December 17, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Deb Wolf in Grenada
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December 17, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Deb Wolf in Grenada
Deb Wolf in Grenada
Deb Wolf in Grenada
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Bonjou and bienveni to my world--I'm an American from Seattle currently volunteering in the Peace Corps in St. Lucia, in the Eastern Caribbean. I work as a Community and Youth Development volunteer with the St. Lucia National Youth Council and also the National Emergency Management Office. I live in the north of the island, and work in the capital city, Castries. You can read a bit about me, St. Lucia, my booklist and also find links to some of my friends' sites in the background section. You can find my mailing address and phone number in the Contact Me section, and my ongoing journal/narrative in the Tales section. Check the weather for inspiration before calling your travel agent to plan a visit.
I do have email, but please be patient if it takes me a while to respond (and please spare me any big pictures or forwards, unless they're REALLY good). Please do send actual letters!(see contact info). Good karma and a fast response guaranteed. I will save the juicy bits for letters, so you will be rewarded!
Love and sunshine,
A Pueblo Verse
Hold on to what is good, even if it is a handful of earth. And hold on to what you believe, even if it is a tree which stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, even if it is a long way from here. Hold on to life, even when it is easier to let go. Hold on to my hand, even when I have gone away from you.
Tales from Bananaland
My recent escapades for your entertainment/education/edification. Enjoy.
16th December, 2003
Comme Ci, Comme Ca
This weekend was busy, but not quite as impromptu and fun as the last one. Thursday night it started off with a holiday party at the Alliance Frances in Castries. There was food and drink and about 30 people dancing to DJ music. It felt very much like a high school dance, except with wine. It was sweltering hot in there, but we had a good time--some of our game night crew was there. Of course, smartass that I am, I had to ask Geoff at one point. "Why are they playing all this French music?" Friday I took a mental health beach day (for lack of work to do at NYC) and that night I met with Earl in town and we limed on the block with some of the Sandals crew before heading to their house in Babonneau to pick up Doreen. We dropped her at her work Christmas party and went to get food. Nothing good in Rodney Bay so we headed to town, where the Festival of Lights on the square was just finishing up, so it was a mob scene. We left there, went back to Rodney Bay and got some cold-ish fish and chips from a truck and ate by the water. We were both exhausted, so we drove the car by the hotel where she works and fell asleep in the car on the side of the road. It was hilarious to me because I was sleeping on the side of the road in the area where I am usually going out at that time. Some local guys walking by peeked in and saw me, and I heard them: "Check it, check it, look de white girl dere sleeping." Must have been quite an odd sight.
So I slept in the car back to Babonneau, but when we reached their house, the usual anxieties of sleeping in a new place kicked in--different bed, different sounds, worry that my cellphone alarm wouldn't go off/wouldn't wake me. I didn't sleep well, and woke at 4:15 am. Dressed and headed out in the dark, past banana trees and sleeping farm animals, to the community centre. I had been told there would be a meeting before the walk, which was supposed to commence at 5:30. Though things rarely start on time here, when Fortuna (an organizer) is involved, they do. So I arrived at 4:45, and sat alone there, cold and exhausted, by myself in the dark on the side of the main intersection, until some other walkers began to arrive more than 40 minutes later.... And the meeting never happened. That was not fun, because van-loads of drunk people were coming home from the jouvert party in town. The walk began slightly late, and immediately after we began walking, it rained, making the roads really slippery. As the sun rose, though, it was beautiful. The route travelled a ridge through small villages with fantastic views of the Caribbean and sometimes Castries and its surrounding areas, all the way to a nearby mountain, Piton Flore. Once we reached there, we took the trail around and then up to the summit, which has sweeping views of the region. We got all mixed up on the different trails, and some people got lost, so we had to search them out and wait. Eventually all of the walkers met up after the summit and had some juice, but on the way back, I joined some girls at the front, and we cheated a bit by jumping a ride in the back of a truck partway. During the walk, I got a call from a friend that he was able to get me a free ticket to the Wet Fete later that day, but no ride. I made some follow up calls and found out, though, that none of my friends were going, so I had no ride or anyone to hang out with... I met up with him after finishing the walk and got the ticket, got a ride home and got dressed and ready. I found a friend who said he was