It has been so long since my last update that I have to look through my pictures to see what I have not told you!! I'll try to hit the high points; there have been a lot of high points in the last few months!
The number one high point is a change in work site! After one year at the Red Cross, things were just not as successful as one would hope. So Peace Corps transferred me to two primary schools: my first school attachment and a new school attachment. This change was so exciting and I love it so much. I work primarily on their libraries. I am helping to create a catalog and check-out system to encourage the use of the books and reading among the kids. I will also be helping out with the chess programs at both schools when I can. Life skills lessons continue at my first school. At my new school we hope to start a reading club soon. It is so enjoyable and I feel more in my element, which is a huge relief. It gives me a lot to look forward to in this second year.
Another great highlight is my grandparents' visit! My Nana and Papa booked a cruise around the Eastern Caribbean islands and one stop was St. Lucia! We spent one whole day together and I got to show them around. First I took them to my primary school attachment. Earlier in the year my grandparents donated chess materials to the school and I wanted them to meet the chess club. The whole school came out to express thanks. They presented Nana and Papa with a wonderful photo of the kids playing on their new chess sets and they sang some songs. It was exciting and really fun for them to see the meaningfulness of their donation. Next I took them to my apartment to show them where I live. Then we went to a resort, The Windjammer, for lunch on the beachfront. Another volunteer joined us and we spent the afternoon catching up and playing games. After that they were pretty tired so I took them back to the cruise ship and waved goodbye. It was so good to see them and so great to be able to show them a bit of my life here. It is special to share this experience with the ones I love so much!
Now that I have free weekends I have been more active with the hiking group. In one of our recent trips we went to the Canaries Waterfall, which was a gorgeous and wonderfully cool place to swim… and feed fish. I got to climb around and be outdoorsy river girl for a day! J After the waterfall we went down to a beach called Anse Koshon. We snorkeled and played games in the water. My face was sore from laughing and smiling, which is always a good sign! The weekend after that I went camping with the group. We stayed near that same beach, Anse Koshon. We hiked to a "cave" that was actually just a big hole under a rock. We did some more snorkeling and hung out by the beach a lot. We also introduced the Lucians to s'mores! We were missing graham crackers so we used ordinary crackers, but they were delicious and the Lucians loved it. I think that is the first time I've been camping in over a year and a half. It was nice… and buggy. We were all sleeping around mango trees so we kept periodically hearing mangos fall and roll down the hill. Some hit our tarp. When I packed up my stuff at the end of the camp I realized I'd been sleeping on a squished mango. They were everywhere. The other volunteers and I also got to experience making Calabash bowls. Calabash is the national fruit (though you can't eat it). It has a hard shell and you can clean it out to make bowls and carve designs in the outside. We did this while snacking on coconut. J
Last week was MST (Mid-Service Training). The other volunteers from Granada and Dominica got to fly in and we all stayed in a hotel for 4 days (3 nights). We THOROUGHLY enjoyed the air conditioning and comfy beds… and the pool. During the training sessions we reflected on the past year and realized how far we have come. It's so easy to feel like we aren't getting anywhere, but when we look back and think about the little things we really have done so much. We also got to hear what other volunteers are doing and pull ideas from each other, which will be really useful in our future projects. There were a few other business sessions, but most of all we came away feeling heard, encouraged, and re-energized. It was good to see everyone, have some time to hang out, and take a break from our routines.
After MST, a few of us took a ride on the Unicorn, a ship that was used in the filming of the Pirates of the Caribbean. We scored a good deal for a 2-hour sunset cruise so we splurged and went. It included drinks and snacks and you can bet us PCVs devoured those snacks. It was cloudy so the sunset wasn't brilliant orange, but it was beautiful nonetheless. The cruise itself was relaxing and fun.
And now it's back to real life again! I'm back at work. We have just over a month left in the school year. My parents and brother are coming in just about 30 days! I need to get scuba certified! I'm having fun and loving life, which is a lot to say and a relief to feel. I have so much to look forward to. And I hope I can do a better job of keeping you all posted!
Much love! As always, I love to hear from you!