Monday, March 30, 2009

Hot and Humid

It's 10:00pm, the sun is down, and it's sticky and hot. The thermometer on my travel clock reads 84 degrees. I'm surprisingly comfortable, even though I'm sticky. I think I'm adjusting to the weather alright, but we'll see when the real hot weather gets here.

I just got back from a christening party with my host family. One of their cousins had a baby and they had a big party to celebrate with lots of food and drink. The baby was so cute and big! I got to try pumpkin soup while I was there. It was delicious…kinda had the texture of a thick tomato soup and it had a nice flavor.

I also got to try blood pudding sausage today… it was alright. It's blood and onion and other spices cooked inside animal intestine… I think the concept itself is a huge barrier, but it really wasn't that bad. I just couldn't eat more than a bite because the thought of it would make me sick.

And my host mom made some homemade grapefruit juice which was delicious. I'm looking forward to experimenting with some St. Lucian foods when I get into my own place. I really wanna learn how to make these things they call beks (bakes). It's a tasty flat bread kinda thing.

On top of that I went to my first movie in St. Lucia. It was a very American experience and very surreal stepping back out into island life. I saw Watchmen… which is alright, but kinda weird.

I think that there is a mosquito loose in my room. I'd been doing good as far as bites go, but lately they've been popping up all over. I have four or five on my left arm alone… must have been laying on my right side all night. When I get into my new apartment I will hang up my mosquito net… hopefully that will help a little.

This week should be an interesting one. Our trainee group convinced PC staff to push our Friday sessions to another day so that we can attend a cricket match. It's between St. Lucia and England and tons of people will be there. We argued that it was important to our cultural integration to attend. J So assuming we all acquire tickets before they sell out, we will be there! Also, my host family is talking about taking me to a fish fry or two this weekend… they are like big street parties that happen on Friday nights in some places… as far as I understand. I guess I'll find out.

I also get to implement my service learning activity in my school this week. I'm pretty nervous about it because it's going to be observed and critiqued by PC staff. As I plan to do the activity with the kindergarten class, I'm completely dependent on the teacher showing up and bringing the materials. Without her it will be chaos as usual. And with the way things sometimes go here, it is entirely possible that she may not show up. So! Pray that it all goes well!

We only have 3 weeks left of training and it's flying! Before we know it we'll be searing in as real Peace Corps Volunteers!

For now, I must rest so I can get up early early in the morning to start the week! I love y'all and appreciate all your little notes and emails; they mean a lot to me!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Another week flew by…

Time sure flies! I've been here a month already and it hardly feels like it. This week was jam-packed full of experiences. We had three days in the Peace Corps office for training and that was exhausting. Each session comes with assignments. We have so many I don't even know how to keep track. I sat with my computer last night from around 7:00pm to past midnight just trying to knock some assignments out of the way so I can enjoy the weekend.

My school experience on Tuesday was… interesting, to say the least. I arrived early because they have an assembly in the mornings and they wanted to announce me to the student body. I learned that the principal would not be in; I think she's out of town. The vice principal is also the grade 6 teacher. She informed me that she would be busy with juggling both responsibilities. She left school later because she was not feeling well, which left her class to study on their own. I looked for the remedial teacher, but she was also out of her classroom. So I proceeded to sit in on a little bit of grade 2 and grade 4. Both were very normal classroom experiences. I found myself stepping out when the students were working on assignments because I was an obvious distraction. I ended up in the kindergarten classroom. During lunch I sat with a few students and just asked them a few questions. They had plenty of questions for me… what are you doing here? (well, I'm not really sure, yet, to be honest…). I learned during lunch that there was going to be a math competition between several schools in the afternoon. It was going to be held in the upstairs of our school building. After lunch, I found out that this was quite a big deal. All the teachers were involved in getting it organized. So the students were, well, free to do whatever. One way or another I ended up by myself with 30 five year old kindergarteners… attempting to keep them relatively organized, quiet, and occupied. I was not very successful. The day was, in short, chaotic… but definitely an experience. I was able to speak with the kindergarten teacher later about doing a service learning activity with the kids. She seemed up to the task. We will be doing some trash pick-up outside. So that was a good end to the day.

