DAY 13

Annie woke up last night at 1. Normally, she goes back to bed pretty quickly. She was in play mode!! How, after the long day of running around she had yesterday, I don’t know. I gave her a little attention, but then went back to sleep and let her do her own thing. She woke up on her own at 5. Now she’s on my schedule! I got up and she had put my flip flops over in a pile with her baby. I told her I’m not pointing fingers, but my flip flops have mysterious little teeth marks in them…. We came upstairs where the cats greeted us for breakfast. After that, the cats went to lounge by the pool and Annie, who didn’t stray as far as the actual pool deck yesterday, ran out there barking at them, jumping, and running, as if to say, “There’s a new dog running this property, and you guys better shape up!” She’s such a toot. We took a morning walk in the garden and crossed our final milestone. She would walk in front of me (she was always scared to before, afraid I would catch her if her back was to me), and….drum roll….she let me bend down and pet her without jumping away and…..fireworks…..she let me pick her up from a standing position in the middle of the yard!! TWICE! This is HUGE! And honestly, it was the final behavior I wanted her to learn before she goes off to a new family. This little girl has progressed so much and so quickly. I’m super proud of her. Speaking of in the garden, every time she comes back, she looks like this:

Annie: SDU (Seed Dispersal Unit!)

Jennifer and I went down to the mangrove beach by the house and walked around. This was Annie’s first major outing! And she was a little trooper! She investigated a goat skull (I promise this wasn’t from a goat sacrifice I made to get her iron for her anemia!!) and went into the water for the first time! She is such a great little dog- so curious and courageous. She will just follow me anywhere.

I found this GREAT sea urchin specimen, showing how the test (what you might call the “shell”, but it’s actually the skeleton) sits just underneath the spines.

Came back and got ready for another adventure. This one was going to be waaaaay past my bedtime. Because way past my bedtime is SEA TURTLE NESTING TIME (and anything else that happens after 9pm)!! Yup…Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting sea tuwtles!! Jennifer knows a guy, Phikwe (because Jennifer knows EVERYONE) who does turtle patrols on Rendezvous Beach, and he said that I could come with him! I thought the Airbnb guests in the cottage might like to do it as well, so invited them along, too. We all 4 arrived around 7:30 and started patrol! So here’s the 411: Right now it’s Leatherback season. These are the largest of all sea turtles- 6 feet long and 2,000 pounds! I knew I would literally D.I.E. die if I got to see one! And chances were pretty good. The leatherbacks nest about every 10 days, and lay about 6 nests total. She had already nested 4 times, with the last nest being 9 days ago, so things were looking pretty good for day 10! The moon was full and GORGEOUS, lighting up the entire empty, secluded beach…just enough so you could kinda see, and enough to create shadows everywhere that would convince you a 1 ton sea turtle was dragging herself up on to the beach!

Let me tell you what turtle patrol consists of: Sit on the beach for 40 minutes, walk the entire length of the beach, rinse, repeat. We did this for 5 hours, and for naught. No mama leatherback. But at least the company was good! Phickwe said he’d come and look for turtle tracks tomorrow, and if there weren’t any we’d come back the next night. I told him I’d come look for tracks the next morning and let him know (he has a regular job in addition to staying up half the night tracking turtles!!) I was happy to get back to my little Annie at 1am, and she was THRILLED to see me. Desperate for love and attention (that’s the first time she’s been desperate for it!). I begged her to please sleep late….

DAY 14
So begging Annie to sleep late didn’t fly. We were up at 5. Me on less than 4 hours sleep is not a good me…. First item of business, to head out to Rendezvous and see if mama leatherback was late for her midnight curfew last night. Jennifer and I bounced down the road, all 3 dogs in tow- Lily, Mini, and of course Annie. The tide was really low and there were some AWESOME yellow corals exposed in the tide pools! Along with about a zillion sea urchins!
We hiked down to the beach. This was Annie’s first time at a big beach, and she loved it! Anytime she can be a part of the pack with the other dogs, she’s in heaven. We walked the entire beach and no sign of mama leatherback having hauled out of the water in the wee hours of the morning. That meant more turtle patrol tonight! We filmed some educational videos at a few existing turtle nests, then just hung out for a bit. Jennifer took Annie out into the water and let her go. She swam right back to me!! My brave little girl!!

Came home and worked. I video chatted with Brian and had a complete ugly-cry breakdown over Annie. I can’t keep her- I travel too much. But I have to make sure she gets a good home before I leave. I’m so torn up about the whole thing….

That night, Phikwe and I were back on turtle patrol. One of two things were going to happen tonight:
1. This was night 11. She would DEFINITELY come up to nest!
2. This is the end of the season and she was done.

The moon was GORGEOUS. #ilovemycamera  Did the whole, sit, patrol, rinse repeat thing until after midnight again. No mama leatherback. Sigh. Oh well, at least I can say I have been on turtle patrol! And maybe next time I do it I’ll actually see a turtle!

Came home and lil bit was SO happy to see me!! I was too tired to play, so I just brought her into bed with me. She immediately snuggled up and went right to sleep.