going and could get me a ride. After a few hours of missing him in various locations and waiting, I gave up. It was 3 pm and the ticket said it started at noon. I took the bus to Gros Islet and walked, with a herd of people from the bus, to Pigeon Point (about a 10 minute walk through the village and along the beach). It was just getting started (late as usual), and not long after arriving, I found people that I knew. Throughout the day, I found about 30 people that I knew, actually. The Wet part was really over-emphasized. It was really just a basic festival concert--stage at front, food/drink booths in the back, not enough toilets, and a powerful hose off to the side spraying people. I stayed on the dry side. The music was good, but I would have had more fun with someone to dance with throughout. I hung with various people here and there, and danced with the friend who got me the ticket at the beginning, but then he went off with his friends. I danced mostly by myself or with various random people occasionally. It wasn't until the end that I found some really fun guys, friends of Wijay, a doctor that lives in V Fort (who i hung out with at cricket as well). Not long after I began dancing with them, there was a tap on my shoulder and it was Gagamel, a close friend that I haven't seen for months. So I spent the end of the show dancing and catching up with him. Afterwards, Wijay and Ravi (an Indian Dr) headed to my house to shower so that we could all go to a party at the Cuban ambassador's house (the other guys, Lucians, had studied in Cuba). But once we reached my place after all the traffic and they had gotten ready, I realized I was too exhausted to go out. So they went, and I went to bed. I heard it was a great party and ended at 4am. Anyway, pictures from the concert are online now, and I am in Gallery 2 and Gallery 11, standing with a Canadian volunteer, Meg. If you care to play 'where's Deb,' I was wearing a black bandana, black shorts, and a greenish top. And I look like hell in both pictures. Hmmph.
Sunday morning I cleaned up my apartment a bit, and even made a wreath! Mom had sent some holiday garland, which I wrapped around a bent-up coat hanger (makeshift antenna from broken tv) and it looks great! I was quite proud of my Martha-esque craftiness. Then met up with Caroline and Doris at the marina at a cafe for some coffee and catching up. Only after I arrived I realized I was supposed to have met Andil for breakfast at his hotel. He met up with us later at the beach, where I had to turn down the chance to go sailing so I could leave and go to the cocktail party. Got ready, got Jude, who was late as usual. We rushed there, only to wait for more than an hour for it to start. And even then, NONE of the invited dignitaries showed up, so some of the speeches were skipped, and a high-ranking govt. employee and I (both attending in our private capacity) were asked to present the graduation certificates, in lieu of the Governor General. It was quite funny to me that there were so few people of 'rank' present that a lowly PCV was hierarchically appropriate to present. At least I didn't have to speak. As I was presenting, Jude took pictures for me. The food wasn't even that great. The whole thing was sort of disappointing, but for the sake of Craig (the guy who organized it) I was glad i was there to help. Afterwards, Jude told me he'd come over and bring me some dinner from his house, but never did. I caught up with my mom online and then left to meet Andil in Rodney Bay at a 'tree trimming and caroling' event (the caroling was fairly standard, though I missed the steelpan music, but the tree was just a large almond tree with some big colored lights. Still, it was nice and sort of festive. After that we went and got some food. And I ran into Jude and yelled at him for giving me a stone. I got stood up by several guys this weekend. Thankfully not for the ticket this time though.
Said goodbye to two more friends yesterday. Alex came back briefly, and left for Antigua, then NYC, then Italy yesterday. Andil will leave Wed, but I won't see him today. Next up will be Jacinta, who is planning her yearly migration back to the US in January again. She wants to get her citizenship, since all 3 of her kids were born in the US.
This week should be pretty slow, work-wise, but busy socially as the holiday season kicks into gear. Wednesday night is a traditional St Lucian holiday customs night at Pigeon Island. There are extra events that didn't happen last year because of the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers--an annual yacht race from the Canary Islands to St Lucia), which they are organizing much better this year. The high tourist season has kicked into full gear, and the beaches are packed these days. Thursday night we are having games night at Caroline's house. Not sure whats up for the weekend, but I can't believe how quickly Christmas is approaching.
'Tis the time of year for me to be relaxing at the beach, and already my tan is getting quite savage, for me anyway. Now all I need are some good Christmas and New Years plans to go with that tan.
8th December, 2003
Weekend Warrior, part 2
Well, this was supposed to be a quiet weekend where I rested up and got better. That didn't quite happen. I did have a good time, though.
