Friday, January 9, 2009

A Quarter of a Century is worth a million words

I've just spent my 25th birthday in "paradise".  

When I was a young girl I had my life all laid out for me.  I planned on finishing college when I was 21, finding the man of my dreams and a perfect career, marrying by the time I was 24, having children at the ago of 26 or 28, and spending the rest of my life being settled.  Note that I said "When I was a young girl, I had my life all laid out for me".  Ever since I "grew up", I became increasingly aware of the fact that I was nowhere near "settling".  In fact, there were a few things that I needed to accomplish before I could even begin to think about "the rest of my life".  The Peace Corps has always been one of these accomplishments.  

Turning 25 has always been my "fear year".  For some strange reason 25, to me, sounds older than 30 or even 35; even though I know full well I won't think this way when I am 30 I have always thought of 25 as the "defining year".  Perhaps it is the defining year.  I know that in the last 6 months of being 24, I found myself becoming satisfied with who I am and where I am in life.  I am perfectly alright, in fact quite content, that I have not gotten married or "settled" in life.  While I know that the time may be soon on the rising, I am happy where I am at.  25 isn't so scary anymore!  Maybe I am having my quarter-life crisis and this is my poor attempt to justify the human being's certainty of death.  Or perhaps I am just dealing with being another year older; still somewhat caught between being a young adult and an old adult.  25 is the middle age of adulthood.  

Elaine and Ashley walking down the Vigie Beach on Old Year's night day.

Turning 25 on an island, however, was quite possibly one of the best ways to celebrate it.  I was distracted just enough to forget it was my birthday until about an hour before everyone came over to my apartment.  For anyone that knew me previously before I joined the Peace Corps, they would also know that I am not a big fan of my birthday.  For some reason there is something that always goes wrong.  What I found out recently was that the reason why they were often so bad was because I would put too much emphasis on having it go "perfectly".  When they didn't, of course I was let down.  However, this year I went with the flow.  I didn't want to celebrate in any big way.  All I wanted and ever want again for my birthday is to celebrate it with a few of my closest friends or family doing whatever we feel like doing that day.  

Yoko giving her "tough" St. Lucian look that the guys give to her.

That is exactly how I celebrated my New Years in the Caribbean with the Peace Corps.  
Old Year's Night (Aka New Year's Eve) day I spent with two other PCV's at Vigie beach.  We took a walk through the cemetary and just limed.  It was a restful day.   9 other Peace Corps volunteers, Yoko (a Japanese volunteer), and my landlord and I had a spaghetti feed at my apartment and then went down to "the ramp" (the local beach by my place) to watch fireworks.  Of course, almost half of the island had the same idea!  After the ramp, we went to celebrate in the streets of Rodney Bay.  Along with 1,000s of other Lucians (guestimation by Ashley), we roamed the streets and had our fair share of drinks for the new year.  It was a memorable evening.  Nothing too special and nothing too bad.  It was the New Years I was hoping for; just another night out!  Sorry I only have pictures from the Spaghetti feed thanks to suggestions that we leave anything valuable at home due to increased rates of thievery during Old Year's Night celebration.  

Some of the volunteers and my landlord at my apartment during Old Year's Night.

On New Years Day, or my official birthday, a few of us volunteers went over to the Country Director's home for a brunch.  It was a very nice brunch!  I waited for a little while for Justin, another Peace Corps volunteer, to get ready to head up on our way to Margo's.  We were a couple hours late, but Margo warmly invited us in despite.  There were some other volunteers there when we arrived.  After greeting everyone and grabbing some nice OJ, we also were invited to eat in the brunch buffet.  Oh it was so nice to have hot food and delicious, hot food at that.  A variety of egg casseroles were made, in addition to a fresh fruit salad.  Yummy!  After getting in a bite to eat, we all played a game of Scrabble.  Oh how I love Scrabble!  Me and Hallie were on a team.  We did not win, but we came in a close third.  (Yes, it was out of 3).  Margo, as I discovered, is quite the Scrabble player.  She knows all of the words that you would never know in your lifetime unless you memorized the dictionary.  She is my Scrabble idol.  Sorry, Jay, you have been replaced.  

After Margo's house I got to spend a quiet night at my apartment with the company of Hallie.  It was a nice and relaxing birthday night.  All in all, being 25 may sound monumental to some but to others it's just another birthday of getting older.  To me, 25 isn't so bad.  In fact, I kinda like being 25.  How many other people can say that they spent their 25th birthday in the Caribbean while they were in the Peace Corps?  Well one, actually, that I know was Ashley's birthday a short 4 days later!

   Me and Ashley outside my apartment on her 25th birthday.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Time in St. Lucia 2/3

When work is going slow, live with passion.

      During the holiday season in St. Lucia the workplace slows down and the nightlife speeds up.  More time is spent on "fets" (holidays parties) and more time is spent in the streets catching up.  I was amazed to find out that despite the amount of work to be done, life in the workplace is put on hold.  As we are now continuing on with the new term, I am thankful for the holiday "hold".  I was worried that with so much time just to spend liming with the community I would fall into an anti-work mode.  However, after about three weeks of small events and parties of every kind I am more than ready to get back to working.  

   Christmas in St. Lucia was quite different.  Normally I would be working up until Christmas eve, if not Christmas day.  Here, however, schools and NGOs get out around the 12th of December.  We have a few events in honor of Christmas tradition such as parties and gift baskets to make but most of the holiday is devoted to spending quality time with friends and family.  I love St. Lucian holidays!  

   Working with members of Club 60, I helped put together hampers for Christmas.  In these hampers, we placed household goods including but not limited to:  detergent, soap, rice, baking powder, sugar, flour, candies, juices, and etc.. In order to get 60 baskets to use and have enough supplies for all 60 baskets we had to go from store to store looking for the items.  Fortunately, I did not have to go around shopping for the items because being a PCV, I am carless and would be absolutely no help in the shopping department.  So instead, I helped with organizing the baskets and getting them filled, wrapped, and prepared for the following Monday.  We had a formal give-away day, in which the representative from The Landings was there to help give the hampers out.  Frank Weeks is the representative from The Landings.  They fund a lot of the activities and projects for Grow Well.  Club 60 is one of these funded projects.  Club 60, as I have briefly talked about before on my blogs, is a program for helping to keep the retired active within the community.  The hampers will be an annual event from now on!  The Landings will also be helping to fund the after-school programs that I am working on as we speak.  Thank you Landings!

    It was a pleasure to have been able to finally meet and greet with most of the Club 60 members.  Each of them have a very sweet and compassionate character.  I love each and every one of their smiles!  Not to mention their fascinating personalities...with loads of humor.   I am hoping to work more and more with Club 60 in the future.

    I took part in a few other events such as a Youth Expo in Soufriere working with kids in arts and crafts with a PCV from Soufriere.  We taught the kids how to make bracelets from thread...most of them enjoyed it thoroughly.  It was nice to see even the boys walk out of the classroom wearing what they made from that day and being so darn proud of the final result!  
I am so thankful Hallie offered me a place to help out that day!

    Over the holiday, I did start to miss the kids that I work with at the primary and CARE.  Something about getting to see them on a daily basis makes my work feel meaningful.  Their hugs and excitement everytime they see me lets me know that I am here for a good purpose; for these kids.  I know that I am just one little granule in the overall scheme of their lives but I am faithful that one little granule can make even the slightest difference in the color or texture of the whole pot.  I am ecstatic that school is started up again!  

    During my time "off", I took part in a few hikes as well.  Mt. Gimie and the across the island rainforest trail were the prominent ones.  Look for part 3/3, I will be talking about these hikes.