Thursday, I went to a center for youth that helps them get the skills they need for a career. It was an extensive program. They get everything from math, science, and English to mechanics, cosmetology, and business training. Many of the children that finish the 2-3 year program come back later to share their successes. Some have started their own businesses. I was impressed with all that they do for the youth. I sat in on their "spirituality" session… which I kinda got a kick out of. They only teach "spirituality," not "religion," but I would say we have different definitions of those words. Here "spirituality" is Christianity and "religion" is your denomination (i.e. Catholic or Seventh Day Adventist). So the lesson was all about Jesus and his disciples at the last supper and how if you take communion you must be right with God. "Spirituality," or what we would call religion, is very prominent in the culture here. Anyway, on a side note I was extremely distracted during this lesson by what turned out to be a wandering goat. I didn't know what it was at first, but it sounded like James Earl Jones had grabbed a microphone and started "baa"-ing right outside the building. It was really loud! I was expecting a large animal of some kind to meander past the door that I was intently staring out in hopes of catching a glimpse. When it walked by, however, it was a tiny little plump goat… just grazing as it inched down the road. I was stifling laugher as the teacher talked about Judas.

Today (Saturday) we had a "field trip" to the folk research center of St. Lucia. We sat for several hours with two different guys who know a lot about the history and culture of St. Lucia. It was informative and fun, although I was tired. I got some pictures of some of the various cultural items. It was good to see that the St. Lucian culture is being preserved… because it could easily get lost nowadays.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Vigie Beach!

I was finally able to make it to a beach! Today I got together with a few other trainees near the market. We picked up some snacks and then grabbed a bus ride to Vigie beach. It was a long curved beach in a bay and it was wonderful. I expected no waves but we even had waves. We walked down a little ways until we found a nice spot. I hooked up my hammock on what I found out was an almond tree. We shared snacks and drinks. We walked all along the beach. We played in the water. We took pictures (until my camera batteries all died… again). And of course… I'm a little burnt… I've just been christened by the Caribbean sun that's all. But it was such a relaxing day. We spent almost 5 hours just chatting and reading and relaxing.

It was nice to get away from the training chaos… even though I did spend part of the morning doing my kweyol assignment in the market. This week we have 3 days in the PC office and only 2 days doing school/shadowing stuff. So I won't get into the Red Cross this week. We are probably going to be getting started on our "activities"/projects this week. Our youth development trainer is having us design little service learning projects to implement in our schools or organizations. It's kinda stressful trying to figure out what to do and how to go about it. We don't have much time. We will also be starting a community-mapping project… which I think is gathering info from people in our community about everything that's going on. It's intimidating to think about all this stuff coming up. We only have about a month left of training!

Some of the other trainees have already heard things about the apartments they will be moving into. So far I haven't heard anything. I'm eager to see where it will be and what it will be like… what buses I will have to take… how close the markets are… etc etc. After training I will have more freedom with my schedule too and I will be able to spend more time at the Red Cross.

List of things I brought with me and some things you might wanna know… for all those future Volunteers who wanna know:

(Keep in mind this is for St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean)


Random Items:

~Snorkel, mask, fins (expensive to get down here… even just a mask and snorkel would be good to bring)

~Hammock (eagles nest outfitters)

~Travel Iron (Eastern Caribbean's like crisp clothes)-this is something you could get here

~Headlamp (I here that these are great gifts down here… they really seem to like them)

~Family Pictures (always nice to have)

~Small notes/cards from friends (good for those times when you need them)

~DVDs (good to have a few for some "me" time)

~Pillowcase (good for many random things such as a laundry bag if necessary)

~STURDY umbrella (I actually brought a flimsy one and it's worthless… you need a sturdy umbrella or 2 down here)

