Throughout this week I have learned and discovered many things about the Bahamas, life, and even myself. This week has been the most influential and positive week of my entire life. I have gained so much knowledge about fly fishing, life, and the world that surrounds me. From learning how to make an ideal cast against the wind, to broadening my horizon about the hardships many people face in this country. Along with these skills, we learned about the four main pillars that have shaped fish for change. Education, conservation, exploration, and connection. For me, the pillar of connection has truly stood out to me. In one week, I have never made so many strong connections with so many people in my life. When I first pulled up the lodge, I expected myself to be quiet and just try and catch some fish. Yet, I never thought I would feel so comfortable with a group people that I had never met before. I think the reason we all clicked so well was because we all shared a common interest, fishing. This common addiction has created so many connections between people including myself. But, I have discovered that this life style can create connections with anybody. Never did I think I would hear the story of a young sandbanks boy who has grown up in a one room house with no windows and doors but still manages to smile at just about anything I say. This is a connection I will never forget. Furthermore, we decided to head to a public basketball court to drop some dimes. When we arrived we saw multiple boys already in a pickup game. At first I didn’t really pay attention to them other than their jump shots and jelly layups. And after watching them I started to notice more and more. Multiple boys didn’t have shoes, some were wearing ripped shorts, and string as belts. One of those boys without shoes ended up sitting next to me. I ended up letting him wear my shoes for the rest of the night. I have never had someone so appreciative. This is also a connection that I will always remember. The idea of bonefishing on the flats is what brought me here, I’m leaving this place with a few photos, and many memories outside of the fishery to go along with it.
Jack Wood - San Fran, California
One of the nights when Travis came and talked to us around the fire pit, he said something that really really hit me. He said that he didn’t guide for the money, he guided because he loved the sport. If he did guide for the money, he wouldn’t be any good. Travis is one of the guides at Abaco Lodge - he’s probably one of the coolest and funniest guys I’ve met. He’s one of the youngest guides in the Bahamas but probably one of the best I fished with due to the fact the he really loves the sport. I really connected to what he said because in my opinion having a job that you enjoy is way more important than money. I would much rather do something in the fly fishing industry and make good money doing something that I love than sit a desk all day just to make a fat paycheck. Also I agree that you will do something that you enjoy way better than something that you don’t. Doing what you love will make you so much more happy in life than money ever will.
- Blake Rome: Austin, Texas
Today while wading the flats, I learned a lot about fishing / sight fishing/ and the experiences around it. It is not just about catching fish but it’s really about soaking in the environment around you and being disconnected from everything. You get to see the world through a WHOLE different lenses.
Knox really made the wading trip very memorable because of his energy the whole time. He would do anything to help us land a fish, see the fishing railing or cruising, and to have a good time.
He put his body on the line to save the fish from breaking off. I wish I was able to film this... everything was happening in slow motion. Blake stripped slowly and then set the line tight, the fish started sprinting towards the volcanic rock. Knox was going insane, high legging it through the flats to catch up to the fish and then ATE it. It was like a scene from a movie. IT WAS SICK IS ALL I CAN SAY!
Seeing Blake catch the fish wasn’t even the coolest part, the best part was the reaction from everyone. The energy was contagious. Screaming and hollering all around. Tingles running down my spine. This is what I live for. OVERALL TODAY WAS OUTRAGEOUS.
- Peter Buell: Dallas, Texas
I’m comparing and contrasting America and Guanaja. It’s more of a contrast however, most people here live completely different lives from the average American. That’s not necessarily bad though, it’s more good than bad. The people here don’t have the technology or the money that most of the people in America have. You would think that’d make them upset or angry, but no. I’ve spent a total of two weeks of my life in Guanaja and the first day I was here it was so obvious that the people here are so much happier than anyone that I know back in the states. It’s really interesting to look at that fact too. People in the U.S. are hell bent on material possessions and always having the newest things to avoid being judged. Here if it works who’s going to judge you? Everything in the U.S. is so blown out of proportion that after a while we think it’s important. Mental illness is also a big issue back home. It’s somewhat normal for someone that you know to commit suicide sometime in your life. The last person in Guanaja to commit suicide was 24 years ago, and the people here remember every single detail about it because it shook the community.
It’s just something about this place, it’s so crazy going from what I’m used to, to here. Last year I asked my guide Pablo had he ever thought about moving from Guanaja and he said “no man, why would I need to, we have the best food, the best people, the best fishing, and the most amazing views” and he made such a great point. From someone that doesn’t have the things that I do, he’s happier than a lot of the people I know. Possessions don’t make people happy, they’re happy to just be here and breathing.
