April 6, 2003: Headlines: COS - Grenada: PCVs in the Field - Grenada: Personal Web Site: Robin in Grenada
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April 6, 2003: Headlines: COS - Grenada: PCVs in the Field - Grenada: Personal Web Site: Robin in Grenada
Robin in Grenada
Robin in Grenada
Robin in Grenada
I've added some new photos to the album, along with some journal entries from past months. Dad just came for a visit and brought a new digital camera, so the photos will be better quality from now on. I'm experimenting with saving them at different DPIs and sizes to get the best quality without too much download time. If anyone has trouble downloading the files, please let me know. Thanks for keeping in touch!
Today is up. I just finished reading the first of ten books I've started since coming here. And I read all 274 pages in 2.5 days. "The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing." Nice! Finishing a book is so unlike me.
But, maybe it's because the other 9 I didn't finish were things like "The World's Human Rights Records for 100 Countries," "Who Runs Congress," and "Capital Markets and Institutions," written back in the 1970s.
The boss is out today, so the accountant and I are living it up a bit. The office is usually pretty lively, but it's a bit more relaxed and lose when Ms. Davies is out. I'm playing Dave Matthews, the music that I only play when I (a) feel like reminiscing and don't mind getting really sad (b) feel like reminiscing and am happy enough that it doesn't get me too down, and I remember that Seattle and my friends are still around and I can go back soon enough.
I've been bartening one night a week, and it keeps my head up and in a social circle that I seem to kinda fit in with. Mostly the folks who hang there are older than I, expats, travellers, students, some Grenadians. Mostly maybe 25-35s, they are lively and challenge me to losen up. Ive made a tip jar and all tips go to BBBS.
Friday night I'm going to a play by a local group called "Tumda" with Claire from swimming (Claire is a 30-year-old British marine biology teacher at the American University.) After that, I'll head to Lazy Lagoon and volunteer until closing. Then, Saturday night around midnight, there's a huge reggae festival in the Stadium and I'm going with Jesper, the Danish chef I met at Lazy, his girlfriend in from DK, and Tammy from work.
I've been thinking quite a lot: I want to live in Europe for at least six months at some point. But then, you really only start to GET things at the six-month point. I've decided that I am going to try and just do it. Maybe DK, a little Netherlands and France. Earlier rather than later. My Danish friends here suggest studying Danish in DK because the education is free. Im not sure what else I would do, as getting a real job would be extremely difficulty w/o the language mastered. Plus, all Danes speak English anyway, and why would anyone hire an American?
I'm realizing that "globalization" is spreading America's influence--mostly the worst parts like our media, movies, and pop/rap music--everywhere. Here, there's a stuff-lust for anything American. BET music television, NIKE shoes, Coke, FUBU and Sean John clothes. It's white-washing out whatever culture was here before from Africa and India. Pretty soon, I wonder if even the farthest-reaching parts will play Wheel of Fortune, Reality-TV show marathons, and the most recent Simpsons episodes on local TV stations, and play the latest J-Lo, Backstreet Boys, and Destiny's Child songs on local radio stations.
Now that I'm outside the U.S., I see how easy it is to leave. You just make your mind up and do it. Just an idea.
Sister Jo, Grensave's 80-year-old crafts class teacher and library assistant, is explaining her views on the U.S.'s war with Iraq, as she awaits the arrival of the library children in the next room...
"Bush was nice looking before all dis ting. Now he's getting ugg-ly. His face was pretty before and now he all mash up mash up grey and ting. God love all those people on de world, you know. America tink God loves they alone, you know. Like on the money it says so. America does help people and so, but it has a lot a lot a lot of evil, eh? Yes, Lod, I tell you a lot of ee-vil. With all that bombing [Trade Center], oh Lod, the Lod showed His mercy but they won't turn from evil ways. An de people in dat place [Iraq], they are small an America provoke provoke an jab jab jab. America just juk up juk up juk up [interfering] all dose other people. They have their own way and ting and defend themself too. Why provoke dem? An all dose men in the nice loo-king suit and tie and colors and ting, dey don't fight. And der family don't fight, eh? But dey send nice little boys and someones nice little son, other chirren and husband and ting, but they won't send der own chirren. One little boy! Oh, Lod! I don't like it a-tol a-tol a-tol. My son in America...I don't want him taken up for what Bush goes for. I tell him to come home, come home. Bush need to take on himself and fight if he send them all. America doesn't fight on der own sol too, eh? Oh, Lod, all de poor people. All dem poor people in America."
Then she gets up as the library chirren in their uniforms from the schools up the street come down to return books and get stamps from Ms. Charles, and check new books out with Sister Jo. Bouncing out of her chair like Grandma Rask always used to do, she says, "Oh, Lod! The sun is smiling down, eh? Praise God, bless."
