You can't keep a fish out of water for too long.
I knew I had to return. The marine station had enraptured me too tightly to let me loose completely. Everyone's first question upon my initial return last year was, "When are you going back?" Quite frankly, I hadn't even really solidified in my mind yet that I was actually going back. At the time I was juggling between ECIM and a few other summer research options, but something about Chile just wouldn't let me go, and so I decided I would traverse back to its waters again when the summer returned.
This time, leaving home was a different experience. The first time, I was a bundle of nerves, and by the time my flight day had come, I was no longer excited but instead sick to my stomach. This time, however, I was a grand mix of feelings: nervous (of course) but also incredibly excited. It's like a return to form or like going back to a second home. I could not wait to see my friends again, meet new lovely people, research fish (cue the external excited screaming), photograph and film, see all the marine critters, just all of it. I was excited for my first day, I was excited to get to the half-way point where I was truly involved in everything, and I couldn't wait to return home. I was excited for the whole dang thing, and this seemed like it would be a significantly smoother ride. Not to mention, I won't have to stay up all night forever and ever, so I might be a little more awake and alive to do and experience things.
The day that I was to depart finally arrived. This time felt very sudden, like it had arrived overnight and I had not been expecting it. This was in part because I had a rather arduous semester, so I was so focused on my classes that the trip had to take a back seat. Regardless of how sudden it felt, though, it was here. Unfortunately I can't seem to have a trip without a hitch, though.
My initial flight was delayed and I had to be switched to another one so that I could actually make it to Chile on the scheduled day of arrival. I departed to a different airport and was told upon arrival that I had to go all the way from one end of the airport to the other. I had to practically run from one end of MIA to the other to make my flight and I just barely made it. The second I slumped down in my seat on the plane, feeling disgusting from my 20 minute rush to my destination, I panicked a little inside. Was I on the right flight? Did I have everything? Did they get all my bags? At this point I was so over it and just ready to be there. After an exhausting flight (what flight isn't exhausting? I envy people who can sleep on planes...), I finally arrived in the airport and made it to the station in one piece.
It was weird arriving back at ECIM. I expected it to be some big exciting thing, but it wasn't. It felt like a return to normalcy, like I had just been gone a week and now I was back. No nerves, no nothing. I was here. Everything looked the same, many of the same people were still around, and I felt like I was falling back into a rhythm. My first weekend I traversed the places I had come to know well and just felt at home. The first week passed and I sat in an office that felt like mine. I was truly comfortable.
Upon my arrival, I was itching to do everything I loved. There are only so many hours in a day, though, so I've had to pick and choose what to do while remembering that I still have time to do everything. Several of my days off (including a lunch break or two) have consisted of me digging around through tide pools merely for the heck of it and losing my mind over all the critters in these rich little ecosystems. Beautiful little fish, shrimp, crabs, chitons, amphipods, mussels, barnacles, snails, and more have enthralled me as crawled around from pool to pool (also in a skirt at one point, which I don't recommend). I cannot relay to you just how excited I am and how happy I am. I am a sea lady in her rightful habitat, and I am relishing every moment.
I haven't had any adventures yet, but then again I've only been here for a short period of time. Adventures will come in time. The best is always yet to come. I'm a bit impatient, but perhaps the journey is in the waiting. Perhaps some of the best memories are in the small moments, those little times in between the big events.
I have not been idle with my camera. I got to work pretty much immediately, utilizing the techniques I learned last time and over the course of the year. This place truly is a gold mine for photographing.
A word I used a lot last time was regreso. It means "I return." I used it more to let people know that I would be right back, but eventually it become something greater, something with more depth to it. I looked a dear friend in the eyes and told him I would return. At the time, I didn't know when or how, but I knew I would be back. A year later, I have indeed returned. I have returned to my dear friends who always seem to put a smile on my face, to the laboratory where I wrestled with sleep in the deep of night, and to the sea that gives me life. Yo regreso. Y estoy feliz.