Friday evening I went to the gym, and was supposed to meet Andil (visiting consultant friend) for dinner. After class, I found out from Clem (a friend from the gym who works for Digicel) that the guys had organised a '12 pubs of Christmas' pub crawl that night. The fourth bar, where they were meeting right when our class finished, was around the corner, and I've never been there. Tempting. (despite being on antibiotics and planning not to drink, I didn't know if I'd get the chance to go there again) Just as I'd agreed to go and phone Andil to tell him I'd be a half hour late, he called to cancel our dinner plans, as he was tired. So I went to Tilly's with some digicel folks, but when they headed to Key Largo (downstairs our gym) for the next round,Clem wanted to go home and shower, so I headed to his place with him, so as to avoid the peer pressure to drink more. I watched tv while he bathed, and then he made me dinner. A surprise bonus. When we joined the group again, it was in time for bar #10, where he got into a game of pool. I stayed and watched, thus missing bar #11, and we all met up again at the 1/2 price bar, #12. Those who had made it all the way through were pretty well mashed up, and left soon after, but some of us went back to Rumours, and stayed until after 2. (one of the guys who had done all 12 decided after leaving to go for a swim, and got his clothes, phone, wallet and keys stolen. whoops!) Most of the guys in the group I had met before, but it was fun getting to know them better. The next day, I was awakened early to a call from someone who wanted to come pick up the 2 boy kittens. After she left, I bonded wiht the remaining kitten and chatted with mom online while doing laundry. Then I headed to the beach where I met with Andil, Angela (another pcv) and Takashi, a jocv. And Ian, one of the old-timer Digicel guys that I've known for nearly a year. He was heading out to join Rainer (one of the guys I met and chatted with the night before who has a 21 ft ski boat) on the boat to waterski, and said he'd give me a ring in a while so I could come for a ride on the boat. He did, and Angela came along too. Of course, we got peer pressured to ski--she had never done it, and I hadn't for about 15 years. We both got up on the first try! (later, she knee-boarded, which she had done before) It was great fun, but really exhausting. We were out there until the sun was set and the moon was rising, nearly full. We met for a beer afterwards, and then I went from the beach to meet Andil at his hotel. After I got ready, we went to a small gallery in Rodney Bay where a local artist was having a show, and from there we had some dinner at Rumours. Once it got crowded we went across the street to get ice cream. I was home by midnight, but only to find a half-eaten rat carcass in my apartment upon my return. What a lovely time to mop the floor.
These adventures were all possible due to the pervading local work ethic: "just now." (Just now is like manana in Latin American cultures - sometime between momentarily and never) This can also be identified as part of the phenomena of "Lucian Time," where nothing ever happens on time. I was supposed to have spent Saturday morning helping to tear down a house, but on Friday I got a call that the electric company had failed to disconnect a high-tension wire at the demolition house. So we are now delayed until the new year. I had really been looking forward to it, but waterskiing was certainly an exciting substitute.
Sunday, I woke up early to meet at the dock at 9am for my frist sailing lesson. Charles, from my body pump class at the gym, and Clem, and another guy, Chris, and I were sailing in a mini-race against 2 other boats. Geoff was on one of the other boats. I didn't get to do much on the boat, but I watched and learned quite a bit. I also got quite a sunburn. Our boat was without a spinnaker from an incident the week before, and had 2 of 4 crew members with little to no experience so we came last the first two races, but won the last one! It was really exciting, and I hope to do it again someday soon. Afterwards, we had lunch in the yacht club, and I went out to the beach to rest and hopefully await another chance on the boat to ski. My turn never came, but I was pretty tired. On the way home, I stopped to check Jacinta for a bit at her house. Chatted with mom and Caroline until late online, and still didn't get enough sleep.
Today I paid the price. Couldn't sleep late, of course, due to the fabulously restful sound of rush hour traffic that really pics up between 7:30-8 am just outside my window. Felt pretty good and had little to do at work, so I went to the gym and did body pump and then ran and did some extra abs afterwards. Came home and ate lunch, interviewed someone to begin to formulate more ideas for my case studies. (New Years Resolution #1, must work on Case Studies and not put off until the very end of my time here.) Finally made it to work to discover that 1) there really wasn't anything for me to do, 2)I really felt exhausted and had a pounding headache, and 3)time had begun to move backwards, it was going so slow. (The 2 productive things that happened were that I unloaded a bag of magazines that had been piling up here--newsweeks and people that visitors had brought--and that the new Interim National Student Council executive had a meeting in our office to plan visits to all of the secondary schools. They are so far working out very well, and are motivated and great kids. Proud as I feel that they are working out well and my efforts helped to make this happen, it also means that my project is working me out of a job.) I had to stay in town despite all of this because I had a night meeting tonight in Babonneau for our Sport For All committee. Our fun walk is scheduled for Saturday morning, which is National Day here. Before going to the meeting, I was rescued from my office misery by Jaimie ,(pcv) who was with Ashley, a Canadian volunteer from Grenada visiting for the weekend. We had a soft drink and watched the sunset by the market. Our meeting thankfully was very short, but then we drove about the community trying to mobilise a few more people and follow up on our banner. One of the committee members' uncle just died, so we stopped by the house of her aunt, where the whole family was gathered. We stayed to watch the clip about it on the local news (he sprained his ankle and fell on the road, and knocked his head so bad he died) and then left. I'm sure all of those people are still talking about who the white girl was and why she was there, but they were very nice.