~Thin towels (thick ones don't dry in the humidity and take up more space anyway)

~Don't worry about bringing sheets; you can get those here

~Sewing Kit (always a good thing to have)

~Multitool/pocket knife

~Radio-battery operated shortwave (I got a solar powered/crank one from LLBean… it's nice and compact and a must)



~Extra batteries for everything

~Universal surge protector

~2 Wattage Converters

~2 Plug Adapters (check out walkabout travel gear… it's a google website that explains this stuff and you can get pretty good deals… these things are a must, it sucks being without)

~Playing Cards

~Hole Puncher (for those organized types… although, I will probably get by without using it)

~Travel Alarm clock… battery operated (just a small light one but it is a life saver)

~1 or 2 books (they have a pretty good library here from past PC Volunteers… you won't be without books to read so no worries if you have no space)




~A few pads of paper and pencils and pens



~Multiple swimsuits

~Walking shorts (2 pair)

~Athletic shorts (2 pair)

~Swim shorts

~Athletic tank tops

~Layering tank tops/ camis (lots)

~Moister wick shirt


~Nice slacks

~Button front shirts (lots and lots… easy/comfy but business-y, great with a layered tank)


~Khakis (not really seen as "nice" for girls… but good for those in-betweens)

~Raincoat (may not use this as much because rains are quick and it is so hot)

~T-shirts (if you are running out of room, downsize on t-shirts, you won't use them much… but it is nice to have a few for lounging around the house… tank tops work just as well though)

~Dresses (I brought 2 one nice black one and one sun dress… I definitely feel that I will use the nice one)

~Bandanas (good for head bands, covering hair from sun, youth activities, etc)

~Plain colored cotton t-shirts of various styles such (nicer ones from target and such… good for mix and match, dress up, dress down, and comfort)

~1 light jacket (for plane rides, air conditioned building, and the occasional cool spurt)


~2 skirts (bring more! They easily dress up an outfit and are so much cooler than pants. I brought knee length plain colored ones so they can go with anything I have)

~1 pair of jeans

~Lots of underwear and bras



~Sneakers (sports, hiking, walking, etc)

~Sturdy flip-flops

~Chacos (self-explanatory, I can't go anywhere without a few pair)

~3 pairs of sturdy nice flats (again they dress very nice here… they wear heals though)

~Shower/around the house flip-flops




~Digital Camera

~Camera battery charger

~Cell phone (unlocked)

~Ipod (great for listening to the kweyol CD)

~Thumb Drive (a life saver!!)

~External Hard Drive (back ups!)

~I purchased insurance through Clements (pamphlet should be in your PC invitation). It's very very reasonable and will definitely be worth it should anything happen to my stuff.



I brought most of the basics to get me through the first little bit until I got adjusted.




~Face wash





~Lotion (I usually have dry skin but haven't had it since I've been down here… so the climate change sorta negates needing lotion.. it sorta makes you feel sticky)



~Extra Toothbrushes and Razors

~Feminine Products

~Contacts/ Solution/ 2 pairs of Glasses (plus repair kit)

~A tad bit of makeup

~Lots and lots of hair ties, pins, clips, headbands (whatever you use)

~Basic jewelry (mostly earrings)

~I learned that PC provides sunscreen, bug spray, floss, Tylenol, ibuprofen, anti-itch cream, bandaids, tums, and so much more in their medical kit. You get sunscreen, bug spray, and anti-itch spray upon arrival.



I'm really wishing I had packed/ Random things I'm so thankful I have…

~More skirts (I wish I had maybe 5 because I'm finding myself wearing the same 2 every day)

~Pocket-sized moleskin journal for language learning! (would be a lifesaver right now!)

