Thursday, August 7, 2014

Detours, Diversions, Disturbances

              Nearly a year ago (holy crap, that went fast!), there was a massive landslide on the main road to/from Town to my community. The landslide washed away part of the road.  Since then the road has been closed and there has been a diversion through surrounding communities.  In the village, where the road washed away, there is another road; lets call it a shortcut, which eventually connects to the main road.  However, this road is incredibly steep and narrow, and has numerous right angle bends.  Only one vehicle can fit at a time.  Technically, legally, this road is a one way, in the direction coming FROM town. But it’s a shortcut, so every one wants to take it both ways. It makes for some interesting maneuvering, and can some times take a while, as vehicles often have to back up, down or around to let traffic coming down pass. Yet, its still faster than the directed diversion. However, to get TO town, traffic is to continue on the diversion road, past the shortcut road, through various other communities, and loop back to the village where the road washed out.  This adds about 15 minutes to the trip to Town. 
            Then just before the roundabout where the main road to my village connects to the Windward Highway, there was construction work to rebuild the gutters, sidewalk and repair the mashed up road.  This created another diversion, through yet more various other communities.  Of course this diversion was a one way, and was actually strictly enforced. See Diagram 1. 
Diagram 1: Map of route To/From Town.  If you add all the Purple and Red sections, you get the actual route.  Diversions are green and the short cut is blue.  Obviously this is not drawn to scale, and neither are the curves. Anyways, you can see that the green diversions are quite lengthy and add significant amounts of time to the trip.

         So, to get back home, instead of turning left at the roundabout to go up to Mespo, we needed to continue past through many more villages, just to loop back to the main road just before where the other diversion was circuited.  This is all best explained via diagram 2. It is a nightmare.
 Diagram 2: Map showing diversion coming FROM Town.  Again, not drawn to scale.  If you add the purple section coming from the right up until the roundabout and the red section and subsequent red and purple sections, you will get the actual route.  However, construction, road work and road closures has resulted in lengthy diversions.  The new route is: coming from the right on the purple section, continue around the roundabout on purple, take left on green.  This green section is the diversion to bring you back to purple after the red.  It add about 15 minutes to the trip.

Shortly after the landslide and subsequent road closure and further diversions along the route, van drivers started taking a “short cut” through a different village along the way to Town. This prompted me to just start taking different van routes altogether. If the original van route I was taking, was going through this new route, why not just take that one. So that’s what I have been doing ever since. Besides, Van Route B drops me much closer to my house, and it’s a downhill walk, as opposed to Van Route A which drops me at the bottom of a massive hill.  See Diagram 3.                                                                         Diagram 3: The orange section is the actual route (condensed) of my original Van Route (A).  After the landslide, Van Route A drivers would turn off of orange and connect onto the purple route (about half way up the pay on the very left side).  Van Route B is the purple  It is in fact, a bit longer, but with all the diversions it ends up being about the same or 10 minutes longer.  It is still better to walk 5 minutes downhill than 15 minutes uphill though. Van Route A takes approximately 40 or more minutes depending on the time of day and whether the shortcut (in diagram 1) is used.  Van Route B takes approximately 45 or more minutes depending on the time of day and other factors.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

If You Walk the Footsteps of a Stranger, You'll Learn Things You Never Knew You Never Knew

I don’t know where I got the idea to blog my experiences throughout this Peace Corps adventure but I’m glad that I did. I was never really one to keep a journal (though I have tried) and to be honest I wasn’t too sure what I would write on my blog. I was apprehensive about sharing my thoughts with the whole world to see.  I also didn’t think many people aside from my small family and friend circle would follow it. At the very least, though, I thought it would be a good place to showcase all the pictures I take.
It turns out that not only do my family and friends follow my life updates, but so too have many strangers.  People have stumbled upon my blog, others have found it by searching for something related (Caribbean vacations perhaps?), and prospective volunteers have sited it.  I know this, for one, because BlogSpot records data pertaining to number of site visits and ip locations, and referring sites, etc., but also because the number of people who have left me comments, or who have contacted me directly.
This blog has served its purpose, but has also gone above and beyond my wildest hopes for its purpose and expectations. Of course I am happy that I have had a platform to keep my family and friends in the loop, in a fashion that they can follow on their own schedule (sometimes skyping and email can be too cumbersome).  But what I am most happy about is the fact that this blog has brought so many good things into my life and my Peace Corps experience.   The president of a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing literacy rates in the Caribbean contacted me asking how to donate books, all because she saw my blog. Countless times, at this point there’s too many to count, I have been contacted by prospective or future volunteers that will be serving in the EC, or who are interested to learn more about it.  I guess ultimately, it was these unforeseen reasons that my blog was really supposed to serve.
I never would have imagined that people all across the globe (literally!-people in over 90 countries have viewed my blog!) would be interested in my small life.  I am thrilled that I could shed insight into my experience as a volunteer serving in the Eastern Caribbean and what life is like here.
I also have to thank many people who have shown support and comfort (both strangers, as well as coworkers, and of course family and friends).  My blog, unexpectedly and kinda ironically, actually ended up providing an easier outlet to vent/share some very difficult and dark times.  I never imagined that a space for all to see and judge, would actually end up being one of the places I found it easiest to share some of my deepest darkest moments with for the first time. But it has. It was like walking into a field, and screaming at the top of your lungs for help and hoping some one would hear you.  People (strangers, old friends and new friends) did hear me, and shouted back their support and for that I am ever grateful.
As I wrap up my Peace Corps service after almost 4 years, I don’t know what the future holds. But I have learned that everything will work out as it’s supposed to. Maybe I will continue to blog (under a different blog title), so check back soon!