... citrus as well as diagonally sliced hot dog with surprise red sauce. We left for Pigeon Island and Rodney Bay around 10am in multiple vans. The ride was around an hour to Pigeon Island where we explored the ruins from when the British fought the French for control of St. Lucia. As cool as the ruins were… The scenic view and getting our first real taste of the ocean was much better, which included tide pools, spraying sea foam and swaying green palm trees. When we arrived at Rodney Bay beach, we all ran into the bright blue water. Beach activities included were a BBQ cooked by Ian (our awesome, insightful van driver), two-touch football, Hannah S. found a living starfish that suction-cupped to her arm, many kids and chaperones went tubing behind a jet boat, as well as a couple students went jet-skiing around the bay and took rides on boats.
For the BBQ we had very juicy chicken, a swordfish and raw banana salad (SUPER yummy…does this surprise you?), tossed green salad, rice and fruit punch! The tubing was very fast and fun!. Claire, Andrew C. and I went first and loved ever turn and jump! Most groups tipped off at some point, making it that more exciting. Towards the end of the day, Haven L., Tyler P., Andrew C. and I decided to pool our money to rent two jet-ski’s for 30 minutes each. We had a BLAST! As we ventured around, the water color and translucent qualities of the water changed.
Time flew and it was time to head back to Anse La Raye for a quick shower break as we were all looking forward to the cold showers on our sun-burned skin
(We are HUNGRY! But we had to walk up the very steep, rocky, windy road to Julietta’s (every restaurant starts with the letter J)! It was perched on the cliff with a wrap-around balcony that had tables for two or four. The sun was setting purple and orange as we looked over at the water, boats and mountains all around us. For dinner we were offered Mahi Mahi, chicken, and pork chops with “mud” on it (brown thick sauce). I had the Mahi Mahi and it was SCRUMPTOUS. Afterward, Claire’s dad, Mr. Doherty, treated us all to desert! We had many options including chocolate, pistachio and vanilla ice cream, chocolate cake, cheesecake, and banana flambé. The banana flambé was so great! It was a raw banana surrounded by rum that was lit on fire until it burnt out. Yep we had burnt Rum…don’t worry, the fire burned off the alcohol and nobody licked their plates. Haven L., Cameron G., Izzy J. and I all split the chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, cheesecake and the banana flambé.
Monday, March 11, 2013
St. Lucia Day Two: our first work day in the field, was an extremely unique and interesting experience. Team Alpha Dogs (Tony Lombardi, Sean, Cameron, Tyler, Kevin, myself (and our one Doggette, Melina) were off to an old abandoned building to help refurnish and reconstruct a facility for the “Youth on Fire” in Anse Le Raye, which is an organization designed to help teens in Anse La Raye to have productive, creative activities to participate in. After delivering my message of the day at breakfast, I chose “Just do it” (inspired by Nike), we were off in our van with our supplies to the job site. Upon arriving we were greeted by the organization’s manager Magnus and his gang of men to help with the work all day. 6’ 4” “Roe”, the biggest and most jacked St. Lucian I have seen yet on this trip, made a lasting impression! He hacked through multiple banana trees like butter with a single swing of his machete!
Our work schedule was very laid back, and nearly all of it was outside in the beautiful Caribbean sea breeze. Our jobs ranged from chopping down trees with machetes, to collecting brush, knocking out concrete, and rebuilding fences. This property had been hit with a Hurricane a few years back, and not worked on since. There was about a foot of brush all over ground level before we hit the dirt. I have lived in Arizona my whole life, and I can honestly say I jumped like a little girl at the wide assortment of lizards and bugs coming out from underneath scrap metal and rubble. Meanwhile the St. Lucians are giggled at me in their flip flops while being shirtless, completely unafraid. I admired how much work was accomplished with the lack of tools/resources there were.
We only took a break once for lunch and were back to work shortly. We made a great amount of progress, I think listening to my boy Drizzy Drake on the St. Lucians speakers’ gave me a little motivation. It was refreshing to hear I’m not the only guy here who isn’t ashamed to sing Nicki Minaj out loud. Seeing teenagers in another part of the world sing and dance and act just like we do, was pretty sweet. There was some wicked fruit in the jungle next to us, which I was admittedly too scared to try, but a couple of the Alpha Dogs enjoyed them.