DAY 15

We woke up at 5am. Kill. Me. Now. Two days on 8 hours sleep with as much website technical work as I have to do….lord help me. Annie crawled up, laid on her back with her head in my armpit and just laid there. Like a little person. Full of love. 😍 We still struggle with the bending over and picking her up part of our relationship- she has a serious fear of being caught. But if I’m sitting or laying down, she’s a total snuggle head. And of course, she still follows me around like a baby duck with its mama everywhere I go! She discovered her reflection in the cabinet glass this morning, and was none to pleased about this other dog being in HER house!! She barked and barked at it! Then, the housekeeper came. Annie was having NONE of it! Now, the housekeeper was here the day after Annie was rescued. That Annie just laid on her towel. The new Annie barked and got right under my feet to protect me (or herself, I’m not sure!!). She’s going to make the best little guard dog… We took a walk in the garden and collected some new toys- sticks and other things. She had a grand old time chewing on something new.

I look up from my work somewhere in the vicinity of 300 times a day checking to see where Annie is and making sure she’s ok. I looked up, and she had piled every one of her toys and the cracker I gave her (that she didn’t really like, but took it to be polite) all together. Her baby, her 2 garden sticks, her garden seed pod thing, her bull’s foot….she’s an organizer! I’ve never seen anything like it! This stuff had been scattered everywhere not too much earlier, but when she was done playing, she put away all of her toys. 😍 It literally looked like someone did it for her!

Today we were headed back to Seatons to check on the house and do some filming on sponges and the mangroves. I had a mini meltdown with Jennifer on the phone before we left. Everything with Annie, plus I feel like I’m down to the wire on getting everything done for Jennifer and am getting no where (no fault of my own, just stuff out of my control, which to me is the worst kind of stuff). I’ve spent so much time spinning my wheels it feels like. I just don’t work well like this. I really need the structure, organization, and control to be able to do work to the best of my abilities. I hate leaving things unfinished and I’m so worried about Annie… So yeah, breakdown. I guess it worked out though. Jennifer bought me a cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake. 😋 By the way, the chocolate shakes at  Sweet T’s are divine!!

We stopped at a little organic roadside stand. They are on a farm and grow most of their fruits and veggies right there!! It was really cool! I got bananas, a pineapple, and a couple of cucumbers. It was 34ecd, so I handed her a 50. She looked at me and said, “Well……..”. I was thinking, “Does she seriously not have 15ecd for change? What kind of business is this??”. Come to find out, I handed her a 50 euro note. Multiple currency possession….the struggle is real. I went to my backpack and started digging for ecds. Found a note from Malaysia in there. Jesus. Anyway, got the correct money and we were on our way.

Got to Seatons, watered the plants, then started filming. First, did a really good video all about sponges in the little “marine biology” office Jennifer had set up for a movie that had been filmed there. Then, we went out to the mangroves. A local boy, Lukie, came with us. He’s one of Jennifer’s stewards and gets paid to pick up trash from the beaches. He’s 13 and was REALLY interested in everything I was saying about the mangroves! All of these things are in his own backyard, and he knows nothing about them. Breaks my heart (not to say that kids in the US are any better educated about the nature around them, because they aren’t- well, unless they take my classes. 😉). We made it into a whole mangrove series. First, what species are found in Antigua and where. Then, the reds. Then, the blacks. Then the life cycles. Then the conservation. I was really happy with how all of it turned out! And Lukie got to participate! I had him lick a black mangrove leaf WITHOUT telling him what I was going to have him do beforehand (good sport!) and he paddled in on the paddleboard to remove some trash off the mangrove roots. Not sure if he was more excited about being on film or getting to drive Jennifer’s van down the hill back to the house!

While we were in the water filming, Jennifer pointed down and said, “Is that a sea cucumber?”. I looked. NO!! EVEN BETTER!!! A SEA HARE!! AND HE WAS MASSIVE!! I squealed with delight as I always do when finding amazing wild critters. He was so, so beautiful. Lukie was pretty disgusted and not convinced! So what is it exactly? Basically, a massive sea slug- a snail without a shell. You can see his head antennae on the left of the pic.
Of course, little Annie was along each step of the way for all of these adventures! She got to meet one of the dogs from the dog gauntlet at the corner- Little Man. He gets around on 3 legs because one was mangled when he was hit by a car. He followed us down to the mangroves and was really nice to Annie! After Lukie finished with the paddleboard, it was just sitting on the shoreline. Jennifer said, “Look!!”. And there little Annie was. Sitting on the paddleboard, just like her idol Lily… Seriously, could this dog get any cooler??

 

EXPENDITURES
Roadside Stand: 1 small Pineapple, 4 bananas, 2 cucumbers- $13 (WAY too expensive!!!!!!!!!!)
Lodging:: FREE!! About 11 hours of total work for these 3 days (not counting 10 hours of turtle patrol)- doing some website stuff and educational filming and helping out with Airbnb guests and grounds.
3 day total: $13
15 day total: $625

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