Monday, June 6, 2011

So Ready!!!!!

We are so ready to leave China. Today is our last Monday here in Shekou. We leave this Sunday but will spend a few days in Beijing and Xian before we head out of China for good on June 16. We really are counting down every day, minute, second that we will be able to leave.

This morning was a typical "I need to get out of here" morning. The construction hasn't gotten any better and I was trying to carry some large items to school this morning and had to maneuver getting Vika, myself, and all this stuff onto a public bus. It was blazing hot with 1000% humidity which didn't make it any better. We finally get on a bus and of course I have to stand carrying all this crap with a bus driver that was CRAZY. The roads are completely torn up so it's like four wheel driving through the desert with dirt, mud, pot holes all over the place and a driver who doesn't want to slow down. So....I'm trying to keep my balance, keep my stuff from falling all over and rolling down the isle and making sure Vika is safe. At this point I'm already drenched with sweat and it's 8:00 in the morning.

We finally get to school and are dropped of in the middle of a sand pile with piles of bricks, rocks, and other debris all over the place. Again, I'm carrying all this crap and trying to cross a torn up street making sure that we don't get hit by any crazy drivers.

Not a good start to my day.

Then, I get to school and decide that I wanted to order lunch from a semi decent Chinese restaurant. I figure I'm not going to get much of the real crap so I might as well fill up on it this week. (It really isn't that bad and they have a few things I really like) So, I order my food through our receptionist and am looking forward to my lunch all morning, but of course it just can't be that simple.

My food comes and is totally NOT what I wanted. I wanted chicken with cashews but I get dried cold chicken with TONS of chili peppers. Not one cashew in sight, just dried chicken and chili peppers. YUCK!!!! I had also ordered white rice and dumplings so I thought "OK, at least I can enjoy that" but I didn't want just plain rice so I decided to put the sauce on it that they sent with the dumplings. It looked like normal soy sauce...but NO!!!!!! It tasted like barf. Really, I was eating barf seasoned rice and dumplings.

Of course that went immediately to the trash and I went to my ever favorite Charlie's where they sale imported food and am now having a lunch of microwave popcorn, Hershey's chocolate bar with almonds, and a Diet Mt. Dew. I know, not the most healthy but I deserved some of my favorite American comfort food.

Yes....we are SO READY to leave.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sea Turtles 911....too cool!

Jonny and Rachel went on a trip to a Chinese island called Hai Nan in June. There they learned how to conserve and rescue sea turtles. The hospital that the sea turtles were stationed at was on a floating hut. The hatchlings and post-hatchlings were stored underneath the dock which can be seen in the picture below. In the picture Jonny is holding one of the post-hatchlings that were stored underneath the dock.
Everyday the group, including Jonny and Rachel, performed a basic routine of cleaning and feeding the sea turtles. Before the sea turtles are rescued from poachers the turtles are stored in small nets with many other fish and turtles with terrible conditions. The sea turtles can receive stress related diseases that need to be taken care of due to the poor conditions they were living in. Everyday the group had to clean the turtle's shells and check whether the stress related diseases spread to other parts of their shell. In the picture below Rachel is holding one of the larger sea turtles to examine whether the turtle's shell is alright.

One night the group went out to the beach to absorb the beauty of the beach and to think about why we need to help conserve the endangered species of the ocean. While the group was out at the beach there were some friends that tagged along. Below is a picture of one of the friends that came along with them.
As mentioned earlier part of the group's daily routine was to help feed the sea turtles. At the hospital there were three species of sea turtles that were being taken care of. The three species were Green Sea Turtles, Hawksbills, and Olive Ridley's. The turtle below is a Green Sea turtle. One way to tell the difference between the sea turtles is to look at their shell. Green sea turtles have a brown or more earthy pigment to their skin. The foods that Green sea turtles eat are leafy greens. Everyday the group had to go down to the market and buy leafy greens for the sea turtles.
While we were at the hospital there were other necessities that needed to be taken care of. One of the most important things that needed to be done was cleaning out the sea turtle's nets. Since the hospital was a part of a floating fishing village in the ocean, many of the villagers threw their trash into the ocean. One of the main causes of death towards sea turtles is eating trash. Turtles have the amazing ability of being able to eat jellyfish, but sometimes plastic bags that float in the ocean can be mistaken for jellyfish. The sea turtles may eat the plastic bags, thinking its a jellyfish and become constipated and die. So it was important to rid the turtle's nets of trash such as plastic bags, straws, rice bags, and Styrofoam.

