Travels in Bananaland
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Tales from Bananaland, October 2002


My past escapades for your entertainment/education/edification. Enjoy.

31 Oct., 2002
A hollow halloween

Well, it's halloween and while my friends back home wear costumes, drink beer and gorge on candy, i get to celebrate by working a 12 hour day. To rub salt in the wound, my French visitor Stephanie is here (arrived last night) and is spending this gorgeous sunny day at the beach. I will live vicariously through here while she's here, I guess. (Hopefully I can weasle at least one day off with her...) The good news about my long day is that it's due to our annual general meeting for the trust, where the council for the next year is voted in. This is a body that functions like a board of directors, only with more power than any board i've ever seen or hope to see again. we're all hoping that next year's will be better--it doesnt seem like they could be any worse. there's been all this backstabbing, infighting and personal political agendas. it's like a bad soap opera, which would be entertaining if it didn't make myself and my co-workers miserable on a daily basis. So here's hoping tonight brings positive change.

Stephanie arrived, as I said, and she's hopefully resting up on a sunny white sand beach in Rodney Bay right now. We seem to hit it off pretty well (I had little doubt) and I'm grateful that she speaks good English, as we would be miming if left to my pathetic bit of French. She brought me snorkeling equipment, and it fits perfectly! So we're plotting a trip to Anse Chastanet this weekend for some undersea adventures. Maybe a rainforest hike as well.

I got to check out Anse Chastanet (the best diving/snorkeling beach here) when I went to Soufriere Tuesday for a guided boat tour of the marine management area, the botanical gardens and diamond falls, and some Arawak petroglyphs from roughly 300 BC. I stayed with Mary and Tom in their lovely hillside home with a beautiful view of the town and the sea, as well as the Pitons. We had a quiet night, and a nice American style dinner: salad, wine, spaghetti, and then ice cream. It was a treat to be cooked for again. The bus ride down was a nightmare--I waited 2 hours in a cramped, hot transport for the bus to fill up and leave, then was nearly carsick on the hour-long ride on that horrendously narrow, curvy road. Nice view, but terrible road. The heat and claustrophobia didn't help. The ride back, thankfully, was much better.

Steph and I may meet up with the Irish volunteers tomorrow after work (she will spend the day at Pigeon Island, we think) for a drink, and are plotting a trip to the street parties at Gros Islet and Anse La Raye Friday night into the early morning. Plans are always very last-minute here so we'll see how it turns out, but a new cute girl seems to have motivated the guys to want to take us out--funny how that works :). I miss the leaves and the celebrations back home, but wouldn't trade the sun for the chill of the weather back home. I could really get used to this life.

28 Oct., 2002
dry at last in the rainy season

The monsoon we've had for the last 4 or 5 days has finally dried up and the heat is back. i'm not sure if i'm glad about that--while it's nice to see the sun again, the coolness that came with those torrential downpours was actually quite nice. Made for a very muddy jeunen creole.

The weekend turned out mostly according to plan. Renee and Caro did come for dinner and we had a nice time. Her friends' flight was on time and we were up till about 1. Sad news from Renee is that she's decided to leave in December for grad school to start in May. She's got prereq courses to take, life to get readjusted to (after a year and a half here) and decided if she had to leave she might as well be home for xmas. So I'm losing one of my few friends. Bad news for her on Sat am. We got up at 6 and she got a taxi to take her GRE, and when she got there, no one was there. A janitor came and told her the test is usually at 9. Then a woman came and called the woman who's supposed to administer the test, and she said the test is cancelled and to call on monday. No explanation, but probably the rain. She was so pissed, understandably. The schools require that the results be in at a certain time, adn they'll already be late, coming from here. Hopefully she gets it sorted out, and doesnt have to fly home this week to take them. If she does, she said she's just leaving now. So anyway, she came back, her friends got up and we went to the market and had lunch in Castries. They went down south and I vegged in front of that Tom Cruise movie with "show me the money," whatever that's called. Wasn't able to nap. When spencer called and offered to take me clubbing I said no--not the night for being out till dawn after being up so early. But then by later in the evening I was starting to go stir crazy in my apartment--the rain can have that effect. Couldnt even sit on the balcony. I had been trying to call some irish volunteers for a few days but getting no answer. Turns out they had been trying to reach me as well. So Sat. evening I ended up spending about an hour on the phone with Noel, who is 28 and lives with Kate, also 28. There's another guy Steven, 24 i think, who lives near them. Eventually we made a plan--Noel and Steven came in a taxi to go to Rodney bay and stopped and picked me up on the way. They live out by where I work in Vigie, so they had to walk to the airport to get the taxi and got soaked. I got drenched as well. So Steven decided to go home and Noel and I went to Castaways, this ex-pat bar owned by an englishman, for a few drinks. It was nice. We seemed to get on well, and will hopefully hang out again. I look forward to meeting the others. I also met the manager of the Sandals where Earl, my Babonneau dad is the watersports manager. He said to come anytime, so I may have a good place to take Stephanie!

