Friday, July 29, 2011

Frangipani and Gingerlilly

The end of June was a crazy hectic time.  On top of wrapping up at school, preparing for Carnival, and just day-to-day life, I adopted two sickly puppies.  Everything happened so quickly; it didn’t really register until after the fact.  A fellow PCV rescued the two puppies from an abusive/neglectful environment.  Of course she cant afford to have tons of dogs (though I’m sure if she could she would), so she was looking for a foster home for these two cute puppies until permanent homes could be found.   Luckily, the newly formed Vincy Animal Welfare Initiative here in SVG that she helped to found is off to a great start, and now she has help and support to slowly rescue as many needy animals as possible.
Anyways, I was crazy enough to volunteer to be a foster mom (since I was considering getting a dog for the company and security anyways) to two sickly puppies, and before I knew it I was off to Town to meet my fellow PCV to pick up the two pups.  What an ordeal this was.  Upon meeting my friend, who had already traveled from the Leeward side of the island for about an hour, was covered in dog poop and vomit. The poor doggies got car sick and made quite a mess of themselves and my friend.  She was kicked off a van, and treated not so nicely by van passengers.   We finally got the puppies to the vet where we discovered they were full of worms.  They got some deworming medicine, and a few shots of vitamins and antibiotics.  Afterwards, it was time for another van adventure, and off to my house.

After another hour-long bus ordeal (though not as bad as the first), we got to my house and promptly gave the dogs flea baths in addition to getting all the poop/vomit off.  After a good bath, and some food, they were exhausted and slept for most of the rest of the evening curled up together.

From here on out, things were totally insane for me.  Considering I have never owned a dog before, I was completely overwhelmed by having to take care of two malnourished, sick, non-house-trained dogs.  I should have just done things my way, but not really knowing what to do, I took the overcautious advice of my fellow PCV. After two weeks I was completely over it and couldn’t wait to get rid of them.  My first mistake was allowing the dogs in the house and leaving them in the house while I was at school and at night.  I was instructed to feed them three times a day so I was leaving school during lunch to feed them and let them out.  Of course by that time the house was already a mess.  I spent 3 hours a day cleaning up after them.  I was sick of cleaning up dog messes, and trying to house train them.  What a nightmare.  I went through about 10 rolls of paper towels in two weeks and two bottles of Clorox cleaner.  Paper towels and Clorox are really, really expensive.
So after all this stress, I was ready for them to be gone.  Completely and utterly over owning a dog.  I clearly was not cut out for parenting two needy infants. Lesson learned, duly noted.  Herein lies the next problem.  The person lined up to be their permanent caretaker fell through. So it took a couple more sleepless, stressful days to find another owner who would be willing to take both.  In the meantime though, I realized that not a single Vincentian allows their dogs in the house, and learned that it’s ok for them to be outside animals.  This made life was soooo much easier. No more messes in the house, no more paper towels, no more getting up in the middle of the night, no more watching to make sure they poop at 3am and 5am (just one hour before my alarm goes off), so as to assure they don’t poop in the house--Not that it mattered; I’d take them out and try to make them poop for half an hour and within 10 minutes of being back in the house, they’d poop and pee all over the place.  No more $4EC cans of dog food, no more sleepless nights, no more weekly flea baths, no more stress.
But alas, we couldn’t find any one that wanted both, luckily as it turned out my neighbor wanted one of them when I left.  I told her she could have one now, right now. Things didn’t really move, and I was wondering if she was serious about wanting one of the dogs.  Finally after a few more days some one came to pick the dogs up, and after talking to my neighbor it seemed like she definitely was willing to take one, so I didn’t give the other person both.  So, after 2.5 weeks (which felt like an eternity) of total chaos and stress, one dog was gone and one remained. 

Its now been a month, and well, I still have a dog.  My neighbor already had a dog (which had puppies that same week), and has a cat, which also had 5 kittens the following week, so it seems that it kind of fell through.  But its not so bad now that I learned that the dog can stay outside all night, she can eat her food outside, and that she doesn’t need to be fed every 3 hours; she can take care of herself for the most part.  She is free to roam my yard; I don’t tie her up, but she doesn’t go very far either.  However lately she has been following me half way down the street when I leave for the bus stop in the morning.  She also comes running to greet me in the afternoons.

It’s like the best of both worlds.  I get the company (when I want it) and the security of having a dog, but also the freedom of not having to take care of a dog. My neighbor is very helpful and is willing to watch/feed her when I am away or busy.  Since I learned what works for me and Frangi, I have not had to clean up a mess in the house and have not had to buy $4EC cans of dog food.  Now Frangi gets chicken backs or chicken necks, which are only $1.50EC/lb!  One bag of chicken lasts about 3-4 days and only costs about $5EC.
            Life is good.  I am happy and Frangi is a very happy and healthy doggie :-)
ok so she's still allowed in the house sometimes, and has found a new favorite spot.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Come From A Land

I Come From A Land

I come from a land
That is as historic as it is diverse
Where the Hudson river meets the Mohawk.
That is halfway between NYC and Montreal
That is equidistant to Vermont and Massachusetts.