One day the group was taken to a local beach to clean up the trash that was washed ashore by the villagers from the fishing villages. Another reason why turtles are becoming endangered is because of the lack of clean and open spaces for turtles to lay their eggs. It is important to clean the beaches to help turtles find places to lay their eggs. So the group along with helpful police officers and local Chinese college students started picking up the trash along the beach. The main piece of trash that were found on the beach was Styrofoam. This day really opened up the group's eyes, especially Rachel's eyes, about the amount of trash that is being thrown into the ocean everyday. The trash that was picked up that day was sent to an Incinerator where it would be far away from harming the endangered ocean species.

While at the beach picking up trash another friend of nature's tagged along to see how the progress was going. A jellyfish decided to pay the group a visit. Luckily Frank Galicia was able to catch a beautiful shot of the jellyfish with his underwater camera.

Since Rachel and her friend Gabriella were the only blondes that went on this trip the local Chinese students were excited to take pictures with them. This is one of the many pictures that Rachel had to pose in while living in China.
For Jonny's eagle project he decided to raise awareness to the local Chinese people about the importance of conserving sea turtles. Jonny made flyers that were passed out throughout the village explaining why sea turtles are being poached and how we can stop the poaching from occurring. One of the main reasons why turtles are becoming endangered is because of the value in their shells and their meat. Green sea turtles are caught and killed for their expensive meat. Hawksbill sea turtles are caught and killed for their beautiful shells that can be used to make jewelry such as barrettes, bracelets, and necklaces. The local Chinese people were informed about this situation in Jonny's flyers that were passed out.

The local Chinese college students helped the group speak Chinese to the locals and explain to them what was on the flyer.
One day the group had the opportunity of going to visit whale sharks. Whale sharks are the world's largest fish and they are also becoming an endangered species as well.
These fish only eat plankton. They have a giant mouth with thousands of minuscule teeth. Their mouths act like a vacuum sucking in anything that is in front of them. A main reason why sharks in general are becoming endangered is because of their value in shark fin soup. Most of the sharks are killed only for their fins and not for the rest of their body. Some poachers even cut off their fins while the sharks are still alive. Without their fins sharks can not float and move around the water, therefore they sink to the bottom of the ocean where they drown. It is important to help conserve sharks in the ocean for they are an important part of the ocean's ecosystem.
These fish have evolved to obtain white spots on their skin in order to camouflage easier with the water.

Below is a picture of how they fed the whale sharks.

The students had the chance to swim with the whale sharks as well.

On the group's last day in Hai Nan they had the beautiful opportunity of being able to release one of the sea turtles from the hospital. The turtle's name is Ham and he is a Hawksbill post-hatchling. He was strong and big enough to be released on the groups' final day. May Ham be safe and be a part of the many sea turtles that are trying to repopulate their species.
Ham is on his way to the ocean where he will have the opportunity to travel around the world.
Ham is being taken by the waves into the ocean.
The group had the opportunity to write Ham a letter in their home language that would be taken by the waves to him.

Each night the group had a little break before they would learn more about the sea turtles. Right down the street from the market there was a little ice cream stand. The Hai Nan ice cream wasn't made the same way as regular ice cream. On the stand there were baskets full of fresh fruit. Someone from the group could pick as many fruits as they wanted which were blended together in a blender. After the fruit was blended together into a sort of smoothie, it was put onto a little pan.
The smoothie was put into this pan which instead of being cooked it would be frozen. This guy had two spoons which he would spread the smoothie around the pan until it became like ice cream. Afterwards you would have a wonderful smoothie/ice cream filled with fresh fruits and sweet condensed coconut milk.