Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pics from Lunch Break

Beauty---full!!! St. Lucian beach and we were all on a lunch break!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A few chuckles.

Apparently they have post offices and then there are also mini post offices. Rather than getting your mail delivered, you have to go to the post office and pick up your mail... this is why there is usually mail only once a week in most St. Lucian homes. I found this out today when I tried to buy stamps from the guy at the post office (mini --- actually in the bottom of someone's house)...and he laughed at me. It was my first extended walk on my own, as my family is quite protective over me (so sweet!). I found out there is a tiny little bar across the street from me on the "main" road, I may be going there to get a Piton shortly. Everyone I passed said hello back, in addition to the one boy that asked me where I was looking for... but this time I actually knew. I got called beautiful a lot... woo hoo.

Anyhow, it turns out that walk was for no good, besides getting used to the village. So sorry mom, you won't get your letter sent for another couple of days when I head to the capitol. I haven't had the chance to do much walking around and "integrating", so this is good. I feel as if some of the others are already fully integrated into their communities already and I'm a little behind... but in actuality I have to take a look at how I am at home and compare it to how I am here. In Seattle, I was even a little hesitant to get out there in my new neighborhoods, so I am being understanding of myself and realizing that I will be just in the same spot when I am ready! No need to rush what is bound to happen anyway. As much as I would love to be fully "integrated", I am just going to be me and adapt in the ways in which I adapt.

Opening the bank account yesterday was quite interesting... the St. Lucian concept of customer service is much different than that in Seattle. Man, oh man, I know tons of people in Seattle that would go crazy over the customer service here. I was at the bank for an hour and a half doing what probably would have been a ten minute process were it not for the nice woman multi talking by answering every phone call, talking to her friends who came in, and accomodating to every need that arose while I was sitting there. Supposedly this is just how they do things, and so I couldn't help but just laugh at myself for comparing it to the Seattle "standards". Overall though, the lady did her job well and was very thorough, despite the amount of time.

My host brother made a few chuckles for me last night, as he did something so similar to something my own brother would have done in the states. He was to attend a funeral today and needed a pair of black shoes, but alas, all he had was brown. So he bought some dye and dyed the shoes black... which is a great idea! It is so simple and yet, no one in the states ever thinks about doing those kind of things. It's quite sad actually. Most people would just go out and buy another pair of shoes... SAD. It is amazing how much we take for granted items and ideas at our disposal. Imagine the possibilities! Anyway, he was in such a hurry that it spilt all over the white banisters on the outside porch. My sister and I couldnt help but laugh during this somewhat originally tense and potentially stressful situation! It eventually came off, but I was cracking myself up the whole time watching my host brother dying his shoes, and imagining my brother doing the same thing with his creative wits.

So tomorrow I begin my internship with my non-governmental organization named Grow Well Inc. I am anticipating it for a variety of reasons. Mostly, I really cannot wait until I meet more people and start working on a project. It was quite funny today... walking into town from the office of the local PC, we saw a big cruise ship docked. This thing was massive and their was a flood of americans in the city. For the first time, I was finding myself wishing they were not there! Ha ha... wow. All of the vendors were out in town trying to pursue the tourists to buy, buy, buy and it absolutely tickled my tummy to see these people eating it all up! Sad, but true. I know the locals look at me like I am a tourist too, but I live here now for christ's sakes! It is most likely going to take the whole two years to persuade the locals that I am here to stay and not just here for vacation...but I am actually working for them!

Hope all is well for everyone!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Week 1 in St. Lucia

Hey All, Good Day,

St. Lucia is my new home. I have moved in with a homestay just outside of the capitol of St. Lucia, (which is Castries). This will be my new home for seven weeks. Afterwards, I will be going into an apartment or a house. There are so many things that are different and yet, so many things that are the same here. Yes, Yes, I do have occasional internet access. I will also be getting a phone next week sometime, although it will cost $1 US or more per minute to talk internationally. It is mainly so that I can communicate with other PCVs on my island and the other islands and the PC staff. So communication is much better than I thought it would be at least. I was preparing for the worst. I do have pictures of you all with me to remind me of you guys so do not worry that I am forgetting Seattle.