So that's that. I'm sore from skiing, sailing and lifting, exhausted, and my voice is gone again--it was nearly back on Friday, but my weekend took care of that. Headache is back, throat still sore. Back to laying low this week. Friday night I will be staying in Babonneau so that I am there for the walk in the morning, 6 miles from Babonneau to Piton Flore, with an optional leg up the 150 steps to the summit. Later that day, there is a big concert, Wet Fete, at the beach that I hope to go to. Sunday, a colleague from NEMO's private company is having a graduation ceremony for recent EMT graduates at the Sandals Halcyon, nearest to where I live (I've never been to that one) and I will be there in cocktail party gear, taking video and pictures. Not sure who I wil bring. And Alex is coming back... Another busy weekend.
4th December, 2003
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and it went well. Both the PCV one, which had as a bonus a costume contest (for those of us who miss celebrating halloween)-featuring pilgrims, indians and the traditional thanksgiving ninjas- and the one at my house. I'm no Martha Stewart (i'd be a lot richer if I was), but I made my first turkey and it came out well! There were about 25 people here in total, and it was a nice, relaxing afternoon. Sunday, I was scheduled to be at a christening party and a birthday party, and later, a concert. I made it to the christening party, and was late to the concert. I got there in time to see Rupee, though, and he was great. I knew and liked all of the songs. It's nice to hear positive soca music, when most of it is crude, homophobic and all about sex and sexism. His parents both died of AIDS, so he's really open about it, unlike most Caribbean people. Most of the volunteers were there, and afterwards we all got autographs and hugs. Lauren stayed over at my house, and we had leftover mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner. (there really wasn't any turkey leftover, to my dismay.) The only other excitment of the weekend was that Arturo failed to show up for my party Saturday, and later on, for his own final drinkup. About 20 of us were gathered in a cafe, waiting for 3 hours, but he never came. Classic--the man was out drinking Friday night until Sat afternoon on his final 'drinking spree' and then slept through his own party.
Also, this was Alex's last weekend. I was in such a deep state of denial about it, I didn't really acknowledge it. Despite near-constant stress and upheaval because of drama with her boyfriend, she has been my greatest support and one of my closest friends. She's in Guyana right now for 2 weeks with Lawrence, and then will be back for 1 day before going back to Italy, via Antigua. I will really miss her. I hope to go to Italy and visit, if she doesn't make it back here on a new contract in Spring. Fingers crossed.
The kitties are growing up so big, and more troublesome than ever. Only 1 is litter trained thus far. And surprise, someone checking them out at my party informed me that the all-white one is, in fact, a boy. Hopefully they will go to their respective new homes by this weekend. They are adorable, but really messy and too much cat for one person in a small apartment. Plus, while she is feeding them, Chabin is really greedy, demading and annoying. She begs, whines, gets on the counter, and steals my food when i turn my back. Even though she has a whole bowl of her own food. I hope this behaviour changes when they're gone.
I have a new project now. Peace Corps day is coming up in March, so we've all been discussing projects we could do, and researching what's out there. I found out about a group here called Friends of the Needy and Destitute that build houses for really impoverished people. They're building one soon in Jacmel, the banana belt just outside of Castries. To get the materials, they've gotten an old house in Castries donated, and it needs to be torn down. So I've linked up with them and recruited a few other pcvs and jocvs (japanese vols) to help (couldn't get any lucians, though i tried) and we will be doing demolition on Saturday morning. I'm pretty excited, having never done this before. I believe that next weekend we will build. My church youth group used to occasionally work for Habitat, but I never did much except clean up lots and paint. This is a whole new level. It will be nice to do a short-term project with some tangible results. The final winner for our PC Day project is a playground for a school for special needs children in Soufriere. The organizing could get a bit messy, though, because there is funding for clearing and fencing the lot and building a sidewalk. Apparently those who did that part are now no longer around, and there was some headway made with getting equipment, but no one seems to know who or what. Tom is the central organizer, but Lauren and I are going to look into other sources to see if we can get equipment donated. We are all willing to be the labour that puts it together. There is also another mural project on the table, at a school in Dennery, that we will do as our backup project or just a later service project if we can get the paint donated. These shorter-term projects are really rewarding, especially for those of us who don't get to see many tangible results from our work.