Today was great. Grensave had its huge annual fundraiser, The Food & Drink Bar, in the Trade Center (about the size of a high school auditorium) and it went really well. I'm exhausted. About 9 other PCVs, some of our Grenadian friends (Cordell and Hazel Ann) and I ran the "Children's Village" booth and played $1 games for prizes with the kids at the fundraiser. Our games and prizes were kinda lame, but we all had a good time and managed to keep the kids busy.
In the Trade Center, we had 17 booths with coutries from all over the world (Guyana, UK, US, Switzerland, Germany, India, Grenada, Columbia, Mexico, etc) cooking foods from their countries for Grensave's profit. When I left, the board members were still counting the profits and were up to EC$22K, just under last year's EC$27K. I've realized that the community gives a lot to Grensave, and I now understand why it has a bad reputation. Some of the members of these booths had obviously spent dozens of hours cooking complicated dishes, including many ingredients difficult to find and expensive in Grenada--all for Grensave's benefit. Many of the booths were asking me what Grensave does with all of its money, and they didn't want to hear that we can pay our staff for a month on what we make at the Food & Drink Bar. Of course, they know that we have programs all over the island, but they want to know exactly where that money goes, what specific returns the community gets for the donations, and they don't want to hear overhead costs like staff, rent, etc. Grensave, as a nonprofit that relies on the goodwill of an already tapped out community, needs to be accountable for every dollar it solicits and spends. I had heard rumors in the community before about Grensave being closed mouthed about its finances, and some newspapers have even suggested that there were some scandals. One of the problems, I think, is that the board is so secretive with internal information. While Ms. Davies tries to open the doors and air out all the stink inside Grensave, the board, especially Mr. Robinson (chairman), likes to keep everything private. Mr. Robinson's reasoning for not letting me into the board meetings the first time was that he insisted that I would tell Grensave "secrets" to other PCVs and tell everyone what's going on.
Another eye-opener from the day...There were A LOT of ex-pats and members of the St. George's American University community there, along with their kids, SUVs, and Old Navy "American Pride" t-shirts. The American booth, outside the Trade Center, served BBQed the traditional hotdogs and burgers, cole slaw, potato salad, Coke, and baked beans. Americana was everywhere. The tent was decorated with red, white, and blue streamers, with the biggest flag as well. A couple of the men had Southern accents. At one point, Charlie and I volunteered at the booth and overheard some conversation. A Grenadian woman asked one of the American servers what some of the foods were, and the U.S. lady said, "Whatever you're saying, I don't understand it, so take whatever you want." Of course, the Grenadian was speaking English. I quickly found myself feeling overloaded with all the American patriotism and wanted to go back to the PCVs and our Grenadian friends, who I felt more comfortable around.
This one's pretty funny...Mr. Robinson, who really bore into me the other night at the board meeting, came to me today at the event and asked me if I would follow him to meet the governor general (the highest in the country I believe, an appointee of the queen of England). He said that the governor general wanted to meet me and hear about BBBS! Apparently, the GG had seen something on TV about the importance of having good role models in children's lives, and is really into the mentoring idea. Now, it's clear to me: the chairman didn't want to let go of BBBS because it's the only program Grensave has that the GG was interested in. People had told me that before. Apparently, Mr. Robinson had met with the GG at some fancy Christmas gathering, and the GG's face lit up when Mr. R mentioned BBBS. So, with me in my grubby clothes from playing with kids and the GG with two armed body guards, the GG (Sir Daniel Williams) asked me and the chairman to make an appointment with him to discuss the program. He later also said that he wants to get the Prime Minister in it too! (Getting the PM in it, though, might be sticky, because the PM isn't the most straight arrow. He's known for a lot of shady dealing, like selling Grenadian citizenships to foreigners, including a bunch of Arabs who recently tried to get into the US and were refused. I'm leary of getting the gov't involved at all.) Lady Williams was also there, and said that she knows some people who would be very interested in helping us expand the program.
I've heard that the GG and his wife are not allowed to financially support any specific program, but they might be able to lead us there. Cool, eh?! All we need is money and we could make this thing take off!!
This weekend was the best weekend I've had since coming to Grenada. Last night, I headed to Lazy Lagoon at 6, where I found Nigel opening the bar up for the night. Agnes had just come back from an art exhibition at the St. George's museum, where she entered some of her own works for sale. She was telling Nigel that the one they had jokingly priced at EC$2500 had sold. I immediately dove into the bartender role, and Nigel and Agnes showed me how to mix the basic drinks, what glasses to use, etc. And, as soon as some company showed up at 7, I was off and running, having a great time talking with all the guests, mostly long time friends of Nigel.