I was unsuccessful in finding anyone to go with me to Jeunen Creole on Sunday but was determined to not sit in my apartment all day during one of the big celebrations. I finally spoke to Deborah, a host sister of one of the other PCVs that I hit it off with, and she lives in La Guerre, where one of the events was happening, so we agreed to meet up. I had never been up there during our training--it was the opposite end of Babonneau from where I lived and up in the hills pretty far. So I showered and took 2 busses up there. We had to walk pretty far because the main road was closed to traffic. I guess it was all supposed to be in a field that was way too muddy from all the rain, so it was just in the street. Booths were set up along about a mile-long stretch, and houses and bars and even schools had food and drinks for sale. There were crafts and speakers blaring music, people dancing traditional dances, and later in the afternoon, a local group who sings sort of gossipy songs about people in Kwyol while playing traditional African instruments. I got some nice pictures of men crushing sugar cane and kids shooting off bamboo like a cannon using kerosene and a bottle. Apparently it was one of the smaller celebrations, but I had a great time. It helped being with Deborah because she knew tons of people there and shielded me from some of the sketchier sorts. We ate and ate and ate. I had breadfruit and saltfish (in a calabash bowl, which is the national tree--I collected 7 bowls by the end of the day thanks to Deborah's help), a panni which is sweet cornmeal and raisins in a sort of cake, coconut tablet-sort of a candy, soya chunks on creole bread, a candied golden apple and a few beers. Today I'm fasting, I've decided. But walking up and down those hills helped burn it off a bit, I'm sure. One of the coolest things was that I was also looking for Gagamel, a rasta who was friends with Cole during training, and went out with us several times. He was really nice and I figured he'd be around somewhere. I was at a booth looking to see what they had and I heard someone yell--he was in the next booth cooking bread and waving at me. It was so cool to see him again. He made this amazing whole wheat creole bread, and even sent some home with me. Hoepfully we'll hang out some other time. I met most of Deborah's family, and even saw a bunch of people I knew-a guy from forestry, Spencer and Michael and another former employee of the Trust. Today I bought some incense downtown and ran into a guy I met when I first got there and was walking around alone. This place is really small sometimes. Anyway, yesterday was a blast. Deborah helped me find someone to give me a ride home, and I was dirty and exhausted. I took a little rest and then caught the Simpsons and part of A Bug's Life before collapsing into bed. Today I'm entirely unmotivated to go to work. So I came downtown and to the PC office to get some errands done and sort some things out.

I think I have voicemail. I followed the directions to set it up, but either it's not truly set up or no one has called when I was out, so I'm not sure. I tried to go into Cable and Wireless to check but the office was surrounded by guys in fatigues and cordoned off by police tape, so I wonder if there was a bomb threat or something. I didn't ask, because I don't want to know. Too much scary news these days.

This week will probably fly past. This afternoon I get a tour of a Trust site in Castries, and work on the newsletter. Wed. Stephanie comes, Thursday is the AGM, and friday I have a meeting and hope to attend a litter cleanup happening downtown. I'm sure we'll find something good to do this weekend. It will be so nice to have someone right with me to hang out with and not have to deal with the logistics of transportation and meeting up.

25 Oct., 2002
Between the graveyard and the airport

This is what dawned on me today as i walked the final stretch to work--that i walk between the graveyard and the airport. what a strange dichotomy.just a thought.

This weekend is daylight savings time, but not here. That means that I will now be 1 hour earlier than EDT, 4 hours earlier than PDT. Just so you can factor it in if you call.

this weekend i have guests coming tonight-caroline and renee are coming for dinner (tacos! finally!) and then we're going for a drink. renee has friends coming in at 11 pm, and she has her GRE tomorrow am. so i will take her friends to the market and meet up with her downtown afterwards. i guess they'll leave to go south and i'll go to the beach or something, probably. sunday is jeunen creole (creole day) and there are festivities all over the island i hope to go to. Next Wed. Fannie's friend Stephanie is coming from France to stay for 11 days. I'm excited! Equally exciting is that I spoke to Fannie on the phone last night, for the first time in about a year and half! It's so cool how with good friends you can always pick up as if no time has passed. This phone call didnt get me down afterwards because I'm used to being far away from Fannie, and in fact will be closer to her when she sends her ambassador to see me :).