~My bars of soap seem to sorta melt away down here so bring liquid soap (like Dr. Bronnor's castile soap… that would last a long time and not melt)

~I'm really glad I have little change purses. It's nice because in ECs 1 dollar is a coin. It's also helpful to keep small bits of cash in there so you don't have to wave big bucks around just to pay bus fare

~A book on HIV/AIDS… I had a really good one at home and am kinda wishing I had it, but they have plenty of materials here

~I should mention that I also brought coffee as a gift for a couple of Peace Corps Volunteers down here. You cannot find good coffee down here; they drink Nescafe (instant) or cheap coffee. So if you want good coffee you may want to bring some. Shipping coffee here is ridiculously expensive.

~A plastic accordion folder. They give you tons and tons and tons of papers during staging and training. It's hard to stay organized so it would be nice to have something like that to keep all the stuff in.

~Small gift for my host family. I meant to bring something, but forgot. It would be nice to have something to give them.


And yes I fit everything I brought into the Peace Corps baggage regulations (2 checked bags 80 lbs total and 1 carry on and 1 purse) You can choose to bring more but don't expect Peace Corps to cover the cost of the extra luggage. They will cover extra costs if it is within their baggage requirements. I used a large rolling duffel (from LLBean) and an average Adidas duffel. I'm kinda wishing I had used a big backpack rather than the small duffel. A backpack + rolling duffel = easy getting around. But 2 plain bags + carry-ons is definitely manageable. My carry-ons were a backpack (school sized) and a large lumbar pack (like a big purse but can be used for hiking. Compliments of mountainsmith).


Having anything shipped here is extremely expensive and if it is electronic stuff you may have to pay up to 100% customs. Letters and those envelope packages seem to be the most reasonable way to go. So, unless you have the $$ to dish out, don't expect to have stuff shipped to you once you are here.


Try to keep stuff divided between the your bags so not all your underwear or nice shirts are in one bag. This will help if one of your bags gets lost for a few days, or in the case of those moving on to another island from St. Lucia, you may have to leave a bag behind for a couple of days because of the size of the plane.


You can survive with lots less than I brought, too.


Oh and come with a good bit of cash for staging to cover baggage costs (until they reimburse you), food, and to cover taxi rides and tips for bell boys and such. Once staging starts you can survive on what PC gives you.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Catching up

I can't quite remember when I wrote last so pardon me if I repeat anything!

Training is still running us wild. This week we did sessions in the Peace Corps office on Monday. On Tuesday I got to visit a primary (elementary) school and observe some classes. On Wednesday I was back at the Red Cross. And on Thursday I shadowed a lady who runs a center for young troubled girls.

It's been a crazy week. Doing new things and meeting new people and stepping out of comfort zones everyday causes a certain amount of anxiety. I'm trying to get used to it. I have enjoyed the week though. Our opportunities to go out and experience different organizations in the community really helps us get a feel for the culture and get an understanding of the areas where people would like to see improvement.

My visit with the school was really interesting. I enjoyed meeting the principal and getting a feel for her vision for the school. She is an incredible lady. She allowed me to shadow their remedial teacher for a while and I also sat in on a kindergarten class and grade 6 class. At first I was nervous because I have heard a lot of talk about the use of corporal punishment in schools here in St. Lucia, but I was relieved and impressed to find that this school only uses it as a last resort and even then with discretion. I expected the system to be rigid and strict, but it seemed pretty close to what I might find in the U.S. (maybe even a little less strict). I got the sense that the teachers and staff were doing the best they could with what they've got and they are doing a pretty good job of it, too. I, however, was quite the distraction to the students. I got many looks and "good morning miss's" and even hugs from all the kindergarteners. I'm quite sure it is very unusual to have a white person inside the walls of their school. The children were very sweet.

My day at the Red Cross was pretty uneventful. There isn't much I can get involved with yet because I can't devote more than one day a week or every other week. So, I'm sort of waiting until after I officially swear in as a Volunteer. Then I will be able to arrange my own schedule and get involved in more stuff there.

