On Wednesday, it was my birthday and Emily, Renee and I got to do our dives together. It was on one of those dives that we saw a sea turtle, but on the next day's dive that we were most reminded of the East Australian Current scene in "Finding Nemo." Although this dive wasn't supposed to be the drift dive required for the advanced open-water course, the current was incredibly strong. So we floated along, trying to kick efficiently and not to run into each other, and Renee and Emily gained an experience they weren't really supposed to have but, like many of the experiences that we didn't expect to be given this semester, they handled it with grace. In that current as well as in other experiences, I have felt like Marlin in the aforementioned "Finding Nemo" scene, amazed at other people's (or in Marlin's case, turtles') calm handling. But as I have always(?) said, studying abroad is like finding your son--you can't give up even when there are sharks (they might turn out to be nice people sort of). Before I get too caught up in this analogy, let me get back to the actual dive. It was a challenge beyond the natural challenge of the drift (and beyond the philosophical connections to "Finding Nemo") for my right foot because it had been stung by a sea urchin as we were walking to the boat. I have been stung by an urchin before, but that was a small one and it stung my fingers. This time, I freaked out a lot more than the first time and probably a lot more than I should have. While I was on the boat complaining and waiting for Beltran, another more experienced diver was further worrying me by discussing possible infections. When Beltran got to the boat and learned the news, his reaction was immediately reassuring and embarassing considering my whining. "A sea urchin? Oh, come on, that's like nothing!" Their spines are made of keratin, the same material as humans' hair and nails, so they will disolve once in the skin. The remedy for their sting is to break up the spines so that they will disolve faster by--to my dismay at the time--pounding the skin with a dive weight. I wasn't up to doing this to my own sad foot, but Renee was quick to oblige. I ignored her excitement and rendered up my foot. Actually, it worked like a charm and no infection ensued (although sadly for Renee and Emily I was the only person who did not get an infected bug bite or blister on my foot, but those are their stories to tell or not tell).
On Friday, we officially gained our new certifications and headed back to Dar es Salaam (this time by plane, but 24 hours after our last dive), and on Saturday we headed back to Iringa so that on Sunday, we could set out for our fieldwork component in Mufindi. But that's another story for another day.