Sunday the 30th of June was our first Sunday here. We called in church in the morning. Around one, Megan, another volunteer here from Red Deer, and Jane’s daughter Jazmine took us to West End and showed us around there. There are lots of dive shops and West End and West Bay are where the tourists go since it’s the nicest part of the island. There are little cute restaurants and shops and a couple of the long term volunteers here work in West End on weekends. You dont need a visa to work here necessarily if you find someone looking for help. If you speak English some of the places will hire you on the spot. We ate these huge banana pancakes for lunch and watched people. Then Megan and Jaz headed home and Morgan and I took a darling little water taxi over to West Bay because it’s the fastest way to get there. When were on the boat we skim along over turquoise water and we can see the whole coast of the island rimmed with palm trees and fronds and white beaches.
The water taxi takes you and just randomly docks on the sand wherever you need to go so he dropped us off at Bananarama. Bananarama is a resort that all of us go to every Sunday at 1 or 2 ish. We spend the day there swimming and this last Sunday we went snorkeling which was crazy! We saw lots of angelfish and any number of all kinds of beautiful bright fish. Then at 5:00, Miss Valerie and two of us go around and start selling hermit crabs for the crab race. The crabs have numbers on their shells and people pay and pick out the crab they want in the race. At 6 or so the crab race starts and it usually has quite a big crowd. Matthew (Jane’s son) makes a big circle with the rake, someone dumps the crabs, and they race to the outer circle. The money raised goes to buy baby formula for the clinic. Its an interesting evening!
School here is 5 days a week, 9-2:30. I work in Grades 1-4 and Morgan works in Grades 5-9. We teach students one on one alot and help do art or whatever needs to be done. Lunch is always vegetarian so on Mondays its bean soup, tuesday is meatless spaghetti, Wednesday is rice and beans, Thursday is mac and cheese and Friday is baleadas which are my favorite. Friday afternoons they have gym so we walk a mile to a little enclosed football field where we play games and have relays and play football. Wednesday’s is music so another ex pat, Miss Deborah, comes and leads them in singing. They are so cute! This is exam week so there hasn’t been as much for us to work on as there will be in the next month. August 16 is science fair so we will have a busy month! The kids have all warmed up to us already and call us Mr. Morgan and Miss Chey. They hug us when we get to school and when they leave and lots in between.
So we had school Monday, July 1, and it was Canada Day so each class did a small presentation about Canada and we had poor mans poutine for lunch and Canada cupcakes! Wednesday evening, July 3, we went out for sushi with faith, alicia, miss valerie, megan, and a couple guys from South Africa to celebrate Faith’s birthday. Thursday the 4th, Morgan and I got ready when we got home from school and drove out to the Infinity Bay Resort for the evening. They had a big burger bar for the 4th so we actually ate meat for a change and swam in their awesome pool all evening. They had fireworks there later.
Friday the 5th, Morgan and I went in the morning with Miss Deborah who owns Steel Pan Alley where she teaches students to play the steel drums. I didnt know what steel drums were but we got educated for 2 hours. She gave the lessons to us for free since we are volunteering and it’s too bad each steel drum costs 1500 or more so we wont be getting those. Haha. I turned out to be a natural at them and Morgan did too. A steel drum is the bottom of an oil drum heated until soft and shaped into a deep bowl. Then a tuner guy uses a hammer to pound all the different notes. It takes hours to get each note on the correct tone. Anyways the 5 senior kids learning to play taught us 3 different songs so it was worth it! I like learning the history and what makes an island so the steel drums were awesome! After school Morgan and I had a date at Eldons. Our favorite thing to do is to go to Eldons Grocery and shop in the only air conditioning we get and drink slurpees. Eldons is a very clean store and Eldon actually owns half the island I’m told. He was in there this time so we went and met him. Most people here know Miss Valerie so when we say were volunteering with her they all know who she is. We went home and made food for T.G.I.F. they call it which is us all here at the compound having supper together on the deck since we do our own thing the rest of the week nights. It’s a very fun evening just relaxing and talking and swapping stories.
We had a good weekend mostly just relaxing. We are getting into the groove of island and go to bed early and are up with the sun. The dogs start a neighborhood howl several times in the night and the rooster wakes us every morning and the wind comes through our windows and we can hear the palm fronds rustling by the window. Several nights there has been lightning and thunder so we fall asleep to the rain. Our windows and doors dont close so we always have various animals wandering through or laying on the porch and ants and cockroaches try to live with us. I punched a cockroach with my bare hand the other day so I’m pretty proud of myself. We ride in the collectivos with the locals and refuse to pay “tourist price” when the taxi drivers try to rip us off. Morgan walks to the pulperia every few days to get jugs of water because we cant drink from the faucet. Also we cant flush any toilet paper because the island has basically no sewer system so all used t.p. goes in the trash cans. Because of the humidity and salt air, lots of little things break or wear down that we don’t think of at home so Morgan has had to fix different things this week.
Please keep praying for us that we can be a light in the short time we are here. There is so much sadness and hurt on this little island. Nowhere have I been is it more evident than here what humanity is capable of. It breaks my heart. One of the students came through the gate the other morning with the beaten look we are getting to know all too well and when she walked through the gate she just sighed a big sigh and her face changed and she was suddenly just a little girl at school. I love how we are the safe place for them to come be kids and just be loved. It’s the best.