Big work to do, so I can't write more. Happy halloween to everyone. I will miss it this year--we have a big, long, annual meeting where the council of the SLNT is elected. This year promises to be particularly brutal, with politics, infighting--a regular soap opera! Hopefully with a happy ending. Meanwhile, things progress on the work front. I remain cautiously optimistic. I've been much more vocal with my concerns and requests, after all, I'm not a paid employee and have nothing to lose by asking. What are they going to do, fire me? This is all very good practice of the things I learned in Mgmnt classes. Who knew? Thanks Mary Kay and Steve! Helping with organizational dynamics may well be the most productive end result of my being here, which would be fine in that it's my degree, after all. If I can do some productive environmental education on top of that, all the better. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Happy weekend! I've been glued to CNN, happily watching the progress of the sniper arrests. Too weird that it progressed to Tacoma and Bellingham, WA of all places.

16 Oct., 2002
Caffeinated and clothed

I've been extremely fortunate in the last week to speak to Jamie, Karl, Eric and Jeff on Monday, then Cindy and Mom on Wednesday, and then get packages in the mail from both Mom and Jamie on Thursday, as well as a note from Carla. A banner week. Today I got coffee from Shaun. Thanks everyone! I can't tell you how much human contact from afar means to me. Especially last week, when I was battling the roaches, and they were winning. Not the flying ones, but instead the ones that lurk in my cutlery drawers, touching things i eat off of, making me ill. This weekend I brought out the big guns and sprayed (with a bandana for face protection) all the drawers. I'm buying some tablets tomorrow as well. This is war. Thursday I was home sick, possibly from a mild stomach flu that's going around, or possibly from spray residue in my roach war. Regardless, I'm paranoid now about both roaches and spray.

The evenings are still long and quite empty, which is one of my biggest challenges to happiness. It's a lot of alone time, and lately I've been watching too much TV. Reading and sleeping quite a bit, but I've got to find something more productive to do than watch that evil glowing box. Last night at least I wrote a letter while in babbled on in the background. For news and movies I'm grateful for it, but there's really hardly anything on. It's hard to feel like you're in the Peace Coprs when you've got 45 channels. Not that I'm complaining, just observing. When I start to feel a bit lonely and sorry for my lack of a life in the evenings, I think about how I'm lucky to have plumbing and I should count my blessings!

This morning was interesting, on a transport that stalled every time we stopped in traffic. As the 7:30-9 rush heading into Castries is pretty much stop and go (it's largely 1 lane each way, but switches to 2 right before the city), it was stalling every few minutes. Eventually we chugged into town though. It's raining today, so I was feeling very happy that it didnt die all the way. Transports are 15 passenger vans here that serve as the bus system. They stop anywhere along the road to pick up or drop off, though there are a few actual covered bus stands. There's no schedule, other than that certain routes don't run certain days or at certain times. Luckily I live and work (sort of) along a route that runs 7 days a week, into pretty late in the evening.