I come from a land
That was first home to the Mohican and Iroquois Mohawk Indian tribes
Where the Dutch took over and then eventually the English.
That has a culture rich in education and the arts.
Where the past can be seen in every building, every landmark and every park.

I come from a land
That is as rich as it is poor
Where the first technical university in the USA was established
That used to be a booming industrial city producing steel, iron and textiles.
Where Uncle Sam was born, raised and is laid to rest.

I come from a land
That has four seasons and 4 feet of snow during the wintertime.
Where the mountains are close by and the sea many miles away.
That offers something for everyone.
Where it is home to the Irish, Italians, African Americans and me.

Although I may roam,
Troy is where I call home.

Now This is Paradise: Tobago Cays

Before the mayhem of the end of the year I was able to take a very relaxing trip to the Tobago Cays (pronounced Keys).  The trip was organization by one of my peace corps friend’s host father.  It was an all inclusive day trip that included tons of delicious Vincy food, drinks, and a day at a private island.  There were about 15 PCVs who went so we had our own boat.  It was a relatively tiny boat, something you might take on a lake (in my opinion).  The ride to the islands was a bit nauseating.  The waves seemed to toss the tiny boat every which way, which made me a bit sea sick.  Not to mention I clearly was sitting on the wrong side of the boat, because by the time we reached the Cays, I was soaked!  It was a perfectly clear day though, hot and sunny, so I dried pretty quickly.  

When we arrived at the island we anchored just a few feet from the shore.  We had to take a ladder down from the Catamaran and “swim” to shore. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.  The beach has sand white as snow and waters the color of turquois. I really thought that it only looked like that on calendars and post cards, due to photoshop or something.  Shortly after anchoring, Liz and Kiersten and I went exploring to the other side of the island, which was all of 50 yards wide.  When we reached the other side we got caught in a brief rain storm that passing by.  Fortunately, we ran into some fellow PCVs who brought a snorkel and mask so we got to go snorkeling in the reef.  We didn’t see much, but as you can see we still had a lot of fun playing with my underwater camera. ;-)
One of the Tobago Cays islands that we anchored at.
 Union Island (one of the Grenadine islands) in the distance.
 Liz and Kiersten ready to get off the boat!

50 yards to the other side of the island.
 Rain storm in the distance.  The tiny island towards the right of the frame was used to film scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean.

 Underwater camera fun!

After our snorkeling adventure it was lunch time, where we gorged on fish, meat (for the meat eaters), corn pie, macaroni pie, fruit, you name it, we ate it, etc. It was all cooked by my friends host father and it was absolutely delicious.  After lunch and some more swimming in the crystal clear waters, we took a water taxi to one of the other Cays to swim with the sea turtles.  I think the pictures speak for themselves.  Thank god for this underwater camera.  It finally paid off after 4 years!
The catamaran.

 Sting ray, NBD.

 Baby sea turtle!!!
 Poisonous fish.

 Looks like Kiersten was on the wrong side of the boat this time!  Those goggles came in handy though!

Thats all for now! 

Life Recap

So, lets recap my life for the past month. A lot has changed, I’m not really sure how it always works out to be that way, but everything always seems to change and remain the same all at once.

  1. Tobago Cays
  2. End of School
  3. Adoption of Puppies
  4. Carnival
  5. Art Camp
  6. Vegan/Raw Diet
  7. Plans for the "Summer" Break
Before the mayhem of the end of the year I was able to take a very relaxing trip to the Tobago Cays (pronounced Keys).  Separate post on this and more! forthcoming.  But to summarize, it truly was picture perfect. The beaches had white sands and the waters were crystal clear/turquoise. I honestly thought that scenes like this were photoshopped for calendars and postcards.

