December 17, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Robin Rask in Grenada
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December 17, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Robin Rask in Grenada
Robin Rask in Grenada
Robin Rask in Grenada
Robin in Grenada
On my S. America travels...
A family in the village of Brokopodo in Suriname.
Hello friends and family.
Visit http://robin_travels.tripod.com/ to check out my latest adventures in South America. I'm still posting journals and photos to that site, so check back for additional entries soon. Enjoy.
I hope everyone is well and wish you safe holidays.
October 25-27, 2003: Weekend in Carriacou
Clare, my swimming buddy and British assistant professor at the local American Medical University, called me last week and invited me to go to Carriacou with her this weekend. She knew a few British folks over there who live on boats and own a sail repair shop called "In Stitches." By the way, Carriacou is one of Grenada's two sister islands, north of Grenada. Apparently, one of the people she knew was away from his boat, which is also inhabited by a nice cat named "Sausage," and offered it up to anyone interested in staying to catsit. I said that Id love to go, but had no idea what a wonderful weekend was in store for me.
We packed our snorkeling and boat gear and headed to Carriacou via ferry on Saturday at 9 a.m. The ferry ride (on the good boat) takes 1.5 hours and costs EC$90 round trip. From the time I first got on the ferry, I felt like I was in a completely different world. I was on my own, away from the Peace Corps, its rules, the volunteers, my job, and I felt free and happy, light.
During the ferry ride, Clare and I hung over the side and watched flying fish skirting along just above the water's surface at amazing speeds for long distances. Clare is a marine biology teacher, and is able to tell me about all things having to do with the water and animals in it. I enjoy her company and we get along well.
Once in Carriacou, we hopped a bus for EC$2.50 to Tyrell Bay, about a 15 minute drive away. Tyrell Bay is a poorer sleepy harbor where Grenadians and white British and American ex-pats in sailboats live together in slow-motion, sleepy, peaceful existence. At the "In Stiches" repair shop, we got off the bus and went to find our contacts. Inside, a British man named Andy, who never wore anything other than shorts, sewed a sail while Petra, a sweet, slender, quiet and eccentric German girl, fed the sail through the clunky old machine. In the other corner of the room, another British woman, Georgie, sat cross-legged on top of her workbench painting the insides of calabash gourds that had been dried, cut in half and scraped clean.
"In Stitches" had windows propped up on all sides with sticks and hot air blew through. The large wooden shack of a shop had no order or organization to it and everything was placed completely randomly. Chairs hung in random places on the ceiling. A broom hanging in the corner of the room had underwear and bras draped all over it. Broken pieces of sail that had long been worn and were shredded served as decoration over windows and doors. A large piece of foam hung on the wall with identical screwdrivers stuck in it. An old model sailboat made out of a coconut shell and shredded sail parts hung from the ceiling. A long clothesline went from one corner to the other, drying miscellaneous hippy-style clothes that looked out of place for the Carriacou environment.
The personalities of the three shop workers seemed to be just as interesting and odd as the shop's layout. Andy, Petra, and Georgie came over to greet us and said to make ourselves comfortable. I sat on the floor by Georgie and watched her paint her calabashes. Andy and Petra, (Used to date and now have an odd relationship. Andy employs Petra and signs her work visas. Petra now dates a local Rasta, Vaughn, and Andy comments about it whenever Petra's not around), continued to work on the sail that someone would be picking up later that day. Andy, another eccentric type who gave everybody 10 times the amount of information necessary in any situation, muttered on and on and on while Petra smiled and remained silent. She watched me and I tried to think of a clever German phrase to say. Of course, I only know one.
Clare and I sat on the floor and made everyone some tea, as British folks love to do. After a while, a British man came in with a bag of hats that said, "Carriacou: Ministry of Rum" and the three shop owners immediately abandoned their work to hang about 15 hats everywhere. I guessed that they were displaying them for sale. But, every single hat was placed in such a way where it would surely be blown away should a wind come: teetering on a thumb tack, on the corner of a chair, balanced on a rope hanging from the ceiling, etc. The man thanked them and left.