This weekend was fun. Friday I had an all-day meeting in Vieux Fort for work, and stayed there afterwards, met Lauren and we headed to her new apt. in Laborie. Caroline came down to stay with Renee, and we all met up in the evening with Clint and went to a cultural event. This is Creole history month, so there are events all the time, many of which I've (sadly) missed due to location or transportation, or finding out right after it's over. This was a mock E. Indian wedding in a down called Augier with a lot of Indians in it. We got a ride from one of the Irish men that are in town to work on the road in the area (they're fixing the major highway). There was a dinner afterwards and we ran into several Japanese volunteers as well as some doctors and PTs who are volunteering at St. Jude's hospital in V. Fort from all over the world. And, THEY HAVE CARS! So we went to the Friday night jump-up with them, and we had a motley group of PCVs, med volunteers from the US, and others from Slovenia, Sri Lanka and Peru. It was fun, though a bit quiet. Saturday most of the PCVs and all of the Japanese volunteers and a few of the med volunteers met up at a beach area w/restaurant/bar in V. Fort and hung out for the day. It was a lot of fun. I unsuccessfully tried to get my co-workers to come down for a lime in the south (as they've been talking it up recently) and give Caro and I a ride to the north in the process, but not surprisingly, that fell through. We took the long bus ride back and got home around 7. I was so exhausted I was in bed by 9. Sunday morning I woke to the phone at 7 am, Doreen (my Babonneau Mom) telling me she and Dorissa were on their way to be at my place for 8. They showed up at 8:30 and in between I was little miss productive: did and hung a load of laundry to dry, washed dishes, swept the floor, made lime juice and coffee, emptied all my kitchen drawers, removed the old paper liners and sprayed for roaches. When they arrived, we ate some bread and cheese for breakfast, chatted while Dorissa (who is 3 1/2) played with my etch-a-sketch (saved by Jamie's care package!) and drew me pictures (alas, no crayons) and watched cartoons. Then we walked down to the beach and swam for a bit. When we came back we all showered, they napped and I made lunch. Suddenly I realized that it's Sunday, and they traditionally have a big afternoon dinner. And I mean big: chicken, mac and cheese, plantains, yams and breadfruit (called ground provisions), lentils (called peas), salad (which is grated carrot and cabbage with mayonaise) and often more than that. I had none of this on hand, mind you. So I quickly made a cheap and easy american comfort meal: Tuna Noodle casserole. Almost like mac and cheese... So we had that and a salad (american style with lettuce and cucumbers) and they seemed to like it. Then we went to a children's "tea party" event at a nearby school, which was very cute. We had juice and ice cream and watched little kids dance and sing. A full day of family, which made me feel good. It's so fun to have a little sister to borrow and give back :). Yesterday I sort of played hooky from work. I went in, and was feeling tired and unmotivated, disappointed that my turtle watching event for last night was cancelled. Well, postponed, as once again plans (as they often do here) fell through. So I went for a drive to Vieux Fort with Spencer (Trust driver) to take another co-worker and another govt. employee to the airport for a conference in Cuba (where Duane is buying me cigars!) We had lunch down there before they left and then Spencer and I stopped at Mamiku Gardens, some botanical gardens on the E. Coast, on the way back. I wanted to do something productive, and it was peaceful and pretty, and I learned some plant names I've been wondering about. Today I stopped by the PC office in the am to get my mail, and tomorrow I have to meet our director and the other northern volunteers at the mall in the morning so he can show us where our safe houses are. Two 68 volunteers who live near there have emergency supplies, sleeping bags, food etc and we're supposed to gather at their place in the event of an emergency. We're expecting a drill in the near future, so he wanted us to be prepared. I packed my emergency bag this weekend (they check our bags at the drill). Last year they went as far as going to the airport, where they were met by armed police. I just can't wait for it to be over so I can stop wondering when it will happen. Friday Renee is coming up from Laborie, and picking up two friends at the airport. They're all staying at my place, and she has her GRE exam in the am. I imagine we'll just have breakfast and shop in the market or go to the beach and meet her somewhere. Sunday is Jeunen Creole (Creole Day) and there are activities all over. I hope to hook up with someone who is travelling to several and really experience the whole thing.

Another plan for my calendar: Fannie has just told me her friend Steph from France is coming to visit from the 30th to the 10th. My first real visitor! I can't wait! Tickets are cheap right now for travel before Dec. 12 I saw online yesterday. Roughly $350 from Phila. I think it goes up quite a bit after that.

Jamie has added some more pictures for me, including one that Lauren took of the sunset from my balcony. Enjoy my view! I feel so lucky every time I look at it. My rent is a bit high, but it's worth it for that. I'm about to send him more that Fumiko, one of the JP volunteers, just sent me from our National Trust Membership Drive in sept. so check back.

I hope I don't seem greedy for posting a wish list of things people can send. I'm really not, and I'm overwhelmed with how sweet everyone's been, offering to send things. I'm so grateful, and would love really anything that you send, not particularly what I've asked for. Shipping is by weight, so keep that in mind. I'm really missing asian and mexican food. and music not from BET. and will soon be running out of books. we get newsweek from PC, which is nice. other magazines are super expensive here. I have no sense of fashion--i mean less than usual!

Other than steph, I havent heard any serious visiting proposals. Anyone really considering it? we should chat. It will give me something to look forward to. I'm considering going to Grenada in early-mid Dec. to visit Robin. Other than that, no holiday plans. Sarah, are you out there? Miss everyone. Please continue to stay in touch. Enjoy the fall! I'm dreaming of the turning leaves...