My christmas lights are up (and i have a bruised thumb to show for it), I have all of last year's cards with snowmen displayed on the wall, as well as a stocking and a cheezy decoration I picked up at home: a snowman with a sign that says 'let it snow.' That's probably as decked for hte holidays as I'll get though i would love a little tree. I've hosted my party for the season; i'm hoping that I will get some invitations to go to other peoples' homes this year. More than last year, as that is a big part of the season here. So far, nothing planned for either Christmas or New Years.
I finally made it to the Dr office, after several cancellations, and it was confirmed that I have a sinus infection. So now I'm all drugged up, but I still have headaches and a sore throat, and I'm tired to boot. Hoping this will all clear up in the next few days but in the meantime, I've been laying low. Tearing through a few more books. Hope everyone is well and keeping warm and healthy for the holidays.
26th November, 2003
Snowflake and the Sea
Lots to update. Karen arrived without incident on the 13th, and we had a good time. Friday she went to the beach, while I sorted out last minute work things. Saturday we had planned to go to Sandals and play on watersports, but it poured rain all day. Instead we spent the day indoors at my house, chatting and reminiscing about old childhood jokes, and then Caroline and her friend Chad came by (also visiting for the same period of time) and we played a college drinking game called Kings for the afternoon. That night we went to a bar in the Marina called Bosuns, met Geoff and had some food, and watched a local Jazz/Blues artist play (Carl Gustave) for a while. Sunday we tried to link up with my friends Maggie and Lyle to go on their boat, but were unsuccessful so we joined Ali, Domi and Benti on a Catamaran ride to Soufriere for the day (a fundraiser for the school where Ali teaches, St Mary's College). It was nice to be on the water, and a beautiful day, but the crowd and scene on the boat was very quiet and not much fun. Lots of kids, low music, no dancing. We didnt stop long in Soufriere, but then when we pulled up to Anse Cochon to swim on the way back, Maggie and Lyle were there in their boat! We decided after talking with them to jump ship. Fiona, a girl from Seattle who has been here for several months working on an AIDS documentary, and her cousin, Chris, were there too. We made the right decision, because it is always a party on their boat. We stopped at Marigot Bay for some drinks at JJ's Paradise, and the karaoke-style singer there sang a very spirited happy birthday to Caroline. After many drinks, we headed back to Castries. Monday, Karen went to Castries with me early in the morning and I gave her a brief tour and tried to do some final arranging for the Congress. She took a bus to the rainforest and hiked the Barre de L'Isle trail (the death march that Caro and I did with her mom and brother)--luckily, she knew from our experience that it is NOT a loop trail.
Meanwhile, I had a very stressful day. Silas was late picking us up, and we arrived at the venue 15 minutes later than the scheduled start time (9 am), which is not unusual here, but was enough to have my American self in a tizzy. Only a few school delegations had arrived (and the guys had set up the place with speakers, chairs, plants, etc the day before), so we registered people, gave out programmes, and waited. Finally, we had 8 schools, but still no microphones. My voice has been in and out since early summer, and that day was no exception. Finally, with the PS, 2 newspaper reporters and students/teachers from 8 schools present, we started the Congress nearly 2 hours late with no microphones, and me at the Podium. I had to emcee with no voice, no mic, and a bad case of nerves (due to stress, annoyance at my voicelessness, and unease with Lucian formalities and microphones in general). I survived, but I dont think I'd want to watch a tape of it. We got through the formalities of the opening ceremony, and proceeded to the afternoon's plenary sessions. The caterer came on time, the microphones eventually arrived, and the participants were all interested and involved. Another school came, leaving us with 50%, but not the 60% quorum we needed for an official election. Not the turnout we had been promised from the schools when visiting, but not terrible, considering that no Congress had been held for 4 years. We were left with a tough decision, which we discussed and then put to a vote by the students: put the election off until we could get a quorum, elect an interim National Students Branch executive, or disregard NYC Constitutional advice due to the fact that, as an election after 4 yrs of stagnation, it was an exception. The students chose my personal choice: to elect an interim council. Though it means that the interim council, Bennet and myself will have to spend the next 2 months doing the exact same thing we've been doing (visiting schools, encouraging elections where they haven't yet happened, and providing advice/training for councils), and planning ANOTHER congress for January. But at least that part is over, and we had some results, if not the ideal.
