Written by Hima Erukulla, Andrew Lee, Jerry Philip, Srinivas Rajamani and Nik Reddy
It had been nearly 2 months, 4 grueling Saturdays, 1 week in-country experience since the “Big Reveal” of our IBD project in May, but the energy and excitement of the team was still intact. It was due in no small to our project which was to develop a sustainable business model for WCS GLovers Reef Research Station Belize. That the entire project was set against the backdrop of a tropical island was icing on the cake.
Diving on the Weekend
As Friday dawned, island fever crept on us and we decided to give ourselves a break. Starting Friday afternoon we spent our time at the nearby island named Marisol. We made a lot of connections on this trip, but one of the most impressionable people that we met was our transporter – Seth.
While the PADI certified folks snorkeled in the gorgeous lagoon, two of us were sweating towards getting our PADI certification as we had a special event planned for Sunday. On Sunday morning, five of us along with a couple of dive instructors dove in the Glover’s Reef Atoll to unfurl the CAL flag at a depth of 100 feet underwater!
Back at Glover’s in the afternoon it hit us that it was our last day there. We spent the rest of the evening exchanging goodbyes, clicking pictures, swapping stories and went to bed reminiscing on all the good times.
Journey to Belize City
We were up early Monday morning as the boat was slated to leave at 6:30 AM with 9:00AM ETA in Belize City. Since the UCF students were traveling back with us it was slightly cramped but as the boat gently swayed we were too immersed in the vast ocean to be bothered with anything. Half an hour our ride, as we ventured deep into the ocean, one of the boat engines died with a with loud pop. Immediately, the boat started rocking violently with angry waves lashing at it. The boat captain cautiously maneuvered close to an island to send a signal to a rescue boat which was summoned to rescue us in the middle of the ocean. It was a long and choppy boat ride and, at one point, the fear was palpable in everyone’s face when the boat’s only working engine groaned, threatening to give up. Fortunately, we were safely transferred to the rescue boat before the engine could give out. We reached Belize City nearly two hours late, tired and extremely glad, given how precariously close the boat came to capsizing.
Final Presentation and Wrap up
We spent the rest of the week in WCS office working feverishly on the final report and presentation. Fortunately the World Cup semis coincided with two conveniently long lunch breaks.
Friday morning we presented our findings spanning our experience at the research station, journey, recommendations, and implementation playbook. As the presentation progressed it appeared as if WCS was connecting with the various sections, pausing to clarify, corroborating their earlier findings and having internal discussions as well. At close, our audience seemed satisfied with the work and were eager to present our recommendations to the headquarters in New York. They then took us for an fantastic lunch at a popular restaurant that we were meaning to go to and gifted us Glover’s Station merchandise for our efforts.
After providing a final rundown of our analysis and models developed, we left the WCS office one last time after much hand shaking and mutual appreciation for getting to work on such a wonderful project together. We ended the evening celebrating the successful completion of our assignment in Belize City.
Forever grateful to IBD and Haas for an amazing project. This assignment has been a rewarding opportunity to learn and an ideal setting to form lasting bonds!
GRRS Promo Video