16 Oct., 2002
Whoops!

My mom just pointed out that my phone # was typed wrong below. I just fixed it. So if you wrote it down, please fix it! I wrote a big long thing to post this morning, but apparently my disk is corrupted, so apparently you won't be getting any wisdom from me today. brace yourselves.

14 Oct., 2002
Almost 3 months down (22 to go)

Again Im dripping sweat and its just barely 9 am. Another sunny and hot one here today. Last night was cooler for some reason, and very pleasant. Maybe because it was cloudy on and off with storms throughout the day yesterday. There were thunderstorms in the south, but not in Castries. We had phantom thunder, thats it. I saw on the weather channel that its really nice today in Seattle, and finally cooling down in Philly. Phoenix is still hot, but under a hundred. So most of my friends and family are doing well now, weather-wise. Its weird to see on the weather that its in the 50s and 60s back home, and getting cool in the evenings, snowing already in some places. I imagine the leaves are starting to turn, and it makes me a little bit homesick. I love the fall. Here, it should hopefully get a bit cooler and less humid in the next month, but cooler by only a few degrees. Losing this stifling humidity will be a blessing though. Ive never sweated so much in my life. Previous volunteersour trainers and the ones herehave told us that you get these white spots on your skin. I noticed but thought they were mosquito bite scars standing out from my tan. Apparently, though, its actually some kind of mold or mildew that grows on your skin. Nasty, but apparently it happens to everyone, and theres not much you can do about it. Its not furry or green or anything, but its a bit disconcerting to think about, so I try not to. If thats the worst thing I get, Im thrilled. Speaking of that, two happy progressions in the insect world. First, mosquitoes have seemingly stopped pestering me so much, and when they do, the bites itch less. Second, and possibly more exciting, is that my plague of cockroaches seems to have ended. Some background: every day for the past week, I woke in the morning to find a big-ass cockroach. (I have my own name for them, but apparently theyre properly called Palmetto. The big flying suckers, as long as your thumb.) Thankfully, they were often on their backs already, and they seem to not be able to flip over once they get that way. So I can just smack them with a shoe. But a few times, Ive had to chase them with this vile spray that makes me nearly as sick as them. I couldnt figure out why they were coming in, only one and at night. There were two options: under the door or between the slats of the kitchen windows (which are metal louvres that I close at night), and both seemed equally strange but possible. After talking to another volunteer, I decided to spray the doorway at night, and since then Ive been blissfully cockroach free. At least visibly. Im still paranoid that theyre lurking somewhere unseen, but that hasnt proven itself to be true. Yet.

So my bug troubles are decreasing, happily. My tan is increasing. My hairs are increasing, as I have patches underneath the kneecap on both legs now, and the right forearm batch has reappeared. My right lower lashes arent doing well but the left ones are flourishing. No progress in useful areas like brows, upper lashes, or head, but at least theres progress.

This weekend I spent a lot of time relaxing. I started reading The Poisonwood Bible and so far I love it. Im about halfway through. I watched 3 or 4 movies on HBO (achay-bay-oh as they say here in the L.American market yes, all movies have Spanish subtitles, which makes it hard to watch Crouching Tiger in Chinese, apparently my Spanish isnt that good), buffed, filed, and painted finger and toenails, went grocery shopping, cleaned the apartment, went jogging and did some yoga, and slept quite a bit. I also went to the beach both days, and had dinner last night at Doriss, who is an older volunteer who lives on the next street. Denise, an older 68 woman was there too. We had chile, crackers and icy cold Pitons (the local beer, which is quite good! Especially since pils-style isnt my favorite, but it beats the pants off Corona) while watching the sunset. She has nearly an identical view to mine, as were neighbors. Thursday Lauren (from Laborie) stayed over, as she had some work to do at the northern office of the Council for Disabilities, and then Friday we took the morning off before the PC meeting. We had breakfast, went to the beach down the street (Marisule) for a swim. It was so excellenta beautiful morning, having a swim instead of working. Times like that I remember that I really live here and I still cant believe it. After the meeting several of us went to The Wharf, a beach bar Ive been to many times, for a drink. The southerners left after a bit (Clint, Renee, Lauren), and Caroline and I stayed. While I was on the porch she had met an American guy, Matt, who lives and works here. Matt and his friends bought us a drink and we chatted with them. One drink turned to many, and we stayed till about 9 with their whole crowd, watching them drunkenly sing karaoke, drinking way too many beers. They were very nice, introducing us to their friends and co-workers, making us feel like part of the group. They even gave us a ride home, and it was refreshing to have that kind of college-bar impromptu party experience without the constant flattery, come-ons, innuendos you would get from Lucian men. It gets really tiresome. It doesnt matter if you say you have a boyfriend or even a husband (Ive been known to say I have one or the other, depending on the situation), because they dont care. Infidelity is more than common here, its expected. Many men have children with several women, and have open affairs. Young secondary schoolgirls date 30- and 40-something men for the money and attention it gets them Everything here is about sex, and no one even tries to deny it. That would be a bit unnerving, but add to that the second highest AIDS rate (and a similarly high denial and misinformation rate) in the world, and its a bad scene that I really want no part of. They say most PC volunteers end up dating someone locally, but I honestly cant forsee that. I dont trust anyone. I dont give out my phone number, though Ive collected quite a stack that I dont intend to use. Its so odd to be seen as a novelty item to be collected, but thats what it feels like. So anyway, the guy who gave us a ride home gave Caroline his number, but it was blissfully pressure-free. I got home drunker than Ive been in a pretty long time and drank some water and was in bed by 10:30. Saturday night I had made plans to go to Dennery and Laborie, both fishing villages on the E. coast and in the south, but was stood up by my co-workers. It turns out they didnt go, but they didnt call so I was left wondering and waiting (and painting my nails). I got good sleep though, and saved money. I had splurged at the supermarket and bought vodka and tonic so I sipped a few drinks and chilled at home.