An American man with a big stomach and a red face came in asking about the sail. Andy explained and explained and explained that part would have to be picked up the following Monday, and the man left.
For lunch, everybody pitched in something they had brought with them: cheese, bread, cheese, and bread. Petra bought me a Ting, a grapefruit soda. As a last case scenario, I brought four toasted bagels with peanut butter and four apples and offered it as my contribution. Nobody wanted my bagels, so I saved them for later.
After a while, everyone started packing up for the day and Andy directed us to a dinghy moored on the beach just outside. We put our bags in the boat and Andy started it up, muttering about a topic everyone had finished talking about long ago. With Petra's help, Andy set a bunch of loose miscellaneous sail supplies on the bow of the boat, and the contents overflowed and teetered on the edge of falling in the water whenever the boat rocked. We said bye to Petra and Georgie and Andy set the boat off.
We scooted around moorings and other sailboats on our way inside the harbor, and finally arrived at a small sailboat named "Delphin," which sat on a far edge of the harbor. Before we reached the boat, an orange Tabby cat appeared on the deck. "Sausage is that one's name," said Andy. "Funny name for a cat, I suppose, but you know it's a funny cat so I guess its an appropriate name. It's a nice cat that one is, very friendly he is, He likes the cats on my boat, but my cats, whenever they take a ride with me on the dinghy to this one, they always hiss at him and make a row. He's very nice that one is, he'll be nice to you."
We tossed our bags onboard and climbed up the ladder. Andy showed us how to work the water, head, electricity, gas, and all sorts of other things, and I knew this was going to be an adventure, even if we never left the boat. Although Clare was getting a bit tired of having to pay attention to Andy's random details, I don't think I stopped smiling once.
Finally, after a long while, we took Andy back to his boat, anchored right next to ours, so that we could keep our dinghy. Even after we said goodbye and drove away, Andy was still talking to himself, or us, I don't know which. Once back on our boat, Clare and I agreed that we had a great setup: a sailboat and a dinghy all to ourselves in a harbor in the middle of the Caribbean. Warm water to jump into whenever we wanted. I got my snorkeling gear out and put my swim suit on. I wanted the yachties to know that they werent dealing with any snobby rich ex-pats, but a mere Peace Corps Volunteer, so I ran, jumped, or more like splatted, into the water and began exploring. Tied to another boat next to ours, I found a homemade fish net with two eels in it. Once back on board, Clare and I arranged the bedding and food we had brought and settled back for a relaxing weekend.
That night was peanut butter and bagels, and apple and illegally-imported red Chilean wine that a man sold us from a dinghy for EC$15, a good deal. After dark, I found a homemade showering device, which consisted of a gallon jug and a tube and the bottom. I filled it with fresh water and gathered my showering supplies. I dove into the sea to get myself wet, and, under the stars and in the warm air, took a shower totally naked on the deck of the boat. What fun that was, and I didn't even need the whole gallon. There were sailboats with small lights on all over the harbor, the sky was clear, the rigging was hitting the mast above me, one of my favorite sounds, and I was taking a shower on the deck of our sailboat.
Sleeping that night was great. There was a hatch above the bed and I could see the Milky Way as I fell asleep. Sausage had fun playing with my toes. The next day, Petra told us that she would hire a speedboat to take us up to the Tobago Keys, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadine islands.
Breakfast on Sunday was peanut butter and bagels, an apple, and a swim. Just right. Clare and I read, swam, slept and listened to music until noon, when Petra and her friend Vaughn came to pick us up in Vaughn's speedboat to head for the Keys. Vaughn introduced himself, and we tossed our snorkeling gear aboard as Sausage hopped aboard the new boat for an inspection in which he was intensely interested. Vaughn's speedboat was painted in three large red, yellow, and green stripes on the bow, and had "Selassie" written largely on the side. He helped me aboard and I sat next to him in the back, where he had rigged a steering wheel in the middle of the back bench. Once we were all boarded up, Vaughn started us up and we flew out of the harbor at full speed.