The girls' center that I visited on Thursday was fantastic. Girls are referred there by teachers or parents for acting out. The programs at this center are essentially "school" for these girls for however many years it takes them to turn around. They learn life skills, cooking, gardening, sewing, arts and crafts, and they go through counseling. I was able to talk to some of the girls and ask them questions. I could tell some of them didn't want to be there, but they were learning things anyway. The director hopes to make it a residential facility one day (when they get funding), but as of now the girls come and go every day.

Other interesting facts about the last few days: I learned that there is an area in Castries where many Syrians live and own shops. Apparently it is the place to get good deals because they like to bargain! Ha! Who would've thunk I could use Arabic in the Eastern Caribbean!! It makes me wich I'd brought my notebook and dictionary! I've also been learning about the many festivals that St. Lucia has. Jazz festival is coming up, then Carnival, and then Kweyol… so it looks like I will get to experience some good cultural stuff here soon! I wish I could go into more detail, but there are too many. St. Lucians like to celebrate J.

Well, today marks the end of week 3! I can hardly believe it's already been that long. Us trainees are trying to plan an outing this weekend so that we can finally see the beach! They've kept us so busy we haven't even seen one yet. I got close enough to hear the waves the other day and that's it! So hopefully we will get to relax a bit this weekend and enjoy the salt and wind.

The First of What I’m Sure Will Be Many Social Blunders

Here's a day that deserves going down in the books! If you know me, you know that I'm a very open person. So this is my brutally honest account of what turned out to be a pretty embarrassing day.

It started off pretty good. I got to sleep in this morning… which means I woke up at 7 instead of 6. I took a shower and I dressed in casual clothes because I didn't have to go to training or work today. My host mom made me a great breakfast and I worked a little bit on some homework and getting myself organized for the next week of training.

At 10:15 I met the other trainee in my area to catch a bus up the road. Today was a consolidation drill day. Consolidation means we gather at different safe houses; it is a procedure for different types of emergencies such as hurricanes or political unrest. We found the place just fine. Our safe house is with a couple that has been here for about six months. One of the other trainees are also in our safe house group. We had a very enjoyable morning/afternoon. We did a lot of chatting and sharing of stories and backgrounds.

After talking for a long while the two trainees and I caught a bus half way to town to go to a coffee shop so we could get on the Internet. We stayed at the coffee shop for quite a while catching up on emails and chatting with friends. It was relaxing to spend some independent time. The other trainees headed home before me. I debated going home, but I had been invited to a meeting with the Red Cross at 7:00. Not wanting to pay bus fare both ways, I decided I would just hang out at the coffee shop until it was time to go to the meeting. I was slightly worried about not being able to tell my host family where I was (wish I had that cell phone!), but I asked one of the others to call them to at least let them know where I was and that I was ok. So I stayed, figuring I'd need about 30 minutes to walk to the Red Cross.

Well! I was wrong! And I also forgot that it gets dark at 6. I was so engrossed in a computer chat with my brother that I didn't even notice it getting dark outside. When I set out at 6:30 I was feeling rather dumb for not remembering that. I briefly thought about just taking a bus, but again my stubbornness kicked in and I decided walking was cheaper. Twenty minutes into my walk, I realized I had majorly underestimated the distance I needed to cover. I quickly realized that I was going to be late… late to one of my first chances to make a good impression at my new work site… ugh! Again I considered the bus, but by this time I was walking on the opposite side of the road and it was a difficult one to cross… not to mention, I didn't know how long I'd have to wait for the bus. So I trudged on.

I arrived just over 15 minutes late. Of course, they had not started yet (island time), but that was of no comfort to me because I immediately realized that everyone there was dressed very nicely. Suits! And dresses! And let's just be honest, I was wearing jeans, a plain long sleeve shirt, and chacos… oh and let's not forget that my jeans were rolled up (which I fixed immediately). I was suddenly feeling like I would be very happy if I could find a hole somewhere where I could tuck my head and forget what was going on. I awkwardly apologized for being late… and sorta apologized to one lady on the side for being so underdressed. She said, "no worries" and led me to the room where everyone was meeting. I sat in the back with my head down. To further my embarrassment, there were 2 or 3 people taking pictures of everyone and everything going on. And!! A video camera! Great right??