After all the groups returned back to the hotel, we held a group discussion and talked about our experiences. I am going to only say one thing about that, which is to quote our teacher Claire: “I felt as if I lived a whole life in one day, immersing myself in serving others…is there anything better!?!? ” Enough said. I am pretty exhausted and looking forward to Pigeon Fort and some time at the crystal blue beaches of St. Lucia tomorrow, a little bit of spring break relaxation before we hit the worksite for the rest of the week.
Today Dr. Smiles and the Dental Divas (Dr. Russell Linman, Izzy J, Hannah, Allie, and me) went to ‘Kids’ Step’ which is a preschool to teach children about dental hygiene. We were pleasantly surprised to find the 4-5 year-olds knew basic dental hygiene. Allie B, Hannah S, Izzy J, Dr. Russ, and I all sang a version of Twinkle Twinkle to go along with brushing your teeth. We gave each child a toothbrush and toothpaste. The younger kids 2-3 years old were not as educated on dental hygiene but we weren’t really expecting them to be. We were finished with the two classes in very little time. The rest of the day we helped with childcare team and played with the students. We met great kids today like the little ‘Barack Obama’, and the wild “McCain” (get it?), who was jumping off of the walls! The children were great and we hope we can go back and hang out with these little cuties again. The instructors took us on an insider’s tour of Anse La Raye, which was a really sweet opportunity to hear about the country from a local person’s perspective.
When the Wonder Washers (the hand washing education team) walked on the campus of the Anse La Raye’s Primary School, we were overwhelmed with excitement. All the classrooms had two doors that were open-air, with slats in the walls for ventilation. There were peering eyes and curious faces looking out through their doors, interested in these unfamiliar women walking around their campus.
We met Mr. Flavien Isembert, the new principal of the school. He was excited we were there and took us around to introduce us to each class. I could really tell that we were a strange sight to these children just by their facial expressions. It really hit me when a little girl told me she liked my face, an odd yet wonderful compliment to receive. After we met all of the classes, we returned to a designated empty classroom for the day, and performed our skit, lessons, activities, songs, and rap for the first two classes. Our lesson was a hit! The children really participated and were amazed it seemed by our different props.
We were able to disperse ourselves into the lunch crowd to get to know the students better. I personally became close to two girls named Jaisha and Tasha. They opened up and talked to me so willingly. My heart was touched by the fact that trusted me with facts about their lives. The children taught us playground games with singing and clapping as the main focus. In one of the songs, they all sang, as a child wen into the center of the circle. They changed the lyrics at some point, guiding each of us into the center. We had to come up with a unique dance move for them to try while they merrily sang, “The white girl’s in the ring! Tra la la la la la!”
At the end of the second recess period, I had to say goodbye to all of those beautiful faces, and to my two girls. They told me they loved me. After a few more sessions, the school day was over, and our work was done for the day. We were about to leave the school when Claire’s Dad Michael pointed out a painting of a quote outside our room. It read, “The difficulty in my path will not defeat my ambition.” Perfect words to end a perfect day of serving others. Today made me see that this is where I am supposed to be. Today’s experience will forever be in my heart.
While helping in the preschool today, I got the opportunity to prepare a St. Lucian meal for the kids. Every lunch is homemade in the kitchen of the preschool each morning. They are simple meals that include lots of starches, meats, lentils, and spices. The lunch I prepared today was rice with lentils and chicken. Mandi, the male volunteer at the preschool, let me do everything myself as he supervised. First I had to rinse the rice and lentils from the plastic bags in the wooden cupboards because they had bugs in them. Two pots were already heated and had boiling water in them on the stove. I put the rice in one pot and lentils in the other. Mandi has a very specific process to this meal so I did everything very carefully. The chicken was probably the most interesting part. I'm pretty sure the chicken had been alive a short time before I was cutting into it. I had to separate the bones and add spices like oregano, yellow curry, salt, and also coconut oil. The chicken was baked for about 10 minutes and then added to the cooked lentils and rice. Everything sat in a pot for about 2 hours, to make a stew-like meal and then was served for lunch around 12:30. I Iearned that St. Lucians are experts at making so much with so little ingredients, it's amazing. I'm very happy and proud to say, I prepared a traditional St. Lucian meal today!
