We went on a field trip to Norway. Yes, a class field trip. I used to go on class field trips like to the cinema or go kart racing. I guess things have improved for me, maybe because I go to a school ranked number three in this list.
And also because I have an amazing professor, Dr. Stein Kaartvedt. He hails from the University of Oslo and if there is one thing evident from taking any one of his classes is that he loves his Norweigan fjords. He also loves his KAUST family. So much in fact, he arranged a trip for all the Master’s and PhD students of the Red Sea Research Center to get to know one of his beloved fjords.
The day before our flight, May and I had been in Jeddah helping out in a reef clean up effort. That was impressive in itself, for the simple fact that I thought Saudi Arabia completely indifferent to the plight of its ecosystems. That judgement may be completely prejudiced or completely correct; it is hard to gauge. For certain, it was a media event. There were fancy cameras everywhere, filming divers donning gear, filming underwater, and short interviews above water. Since we were flying the next morning, May and I only snorkeled. Our task was to cut and remove fishing line from the reef. Even with scuba bubbles that was not an easy task seeing as there were endless heaps of it well tangled in coral and the scissors we were given were not sharp at all. At the end of it, the collective did manage to bring up a large heap of rubbish. After the cameramen left, the heap remained which made me think, “where will it go?”. I also thought about the dozens of subway sandwich lunches we had, each one unnecessarily packaged in its own cardboard box. Apparently the box was needed to hold your little plastic containers of sauces and the napkin you will inevitably need. What could not be held by the many bins at the site was the amount of rubbish our lunchtime produced. There was plastic strewn everywhere. But we did our job. And I saw an octopus and two cuttlefish. I also had a great time with the motley crew.
Anyway, we got back to KAUST sometime around 7 pm when I was met with a text message from Remy saying that we were having a gathering at my place in three hours. This left no time for sleep or proper packing as I had to do laundry and help clean our apartment. I am glad we had it at my place though, otherwise I might not have shown up. The intent was to get together before our trip and say goodbye to two visitors, Eva and Oceane. We could then walk over to the bus taking us to the airport at 3 am.
A few guests came over at 10 pm, again finding themselves way too early for this Latino-based assembly. Nonetheless, conversations picked up and people continued to trickle in. The gathering steadily turned into a party with Sabrina cooking pasta, Marlon dancing salsa, and me lighting up my palm torches among other things. Around 1 am I realized our guests of honor were nowhere to be found. The party really was for us.
Being sent off to the Jeddah airport in high spirits was a perfect start to our trip. It does not matter if you are eight, on your way to the local aquarium or in grad school on your way to Norway, the back of the bus is always the place to be.