I went to a panel discussion on sustainable tourism last week in the evening. Tonight Im staying late to learn how to enter documents in our doc center. Boring librarian work but at least it will be productive. I spoke with Giles Thursday about feeling so unhappy at work and how the morale here is toxic. Also about needing the Trust to set out a clear vision of what they want in terms of education, and to work with me and my skills and ideas to create a work plan based on that. (instead of trying to slot me into some job description they wrote a few years ago but never filled, and with no relating of that position to the actual mission of the trust). He claims well talk about it during the series of 3 planning meetings this week. One was to be held today, but is postponed because hes sick. We did get a memo that he wrote Friday (I presume inspired by our discussion, because I was brutally frank with him and it seemed to really sink in) about the dire financial situation (exacerbated by a recent staff member fired and arrested for embezzlement) and an invitation for open discussion of how people are feeling here about the Trust and their jobs (my idea). I hope it helps. It still doesnt give me anything to do, but it will be a much more pleasant working environment if things lighten up a bit. The Council elections are on Halloween, and hopefully things will change after that as well. All the same, I hope to meet with PC staff this week to tell them about my concerns at work, in case things should progress and I want to change something later.

We dont get Thanksgiving off, but were all going to take it off and have a celebration. We have another round of training coming up, apparently poorly timed to be in mid-December. They havent told us the dates though, but I cant believe the timing of that. Our three-month integration period ends in November, so I cant imagine why theyre waiting. Nothing else is planned for me this week except going to Vieux Fort for a meeting on Friday and then meeting Lauren, and going back to Laborie with her. Margaret and Caroline are coming down too, and Renee, Caro, Margaret, Lauren and Clint and I are going to a cultural thing that nightsome E. Indian dinner and wedding ceremony. Its Creole heritage month, so theres been lots of events going on (sadly most are in the south so Im missing them.) This Thursday, actually, is La Margueritte, another cultural event like the La Rose I described earlier. So maybe Ill go to that. Saturday the PC volunteers (many of us, anyway) are going to meet the Japanese volunteers at Sandy Beach in V. Fort for the day. Im looking forward to that. I think the Canadian girls we met last week may come too. It will be exciting to meet all these new people.

I need to get started on letter-writing again. Ive been slacking as I got caught up in apt-searching and moving in the last few weeks. I wrote one yesterday, and will try to do better. After all, theres really only so much TV watching and reading I can do, especially when theres really nothing on. I did find a Seinfeld re-run on a blurry channel the other day, which was quite exciting. And Will & Grace has come to syndication, but I havent seen the Simpsons in weeks. Damn baseball last night. Ive got serious withdrawl symptoms. Anyway, Ive got the card of a guy (an American, even) who teaches guitar lessons and lives fairly close to me. Ill have to give him a call, and give some structure and purpose to my free time. So much for those newly-painted nails

