Part 1. In which the TSA is racist, and I survive multiple plane rides.
Prologue: (Bear with me) My former professor asked me to accompany her and her graduate student on a field research trip to Hawaii to find populations of the plant Schiedea globosa. It’s a little grass with a spherical head full of green flowers and it grows on a few of the Hawaiian Islands. It’s interesting because of all the plants in its genus, which are endemic to Hawaii, it’s the only one that isn’t endangered or threatened. Why? Partially because it lives on steep cliffs by the ocean, and when rocks fall off of those cliffs, globosa hitches a ride with them and floats on over to colonize another island. More on this later.
So. We started our journey on a flight from Cincinnati to Atlanta, then Atlanta to San Francisco, then San Francisco to Honolulu, then Honolulu to Maui. That was a thoroughly unenjoyable trip. The grad student with us is Indian, so naturally the TSA assumed that she was a suicide bomber and singled her out randomly for extra inspection. When I was going through security, they asked me about 9,000 times whether I was with “the dark-haired lady” (I’m sorry, I think you’re mispronouncing “skin”) and I was pretty sure I was going to get strip-searched by association, but apparently I am the most trustworthy looking white female on the planet and we both got through alright. Also, I was fairly certain that were I to die in a plane crash, it would be the trip from Cincinnati to Atlanta since we were flying with seemingly an entire sorority. I mean, if there is a god/fate/karma, that plane full of sorority sisters would have gone down.
Anyway. Here we are in Maui. When we landed, I thought the whole island smelled vaguely of frangipani, but that could just be my nose romanticizing the experience. Lots of women wear plumeria in their hair, you can buy real flower leis from K-Mart, and the mango trees. Oh, the mango trees. I come from a place where you can buy fibrous, unripe mangoes at the grocery for $1 apiece. Here, the mango trees are huge. Probably 20 feet tall, and chock full of mangos. We passed a clearing that was surrounded by mango trees, and there were mangoes just littering the ground below them. Rotting on the ground! Oh, do not take your fruit for granted!
Back to the field work. This part is ever so slightly scary to me. Like I said before, the plants grow on cliffs. This is a great little habitat for them, since they’re not great competitors and not many other plants like to grow at a 90 degree angle. This is bad for me, because how do I get up there? Field work has been much climbing up steep, unstable cliffs and scrambling up huge rocks before the tide comes in too much. There have been many instances where I think to myself, if it’s me or the research, I’m going with me. Sorry, everyone. I should get the award for World’s Worst Researcher because I enjoy living with all limbs intact just a little too much. To be continued.