Although I really enjoyed all the bartending stuff, I also met some great people who I had never had the chance to meet just walking around St. George's. With me being the bartender for the night, I had an excuse just to hang around for free and talk with some really nice folks, people watch, and get to know a ton about local happenings. To my surprise, at about 9, three Danish folks showed up with food for Nigel and I, and I was immediately feeling so much closer to home. One Danish couple, Anders and Karen, are from Copenhagen, and have been on the island and friends with Nigel for 5 years. Another man, Jasper, is from Arhus and is a chef for a local family for three months. Also with the Danes was a man named Lindon, from South Africa, who immediately dished out chow mein for all of us. Later, two brothers came--one a born Grenadian, and one a born Swede--both speaking Swedish together. While showing them my horrible Swedish lines I learned from a buddy in college, I had a great time running the bar and mixing drinks.
Later in the night, Brendan, an Irish friend of Deb's from St. Lucia in Grenada on work, came by and met me for the first at the bar after getting my e-mail about my volunteering there. He quickly got into the conversation with the Danes and joined the crowed. Finally, at around 11:30, Amanda, a PCV from St. Vincent showed up coincidentally with a bunch of her Canadian volunteers from St. Vincent and also joined the crowd. She was pretty surprised to see me volunteering at a bar, understandably. At 12:30, I decided it was time to go and Nigel took over the works again. Brendan joined Amanda and her Canadian friends, all going to a local dance club, and the whole group dropped me off at home first. I was asleep at 1:30.
From the whole night, I had made a ton of new contacts, gotten some fun bartending experience, got free drinks and dinner on Nigel and the Danes, a safe ride home, some great music, and more than enough to cover my bus fare there earlier in the night. I'm sure I'll go back again soon.
I've always wanted to be a bartender, and tonight I have the opportunity to try the suit on for size. Last night, some volunteers went to Lazy Lagoon, a beachy, swanky shack of a bar, also with hotel cottages, around the harbor in St. Georges. Its run by Nigel, a born Grenadian raised Canadian, and his French wife, Anges. Although drinks usually cost EC$8 and the freshly-made French-style swordfish and pasta plates usually cost EC$30, Nigel gives PCVs a deal on drinks for EC$6 and splits the cost of dinner between several volunteers and puts more on the plate. The crowd is typically white vacationers who like to stay closer to the local scene in St. George's, friends of Nigel and Agnes, and ex-pats who disappear during the work week and only emerge on weekend nights around the hidden places like Lazy Lagoon.
So, I told Nigel that I wanted to try bartending for a night and volunteered my services if hed teach me the ropes (volunteers aren't allowed to make supplemental income as the PC doesn't want us to take jobs away from locals). All he said was, "Okay, come tomorrow at 6." Ill let you know how it goes.
2/11/03 Communicating with men.
Communicating with men in Grenada is an ongoing battle. My favorite explanation a returned volunteer once used to describe the situation with Grenadian men was the following:
In the movie, Dumb and Dumber, Jim Carey (the epitomy of nerdiness) asks a beautiful woman, "So, what are the chances of you going on a date with me?" The woman responds, "One in a million." Then Jim Carey says excitedly, "SO, YOU SAY THERE'S A CHANCE!!!!"
Here, you could tell a guy a hundred times that you have a boyfriend or are married (I've actually used this several times before and a couple men in the market think I'm married and ask how my husband is), and the first thing they'll always say is, "So, when can I take you away from him?" Or, "That doesn't matter, I'm married/have a girlfriend, too." And, when they talk to you, you'd think that your head was about the same level as your breasts, because that's often where they respond to.
In the U.S., you'd expect there to be occasional sexual references coming from men around your same age. Well, not in Grenada. Today, I had a young boy in his school uniform, walking with some school friends to the all-male secondary school, say to me, "Hey, sexy. Need some company?" My response was, "Turn around and go to school."
I've had numerous grown men (like the head of the customs office), married with kids, hand me their business cards at formal and government-held events and say, "My personal number is on the back. Give me a call and we can go out sometime." Uh...lemmie check. NOPE!
The other day while walking home from work, an ambulance came rushing toward me with its sirens blaring and lights flashing. When it came to me and rounded the corner I was standing on, the ambulance driver stuck his head and arm out the window and coyly said, "Ssssssssssssp. Hey, beautiful, where are you going?"
Then with the come ons, you occasionally get the racial slurs. The other day I heard a new one, which I just had to laugh at. (This used to REALLY get to me, but now I just try to laugh at it.) I was standing on a corner waiting for a bus with three of my black friends in the country. A full bus going in the opposite direction whizzed by and a young black kid, maybe 12 years old, stuck his head out the window and screamed, "WHIIIIIITTE MEEEEEEAAT!!!"
Hmm. At least it doesn't get to me now like it did when I first got here.
When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:
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