and I wouldn't trade it for anything, there is always something about home and I know that in time maybe some of us will start to feel that pull back to the ocean and might begin to think of it as our home. So wherever that home may be:
We must get home--for we have been away
So long, it seems forever and a day!
And O so very homesick we have grown,
The laughter of the world is like a moan
In our tired hearing, and its song as vain,--
We must get home--we must get home again!
- James Whitcomb Riley
- Natalie Renfro, C Watch, Purdue University
P.S. To Ian, Happy Birthday and to mom Happy Birthday as well! I hope you guys have a great day. And to dad, happy belated father's day! Love you all!