Tuesday, I took a break to spend time with Karen and relax, and the 4 of us (caro and chad) rented a jeep from a friend of a friend and went to Anse Chastanet in Soufriere to snorkel. That was fun, but it got cloudy and rainy in the early afternoon, so we went and bathed in some warm springs that we had been to in training (where the photo with the bridge on my homepage was taken), and drove back north. After bathing, we headed back out to Jamie's apartment in Bocage, the Babonneau area. She had a last-day get together for her mother, and we stayed a few hours. About 10:30 we went to leave and discovered that two of the tires on the jeep had been slashed. It was a very stressful night, but in the end some people helped us change both of the tires and a friend of jamie's was kind enough to lend us the spare from his jeep. Now there's just the nagging factor of settling the payment for replacing the tires. A lot of stress for one little day-long adventure (and the irony is that we rented a car because it was cheaper than a taxi!) I'm already pretty low on funds, and this is going to send me into rice and beans and cornflakes poverty for a while.
Wednesday I had already planned to be at a Children's Rally for which I was on the organizing committee. Then I got the call that the Emergency Simulation was on at the airport. So I spent the entire day running around the airport taking pictures and then in the followup postmortem meeting. It was fun and a great learning experience for me, but really a comedy of errors in how it unfolded. Not a complete disaster, but by no means a confidence-builder in how a real plane crash would be handled. There is a lot to be improved upon. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous when I flew to Antigua on Friday, given what I had learned... That night, we played games with most of the usual suspects: Domi, Ali, Benti, Fonti, Jerry, Jo, Chad, Caro, karen and me at Caroline's house. Karen and Chad left early Thursday morning, on the same flight to Puerto Rico. I had an all-day conference on sustainable development to attend that day (the first of two, which i split with Bennet), and it was interesting. Good food, plus I ran into Matt, a volunteer from St. Vincent, who was there attending a difference conference. I showed him around the area a bit, and so he joined Caroline and I at the gym that night, and then we met up with him at the hotel later for the rum punch party and some relaxing in the jacuzzis. That was a welcome break after such a busy week of work and hosting a guest (which is fun, but very tiring).
Friday I left for Antigua. I carried some things to Alex's boyfriend's boss for him, so for that I scored a ride from them to the airport, and from the airport in Antigua to Denise's apartment. Originally, I had planned to stay with Jake, but he was scheduled to be in the US until Sunday night after his trip was delayed. Denise got stuck with both me and RJ (from Dominica) because of that, in her tiny 1-BR apt. We had a great time though. Friday Denise and I went to Darkwood beach, and had some chinse food in the city, then took a nap. After RJ arrived, we went to a beachfront bar called The Beach. Saturday we lounged about, made a big breakfast, and then RJ went to the beach nearby (which he loves and visits often because Dominica has little in the way of beaches) while Denise and I headed off to meet Karen, another PCV in our group, for a Hash Run. (I've always wanted to do one, and meant to in Delaware and then Seattle, but never quite got around to it. After hearing that a friend in Mali found one there, I did some research online and found an address for a guy in St. Lucia, but when I wrote a letter to him, it was returned. So I don't think the one here is around anymore.) Antigua has a US Air Force base, and we were picked up by the Major and his wife, both very nice people. We got lost trying to find the place for the hash--Bendals--so I was treated to a very scenic tour of the central countryside. We were the last to arrive, so we set off as a group. In a way it was good because I got to learn everything about navigating the route (select intersections have a marking that means change of direction, so the group must split up and explore all roads to find the markings that indicate the right direction), and got some good exercise. In the end, the sun was setting as the trail headed into a wooded area, so we cut off the final bit, and headed back to the start where everyone was assembled and waiting for us. Both arriving late and cutting off the finish are punishable offenses, but we got off scott-free. The only one who suffered was me--as part of the goofy mock-ceremony, all newbies, "virgins," had to come forward and chug a beer, the remainder of which was poured on our heads after a brief period. (A down-down) Then everyone had drinks, chatted and some people barbecued. It was a really fun and different experience. I networked with a few people to try and find out the status of the St Lucia hash but couldn't find anything conclusive. That night, after we made a lovely taco dinner, we went out to an 'irish' bar in St. Johns called O'Gradys for a few drinks. I was so exhausted that I went home afterwards, which was a shame because it was RJ's last night and it would have been fun to go to a disco. Instead, they dropped me off to sleep and went to a beach bar, Lashings, and stayed out till 5. Sunday