Monday, June 1, 2009

Galaxy Wave

The adventure began fifteen days ago: Sunday, May 17th. My team of 10 engineering students flew from Houston to the island of Roatan, Honduras. We expected the unexpected, were preconditioned to be flexible with plans and schedules, but were still surprised when the Roatan earthquake hit 11 days later! But I am getting ahead of myself. That's another post.

Arriving in Roatan, we took the ferry known as the Galaxy Wave for the two-hour trip across the Caribbean to the coastal city of La Ceiba, Honduras. Our mission: to launch a new village-level electricity company in a remote rural village, and to repair a pico hydroelectric system installed last year in another village.

This is the discount ferry, Reina Rusto. We went ahead and splurged on the Galaxy Wave instead, on account of it having air conditioning and life boats, in that order.

Dramamine was available free of charge but the ride was pretty smooth and no one got sea sick... at least on the journey in. On the journey out we had rougher seas and several queasy engineers.

The Caribbean is blue and beautiful here. In the distance is the island of Roatan slowly sinking over the horizon.

Lisa came back for a second trip, a veteran from last year with an unshakably good attitude. Here she is enjoying the sea breezes and trying to stay cool in the intense Central American sun. The air conditioned seats filled up before she could get one, so she had to ride on deck.

Two weeks later on the return voyage, however, Lisa did not fare well in the rough seas. I was talking to a friend when Diana came to tell me Lisa was feeling bad. I jumped up to check on her, and when I first saw her she was a pale green color, almost like in cartoons, and was obviously feeling terrible. We went outside and got her a 7up, but the drink and sea breezes were not enough, and she lost her breakfast. Poor thing. I tried to help her by keeping her hair out of it and saying encouraging things. She was a trooper, actually. I would have been crying and/or fainting for sure. The wind sent her breakfast flying and we were both kind of messy by the time she was finished. But I could tell she felt better just from her countenance. I was almost as relieved as she was.

Having your student throw up on you might not sound like a normal part of being a professor, and maybe it isn't. But to tell you the truth, I didn't mind at all. The whole event evoked strong paternal emotions in me, and I felt like I was with one of my own children. I would have done just about anything for her at that time. I love my job.

1 comment:

Joy B said...

Thanks for taking care of our Lisa! When I was in college, I had some profs that ate lunch with us once a week. But I never had a prof that invested himself in my life like you do with your students.