Once outside of the harbor, Vaughn slowed us down for a minute, as he reached far over the side of the boat and pulled out a small plastic-wrapped package and shoved it into his pocket. He smiled at Petra and patted her back.
For an hour, we flew over the sea in between various islands of all sizes. Vaughn steered us at a 45 angle to the swells and leaned into the wind with his dreadlocks flapping in the intense wind. When we hit large swells, Vaughn would stand up in his seat and his arms would fly up into the air and come down with the boat. Master of the sea. At one point, it started pelting warm rain and we got soaked. I laughed the entire time.
Once in the Tobago Keys, Vaughn slowed down so as to avoid the coral reefs. We moored in the middle of three small islands a ways off from a few Catamarans and Clare and I geared up. Vaughn and Petra stayed behind and smoked and slept in the hot Caribbean sun. I quickly learned that his English was about as weak as hers, and his answer for any situation was either "Shit" or "Serious."
The water was the brightest blue I've ever seen and warm like bathwater, just like in the movies. The snorkeling was better than I've ever seen, and the day was perfect. Clare and I snorkeled for a couple hours and she explained the various corals and fishes. (At some point, I was stung by a jellyfish on my leg, but didnt know until a day later when I reacted all over my body and had to go to the doctor in Grenada. But, it all came out fine in the end.)
At one point, I followed a huge school of large black fish for about a half hour and swayed with them to the swells. The sand was pure white and the fish were brilliantly colored. Some were scared and swam away, others were cheeky and followed me. I avoided the fire coral (which I had been stung by when Erik was here) and was particularly fascinated with the Elks Horn coral.
Lunch sitting back on the bow of "Selassie" was peanut butter and bagels, and an apple. Just right. Petra was getting burned by the sun ("Shit, serious," said Vaughn), so Clare and I gave her some sunscreen and sunglasses. Later, we headed for another reef and Clare and I jumped in again while Vaughn and Petra fell asleep again on top of the benches and motor, with feet hanging over the sides of the boat.
At about 4, we climped back on board "Selassie" and headed out of the Tobago Keys at full speed, flying past the islands and over huge swells again for about another hour. The sun was setting over the Caribbean Sea, and all of us silently watched. I smiled again the entire way.
Once back in the harbor, Vaughn slowed the boat again and put his plastic package back under the boat where he first found it. At the Delphin, Clare and I invited the two back for dinner later at 7, unloaded our things, and Petra and Vaughn tooled away in the speedboat heading toward town.
Once they had gone, I dove into the water again, swam to where I could see the horizon, pointed my toes toward the sun, and watched it set in between my feet. Afterwards, I rinsed off all our clothes and snorkeling gear in freshwater, and hung it up around the boat to dry in the warm air. After dark, I took another shower under the stars.
At 7:30, Vaughn and Petra showed up out of the dark. Clare fixed noodles with tuna, corn and mushrooms mixed in. Sausage went crazy trying to get some. It was pretty good, but I missed my peanut butter and bagels. "Serious," said Vaughn and Petra told him a short story with a thick German accent.
Sausage helped me with the dishes while Clare hung out with the two on deck. At about 8:30, Petra and Vaughn left and told us to come back soon, "Serious!" Clare and I cleaned up, set our alarms for 4:30 a.m., packed up our things, said goodnight, and slept under the stars listening to the rigging hitting masts around the harbor. Sausage had fun playing with Clare's toes.
In the early morning at 4:30, my last peanut butter, bagel and apple. We loaded our things into the dinghy in the dark and said goodbye to Sausage. Clare pushed off from the sailboat and I maneuvered the dinghy in the harbor around the sailboats and moorings, using lights reflected on the water. Near shore, we dropped anchor and tied up to a mooring on the beach. We unloaded our things and caught a taxi to the ferry pier in Hillsborough while the sun was rising. In town, I took a photo of a painting depicting Jesus as a Rastafarian, which I saw when I was last in Carriacou with Erik, and we boarded the ferry.