Jacob Parris Guanaja Week 3
First day on the flats, I was guided by @flatsphantom aka Travis. Awesome guy. He helped me to learn how to cast into the wind. As it was very windy, I easily caught my back with my fly, because I was waiting too long on my back cast and the wind would take it. Any way he got me on a bonefish and I instantly trout set and lost him. Then after an hour of casting to bonefish I finally got tight with one. It was surreal. The fishing here can get real stressful, Once the guide points out a fish its like everything I know about casting gets thrown out the window. So after today, I can say the fishing is high intensity. I’ve gotta learn how to calm down to make the perfect presentation. Today, one of the local Bahamian Students asked me to teach humid how to cast. Knowing that these kids look at me as someone to learn from is unreal and it inspired me to get more kids hooked on fly fishing throughout the week.
Today was another tough day of fishing, we were surrounded by storms all day then at the end of the day I hooked up with a bonefish. Luckily we had a BTT rep on my boat and I was able to tag my fish. We then went to Sandy Shores which is a Haitian refugee camp. The infrastructure here was non existent, there were no doors, broken windows, and the “houses” were a couple feet apart from each other. Seeing these living conditions was hard to see and comprehend. However, through all of this these people are still happy and grateful for what they have. We walked through town and gained a following of maybe 30 kids, and played dodgeball with them. The way these kids are able to act in these conditions is mind boggling. BY simply playing ball with them we turned them from the nine year old adult they are forced to become into the fun loving lighthearted kid they urn to be. I am inspired by there lightheartedness and ability to be thankful for something as simple as a soccer ball. I met this one boy named named Issac who was nine, and had to share an air mattress with four other boys. He was the most mature kid I’ve ever met, because he had to become that way to live out here and enjoy it. Instead of worrying about his next fly rod he is going to purchase; he worries about his next meal. This really got my life priorities straight and inspired me to become more like these kids who have experience more in their nine years of life than in my nineteen years of life.
Throughout my 15 years of life, I have endured many amazing experiences that will forever resinate with me. But, the experience I had with the young boys and girls in the town of Sandy Shores is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. When we first pulled into the town, I was surprised to see nobody around, until we got out of our cars and walked further into town. As we walked in, I was able to see children peeking out their non existent windows and doors to see what we were doing. Once they realized we were there to have fun, boy after boy, and girl after girl, filed out onto the street. This was so significant for me because the last thing I expected was a smile. This got me thinking about what makes each person happy. It is different for everyone. But, what I have realized this trip is although these children may have to share a bed with 4 other people, or skip meals, they never take the little things for granted. I feel as though their society is poor economically, but rich with love for one another. Something that many communities in the states seem to lack. There are few people in the U.S. that will smile and feel so much joy because somebody hands them a soccer ball. I met a young boy in Sandy Shores named Marvin, he was very small but had a big personality. What amazed be about Marvin was that every time I would hand him a ball he would say, “thank you”. This expanded my mindset on how important the little things are. Something many people including myself need to grasp and hold on to throughout our lives. I believe that this experience has evolved my mindset and has further broadened my horizon with many struggles people face throughout this world.
- Eric Schurer 7/8/19 Abaco
Today, our group traveled to Sand Banks, which is actually a Haitian Refugee camp on the island. Jake explained the situation to us briefly before we got there, but I really didn’t know what to expect. When we got there, it really hit me just how tough these people lives must be. As we went around gathering the kids to come play with us, it hit me; these people are as happy as could be. Their faces lit up with gigantic smiles when they saw us with our soccer balls, and sprinted around the entire camp to gather up their friends to come play. One small thing that truly hit me hard was their basketball hoop. At home, I’m lucky enough to have a small half-court basketball hoop, and although I do play on it sometimes with my friends, I take it for granted. All these kids had was a plank of wood bolted onto a tree and a plastic box-crate as a hoop. After my experience with them today, I bet they thought it was one of they’re favorite things to play with. For an hour we all ran around playing dodgeball, and by the end I was having so much fun with them that the time flew by. When we had to get back on the van to drive home, I realized how different I looked at life then these kids.
Where I live in America, happiness comes by wealth, and how successful you are. You need to be that top student, get into an amazing college, and get a high paying job. If you can’t do that, you are seen as being lazy, or really frowned upon, which is so tough in our society. Talking to some of the Bahamian kids at the camp with us, we starting talking about the difference in social stigmas in between our countries. They mentioned that there is never any mental health issues or suicide-related deaths here, whereas in America, this is sadly nearly common. I directly relate this to that stigma where you always need to be successful and rich in life, and if you can’t get that, some people resort to stuff like that. The people here are always as happy as can be, and especially the kids in Sand Banks. Most of these families all share the same air mattress, and are still light years happier than most or any Americans. They always have smiles on their faces, and are so excited to come play with us and run around for an hour. When I go home, I always want to remember my trip to Sand Banks. If I’m ever mad to do a school paper, or upset about something like that, I want to think back to our trip today. I always need to be grateful for everything I have, and never take anything for granted. As long as I’m always as happy as the kids at Sand Banks, I know everything will be okay.
