|Sugar cane fields in the north west of the island|
First of all, it’s beautiful, people are awesome, and the food (lush in fruits and vegetables) is so good and great season variety I feel spoiled. Making a transition from West Africa to here has been easy as I live in the center, also refereed to as the “country” (as apposed to “town”), around people who may work locally in fields, gardens, or groves of nutmeg and cocoa. There is also a few dialects to get used to. Proper English (as I speak it), ‘town’ English (as someone who went to school but may not speak it as proper as a American or European), ‘country’ (which has more slang and creole dialect in it) and ‘bush’ (I can understand what they say, but usually takes it a while to register) An example of ‘bush’ or ‘dialect’ would be: Wa go? or What’s going? and the answer would be Ay (ah) dey or I’m there.
|View from across from my house waiting for the bus into ‘town’|
Very simplified but reminds me of the greetings in Senegal. Nanga def? or What do you do? and replied with Mangi fi or I’m here.
The sociocultural atmosphere here is very interesting. The island having so many ‘invaders’/’conquers’ and others on the island makes it very tolerant of ‘other’ cultures and religions. There are 5 churches in my town of 2000 people, all of them full on Sundays from the area. But I have seen 4+ more religions represented on the island.
|Money! Or the Easter Caribbean dollar 1 EC ~ $.37 or 2.7EC ~ $1|
Politics are a whole other ball of wax that I am very slowly learning here. Many people will simply say it’s a yellow/green issue, referring to the current major 2 parties, liberal National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the conservative New National Party (NNP). This is only complicated by old held beliefs from the Revolution/Coup/Invasion/Hurricanes. Each having influence on the current state but also hard lines are formed by each that are not obvious but are many sides of each depending upon who you talk to.
|Grand Anse, one of the best beaches in the world|
But alas I do live on a island. Not any island ‘the spice island’. It is quite lovely here not only with many great beaches, but also chocolate, alcohol-namely rum, many fresh fruits and vegetables (that from what I see are organic), and lovely fish and sea food. I can easily see how many of the challenges of the island are looked past or not easily seen by visitors.
|Grand Anse again|
My job as a beekeeper trainer and specialist allows me to travel around the island as needed to work with beekeepers, and I have a small office in Grenville, on the east side of the island. 15 minutes by bus from my house.
I happen to live in the center of the island, which is wonderfully cold due to being at 300 feet from sea level and surrounded by hills and lush forests. The over casts days bring light rain showers in the mornings and afternoons to cool off the 80+ degrees. On the coasts the humidity and direct sun make it feel much warmer, easily sweating through clothing. While here in the center I hardly break a sweat, and if so, I have a river a short walk behind my house that people sit in to cool off.
|My ‘host’ family, my landlady and her 2 kids who live upstairs|
Sadly with living in a more developed country with cable tv, internet and other modern conveniences (I have a washing machine, fridge, stove, fan) does not allow people to interact throughout the day as much. So to help with this and living in my community but working someplace else, I attend church. Out of the 5 churches, I have attended 2, but have plans to attend a 3rd hopefully soon. This lets the community get to know me, see me, interact with me. The largest church is also attended by my landlady who is also very active in the church. In the past 2 months there have been many social events, fund-raisers and funerals to attend. Also many of this congregation I have seen on a regular basis outside of church. They know where I work, have offered me rides into town, and generally check up on me.
|Catholic Church, renovated after Ivan in|
|Live band that plays along with the choir|
Overall, I’m very happy and busy which makes it nice to be here. But I always feel like I want more time to do things. Relax, explore, read, work. There are 13 holidays, making 1 sometimes 2 a month, along with other social events that cut out part of the week. There is never a lack of something ‘to do’ here.
Current volunteers on the island are teachers working with 1-3rd graders and have a very hard job. They spend much of their time in their communities and at the schools they work, typically walking distance from their houses. Even with a small island (12 miles by 22 miles) it is still sometimes difficult to get together. I have met all of the volunteers but planning events are sometimes seemingly impossible due to logistics (buses only run until 8-9pm to certain parts of the island and not on Sundays).
As I hope to continue to write about the island and my work, I am also on instagram @mayhemmadness5 to follow pictures more often.