Additions to the list of things one could send me if one chose to (or bring!!):
Incense
Blank cds (to burn some local music, as I dont have a radio)
A laundry stain stick or stain remover
A box of black RIT dye (chlorine bleached my new shorts, and the laundry faded a t-shirt already)Guacamole mix (Jamie sent some, but that will be a repeat request)Seeds: Cilantro, basil, tomatoes, rosemary, parsley, mint, lemongrass, other herbs that do well in heat. (if theres a particularly hardy kind of lettuce, I could give it a try)Cds you could burn for me: Alicia Keys, Jamiroquai, Miles Davis (there are more I cant think of right now, see my Amazon wishlist)there is music here, but nothing remotely like what I listened to at home. Theres only BET on TV, and theres only so much Nelly and Eminem I can takeand the radio is just the same. Local soca music or the latest BET hits.


10 Oct., 2002
Hooked Up!

Yes, my phone was hooked up Tuesday night, to my pleasant surprise. So now you can call me, if you want. My phone # is 1-758-450-3974 (no country code needed, just dial direct). I dont have voicemail yet, but I will soon. basically I'm home evenings and weekends, and I go to bed around 10 EST during the week.

Got 2 boxes from Cindy/Mom today! Woohoo--new clothes! Many thanks for that. And on the way back to the office (from the PC office) Spencer took me to the grocery store, where I got not only food but some necessary items for my apt like a can opener and baking dish, plus I will have a ride home to get the crap there! I live up a hill that's rather steep, so it's a workout carrying groceries (plus the taunting I get from the Rastas that hang out on the corner, which is an ordeal in itself. They just tease, but it gets tiresome sometimes).

Killed a big-ass cockroach in my bathroom. There arent really bugs as a rule, but they fly in at night sometimes. This one must have come in when I went jogging, because the kitchen windows(the ones w/no screens) were closed all night. So now my apartment smells like bugspray. Made me so sick I couldnt eat this morning. In the end I had to kill it with a shoe anyway because it was still alive. Nasty critters.

Yesterday there were 3 rainbows in the morning, out over the water, that I watched sipping tea on the balcony and listening to the Today Show. Even better, I didnt have to work in the office yesterday--I went down south with two other new employees of the Trust and we got a tour of Maria Islands National Reserve. The islands are protected areas home to 2 types of lizard and snake found nowhere else. We boated out there, hiked around and had a bit of a tour, had a swim in the Atlantic (for a change) and came back. The drive to Vieux Fort is so beautiful, but so curvy and long (hour and a half), it always makes me sleepy. I was wiped out when I got home last night. Monday was a holiday, Tuesday I was in the PC office, yesterday I was on a tour and tomorrow we have a PC meeting. A fast week. Morale is so terrible in the office right now it's practically a palpable form of toxicity. Memories of my later days at Amazon come back to me daily. I want to talk to PC staff about my unhappiness at work but they're on holiday or off-island till next week. Hopefully then. I will wait it out until after the holidays (after my 3 month integration) and see if things get better, but I know they move slowly, so the more documentation I provide, should I want to switch assignments later, the better. I realize it sounds grim, and I don't mean to shock, but I feel very frustrated and helpless in my job now. I'm barely an intern, and there seems little hope of any opportunity to be effective, at anything. My personal life is going fairly well, and I'm content here and settling in, but work... that's a whole novel in itself.

Speaking of that, I need to get back to it. I probably won't be online until next week.

8 Oct., 2002
Even more pictures

Check out the photos section to see 6 more pictures from St. Lucia.

8 Oct., 2002
movin' on up

wel, tings is really happening here. i'm all moved in! i spent a nice relaxing weekend getting settled in, seeing other volunteers and meeting some new people. went to the beach twice, got sunburnt. watched cruise ships going in and out of the harbor with my binoculars--i see a new hobby.

actually, the weekend was ushered in with good omens: friday morning i went for a run, and there was a rainbow. i felt like that was a good sign for me with my move. then saturday morning, after i was done packing and waiting for spencer and michael (2 coworkers) to come pick me up and help me move, there was another rainbow. Then Sunday morning there were two different ones. Sunday night as we watched yachts come into the bay before sunset, there was another. It was so amazing. I know they happen a lot here, but in a few days I saw more than I've seen so far. I got a picture of the last one.

i've had some offers for sending care packages from a few people--very generous, and much appreciated. thank you! i've been dreaming up a list, which i will put here now. some of it is pricey and maybe seems ridiculous, but hey, you asked...