It turns out that the ceremony was for National Intervention Volunteers that have completed a long series of training classes to be a part of a disaster relief team. It was sort of like a graduation and it was very formal (in my opinion). There were even guests from the American Red Cross.

Honestly if I had been in the states I would have left… but I was catching a ride home with someone there, so disappearing was not an option unless I wanted to go walking in the dark again. So I tried to keep my head low… even though I was pointed out twice during the ceremony as "our new Peace Corps" volunteer.

Despite my discomfort, it really was an interesting program. I spoke to some of the speakers from the Red Cross and one of them was a previous Peace Corps Volunteer. Apparently the volunteers that "graduated" will be working with me some. So I was glad to be there in some ways. They definitely welcomed me despite my appearance. Afterwards I apologized to the lady I will be working with, telling her that I'm still getting used to being St. Lucian. She was so forgiving and I'm so thankful for that!

My ride home was quite enjoyable and when I got home I found that my host mom knew where I was and that I was ok. So everything was fine. In fact, after all my embarrassment, I think it made me more able to just open up.

I found myself saying this little prayer in my head… Give me the grace to not dwell on my mistakes and fill my new friends with enough grace to bear with me as I adjust!

Oh and by the way, to my complete horror, the event was aired on the local news, which I saw later at my host family's house. I held my breath as I watched the brief coverage. Luckily I didn't make the cut!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Red Cross

So I just got back from the Red Cross. It was a really interesting day. When I showed up, Terry, one of ladies I will be working with, was about to start a CPR session. So she let me sit in so I could update my certification. I was really impressed with the program! I thought maybe they might have older materials and info because of having to bring stuff from the US, but it was very up to date and there were plenty of materials. It was a good refresher for me. They are doing First Aid tomorrow, but I won't be able to go because I'll be at the Peace Corps office. I think there were about 10 of us in the class. All of them were St. Lucian except for me and one guy from the UK who is a hellicopter pilot here. He got a job here because of economic struggles in the UK. Also, towards the end Terry mentioned that I might be able to attend training classes to become an instructor later in the year... which really perked my ears up.

It was really fascinating during the CPR class to note the cultural differences from stateside CPR classes. For example, the teacher was asking students what an accident scene might look like in St. Lucia if a car hit a pedestrian. The students were saying things like, "everybody would run in to find out what was going on," traffic would go crazy and chaotic," and "nobody might call 911 because they would think someone else would." The teacher mentioned that some St. Lucians might stop the closest car or truck and immediately move the injured person(s) into it to go to the hospital without first checking to see if it is ok to move the person. So the teacher was sort of adding these little thoughts to the lesson so that the students would be prepared to handle an emergency in a St. Lucian context... since the materials and DVD are from the states. It was fun for me, cause I never really imagined taking a CPR class in another country or culture. :)

After class and lunch Terry sat down with me to tell me about their youth programs. They do youth groups in many schools around St. Lucia, they do a Mr. and Ms. Red Cross pageant with representatives from a lot of schools, there's a Red Cross day, and a bunch of other stuff. Bennet, the guy I will share an office with, used to do youth development with the Red Cross and is now doing more with disaster preparedness and relief. I got to speak with him a little bit and I have a feeling I will be talking with him a lot more. He has a lot of knowledge about the areas of need here and methods for reaching youth and such.

I spent the rest the afternoon reading over HIV/AIDS program materials and brainstorming/wondering about what is to come. It's hard for me to have solid ideas right now because I feel like I need to get to know the communities and people and culture more before I can have an understanding for what might be appropriate and effective as far as programming goes. I am really excited about working with the Red Cross though and I like the staff a lot. They all seem really passionate about what they are doing. I hope that I can be a big help to them. :)

On the News!

