First thing’s first: I’m going to St. Vincent. We had a Harry Potter inspired sorting hat ceremony on Friday. We each had the hat put on our head, and a Peace Corps staffer announced which island the hat “said” we were going to. I’m not going to lie; I was completely shocked when the name St. Vincent was said. I had done a little campaigning for another island, and had considered St. Vincent to be the least likely island that I would go to. I was one of the first one’s to find out. As I sat at my table, I waited nervously to find out who would be joining me; I tried to remember that every situation is defined by how you react. I found it easier and easier to be at peace with this as some really great people were sorted and joined me at the St. Vincent table. Now that I’ve had a few days to think, I’m even more excited. The 7 other volunteers who will be joining me are a really solid group, and I’m happy.
As for St. Vincent, I have limited knowledge. The only info that I have been able to glean from locals here is that a certain green medicinal is abundant in St. Vincent. The Grenadines are part of the country, and the Internet tells me that they are spectacular. I also get to go there without taking leave, which is great. I’m not going to mention the name of my village in such a public forum, but I will say that it is supposed to be quite rural.
I fly into the country Saturday night, and will stay with a new host family in my village for 3 weeks. After that, I will be in my own house. I’m really looking forward to that. Real talk: living with a host family is challenging. I love the family I’ve had here in St. Lucia for the past 7 weeks, but its been challenging. Not so much because of who they are or what they (or I) have done, but just because it’s hard to have an adult be pushed back into the role of a child. Some parts are lovely: my host mom gives me great advice, my host sister is a doll, I get my room cleaned every week, and I get breakfast made every day. Other parts are a real struggle: always having to be “on”, not being able to come and go as I please, having to explain every minute decision I make, house rules, losing control of my diet, etc. That being said, the experience overall has been great. I’m just ready to be a grown up again.
I’m not looking forward to leaving St. Lucia and so many of the new friends I’ve made. I’ll miss the people I’ve grown so close to. My fellow trainees have completely gotten me through the PST process, which has been fun, tedious, exciting, painfully boring, instructive, and redundant in turns. They have celebrated successes with me, gotten in trouble with me, cheered me up when I’m grumpy, taught me new things, showed me how to relax, and have been there for me at every turn. We’re a weird, beautiful, dysfunctional family that was somehow created in just 7 weeks. I’ll miss them and the other great people I’ve met here. I get a knot in my throat just thinking about it.
However, leaving is just as much of a two sided coin as everything else in this process. With the dread of leaving comes the anticipation of shaking up my life yet again. I know I’ve got good things coming.
I’ll be officially taking reservations now to come visit me. Starting about November, people will be able to stay with me. So if anyone wants a tropical Christmas… Imjussayin. Free place to stay. Dazzling company. What else could you want? I’ll even cook you breadfruit and dasheen.. If you’re into that kind of thing.
For those who have been wanting to send me things, I’m going to put my address in a tab at the top of this blog.
For the rest of this post, I just want to talk about a couple of the other little things we’ve done outside of training in the past couple weeks.
Thanks to the bargaining and organizational skills of one of my fellow trainees, we were able to take a catamaran cruise around the island. I had one of the most surreal moments of my life. As the boat glided over the water, a group of dolphins began to swim with us. The boat has a net suspended over the water, so we were able to lie on our stomachs and watch the dolphins swim directly underneath us in the crystal clear water. They would swim directly under the surface, just a couple feet below us, so we could look into their eyes and see the freckles on their bellies. It sounds incredibly sappy, but it was one of those incredible moments that really make you appreciate being alive. It completely revitalized me.
We got to see the beautiful Pitons, which we climbed a couple weeks ago. Quite possibly even more beautiful from the water, and with the knowledge that we didn’t have to climb them again.
We were also able to stop and swim around in a secluded little bay. We snorkeled, and rubbed sand on ourselves, and had a genuinely relaxing time. I was a day that I think we all needed.
Carnival is so many things. It’s loud, it’s messy, it’s bright, it’s beautiful, above all, it’s a complete blast. I don’t know if I’ve ever been witness to so much raw, unapologetic humanity.
The people that “jump” a band and get to be in the parade are the ones in the costumes. With their entrance fee, they get the costume, unlimited food, and most importantly, unlimited drink. Most of them carry a travel mug while they dance along the route. When they run dry, all they have to do in run up to the truck to get a refill. The parade runs on both Monday and Tuesday. There is also an all night party called Jouvert. This year we weren’t allowed to jump or join Jouvert, but rest assured we found a way to have a good time. Next year, I’m going to have to jump. Time to start saving now and work on getting in shape to look good in the costume.
This last Saturday, we had our cultural night. We wore the traditional madras dress of St. Lucia, which essentially looks like tartan with more yellow. Another thing left by the Europeans it seems. Many of the trainees did a performance. I did a “cooking show” with a fellow trainee. We made bakes, which are one of my favorite Caribbean foods. Others did dances, songs, poems, and skits. It was a good time to get all of the families together, and play dress up.
Last thing, I wanted to include some links to fellow trainee/volunteer blogs if you’re interested in reading some other perspectives: