Week 14

Learn about Lisa’s experience in Bonaire with CIEE studying Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation. CIEE Bonaire is considered a Non-SU Program.

Bon Dia!

This week was my last week in Bonaire.

All we really had left to do was give our powerpoint presentations for our projects. We gave one in the morning to the teachers and class, and then the same presentation at night to the public. Other than staff and students, it was mostly retired people that showed up. I’m glad that all the presentations went well.

On Thursday I logged in my 40th dive! It was a fun-dive with friends down to 122ft at Yellow Sub. We saw a large cubera snapper (~5ft.), a barracuda, and lots of moon jellyfish! An anemone was even eating one of the moon jellies. I also received my (8) scuba certifications: AAUS Scientific Diver, Rescue Diver, DFA Pro (Diving First Aid), Advanced Diver: Advanced Adventure Diver– Advanced Buoyancy Control, Research Diver, and Shore & Beach Diver.

We ended the week by snorkeling at Lac Bay…

View original post 85 more words


Sea Fruit

Contrary to popular belief (or, perhaps, directly in support of popular belief–I don’t presume to have a solid grasp on the beliefs of everyone in the world, and should probably have chosen a more honest introductory phrase), being a vegetarian is not very hard. It’s not even hard to be a vegetarian in France, as long as you have the wherewithal to say “je suis végetarienne.” I do hear the occasional “so what do you eat?” from the bleakly unimaginative, and have twice received a bowl of uncooked radishes, offered with the same smile you see when someone gives a child a gift, knowing only their basic interests. I make it even easier on people because I will also eat fish. This allows me a sense of moral superiority over the meat-eaters, and makes me a point of ridicule in the vegetarian community. ‘Pescetarian’ however, requires an explanation, followed by a lot of unanswerable ethical questions that I’d rather not get into, so I just stick with vegetarian.

One evening, my host family brought me to dinner at the house of a family friend–a homeopath and her boyfriend. They would have felt right at home in Ashland, Oregon, what with their woodland elf figurines and their pellet stove. Needless to say, in this house I felt very comfortable with my dietary restrictions. I spent a good deal of time smiling at the marine life in their living room aquarium, watching the fish dance about each other in what I perceived to be joy. If only I had seen the terror in their unblinking eyes.

The appetizer was a charming offering of ginger cookies, tapenade, carrot slices, and a french kombucha-like drink made from fermented fungus. After a healthy chastising of the yellow fever vaccine I’d received that morning in preparation for my trip to Senegal, we dined.

When my host family told them I didn’t eat meat, only seafood, I believe they took it to mean seafood is the only thing I would eat. The entire table was laden with what looked like the supporting cast of the little mermaid. What I had first thought were capers were actually the shriveled grey eyes of of fully intact giant prawns, whose limp antennae rested on what looked like a bowl of their children. The french call these ‘grey shrimp’, which only adds to the appeal of the little creatures staring up at you from a glistening mound of corpses. There was also a plate of crab legs, a platter of oysters (gummy, grey insides gleaming in puddles of seawater), and two dishes of sea snails. These were not escargot, I was told firmly, although I don’t remember what they were actually called because I was too busy digesting the fact that I would have to digest what I’m sure were a tight-knit group of friends back when they were underwater.

Don’t get me wrong, I love seafood. In moderation. A plate of fish and chips, sushi, some batter-fried shrimp, crab with lemon and melted butter–that’s the kind of thing I can really get jazzed about. But I’ve never seen anything like this. The sheer amount of it all. And it was cold. I guess I don’t know how these little bottom-scuttlers are usually served up, but crab, lemon, and butter do not evoke the same pleasure when chewed below room temperature. I’m sure it was my fault for trying to mix solid butter into the mush, but what are we without dreams?

The feast was surreal. It was as if the table had been plunged into slow motion. Open mouths crackling fibers in the prawns; the mucousy slurp of of an oyster as a trickle of sea water descended a chin; throaty french laughter echoing from crab-filled maws framed by stubble and fragmented shell. The french talk with their mouths full. That’s not a judgment or even an observation. It’s a fact relayed to me by host father. They speak through their food so as not to limit the the natural flow of conversation, which I can by all means support in any other setting. Nevertheless, I find it impossible to listen to the curative powers of geraniums while the words are passed through the pulverized body of a snail. Watching the rubbery lump flatten under teeth, only to resume its twisted grey shape as they released it, over and over until it finally succumbs to the esophagus, battered, but still whole.

This, I knew, was my punishment. Witnessing the people I’d grown to love and understand, devouring the contents of a tide pool with a primal ferocity. This was my moment of retribution for devaluing the lives of sea creatures. They were taking their revenge. I knew it was either sink or swim–though I feared either would put me at risk for becoming dessert. I began steeling myself for the task at hand when, from my right, a crack wrought the air. My host mother had broken into a crab leg, and the resulting spurt of juices struck me in the face. We all shared a hearty chortle and I shredded the napkin in my lap. Ultimately though, I allowed my animal hunger to take me. There wasn’t a mirror, but I think my eyes rolled back in my head and I’m pretty sure my teeth sharpened. They howled in approval as I joined the fray of slippery crunching, snapping their jaws and stamping their hooves. Or something like that.

To start, I switched off the part of the brain that prevents you from eating erasers and then sucked down a snail. It wasn’t the sensation of chewing on hardened fat that got me, or the stiff, brittle sucker-piece, or even the squelching noise the thing made as it untwirled from its shell; it was the grains of sand. That is one aspect of seafood that I have never understood. How can one enjoy a scallop when small rocks chip away their teeth at every bite? Why not save a few bucks and roll a damp marshmallow in rock salt? The oysters fascinated me because after they scoop the sorry creature into their mouths with a knife, they tip the shell and drink the seawater. I was always taught not to let dogs drink water at the beach or they’d get diarrhea, so this really felt like tempting fate. I, personally, was content with politely tipping the water onto my plate that was slowly filling with carcass parts. That’t another facet of seafood that I find completely backwards. The more you eat, the more you’re left with, and by the end of the meal your plate is completely full. Eyes, shells, antennae, and exoskeletons stacked like a pyramid of trophies to show the other cavepeople who is the most fertile. They’re defense mechanisms against one another, but that armor gave them no protection as we tore into their weird little bodies.

The french call this massacre ‘fruits de mer‘ or ‘fruits of the sea’. It’s a sweet thought as you rip the tiny legs off of something with a face. Speaking of which, I really got the hang of prawn peeling, though my pride was tainted in part by the growing number of eyes glaring up at me from my plate. Every time I glanced their way, my small and large intestines would switch places, so I took to covering them up with bits of fibery husks from their disemboweled comrades. The concealment worked, but there was no escaping my sins. For the next two days my fingers smelled like I’d just stepped off an Olivia Cruise.

I could hardly believe that the next course they brought out was a salad, and not, as I had originally thought, a terrified manatee calf served in the skull of its mother. Whatever had awakened inside of me yearned for blood, but I pushed it back down and we resumed the airs of polite society. All of the brine had left me parched, and I wanted to clear my mouth of the PeTA-sanctioned hate crime, but they didn’t have any water–only white wine and a bottle of lemonade. I hate lemonade, but, for lack of a better alternative, asked for some anyway. They laughed gaily, saying it was just water in a lemonade bottle, but assured me not to worry, as they would fetch me some lemon drink in a flash. I tried pleading with her–water was fine, preferred actually; scrambling in vain to explain the horrible mistake. Unfortunately, my hurried, broken french fell on deaf ears as she, ever the hostess, told me it was no trouble, and zipped off to grab an unopened bottle of sugary lemon-water.

“All for you!” she stated proudly, her wide grin echoed around me by each guest. I returned their smiles, hoping to convey mirth instead of revulsion, and got started on the 1.5 liters I was now compelled to drink.

Hours later, crustacean and lemonade sloshing through me with every waddle toward the door, I whispered a quiet “desolée” to the fish in the tank.

So she went to Mexico…

I told everyone I knew about my first trip out of the United States. I felt like something changed in me after I had been living in Tijuana for a few days. The terrain was less menacing, the language less foreign, and the walks of life less strange. Of course the biggest shock was driving from the I-5, the same freeway I’ve taken in both Washington and California, into a dusty highway that in no way resembled the roads I grew up around.

A la Iglesia
A La Iglesia (2016)

The US-Mexico Border class that went with me on this journey stayed with me at Esperanza’s Posada, located in La Gloria. While there we ate at many local shops including a panaderia, a taqueria, and a dulceria. What was special about living here for a week was the quality of the meals we received. Everything was homemade from scratch. At the taqueria we ate at one night I watched tortillas being made hot and fresh by hand.

Una Noche en la Posada
Una Noche en la Posada (2016)

The mission of the trip involved our cooperation with Esperanza International. They gave us a place to live in La Gloria and in return we offered our strength and perseverance in building a more dignified home for a family living in one of Esperanza’s communities. We worked for a family in Cumbres for a total of five days. Initially I was worried that I wouldn’t be strong enough to help, but everyone on the team was flexible. We were told that “being” is more important than “doing.”

Self with Dana
Self with Dana (2016)

I really took that instruction to heart. When my muscles ached from shoveling dirt I spent my time with the children of the community. We would bond over drawing and taking photographs of one another. I came to Tijuana with almost five years of experience learning Spanish so everyone seemed to understand me, but no one as much as the kids. It felt like some cute girl was always asking for me to draw them una sirenita, like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I drew ponies, dragons, basically anything that they could imagine. But we also talked about their lives in Tijuana. We talked about their school and their families. They were all so excited that I knew Spanish as none of them knew any English.

Nuestro Trabajo (2016)
Nuestro Trabajo (2016)

Playing with the kids was the fun part. The real work came with shoveling dirt and transporting that dirt across the street and down a hill. We started our work by staring at a 15 foot wall of dirt wondering how so few of us would ever make this look like a foundation for someone’s home. However after five days of sweat and tears under el sol, our group managed to move enough dirt to create a trench and begin leveling the earth to begin the building process.

Fuertes (2016)
Fuertes (2016)

It was hard coming home and explaining to people that I hadn’t actually built any houses, per se. I’m sure my friends and family expected to see me covered in cement and/or bruises from mixing and applying said cement. However the work that we did was exceptional. The days were hot and long, but everyone found their place. It was even flexible enough that one day I was able to shovel dirt and bend metal into place with equipment that I had never seen before in the same day.

Miedo (2016)
Miedo (2016)

Talking to the kids also made the work worthwhile. I realized how different our childhoods were: my own and the children of Cumbres. Where they loved to get dirty and share things, I remember myself to be more of an indoor creature. I loved books and puzzles and clean hands, but these children loved to laugh loudly and run barefoot. My cheeks hurt at the end of each day from smiling so much.

Mamá y Bebé y Pollo (2016)
Mamá y Bebé y Pollo (2016)

My body was tired, but my mind was on fire. So many connections were made in such a short amount of time that I thought I couldn’t take it all. I got a bit anxious on the last few days in Tijuana, wondering how this trip would effect me in the future.

Veinte y cinco (2016)
Veinte y cinco (2016)

I’m still not sure how this trip will manifest itself in my future work. All I know is that I felt something very real and very strong in Tijuana. I felt it while holding a mother’s one-year-old baby. I felt it while I was playing soccer with the neighborhood boys. I felt it when I watched the children finally break open the Mickey Mouse piñata we got for them on our last day in Mexico. I may go on without knowing what this feeling is exactly, but I know that I have been inspired to action. Community service changed me as a child, but now world travel has changed me as a young adult. I see the two becoming more important to me every day.

El Solito (2016)
El Solito (2016)


-Bailee Hiatt

El Hombre de la Tierra


The following is based off of an interaction during a trip to an Esperanza Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. As one of the sisters talked about the mission of the clinic, the rest of the group looked at the dump from afar. A man climbed out of the wreckage of human waste and garbage and walked past our group. I immediately wrote a poem in response to this experience.


A form appeared from la tierra

Un hombre

Covered head to toe

In the sweat and the dirt

Of the Tijuana dump


As we stood and beheld

The world around us

He lived it


He sat in it


His perro sat in it, too


As the sister of the clinic

continued to discuss



Drug Abuse,

El hombre de la tierra approached me


He reached for me


La mano


Without a second thought

I extended my hand to him

My porcelain skin met his chalky palms


I was so embarrassed.



BAILEE: An Introduction

Bailee is the name.

Other than that I can tell you that I am a freshman Visual Art and History double major originally from Santa Rosa, California. Seattle has been my first step into a life outside of California. I had lived in Sonoma County my whole life and by age eighteen I was ready to move out. I left behind three dogs, loving parents, and a younger sister that I miss every single day.

"Roxie" 2015
“Roxie” 2015

Needless to say, I have never been outside of the country. I have been up and down the west coast, but I had never felt what the air feels like anywhere else.

"Sonoma County" 2015
“Sonoma County” 2015

In approximately twenty-four hours I will be crossing the border from the United States into Mexico. I’ve studied Spanish for almost five years, I’ve read Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies (Seth Holmes, PhD MD) and The Devil’s Highway (Luis Alberto Urrea), and I’ve had hours of discussions with my close knit US-Mexico Border class ; I’m more than ready to take this step in my life.

"Bathe" 2015
“Bathe” 2015

I’m only nervous for the heat. Other than that, my adrenaline from the atmosphere at Club de Esperanza should hold me through the hours of tossing cement buckets in order to build homes for the people of Tijuana.

"Capitol Hill" 2015
“Capitol Hill” 2015

I suppose I am anxious to meet the children at the orphanage we are going to visit. I brought a pad of paper and colored pencils to better bridge the gap of language between myself and my new friends. The artist in me couldn’t help wanting to share my passion with others.

"Self" 2013
“Self” 2013

I am primarily a visual artist, but since my move to Seattle I have been taking my Polaroids “more seriously.” What that means is that the rising price of Polaroid film has caused me to cherish each photograph I take. Unlike my smartphone, my Polaroid photographs are precious, one-of-a-kind. I also can’t help but love the portrait style orientation of the Polaroid 300 film. As a visual artist I specialize in portraiture, making each Polaroid I take all the more special to me.

"Andrew II: 2015
“Andrew II: 2015

Now why do I want to study abroad in the first place? That’s the question. I believe the only answer I have is to see something completely different. The longer I stay in one place, the longer I question myself and my purpose. Recently my purpose has been to serve. I’ve been volunteering at CASA Latina for two months now, and before moving to Seattle I did plenty of community service in Sonoma County. I also want to challenge my brain and my heart to be stronger every day. I’ve been learning Spanish for years now, but never have I had an opportunity like this to spend a week in a Spanish-speaking country in order to help others succeed.

"Capitol Hill Couple" 2015
“Capitol Hill Couple” 2015

There are people I will miss when I am gone, but they know that I can’t stay away from them too long. Bailee will come back sooner or later to remind those she cares about what they really mean to her. Without my friends and family who knows where I’d be right now.

"Bridget and Peaches" 2015
“Bridget and Peaches” 2015

Well I suppose I’ll finish packing. I don’t want to forget anything important like my sketchbook, my camera, and certainly not my sunscreen. I moved north for a reason.


We are Amused

“This is a silly country.” The words my travelling companion must have heard over a dozen times. Every day we walked the boroughs of London, I’d find yet another clue that this was, truly, a very silly country. England is weird. There’s no getting around it. They’re as weird as their sky is grey. Looking over my visit, it’s hard to decide where to begin, but I suppose there’s no beginning like the beginning, so I’ll start with my voyage from Heathrow. I took the ever so famous Underground, or “Tube”. Technically they call it the “tchube”, because, as I’ve said, they are a silly people. My first laugh, after popping a squat on the surprisingly comfy, cushioned public transport seat, was conjured by the cool female voice that rang through the Tewb:

“This is the Picadilly Line service to Cockfosters.”