a new calendar when they come out for next year
yoga mat
small inflatable raft (pool-style, just a cheap one)because the sea is like a lake
swimming goggles
snorkeling gear
my hammock chair (specific to aunt barb and uncle bob)
as always, books and cds (see my amazon wishlist or send me something you like and recommend)
good coffee or tea
pictures or small things for my apt
guitar tablature to easy songs (for those who play and know what's easy)
craft& art supplies: acrylic paint, glue, markers, colored pencils, etc
nail polish
hair clips & rubberbands (med. size--i broke mine! they dont really sell many hair accessories for "coolie hair"--meaning e. indian hair, same as euro. hair-- here)
environmental ed info or activities for kids
knitting needles and yarn (when it gets a bit cooler, i could see me knitting again)
a laptop!! both ryan and eric have old ones that haven't materialized... anyone else have an old one they could send? my life would be much easier...
a brita pitcher and filter(s)
a blender (just a cheap one, for making juice)
a toaster (again, a cheap one is cool -they cost close to $100EC here)--for now i can make "Ghetto toast" in the oven though so it's not pressing

There will be more soon. basically if you send it, i will probably love it, whether it's on the list or not. i'm not in the boonies where there's nothing to buy, but everything is so expensive and/or cheaply made that i either can't or dont want to buy it, and selection is limited and random. still, i won't pretend that i'm roughing it in the wilds or anything.

just got a package from mom with some tank tops and some rice noodles. waiting for late bday gifts from cindy and jamie now, as well as environmental ed books i ordered from mom. getting mail is very exciting! 2 letters today--thanks jamie and shaun. (there have been others i havent mentioned previously---thanks carol and julie too!)

so i'm in my new place, but no phone yet. it was a quiet but relaxing weekend. 3 days, thanks to the holiday which no one really celebrates in any sort of specific way. fridaynight caroline and i took a bus to rodney bay and metrenee (a 68 volunteer from the south) and 2 sisterswho live at balembouche, that plantation we visitedduring training. they're german/english background,have lived here most of their lives but for boardingschool in europe. really nice, but so polished itmakes me feel like a country bumpkin. weird. i'venever known anyone like that. also their friend. wewent to the 1/2 price bar (happy day) and then topizza pizza, and then to the shamrock bar. it's atouristy area where locals also go. it was mellow butfun. sat i moved. sunday i had breakfast at doris's,the older lady from chicago who lives a street awayfrom me. she had another older volunteer, pat, stayingwith her, and another 68 older volunteer denise cameover too. we had a nice breakfast and then margaretcame over, and we all went to the beach. ended up athappy day to watch the yachts come in down the canal,then went to spinnakers, a thatched-roof little placeon the beach and had a beer and snack and watched thesun set. margaret stayed over that night--it was funto have a guest. yesterday doris, pat and carolinecame over for breakfast with margaret and me, and thenmargaret, caroline and i went to the beach. we swamand sunned, and then i went to go visit my babonneaumom Doreen at the Rex hotel. (she never came out tothe pool to meet me, but i met a british couple therewho bought me drinks and so i swam and chatted anddrank for a while) then we had a beer at spinnakersagain and met three of the canadian volunteers. i waspretty tired last night and went to bed early (aftercursing "W" on tv for mispronouncing "nucular" overand over again and finally turning him off in disgust)but didnt sleep well. got woken up by a beatle flyinginto my head, then by dogs barking, then just beforemy alarm, screaming kids next door and then a loudsmack, follwed by silence. lovely. (the day before their loud radio, blaring Nelly's newest song, woke me, as well as a gang of angry roosters at 4:30) i will have tolearn to adjust to the new noises, especially fromnext door.

This week looks to be a slow one, work-wise, but they always go quickly after a 3-day weekend. Tomorrow I visit the Maria Islands which is a beautiful and pristine preserve area managed by the Trust, off Vieux Fort, that is home to a species of lizard and snake found nowhere else. Friday is a planning meeting for world AIDS day and then our volunteer meeting. Thursday night Lauren is coming to stay from down south, and maybe she and Renee will stay Friday night too. The next two weekends I'm heading down south, and i have more trips to trust sites planned. I have the feeling October is going to fly past. I dont know if our 3-month training happens in late Nov or early Dec. I have the feeling it's Dec., but I need to find out. Once that's over, it's open season on me travelling or getting visitors. Get your calendars out people! I'm looking forward to showing off my new place.


If you would like to read my journal entries from September 2002, click here.