- Tucker Gannon 7/8/19
Throughout my 15 years of life, I have endured many amazing experiences that will forever resinate with me. But, the experience I had with the young boys and girls in the town of Sandy Shores is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. When we first pulled into the town, I was surprised to see nobody around, until we got out of our cars and walked further into town. As we walked in, I was able to see children peeking out their non-existent windows and doors to see what we were doing. Once they realized we were there to have fun, boy after boy, and girl after girl, filed out onto the street. This was so significant for me because the last thing I expected was a smile. This got me thinking about what makes each person happy. It is different for everyone. But, what I have realized this trip is although these children may have to share a bed with 4 other people, or skip meals, they never take the little things for granted. I feel as though their society is poor economically, but rich with love for one another. Something that many communities in the states seem to lack. There are few people in the U.S. that will smile and feel so much joy because somebody hands them a soccer ball. I met a young boy in Sandy Shores named Marvin, he was very small but had a big personality. What amazed be about Marvin was that every time I would hand him a ball he would say, “thank you”. This expanded my mindset on how important the little things are. Something many people including myself need to grasp and hold on to throughout our lives. I believe that this experience has evolved my mindset and has further broadened my horizon with many struggles people face throughout this world.
- Joe Evans 7/8/19 Abaco Lodge
IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE THAT GUANAJA, HONDURAS IS IN DESPERATE NEED FOR A HOSPITAL YOU NEED TO READ THIS.
SO TODAY WHEN I WOKE UP I WAS EXCITED. IT WAS THE DAY THAT WE WERE GOING INTO MANGROVE BIGHT (THE SMALL TOWN NEAR BY) TO SET UP ITS FIRST EVER HOSPITAL AND THE FIRST HOSPITAL ON THE ISLAND. THE WHOLE GROUP GOT UP AND WE WERE ALL REALLY EXCITED TO GO DO THIS BECAUSE IT WAS SORT OF WHAT WE HAD BEEN WAITING FOR ALL WEEK AND IT SEEMED LIKE AN OPPORTUNITY TO GO DO SOME REAL GOOD FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL ISLAND AND COMMUNITY.
WHEN WE FIRST ARRIVED AT THE HOSPITAL WE WERE VERY SURPRISED. THE OUTSIDE LOOKED LIKE IT WAS SOMETHING FROM AMERICA. IN A TOWN THAT WAS BUILT OF 2X4’S THIS BUILDING LOOKED ALMOST IMMACULATE. THEN, WHEN WE GOT INSIDE WE WERE EVEN MORE IMPRESSED. ALL OF THE LIGHTS WORKED, THERE WERE AC UNITS AND FANS ALL OVER THE PLACE, THERE WAS EVEN A SMALL WAITING AREA ALREADY SET UP, AND TILE FLOORS. BUT AS WE STARTED TO WORK WE REALIZED THAT ACTUAL STATE OF THE PLACE. IT WAS COVERED IN DUST AND LOOKED LIKE IT HADN’T BEEN USED IN YEARS THE MORE YOU WENT THROUGH IT. OF THE SUPPLIES THAT HAD BEEN DONATED TO HELP START THE HOSPITAL, A LOT OF THEM WERE MISSING AND WHAT WAS THERE WAS HAPHAZARDLY STACKED IN CARDBOARD BOXES THAT LOOKED LIKE THEY HAD BEEN SOAKED IN THE RAIN. SO WE WENT TO WORK CLEANING THE BUILDING AND UNPACKING THE BOXES. WE HAD WORKED FOR ABOUT 45 MINUTES WHEN THE POWER WENT OUT TO THE BUILDING AND ALL OF MANGROVE BIGHT. SO WE STARTED WORKING IN THE DARK WITH THE FLASHLIGHTS ON OUR PHONES. AND AFTER ABOUT 20 OR 30 MINUTES OF THE POWER BEING OUT A CAR PULLS INTO THE HOSPITAL. PEOPLE COME POURING OUT OF THE CAR CARRYING A MAN ON A COT. I WAS ALREADY OUTSIDE AT THE TIME SO I SAW THE CAR PULL IN. AND THE MAN LOOKED LIKE HE HAD BURNED HIS HAND VERY BADLY. TO THE POINT THAT HE WOULD HAVE TO LOSE HIS HAND ALMOST. WE WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE SOME FORMER NURSES AND A DOCTOR HELPING US SETUP THE HOSPITAL SO THEY WERE ABLE TO USE THEIR KNOWLEDGE TO HELP THIS MAN.