I wish I could add the correct inflection, because after hearing that eighteen times in the course of an hour, I have it perfectly memorized. Needless to say, I giggled all the way to the Jubilee connection. The silly names didn’t stop there, heavens no. You know all the famous ones of course: Buckingham (Bucking-’em), Kensington, Hackney, Tottenham (Tot-in-’em), Wimbledon, and Westminster; but have you ever come across Upminster? What about Cricklewood? It helps if you imagine them said in the voice of an old British man. Wembley? Walthanstow? Finchley? Uxbridge? No? Well surely you’re familiar with Southwark? No, not ‘south-wark’; ‘Suthock’! They confiscate phonetics at customs if you have over 100ml. I could go on with the funny names–and I will. Teddington. Twickenham. Berrylands. Long Ditton. Norbiton. Coombe. Cheam. North Cheam. Penge. Orpington. Stoke Newington. Sewardstonebury. Kew. Chigwell. Molesley. And, of course, Tooting. These are just the names visible on the zoomed out view of the map. You can give two millennia of history, beheadings, and conquerings to a place, but as long as you can visit an Orpington, it will always be ridiculous. As I’ve said: England = Silly

This observation does nothing to to lessen the grandeur of the place. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am, indeed, a very silly girl. Just recently I bought a pair of earmuffs and a cloak. This whimsical, pretentious humour is right up my alley. I am enamored with the capricious pretension, and the whole country for that matter. I much prefer the awkward, polite, albeit contemptuous nature of the British to the loud, pushy general public I encountered in Italy (though, in respect to food, Italy isn’t even in the same galaxy).

Even the advertisements are cheeky, hilarious, and molly-coddling.
Look at this PSA:

How sweet is that?
And let’s not forget:

That’s a term I will be using a lot. There’s also this gem that I found on the Czube, and cannot for the life of me figure out what it’s trying to say:

Look at this man:

He is a Royal Guard. He is called a Beefeater and he looks ridiculous.

I found this on the side of the road:

I guess a brunch ended early.

I also came across these little ditties:

10 11

As well as these charming personalities that were adhered to public transport:
14 13

Well, do you know your puffs and pumps?

In case you’re still not convinced, keep in mind that this is a country with septagonal coins.

That’s a shape you don’t see every day. Unless you’re a silly Brit, in which case yes, you do.

And look at the sheer size that was apparently necessary to allot to their two pence coin. A double A battery is next to it for reference:

That’s a lot of copper for
two whole pence.

My closing argument for the case that England is simply a smattering of oddities, is their manner of speaking. Don’t get me wrong, their vernacular has me well chuffed (which is a good thing, apparently). As I was walking home one night, I overheard a man say, “Barbecue’s the latest pop-craze, i’ntit?”

An old woman on the Chube said, partially to her son, mostly to herself, “Are we getting off here, are we? Alright then.”

A man at the airport told me “you’ll come and ask if you have any questions then, won’t you, love.”
Syntactically speaking it was a question, but it was very clearly not a question. It was an order, and quite possibly a slight to my intelligence, but I can’t be sure. Everything is phrased as a question and it’s all very passive aggressive and I love it.

If it were not for the enormity of the city, I would say I’ve found my home. Really though, London is far too big for me. It’s a sprawling, beautiful mess that requires three separate modes of public transportation, and nothing is close enough to hoof it. The search continues. Maybe Edinburgh. I’ll sign off here, as I need to meet my doctor about getting rid of this chuffing grumble I picked up in the UK. Cheerio!


P.S. I visited the crown jewels. They’re kept in the Tower of London, along with a history of animal cruelty. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the treasures, but lucky for you, google images exists, so have at it. Now, I am not one for glamorous things. Give me fun over fancy. I don’t care much for luxury. However. The crown jewels inspired a covetous greed I didn’t even know I possessed. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but who needs friends when you’ve got a diamond the size of an egg. These are the kinds of rocks you’d use to hurt someone. I’d say that I’d sell my first born for those glittering wonders, but it’s a bit presumptuous to think I could produce anything grander than the Cullinan Diamond. If anyone is interested, I am now accepting applicants for an Oceans 11 type heist.