Well today has been an interesting day. I am on the tutoring team at the primary school teaching 3rd-6th graders. We arrived at the school not knowing anything we were to expect. The new principal walked us around to each room, had us introduce ourselves to the classes, and they introduced themselves to us. I'm not sure how warm the welcome was because the school seemed so strict, but then the principal had each class say in sync, "Welcome to St.Lucia, Friends!" After break, Michael, Haven, Katie P and I were each were paired with a child to tutor. My kid was named Noel and he was in 4th grade. When asked what kind of work he wanted to do, all he kept saying was "play games!" I brought out an easy word search book and we did a few of those, hoping he knew how to do that. An overall view of his knowledge was math=good, reading=bad. Something else I realized, the English language is so difficult to teach! I can now understand the struggles of teachers everyday (sorry Claire!). The cutest thing ever was when every time he got a problem right, he would stand up, dance and sing, "yummy in my tummy, yummy in my tummy!" Also, every time he would miss something he would say, "doh!" in an adorable little voice. Besides my one little boy all day, lunch was crazy. All the children were in the big yard, running, eating, yelling, pushing. I was sitting at the one lunch table with children all around me. They were very interested with a little house puzzle, counting down and trying to finish it. One girl even took the chance to redo my hair and give me a new-do. Another boy had an awesome beat going with his hands and a pen with other boys dancing and singing. I am so thankful I got to work so closely with these children and I look forward to doing it more and more throughout the week!
Sunday, March 10, 2013
It all started at 8am St. Lucia time (5am AZ time) at Ben’s Hideaway restaurant for breakfast. We munched on a classic breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and a St. Lucian fruit called the star fruit, that was literally the shape of a star. After breakfast we packed into the vans that brought us to the village of Anse La Raye. When we arrived we were droppe...d off at the town’s Catholic Church and attended mass, because it is an important part of local culture and a great place to meet the town leaders we will be partnering with. During mass we were encouraged to mix with the locals in the pews instead of sitting all together. I sat next to a little girl who was in second grade, and was celebrating her birthday today. She told me after mass her and her friends were going to eat cake and play pin the tail on the donkey for her birthday. The little girl, along with many other children all sat in the first two pews during mass with their one instructor watching over them. Mass was over two hours long! It was very similar to Catholic Church in the US. After mass we were introduced to all the community leaders of St. Lucia and welcomed with big smiles and a lot of enthusiasm. Our team waited for the vans to come pick us up after church and as we waited, we hung out on the Anse La Raye beach, which was named after all the stingrays in the bay.
Hey guys! I’m gonna pick up where Katie left off and tell you about the second half of our day. When we got back to JJ’s Paradise, we had plantains, un-ripened bananas, lentils and rice, and chicken. The bananas tasted like potatoes since they weren’t ripe yet, which took me off guard at first, but it was good once I knew that it was coming. The lentils and rice were perfect together, having a little bit of spiciness from the lentils, but were countered by the rice. The chicken was also a big hit since it was cooked with a barbecue-like sauce, which had a little bit of a cinnamon-like kick to it. What really stole the show were the plantains. They were sweet and had a great, almost creamy texture. Wow! An entire paragraph about food!
After lunch, we had about an hour of free time, which we used to hit the pool and play catch with a football. Don’t worry; we all put on plenty of sunscreen. Once we all had our fun and the clock hit 3 o’ clock, it was time for Global Volunteers Orientation. Our team leader, Warren, told us all about the history of Global Volunteers, which we already learned from our awesome teacher, Claire. We discussed our goals, which boiled down to 4 main categories: serve the community, enhance or understanding of and appreciation for culture, self-improvement, and generally maximizing our experience in every possible way. We are all psyched and ready to go out into the community and do our respective jobs. We finished up by discussing our strategy for our project teams, mine being construction, and then had another hour and a half of free time. When dinner came around, we had great steamed vegetables, amazing fall-off-the-bone pork, and lastly some fried fish that was nothing short of excellent. No one knew what to expect from the food, but I am here to tell you we are eating very, very well!