WE FOUND OUT THAT THE MAN HAD BEEN WORKING ON THE POWER LINES AND HAD BEEN ELECTROCUTED. WE ALL SPRUNG INTO ACTION TO HELP THIS MAN AND WE HAD A FEW BASIC THINGS WE COULD DO. HE NEEDED GAUZE, TAPE, AND AN IV. A FEW OTHERS AND I WENT SEARCHING THROUGH THE BOXES TO TRY AND FIND THESE SUPPLIES AND IN THE HALF HOUR THE MAN WAS THERE WE COULD ONLY GET HIM AN IV. ( WE COULD NOT FIND THE TAPE OR THE GAUZE THIS MAN NEEDED AND WERE STILL NOT EVEN SURE IF WE HAD THOSE SUPPLIES. ) THEN THE MAN WAS TAKEN TO THE PORT ONTO THE BOAT THAT SERVED AS THE AMBULANCE SO HE COULD BE TAKEN TO ROATAN. WHICH IS THE CLOSEST PLACE WITH AN ACTUAL HOSPITAL. WE FOUND OUT LATER IN THE DAY THAT THE MAN HAD BEEN TAKEN TO HONDURAS’ CAPITAL CITY WHERE HE WAS STABLE. BUT HE HAD TO HAVE HIS HAND AMPUTATED AND MOST LIKELY HIS FOOT AS WELL.
TODAY WE PROBABLY SAVED THAT MANS LIFE AND THIS WAS NOT EVEN THE FIRST DAY THE HOSPITAL WAS OFFICIALLY OPEN. IT WAS JUST THE FIRST DAY WE OPENED THE DOORS TO GET THE PLACE SET UP.
THIS IS WHY WE SET THE GOAL TO BUY A GENERATOR FOR THE HOSPITAL SO EVEN IF THE POWER GOES OUT THE STAFF WILL STILL BE ABLE TO PROVIDE CARE.
TODAY WE WENT TO THE NEW HOSPITAL. ONCE WE GOT THERE I WAS PRESENTLY SURPRISED ON HOW NICE AND CLEAN THE BUILDING WAS. IT IS PERFECT. THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB FOR OUR GROUP WAS CLEAN ALL THE EQUIPMENT AND THE BUILDING. WHEN I SAW THE BUILDING I INITIALLY THOUGHT THAT THE HOSPITAL WAS REALLY CLOSE TO OPENING BUT WHEN I STARTED TO CLEAN I REALIZE HOW MUCH WORK WAS NEEDED IN THE HOSPITAL TO GET OPEN. ALSO WHEN WE WERE CLEANING THE POWER WENT OUT. THE POWER WENT OUT BECAUSE THE HOSPITAL DOESN’T HAVE ITS OWN GENERATOR. THE POWER COMPANY ISN’T RELIABLE AND HE POWER GOES OUT A LOT. SO IF THE HOSPITAL CAN’T AFFORD A GENERATOR THEN LIVES COULD BE LOST. WITHOUT POWER MOST MACHINES WON’T BE ABLE TO FUNCTION AND THE DOCTORS CAN’T PREFORM. FISH FOR CHANGE IS GOING TO BE A HUGE FACTOR INTO MAKING THIS DREAM A REALITY.
THEN A GUY WAS RUSHED ON A STRETCHER. HE HAD NASTY BURNS ON HIS HANDS AND FEET. IT LOOKED LIKE HE WAS GOING TO LOSE HIS HAND. IT LOOKED LIKE SOMEONE PUT A FIREWORK IN HIS BOOTS AND THE BLEW UP THROUGH THE SOULS. THE GUY WORKS ELECTRICAL AND DIDN’T HAVE GLOVES FOR SAFETY AND HE TOUCHED THE LINE AND GOT ELECTROCUTED. IF WE WEREN’T AT THE HOSPITAL AT THAT MOMENT THAT GUY MIGHT HAVE NOT SURVIVED. WHEN HE SHOWED UP EVERYONE ACTED AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE TO TRY TO HELP. THIS MOMENT WAS A PUNCH IN THE MOUTH ON WHY THERE NEEDS TO BE A GREAT RUNNING HOSPITAL ON THIS ISLAND. THIS HOSPITAL WILL SAVE LIVES AND STRENGTHEN THESE COMMUNITIES.