And So It Starts Again

So much excitement, anxiety, and a little fear. On April 12, early in the morning I’ll be finally heading to Grenada. I say finally as I applied for this position back in September when I was still in Senegal contemplating quitting for various reasons. When I found out then in October, not only could I not believe it, I was crazy ecstatic. I’m sure other volunteers hated me at the time.

I was then due to leave early February. Once home I needed to take care of some medical things that could have been taken care of in country, but I was too close to being done in November. Due to this, my leave date was pushed out until April. Making it SIX months that I have know that I am going but can do nothing but sit wait, schedule appointments, go to appointments, get paper work, send paper work and wait for what to do next.

Gladly having this be my second time with Peace Corps it will be easier in so many ways. I’ve been emailing volunteers, expats working on the island and others there already to get an idea of what to bring, what I can buy and to get a feel for what to expect. But that is the fun about it-everyday is fun, challenging, unexpected and new. At least it was in Senegal.

As my friends who like lists, some things why Grenada will be easier than Senegal and what I know I can expect:

It’s a tropical island: Already a huge difference there from the wide ranging geography of Senegal from dessert in the north, strip of vegetation at the coastline and mangrove estuaries to lush low lands in the south and mountainous in the very south eastern corner. The island is about 22 miles long by 12 miles, with

“The Island Mountains boast a high point of over 2,750 feet, atop Mount
St. Catherine, and a variety of plant life, from dwarf forests,
rainforests and dry forests, to mangroves at the coast, supports a
diverse animal population. The reefs surrounding the island are
beautiful and fun to explore. Colorful tropical fish and other sea life
abound close to shore and are easily accessible to snorkelers and scuba
divers.”

Basically I’ll never be bored.

My job is very specific: My position is working as beekeeping specialist/trainer with a beekeeping association that I will live close to. The association has roughly 40 members. As I have a job description it is a loose idea,  as the island has youth development and education volunteers.I’m sure as I’m there my job will be what it needs to be at the time.
Documenting what I do is already part of a volunteers reporting process. I will be the first agriculture volunteer, but there are many NGO’s (Non-government organizations) on the island and are very involved in many projects.  Something I need to be aware of is who is doing what and making sure not to step on toes or put my foot in my mouth. Sadly a year is a short time in bee calender, so I’m hoping to stay longer. The islands are known to have 4th year education volunteers. (who wouldn’t want to stay there?!)

I’ll be in the bush, but one with electricity & running water: I could still do without either of these on a tropical island but it is nice to have them and not have to worry about bringing/creating/storing these resources. I’ll be living in Birch Grove, dead center of the island and next to the Grand Etang National Park. Hopefully I will have a view of the ocean. Also living not on the coast should also help for having a somewhat lower mosquito population.


 

Not the only white person for miles: This is good and bad. It was nice to be ‘special’ in Senegal, but also being the only white person just allows them to point you out even more. There is a medical school on the island long with many other expats. Many of the you tube videos I’ve seen of the island is mostly of white people. Hopefully Grenadians are just as welcoming as Senegalese and take care of me just as well.

We speak the same language:English is the main language in Grenada and some people speak Creole but it’s different than Haitian creole. I’m sure I’ll learn some but it will be nice to speak to everyone from the get go and not feel like I’m making an idiot of myself due to my lack of knowledge with language.

People will visit me:Senegal was hot, complicated and not the easiest place to travel internationally. As for Grenada, you don’t need a visa, just a passport and a return ticket. There is a large mosquito population but they do not have malaria just Chikungunya. It’s a virus without a vaccine or preventative medication. Like dengue fever, you have flu like symptoms for a week and then have body aches for a month. Seems like everyone gets it and nothing you’d want to get on vacation. Once you have it you never get it again. Lots of bug spray and keep covered helps. Otherwise the island is a wonderful place to visit.

I’m sure there are other things, but this is a pretty good list considering it’s enough to make my simple life much, much easier. Looking forward to getting there, settled and start exploring and working.

My address has already been updated on the contact tab and I’ll make sure to continue to blog about my work and life there too. Just don’t get mad when I post images of a tropical paradise everyday. 🙂

As always thank you for reading!!

Almost Done & Am

“It is that true real inspiration and growth only comes from adversity
and from challenge. Stepping away from what’s comfortable and familiar
and stepping into the unknown, the edge.” -TED talk Ben Saunders

I am close to about a month from being done with my work in Senegal. While talking to fellow volunteers we discussed how strange it was that we notice we have feelings that are similar to how we felt when we first coming to Senegal. Wanting more personal time and connect to America, read and finish up on personal and PC projects has become front and center as my time winds down here.

Again thinking about the over all experience here strangely there are similarities between here and a few things I’ve read. I think they are kinda funny.

“There enemies are hunger, ignorance, and disease …serves humanities, inter and Americans.” p.21 Making a Difference :Peace Corps at Twenty Five by Milton Viorst

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I don’t know when I wrote above. My last months in village and in Senegal were too much. Too much of what I didn’t know I missed and will miss. Too much love poured out of people who I got to spend 2 years with. Too much of volunteers that I also spent that time with, good or bad. Too much to be said but in too little time to say it all. Too much emotion to put accurately in to words.  Too much that I wanted for myself and the people around me, there and now here.

I’ve now been home for a month and until yesterday did not feel like writing. It was still too much. People that you thought you knew changed. I myself changed, but couldn’t say exactly how. In the 2 years being gone, Minneapolis, my life, my friends, my people, have all changed. Mostly for the better I would like to think. But what has also changed is how I look at them.

When you return home from being abroad, you have these crazy emotions that you can’t quite understand and they come from NO WHERE. I haven’t broke down crying at the grocery store, yet. But I have felt angry that some of my people don’t share my same view point on the world, which makes me wonder if we ever did.

Finding time to spend with people while I’m home has been fun and seeing them even better. And the most fun is seeing all my other, sometimes newer, friends who have been abroad while I was too. It’s fun to compare thoughts on re-entry (I term I’m not sure I’m fond of yet)

Slowly I’m sure my too much, won’t feel like enough. As it slowly is as I crave more conversation with people, not just my friends, but new people, like I had in Senegal. Every day new, every day something you didn’t and could have ever though you’d be doing. Not like America. Every one busy, nose stuck in their phones like it was an oxygen tank for their last breath.

WAKE UP.

I know I can’t make people see the things I’ve seen or share my experiences as richly as they ever were in person. Standing there with all the dust, heat, sweat, lovely smell of mango blossoms in the air as you just sit, because it’s too hot to do anything else than sit and talk.

Part of me is sorry, for this rant, for what I feel and how mad I get sometimes at people that are so connected to their machines, phones, time, next that they can see the person beside them, the possibility for learning, an adventure, a friend.

Then the other part of me is not. The other part sees this as ‘The Matrix’ or the movie ‘Her’ (both I highly recommend) and I want to go around somehow unplugging people, waking them up. But no matter how loud I scream or try to get their attention will they get it, understand and even start to believe it’s possible.

So I do what I can. Try to be of service, do what I can with what I have, go where I’m asked and hopefully people will just ask. “Why?” I don’t expect to every to jump on a bandwagon and want to do the same thing I do, not in the least. I just want people to open their eyes, hearts, and minds and realize there is no more to life than this, here, and now. Not tomorrow, not even in this next hour or minute. But now.

When I went to Senegal I hated to say “Inchallah“, if God wills it. It made me think that nothing will get done. Soon after I realized it was for that. It was a reminder to stay present and whoever it is, God, Allah or the Universe, will take care of it.