RJ left, and Denise and I went to the beach at Lashings, hwere we ran into a friend of hers. He agreed to take us out that night to Shirley Heights. Later, as we were getting ready, the power went out. It seemed orchestrated, rather than accidental, as cars swooped in, radios blaring a speech by some politician. It was sort of spooky. Politics in Antigua are far from democratic--it is sort of a dynasty, and there is a lot of corruption. Elections are approaching, and I'm glad I won't be there when they happen. Anyway, we blew out the candles and went out--her friend Tim didn't even join us but merely drove us there, which was incredibly sweet. Shirley Heights is this old English Fortress or something, set on a hill overlooking English Harbour. Really beautiful, and there was a big crowd, eating, drinking and listening to the band. The scene was sort of like a St Lucian street party or fish fry, and the band played the usual reggae and soca covers (getting livlier as the night went on), but I was impressed that I didn't get hassled at all. There were a lot of tourists, and a lot of the usual hustler pseudo-rastas (even some rent-a-dread sightings), but none hissed, grabbed us, or tried to dance with us. Very refreshing. In fact, i got hassled MUCH less in Antigua than in St. Lucia. (The same happened in Barbados, both places where they get more tourists than SLU.) We had many rum punches, and ran into some people that Denise knew, guys who work for a helicopter touring company and some of their friends--a canadian guy into offshore gambling, a scottish guy in the oil industry in Trinidad--and spent most of the time with them. It's an early lime there-from about 7-10, so afterwards, Tim (helicopter engineer, canadian) and Stuart (scottish) drove us back and we all went for drinks and pizza at Lashings, which is open 24 hours. They had karaoke that night. We were still home by 2 but it felt like a very long night. Monday, we made chocolate chip scones (yum!) and then Denise was overwhelmed with mosquito bites and itching--likely from the previous night. She took allergy meds and conked out, while I went to the beach at Lashings again. I had hoped to go to Harmony Hall area, on the other side of the island, to do some snorkeling, with Jake, but we got a call that he had missed his flight in the states. By that time it was late and I couldn't reach Stuart, who had expressed interest in that. So I had a quiet last few hours at the beach, watching the pack of horses that descended upon the resort, begging, it seemed, from the tourists (I had never witnessed that before! nor had the vendors i chatted with),and rolling and playing in the sand. I picked up a few gifts/souvenirs in St Johns and caught a cab to the airport. Since I had such a good time and hadn't gotten to see Jake, I was hoping that the airport would close again, or that something would happen to keep me there (they were having lobster and turkey for thanksgiving at the base, and i was invited...). Alas, once we were airborne, there was some smoke from Montserrat, but not enough for us to go back. In SLU, Alex phoned to say she couldn't pick me up, but I ran into Ali there, as he had just dropped his cousin off. My ride luck continued.
Now that I'm back, with no visits or trips for the next few months, you'd think things would settle down. Nope. Tomorrow is thanksgiving, and the PCVs here in St. Lucia, along with two members of administration, are meeting in Choiseul at Alex's house for a meeting and then a big dinner. Sarah and Alex have been cooking for days to host all twenty-something of us. Unfortunately we can't bring guests, so I'm hosting a mini-thanksgiving get-together on Saturday afternoon at my house. I've begun inviting peoplee, though, and it's not going to be so mini. I don't think I'll have enough plates, cutlery or chairs, but somehow we'll make do. It will be my first real party, and very fun to just hang out with my friends of all sorts (locals and ex-pats), eating and drinking, and sharing my favorite holiday. This is also the last weekend for 4 people that I know. Thursday night is the drinkup for Stuart, an Erickson employee bound for Portugal. Saturday is a drinkup/bbq for Carmel and Fran, two digicel/erickson employees going back home to ireland. And this is Arturo's last weekend--he claims he's going on a drinking spree all weekend, which I have promised to participate in, possibly in observer status, depending on the results of my dr. appt friday. (I've finally decided that my terrible allergies and hit-or-miss voice, plus headaches are due to a sinus infection, and my appt with the ENT specialist is then. Enough of all this wondering and suffering! I hope I'm right and that a simple dose of anti-biotics will fix me up right.) So Thursday with Stuart and co, Friday with Arturo, Sat with everyone at my house, and then at night with Carmel and Fran and then possibly to a free reggae show outside of Castries if I can swing a ride. Sunday I have 3 sets of plans, 2 at the same time: from 2-6 my co-worker Bennet's daughter's christening, from 1-6 my friend Jacinta's son's birthday party (Isaah, age 3, quite possibly the cutest child that has ever existed), and from 5-onward, a concert for World AIDS Day (Dec 1) in Pigeon Island, featuring a popular Soca artist Rupee. (tempted to touch is his most recent popular song for anyone into downloads or research). And then it's December!
