"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain


>> Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Normal wake ups today, 7:00 A.M. Still feeling sick to my stomach, even though the other students gave me the night off from watch. While I was in my rack last night I heard everyone talking about how they were going to swim with the bioluminescence. That upset me because I am doing my big science project on that. Everyone is on deck now time from chores! B-watch has deck wash, easy. After chores it’s finally breakfast. We all eat fast with anticipations running high. It only took four boat trips in good old Sherman to make it ashore. As we approached the place where we were going to beach my mind started to run wild. Can I catch Leprosy? What if there are still some people left, and now they have turned into mutants? What if I don’t make it back alive? We hit land with a boom, I made a small yelp from being in mid-thought. As I got off the boat I notice that the beach wasn’t at all sandy, it was made of all coral, rocks, and sadly trash. Christine yelled count off, which meant that free time was just seconds away, we, all 21 of us students, have to be able to say our numbers in order with out messing up, sounds easy, but believe me it apparently is very hard. I take Sam’s number in honor. Christine tells us that we have one hour to go explore. All the students booked it to the first abandoned house they could see, kicking up all the coral as they ran, leaving Christine, Annemarie, and myself alone on the beach. I took my time observing every last thing I possibly could. Everything from the creepy finger like vines that were over taking the already small passage ways, to all the shattered glass that was on the ground. I went to the second building, from the looks of it this was the biggest building. Annie, Jake, Logan, and myself had to be very careful as we stepped over the broken floor boards, because it was about a ten foot drop down below. We came to this big open room with few beds on either side with faded numbers above them. At the end of the room there was a small sign that read: WOMEN’S WARD. From there we went upstairs. The first room we came to on the right looked like a bomb had gone off, bottles and paper all over. The next room had a big table in the middle with beakers and viles and medical paper work of all sorts. We all were amazed by how much was still left from the medical clinic. On the way back, we stopped at the church and it was filled with religious quotes. We took a moment to think what it must have been like. I couldn’t even imagine being stuck on this island. I looked at my watch, three minutes. We all ran back to the beach where we first met. Boat trips had already started. I sat on the crumbling pier, thinking about all the young, sick children and how privileged I am. While I explore abandoned leper colonies for history class, my friends are stuck in a small, stuffy classroom, learning about things they will probably never see or use. I get called over, time to leave. I say my goodbyes to Chacachacare, knowing that someday I will come back and show my friends what I have seen.

Below is an excerpt from the short story “How to Escape from a Leper Colony” by the Trinidadian writer Tiphanie Yanique, which we read in literature class. It is a fictional story based in Chacachacre in 1936 about a young girl who is taken to the island. This excerpt comes at the end and describes well the state of the island today.
“Now when you sail by on your ships you will say the island is haunted. You will visit the places where we bathed and played soccer. You will take pictures of our houses, our beds made up stiffly like war bunks. The sheets still on them and the pans lying dirty in the sink. In the surgery, all the records resting open for any curious boaties to rummage through and know that someone’s leg had been chopped off… Someone;s arms were too ruined to hold her baby, someone else had been cremated. Someone had begged to be killed in his sleep. The x-rays will still be up on the x-ray machine. Our medicines, the salves that only soothed but didn’t heal, all exposed. Now the government says they will tear down everything and build hotels and casinos so that your ships have a reason to stay and spend money.”
Sari Weiss, student


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