Well lets start with PPST (Pre-Pre-Service Training) which took place in St. Lucia. Miami was a blast and we all got to know each other a little bit during a general overview of what we decided to get ourselves into. The center where PPST took place was a nice little welcome to life in St. Lucia. Two showers for eight people and bugs, bugs, bugs. I had an amazing view to wake up to (I took pics) everyday and the heat was just one more thing that I had to get used to. (I think my body actually enjoys the heat now).

We got the pleasure of meeting the US Ambassador for the EC. She actually looks similar to Brittany's mom, if any of you know her. She is a nice woman and very well-spoken. Afterwards, on the last night, we managed to find the only bar in the village and we all got a few Pitons (the St. Lucian beer- yummy) and danced and talked a little. It was a nice little going away goodbye.

Then we split off into our islands and villages and met our new families. They are incredibly nice and very welcoming. I am their seventh volunteer to date, so they have just a little experience. They are independent and yet very family oriented at the same time. (just like at home).

I am becoming accostumed to the food and the lifestyle. The fruit is delicious!!!! We grow mangoes, popos (papayas), oranges (which are green and seedless), and some others in the backyard of the house. I have five dogs : flash, shaggy (yes, looks like the shaggy dog), BoBo (the biggest and oh so cute), Rusty, and boogie (my favorite by far for it's HUGE ears and skinny little body. They treat them well (which their culture is a little different in dog etiquette--- they feed them table scraps and say hello but are not allowed in the house, nor affectionately adorned like in the States).

We are given a lot of information at the PST (pre-service training). I just went to open my first bank account here this morning. My host sister came with me, as I am still trying to figure out the bus systems here. They are much more complicated than in the States. They are not actually busses, but minivans. They are not clearly marked and they come very often. Food and stuff is rather expensive here but you can manage to live rather cheaply, which I am going to have to do off of my salary. I want to get a dog or a cat when I move but I do not know if I am going to have the appropriate funding for it.

The other volunteers in St. Lucia are wonderful! A few of them are such a crack-up I just laugh when I see them. :) I do have a set of adopted parents here (also volunteers), so already I have a family. Don't worry mom and dad they haven't replaced you.

They think because I have curly hair that it is "tangled", which with the heat it kinda is...but man, they have not seen me with my curly hair combed out!!! I look terrible with that--- like a big afro. (some of you already know!).

We went to the cinemas on Sunday night (my host sister and brother and I) and it was huge! We saw traitor, it was pretty good. They have a lot of developed areas here, but at the same time a lot of undeveloped areas as well. You see a lot of developed areas with undeveloped spotches and the vice versa. I cannot wait to start working at my internships and begin shadowing other volunteers and community members! I am anxious to get to work... Though I can't complain about the slower lifestyle here.

As much as I love hearing from you guys from the US it is difficult... It's harder to hear about things from back home and realize that I have no control nor emphasis on it. I miss ya guys, but I also am so intrigued by St. Lucia!!! I met a guy on the plane that taught me a lot of the things that I am seeing right now. Like Green Fig salad, and bread fruit pudding (two traditional dishes here in St. Lucia). Also, the creole dancing and some Patois language... which I still have a lot to learn because I cannot understand half of what they are saying in the city. I am sweating all over this keyboard ha ha... thought I would tell you that!

I have so much to say but it feels like I have already said a lot through emails and from now on I might have to only write one and send it to multiples.... I miss you and love you all!
Please keep in touch and feel free to send me letters (which take about 3 weeks) and packages...I would love to get stuff in the mail! I will let you know when I get a headset to talk to people online for free and hopefully some of you have a webcam so I can see you! Good day for now... Hope all is well.