So I was riding into town with my host family today and we had the radio on. All of a sudden I heard the lady on the radio announcing that 22 Peace Corps Volunteers and 1 Response Corps Volunteer arrived in St. Lucia last week. She explained that some went to Dominica and Granada and some stayed in St. Lucia. She also explained that we would be participating in various volunteer activities around the country. I was quite surprised and my host family turned around and said, "they are talking about you!!" Haha, it was really funny to me... but I guess in smaller countries news like that is important news :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Homestays and Training

Monday I moved in with my homestay family. They are extremely nice and welcoming. The homestay mom and dad are Joania and Rafael and they have a son and daugher Rael and Shernon. Rile and Shounon are a close to may age. Joania and Rafael picked me up from the St. Lucia Peace Corps office, and Joania cooked dinner when we got home. We spent the evening chatting and watching TV before going to bed. I have my own room with a very comfy bed, and I use the hall bathroom, which I think is shared although no one else's stuff is in there.

I am learning to get up early! Which should surprise all of you… My host family (and as far as I can tell most St. Lucians) gets started before 6:00a.m. In fact, my host mom sometimes goes walking at 3:00a.m. in the morning! It is much cooler at that time, and I suspect the traffic is less of a nuisance. I will probably be waking up at around 6:00 most days which means going to bed early is a must! Oh, and the community roosters (emphasis on the plural) have taken over the job of my alarm clock.

My host family has a very beautiful home. It is two stories and is fenced all the way around. Joania grows many fruit trees in the back yard. She pointed them all out to me and named them, but I can't remember them all. They have 5 or 6 dogs that stay out on the porch on the basement level (dogs are outside animals here). They are very cute and like to bark at everything. The community school adjoins my host family's property, so I do not have to walk far when I go in for my school attachment. It is a primary school so the kids are younger. I don't know yet which teacher I will be assisting.

Tuesday, my host parents gave me a ride to the Peace Corps office in their car, which was really nice because I didn't have to figure out the bus system right away. I spent the whole day in the PC office with the other trainees learning about safety, culture, school systems, and language. It was a bit overwhelming. We have papers and packets and books and assignments and all sorts of things to worry about. At some point during our 7 weeks of training we will be planning and implementing a community activity… which is sorta making us all a little nervous. It should be good practice for us though.

After PC training I walked with the rest of the trainees to downtown Castries to the bus terminal behind the market. There we found our specific buses and headed our separate ways. I am lucky in that another trainee, Ann, is staying almost right next door. So we traveled together. The buses, or minibuses I should say, are a little bigger than minivans but not as big as an 18-passenger van. They like to pack in tight though. I learned this afternoon that you have to be careful when exiting the buses because there are large ditches on the sides of most roads. One said ditch almost swallowed me alive this afternoon in front of many amused St. Lucians.

Tonight my host mom cooked Roti, a traditional St. Lucian dish. It is sorta like a burrito except the wrap is a little different and the fillings are curried chicken and potatoes. It's really good and I hope to learn how to make it sometime soon.

Today we went to open our bank accounts at the Bank of St. Lucia in Castries. This account is how PC will provide our living allowances.

I am a little overwhelmed at this point because all I see is all that has to be done, but I am sure it will go by quickly. I still have little surreal moments where I am amazed that this is all real and yes it is me sitting here in St. Lucia with the Peace Corps, and yes I will be here for 2 years… it's kinda crazy!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean Group 79!

bye bye internet!

Well, our week of training at the convent is coming to an end. Tomorrow everyone will be leaving for their homestays. From there we will have to learn how to commute to training. From what I understand, I should have only one bus to take. And then I somehow have to find the Peace Corps office. We will be doing 2 days of sessions in the office and spend the other three days shadowing people in our community. After 7 weeks, we will be sworn in and move out on our own in our communities. I am not sure what the internet situation will be over the next few weeks so who knows when I will write next. Hopefully by my next email I will have some good stories about cultural mishaps and differences.

Thanks for all the updates and stories from home. Keep them coming! I love and miss you all!