We have a holiday on Dec. 13, National Day, and there are all kinds of things going on. My Babonneau committee has planned a fitness walk from 4:30-6:30 am that I will be at, if God spare (I don't usually talk like that, but it is a very Lucian thing to say). That night is also the first jouvert of the holiday season. Christmas in the Caribbean has already begin a few weeks ago, with some decorations up, and occasional Christmas socas on the radio. It will start to ramp up next week, I imagine.
Despite, or perhaps because of, all the recent excitement, yesterday I was in a very foul mood. It's been very hot in the day, but cooler at night lately. I had a terrible sinus headache and wanted only to find a doctor and sort it out, get better. I spent the morning attempting that. First I called the PC office to get our nurse, and was sent to her voicemail. After leaving a message and waiting for her return call, I realized that she is on leave. I called back and the receptionist confirmed this (though she knew i was a volunteer when i called and didn't tell me), and she said the replacement nurse was out. I asked for the admin and they told me she was out for the day. (she has the list of doctors I can call for appts. We can only go to certain 'approved' drs.) Frustrated, I remembered I had an email about Freda's replacement, so logged on and got her cell number. I called her, and after a few minutes, got the name of a dr to call.(Mind you, cell calls are $.95/min, and this was at my expense) they told me I couldnt get an appt. till January. I decided to go to the PC office and see what I could sort out myself. I got on the bus to go there, head throbbing and already drenched in sweat, and when I called out to the driver to stop at the waterfront, he nearly passed where I asked him to stop. I repeated, and he complied. With that, a few of the obnoxious ladies on the bus began reprimanding me, saying that the bus doesn't stop at the waterfront, and can't I read the sign (which says the bus will no longer stop in front of the supermarket, 500 metres away at the traffic light, a policy that changed about 2 months ago and has never affected the stop by the govt. buildings most convenient to the stairs we use to reach the PC office from downtown). "Eh eh, but you can't read the sign, ah? The driver not stopping by the waterfront." Etc. I got vexed (vex) and said in my best Lucian, "Eh eh, but I not stopping by Julians, ah? That sign saying the driver not stopping by Julians. I stopping here." and with that I got out, slammed the door and paid the driver. Heh. Take that. Often I can shrug off those sorts of affronts (which are not uncommon when people constantly assume you to be foreign, rich, and dumb. And particularly from women who are notoriously bitchy and jealous), but this was not the day for that. I headed up the stairs, ignoring the omnipresent hisses of the construction workers and up the hill to the PC office. First I encountered two maintenence women who greeted me 'good afternoon,' but moments later, my smile was removed when the man weed-whacking the lawn hissed, blew kisses at me and yelled, 'hey snowflake!' That just set me off. Snowflake is one of the terms people here use for white people: jeun blanc, moun blanc, snowflake, or mike for men, nancy, lisa, jenny and other assorted names for girls. often people call out 'femme blanc' to me in Castries, which I detest and ignore, because i find it repugnant to be called to as "white girl" and have people expect that I will not only respond but be flattered by this attention. I don't think the response would be so positive if I responded in patois, "black man." I've been *so very* tempted to try it...
Anyway, that was yesterday. Today, due to a scheduling fluke that I am taking advantage of, I am home, cleaning, cooking, organizing and playing host to my 13 yr old neighbor Samuel, who has finished exams and is home for the afternoon. We're playing music and throwing a soccer ball at each other. I have to finish this so he stops teasing me about writing a love letter (I won't let him read it) and so he can play a game online. Then Alex and I are going to the beach. Samuel's mom won't let him come with us. Snowflake needs to go work on her tan.
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