P.S.S. here are my favorite snapchats from the voyage:


Pimp My Crypt: and Other Ancient Things

Something remarkable about the old country: it’s old. As such, there are many old things here, pretty much all over. I guess that’s what happens when people live in the same place for tens of thousands of years–they leave their crap everywhere. Have you ever heard the phrase “take only pictures, leave only footprints”? Well, neither have the French. There are decrepit churches scattered ad nauseaum throughout the countryside. Ancient, majestic spires towering out of nothing and nowhere. While on the train to Paris (how snotty and cosmopolitan does that sound?) I looked out my window to see an enormous gothic turret. I say gothic because I know next to nothing about ancient architecture, and I don’t have a picture for you to prove me wrong. It really was a beautiful relic, jutting straight out of a tiny, sprawling hick town. I know for a fact that it was a hick town because directly in front of the steeple was a large billboard reading “Leroy-Merlin”, and if that doesn’t conjure up an image of a used car dealership, I don’t know what does. That’s how Europe operates. They have lasting memories of long-dead civilizations that they’re not allowed to tear down, so they build their junk around them. It’s certainly an improvement to the United States. At the epicenter of our parking lots, we just have more strip malls.

As I mentioned, I went to Paris. Because I’m classy. I won’t bore you with the details; you’ve seen The Aristocats, you know what the Eiffel Tower looks like. Paris in the rain, yadda yadda. Well, somewhere in the 10 miles of walking per day, we visited a little hole-in-the-wall local favorite called the Notre Dame Cathedral. You’ve probably seen it in that Disney film about the wide-eyed, physically remarkable dreamer who wasn’t allowed outside, but finally escaped to see a festival. I think it was called Tangled. It was pretty impressive, how old and big it was. I especially liked the stained glass windows. I found it a little hypocritical how they kept shushing all of us, and had signs reading “silence please”, when they rang these obnoxiously loud bells every hour, on the hour. No one complained about that ruckus, but whatever. My favorite part of the cathedral was definitely the gift shop, situated right between the pews and the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. Here’s a picture:


I forget, who was the Patron Saint of Tchotchkies?

I even got this neato souvenir coin. One side has Pope Francis, and the other has Jean-Paul:

Pretty sweet, right? This little number cost me 2 euro. I guess not even the Papacy can resist the cold allure of capitalism.

We didn’t have time to check out the catacombs this go about Paris, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen my fair share of “bone”-hommes. Hardy har har. That sentence was humerus because it was a play on the French phrase “bonshommes,” meaning good men, and the English word “bone”, meaning what your skeleton is made out of. That sentence is humorous because the humerus is a bone. Comedy. Recently I took a tour of the Crypte Saint Laurent, in my very own Grenoble. It was a charming little arrangement of scaffolding suspended over the skinless remains of who knows how many dead people. Here are some of the friends I made there:


They don’t speak much, but they’re great listeners. My classmates and I argued over whether or not they were real bones. They were skeptical that anyone would leave real corpses within poking distance, but I figure that Europe is lousy with disturbed burial sites. They’ve got more exposed remains than they know what to do with, so they might as well make some money off of them. I think it’s great. These poor souls never got the chance to make a facebook, but now they get the opportunity to feature in countless selfies. A really cool feature of this crumbling church was the ceiling adorned with sweet little swastikas:


Being half-Jewish, this put just enough fear in me to really appreciate life, which is more than I can say for these puppies:


I think I’m starting to notice a trend here… When I was in the Louvre I saw a beautiful arrangement of sarcophagi. There must have been 50 of them, There was even a mummy:


I may be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure this is how you get cursed. Oh well, Europeans just can’t resist violating personal space.

French cuisine tip: Did you know that when eating escargot, you’re supposed to cook the snails first? Well I didn’t, so I need to make a quick trip to the toilet.

Until next time!