The last month was crazy hectic; both professionally and personally as well as in general as a country.  Professionally everything revolved around preparing for school exams; both preparing the students and the actual exams, as well as a smooth execution of said exams. Personally things have been changing as I continue to integrate into my community and get accustomed to life in a new culture and in SVG. My life changed drastically when I adopted two puppies (more on that later too).  In general as a country, life has been gearing up for Carnival with pre-carnival events and culminating in Carnival from June 24-Jul 5th.
            The end of the year is always a busy, fun, exciting time of the school year. It was compounded when I adopted two tiny, sickly puppies that needed much tender love and care and ALOT of attention. The end of the year also means that the only thing that separates you from a few months of bliss is a few horrendous final exams.  This was true for me too, in a way.  My role in the end of year activities consisted of helping to print, staple, and organize the exams by putting them together according to the schedule, for the appropriate classes, accurately distributing them, as well as proctoring some of the exams when there was a staff shortage. I never really appreciated the printers that can do the stapling all in one step until after stapling some 500+ exams! Overall, it was tedious and not so much fun, but the execution of the final exams went pretty smoothly, so it was a success!  I never realized how much work went into producing the final exams. It never occurred to me that the teachers have to determine which topics/questions to test on, type it up, some one has to print it, staple it, and organize it for each class.
          Once all the exams were finished, I came to school to help with grading the exams, and to assist teachers in inputting their students’ grades into the excel database. School exams ended the second to last week of June.  Graduation took place on the final day of exams in June.  Once all grades were calculated and input into the “markbooks” we were officially on break with no time to spare before the height of Carnival events.
        Carnival was both exciting and intimidating. I only went to a few events since my host sister was out of the country.  She “carried me” to J’Ouvert, which is a street party starting at 1am on the Sunday before Carnival Monday.  There was music, dancing, booze and PAINT.  Everyone was given a water bottle full of paint and you just paint each other up.  Yes that’s right.  It was tons of fun and I was covered in blue paint.  Strangers would come up to me and pour paint on me.  It was completely nuts. After 6+ hours of dancing, drinking and painting we headed to the beach to wash off.  We were home by 9am in time to shower and nap to prepare for the Tshirt Band in the afternoon.  After our naps (mine only lasted 1 hour because I needed to do laundry or I would not have anything to wear), we went back to town around 3pm. The Tshirt Band is like a jump up/parade.  Semi trucks with towers of speakers drive slowly in a circle around town.  Each truck is a different Band with a different Tshirt color and representing a different company or Band.  Behind the Speaker truck the people in that Band were dancing and just generally having a good time following the truck along the parade path.  Behind the people in the particular Band was that Band’s Drink Truck.  This truck dispensed unlimited amounts of Rum Punch. I did not participate in any of the Bands, but rather just observed from the sidewalks.  For me, it was chaos, but really fun to watch.  This lasted until late at night, I think we got home around 1am.  Needless to say I was exhausted from dancing for hours and the extremely loud music. 

Tuesday was Vincy Mas.  This was the day that most people probably associate with Carnival.  It is the parade with all the pretty costumes.  My host sister was “playing mas” and had to be in town early to prepare.  I slept in and met her later in the afternoon.  Vincy Mas was pretty much the same as the Tshirt Band, with the addition of costumes.  There was still the parade of people (now with very pretty and elaborate costumes) marching around town, following semi trucks with walls of speakers, dancing, drinking, etc.  It was really cool to see all the costumes. Perhaps next year I will play mas.
Before J'Ouvert.
 The start of it all..Thanks Garett!

 After J'Ouvert
 This lady was dressed as a pregnant nun and Im not entirely sure why? She also had a sign, which i didnt entirely understand..
 Washing off the paint at the beach.
 Later that evening....
 Drink Truck..
 Jump up.
 Walls of speakers with people on top. Like literally 20 feet high!
 He was wearing the american flag as pants..

After Carnival was over, I planned to do nothing but rest, sleep, relax, and clean my house. I only had the rest of the week of "freedom" before I started helping facilitate at an Art Camp for kids in Town. 

check back later for the rest of this blog entry!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just a Little Something to Hold You Over

Until I can find the time and energy to write a real post, here is a little something i wrote during last week's Art Camp Training:

My World Turned Upside Down

Beakers, burets, experiments
This is what I am used to.

Calculators, computers, microscopes
These are my preferred tools.

Calculus, chemistry, physics
These are the concepts that govern my life.

Laboratories, offices, conference rooms
These are my chosen dwellings.

Powerpoint, excel, Nature
These are how I convey my ideas.

Carbon nanotubes, atoms, the Periodic Table
These are a few of my favorite things.

Textbooks, Advisors, Professional Societies
These are my references.

Suddenly I was thrust into an alternate universe.
Where life is based on letters and not numbers.

Suddenly my world changed from concrete, quantitative, abstract concepts
To a life that is subjective and not black nor white.

Now paper, pencils, and erasers
Are the tools that rule my life.

Now sight words, rhymes, and word families
Are how I express my wildest dreams.

Now phonics, consonants and vowels
Are how I formulate my sentences.

Now stories, poems, and songs
Are how I share my thoughts and my feelings.

Now storybooks, dictionaries and thesauruses
Are what help me get by.

Now posters, flash cards, flip charts
Are what decorate my new home, the Reading Room.
Now games, group work, and pep talks
Are what help us succeed.

Suddenly I am using a portion of my brain previously uncharted.
And though it is challenging, it is intriguing all the same.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I have been pretty busy and not busy at all, all at the same time lately.  But I promise to update my blog this weekend, theres many good things to share!