Monday, September 30, 2013


Sorry to keep every one in the dark, but I no longer have an operational computer, nor did I ever have a tablet or smartphone, which therefore means I am quite disconnected from the world. I should hopefully be reconnected in the next few weeks.  

I now have to "tief" a bit of internet by using the school's IT lab and/or going to Town to use the Peace Corps Office computer. This coupled by the recent landslide in my area (another post altogether) has really made travelling to Town difficult and therefore having regular access to the outside world is costly, time consuming and inconvenient. 

A lot has been going on (as usual).  But just a quick update:

Summer has ended, and on August 31st I wrapped up the first (annual?) SVG RUFC Summer Youth Rugby Camp (this will be its own post soon). And promptly on September 2nd, school reopened. Since then I have been continuing with the remedial reading programme, helping to organize a literacy workshop for the school staff, helping to plan a literacy festival for SVG Independence Day at the school, all while trying to tie up loose ends associated with the Rugby Camp and maintain my sanity and life.

Its been quite stressful (though camp and school aren't the only factors) and honestly I am reaching my breaking point.  For the first time since arriving in SVG, I have seriously contemplated ET'ing (Early Terminating); quitting; packing up and going home; returning to an "easier" life.  Even though would it really be ET'ing if I have already completed my two years of service and have extended service for another year? As most of you know, quitting is very difficult for me, and I am hoping that a month long vacation back home will rejuvenate me enough to continue and finish my extended service.

I was originally due to take this month long peace corps funded vacation in December, as my projects were supposed to all take place during the school term.  However, they haven't panned out so well, and I don't think I will make it until December anyways. Unfortunately, Peace Corps EC has implemented a new and absolutely unreasonable rule which prevents us from taking ANY vacation time during school. I don't really understand the point of a vacation day, then, if you cannot in fact, use it during work, but ONLY when school is out? I digress. The point is, I am trying to find a way to come home for my sanity's sake before December.

Looking forward to seeing the people I love and who support me very soon. 

Recently, I travelled to Grenada for a workshop on Gender Based Violence.  This was quite interesting and informative.  I stayed a few extra days (but only the weekend, since Peace Corps wouldn't let me take off ONE work day) to explore Grenada.  A quick overview of Grenada (in due time, a post devoted to this trip will be written):
  • Visited the Chocolate Factory and bought amazing chocolate
  • Played with a monkey
  • Toured a Rum Factory (sadly, no taste tests as it was actually closed)
  • Saw two lakes and one pretty waterfall. It just occurred to me that there are no lakes in SVG.
  • Toured the interior of the island (much like most of SVG)
  • Bought some spices from the Spice Isle and homemade sorrel wine
  • Made friends with the owner of a restaurant
  • Went to Fish Friday in Gouyave, the hometown of Kirani James
  • Drank fresh water lemon (tasted like licorice) juice, Caribbean Cherry juice, and guava juice at a cute (western looking) cafe in Grenville
  • Snorkeled at an underwater sculpture park (I was more interested in the fish)
  • Spent a lot of time on a beautiful white sand beach that was just outside my balcony at a resort!
Oh and unfortunately I can't update my life via pictures, because I also no longer have an operational camera.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Despite being an engineer, technology has really never been my forte.  We just have never gotten along well.  They always seem to not work for me.  Printers/scanners/faxes/Xerox Machines are my Arch Nemesis, just ask any secretary that has had the “honor” of working with me. I should especially thank Holly and Danielle at DNI for all their time helping me print my thesis, scan things for the patent application, fax various papers; especially when it came time for me to apply for the Peace Corps.
            Since joining the Peace Corps in January 2011 I have miraculously made it three years and running with the same computer, despite the harsh climate as well as user abuse (I have admittedly dropped it from the table to the concrete floor a number of times).  I attribute this to Apple.  I LOVE my MacBook pro, however it is dying a slow and agonizing death.  The battery has slowly stopped taking charge, I have had to replace the charger twice now, and now the battery holds zero charge.  It has officially become a desktop computer.  But I still love it.
            In addition to my laptop which will need some replacement parts soon, other electronics that I have had to replace or that have mysteriously (or not so mysteriously) stopped working include:
  1. External Hard Drive. This is one of the electronics that mysteriously stopped working.
  2. Flash Drive
  3. Camera x 3.  Yes that is right. I have gone through 4 cameras in the last 3 years. Admittedly two were already 2+ years old. However, two of the four cameras were brand new.  I blame this on the abuse the cameras take.  My cameras go everywhere with me, I take pictures constantly.  In fact, I am convinced two cameras died due to overuse; they expired their useful lifespan.
  4. Cellphone x 2.  An average of one cell phone per year isn’t too bad.  One phone the battery exploded, well not really, but it swelled due to the heat and moisture I think.  And well, the next one may have gotten a bit of water damaged when it got swept away by a wave at the Owia Salt Pond.
  5. Kindle. They really should make electronics less sensitive and delicate…
  6. iPod. I guess its just old…and decided it didn’t want to work anymore.
  7. If I had any other electronics I am sure they would be on this list too.