Coming back into the Carenage in Grenada, I felt like I had been away for a month on a dream vacation. What a wonderful adventure I'll never forget. Off the ferry, Clare and I said bye and agreed that it was an excellent weekend. I headed back up the hill to my house to take a shower and head to work at the Ministry by 8.
September 23, 2003: Visiting homes for the aged.
Yesterday, all the PCVs took part in a quarterly community service day. For these community service days, we initiate various kinds of projects in outlying communities that volunteers aren't normally placed in, or where there's a group of people we don't normally serve. So, this quarter we chose to visit the island's homes for the aged, a population that most volunteers (being that we're youth development volunteers) rarely work with. All the volunteers split into groups that each took two homes, which we visited for a couple hours each. I went with Colin, RB, and John, a new volunteer, to a home up in Sauteurs in the north part of the island.
The home we went to was sitting a stone's throw away from the beach, and was large and clean. The residents greeted us happily and spoke cheerfully with us, told us stories about what parish they belong to and where their children are. The house's matron asked the residents if anyone wanted to take a sea bath or go for a walk, and I volunteered to assist the takers. One woman wanted to go for a walk, and two men, one of them blind, wanted to take a sea bath. Colin took the men and I walked with the woman, who was named Faith. Faith has rheumatoid arthritis in both her knees, but needed only a little help to walk. If her knees would have permitted her to, I'm sure she would have skipped the entire way. She was a petit woman with beautiful white plats in her hair and an old-fashioned black hat. She had a wonderful smile, and caring eyes. She told me that she "has 86 years" and her daughter lives in Boston, Canada. "Oh ho?" said I, confirming that I understand. Her daughter is a nurse in Boston and is supposed to come back down for Faith in December.
Faith and I walked up and down the beach for a bit, took off our shoes and stood in the water. From time to time, her knees would get wobbly and I'd help a bit. After a while, Colin came down with the two men, a bit slower at getting down the hill than Faith, and walked them toward the sea. One of the men decided he didn't need his pants to take a dip and dropped them to his ankles while shuffling toward his cane. I could see that he needed help and set Faith "for a five" under a shade tree. I took the blind man, Philbert Lewis, from Colin, who went to help the now naked man. Mr. Philbert and I edged toward the water and stood there for a bit while both our feet and pants got a bit wet. The water felt a bit rough for him so we got out and put his clothes pack on. We maneuvered back to the street, over palm fronds, cracks, logs, sandy hills, and bumps, and met Faith where I'd left her under her shade tree.
Mr. Philbert said he was sorry that he couldn't swim although I said it didn't matter and that I really enjoyed walking with him. Back at the home, I took Mr. Philbert to see a matron who could help him change from his wet clothes. "The water was too rough for me," he said to the matron. "You too scared, eh?" She told another matron that he was scared. "No! I'm not scared!" said Mr. Philbert. I explained to her that he was just a little unsure about his footing because we couldn't predit the strength of the water. I said bye to Mr. Philbert and went to see my girlfriend Faith, who was getting her toenails clipped by another matron.
RB took photos of Faith and I, along with other residents. I told Faith that I had a great time hanging out with her. One of the matrons brought us fresh orange, passion fruit, and lemon juice. After that, we said good bye to everyone and made our way back to Sauteurs to hitch a bus home.
Walking up the shortcut to my house, my seamstress friend, Joyce, was sitting by her window. "Afta-noon, baby. You good?" says Joyce. "I'm melting, Joyce! I'm gonna go take a cold shower now," says I. "Oh no, baby. You can't do that," says Joyce. I knew the reason. "Or what?" says I. "You gonna catch a stroke and die," says Joyce. "I don't want to loose you now!"
"Okay, I'll take a five first and cool off before getting in the shower," says I.
"Right. Okay, baby."
When I got home I put my thermometer in the sun - 108'F. I forgot all about taking a five and jumped in the shower.
September 7, 2003: Who's your daddy?
Found a dead tarantula on my floor this morning. I assume it's a baby cause it's only about 1 inch long curled up. I saved it for RB.
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Is this THE Robin Rask? YOu have to join facebook (kinda lame - I know) because people from high school ask about you all the time!!
Hope you are doing well!