Personal Space....

...DOES NOT EXIST in SVG, nor does my bubble.

Let me give you a few examples to support my claim that Personal Space does not exist in SVG.

Firstly, I remember an instance when I was walking down the street in the Capital of SVG when evidently my dress was not zipped up all the way in the back.  Luckily, nothing was showing, however, a stranger stopped me and zipped it up first before even asking or even uttering one word to me.  In fact, the person continued on their way once she finished, muttered something, and then thinking I did not speak English continued on her way.

Obviously, you cannot have personal space if you are crammed 4 or 5 to a row in the mini van-esque mode of public transportation. Add to that babies, small children and people’s personal belongings. Some people carry a lot of load with them: giant boxes, huge 25lb flour sacks full of god knows what.  Where can all this go, you may be wondering? Usually, partly on the lap of the person next to them.  In many cases, strangers will pass their children for others in a more spacious seat to hold for the duration of the trip.  Did I mention that you also have to be a contortionist to ride the public transportation?  Often times you have people’s elbows digging into your ribs and other appendages in awkward places, forcing you to contort into a more comfortable position.  Not to mention, people don’t seem to be concerned if their purses, children and grocery bags are spilling over into your lap.

Just the other day, I myself was in this position.  I was carrying one of those orange sports water coolers back to Town and was riding in the front middle seat.  This seat can be a bit of a challenge in itself, as it’s difficult to keep yourself from spilling over into the lap of the person and driver next to you.  As a result of the driver’s fast driving on the very curvy roads, I needed both my hands to stabilize myself.  I gave the water cooler to the guy sitting in the seat next to me.  He willingly (?, well he did not complain or push out his mouth, so I assume he was ok with it) held it the entire ride.

Next example is the proximity of people when you are speaking to one another.  I would say that in the States, the standard is an arm’s length away.  However, that is evidently too far for SVG, since it is nearly impossible to go an entire conversation without some one touching you in some way.  Frequently, when you greet someone, they will shake your hand, or fondly touch your forearm or shoulder, and NOT let go for the duration of the conversation, this could be upwards of 10 minutes, which feels like an eternity.

As a result of these and other factors, my bubble has all but vanished.  I would say it has significantly shrunk only 10% by choice and 90% by force due to the circumstances and repeated attack.  Nevertheless, not having a bubble has led to a positive change, in being more open, accepting and generally tolerant of those around me. I would say it has caused me to be less guarded and more willing to talk to people, thus developing relationships with neighbors and “strangers” that have been very rewarding.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Letting Go of the Past?

The last time I got my haircut was October of 2010. It was right before I was due to leave for Lesotho, Southern Africa in November of 2010. I figured I better get my hair cut one last time, since it will be a while. Up until then I had always had short hair. I loved my short, straight hair. However, I knew that once I joined the Peace Corps all that would change. I was always accustomed to blow drying and straightening my hair, and living in the cold that was somewhat necessary.  However, moving to a country where you are not guaranteed electricity would kind of hinder that morning process.   Similarly, when I found out that I would be going to the Eastern Caribbean instead, I figured it would not be necessary to blow dry my hair in the constant heat and humidity of the Caribbean, and straightening my hair would be futile.
So here we are in August 2013, nearly three years later.  My hair has since grown probably close to 12 inches (which should be noted that my hair grows really slowly) and I have yet to get my hair cut since leaving for the Peace Corps in January 2011. I have grown quite fond of my long hair.  It’s so much easier to deal with, especially in the heat. I just towel it dry and throw it up in a messy bun and I'm off. My hair is longer than it has ever been in my entire life by a good 3 or 4 inches.
Then I had the opportunity to get my hair cut by a professional! A fellow PCV’s mother who is a hairdresser came to visit and offered to cut anyone who wanted his or her hair cut.  I don’t normally fuss much over my hair and I gave her the authority to do what she wanted with it so long as she kept the length relatively intact. I just wanted to cut off the dead ends.

She gave me some layers, and now my hair seems so short! Even though it is still longer than it’s probably ever been. I can’t believe that I am so upset over it, especially considering everything, but I really grew to like my long hair.