Sunday, November 28, 2010

An Accident Waiting To Happen

Last night a young man was killed on his motorcycle just where we have the fish stall in front of the gas station. He gunned his motorcycle as he turned left out of the gas station and rammed into an on coming car. He went flying through the air and hit the ground about 100 feet away. This morning his blood was still on the road and running in the gutter.

This was one of those accidents waiting to happen. Completely predictable. No lessons have been learned as today, the motorcycles continue to roar, at top speed, in and out of the gas station.

I think about the woman whom, he struck.

So sad

Saturday, November 20, 2010

VIEW FROM THE ROOF






The neighbour’s goat had twins – way too cute for words. The low rise building on the other side has outside stairs that go to the roof. These stairs and the little kids were made for each other. The other day the babies were cavorting around and discovered the stairs. They quickly scampered right up to the top. After running around up there for a minute, they wanted to come down, but couldn’t find the stairs. They peeped over the edge and began to bawl. The mother came running. She stood below and encouraged them to come down in an exasperated maternal voice. They did find their way down and nearly knocked each other over in the scramble to get back to mama.

The neighbour also heard the commotion and came and got his goats.

I went up after they came down and took these photos. You can see the chickens in the front yard, Sono playing his guitar, the bread shack on the corner, the neighbour taking his goats home, and the babies peeping over the roof top.

Thursday, November 4, 2010




My Response to My July 3 Blog Post

Well, it is three months later almost to the day, and I am back in Dominica!

When ‘they’ tell you it is all mind set, ‘they’ are right. Some of the issues in the July 3 blog are still present, but many are no longer relevant. I am much more relaxed, the things that used to bother me don’t seem to matter any more. I am beginning to catch on to the cultural and I have given up trying to understand the language.

One of the major changes has been my living arrangement. I am physically much more comfortable in this little house in the centre of Glanvillia. I am recognized, and accepted. I have satisfying work with good people, I am not so up-tight about finances and can rent a car from time to time, Skype certainly helps, I enjoy talking to Anthony and Nick every week and I have the CBC on non-stop.

But mostly I believe my increased comfort is due to my outlook. This is where I am, I like it. I miss my friends and family and some foods, and some familiar culture, but I am happy enough.

I'll go back to Ottawa in July for a couple of months.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Driving in Dominica





Driving in Dominica – my novice experience

Set the scene: left hand drive, hair-pin curves, up and down hills, narrow asphalt roads, no shoulder, ragged edges, huge pot holes, often ocean on one side, mountain on the other. Many pick up trucks, jeeps, heavy equipment travelling at break-neck speed around the S curves, other vehicles tail-gating. Sections of the route are under construction.

I drive a jeep along this route to Roseau. Near Roseau are jam-packed villages where only one car can move at a time, and everyone wants to GO. The entire population is on the street. If you stop to wait for the road to clear a little you will never get through, but somehow I do get through. I am cool as a cucumber, driving with confidence. When I finally get where I am going, I can’t get out of the car. My hands have become glued to the steering wheel and my knuckles are bloodless. I try to get out of the vehicle, but my whole body has seized up. What price COOL!!!!

One rarely hears of accidents, but about once a month someone is killed on the road - usually a young man on a motorcycle. I will, however, continue to drive. I know I will learn the pattern. I'd still like to have my own vehicle.

Driving around Portsmouth is the same but more friendly and easier.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Here I Am


The return trip was fine with only one event. There just wasn't enough time between flights Antigua-Dominica. By the time I got cleared through Antigua they had closed the flight to D/ca It was the last flight out. I would have had to stay in Antigua overnight...so I groveled and begged. I told them to forget the luggage, just get ME on the plane. They got me and the luggage on. I’ll never say bad things about LIAT airline again.

My little house is just fine, Not great, but a big improvement over the former place. A little noisy perhaps. It is across from the bread shack and within ear shot of a school. Several little problems with fans that don't work, bureau drawers that are too heavy and will not open, and a cup board over the bathroom sink that is so low you can't brush your teeth!!! I can cope. I like it. Next week I will go to CALLS to check in to set up some volunteer time. Several students have seen me about, so they know I am here. In fact, everyone knows I am back.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ready to Go

Well, I’m all packed and ready to go.

Samantha is in Abbotsford with Nick and enrolled in the adult learning centre. Hans took her, and her cat out last week. Anthony and his family are getting settled in their new house in Ottawa. Hans seems to be ready to try life on his own.

Last week someone said to me that what I am doing is what twenty year olds do – “what’s that?” I asked. “Find yourself”, he said. I was so surprised at this that I didn’t respond. My thought was – I’ve never been lost! I’ve certainly been diverted, confused, perplexed, but never lost. Through all my ups and downs, comings and goings, I never misplaced my core.

This time I am going with a different mindset. I really enjoyed my time here in Canada (although the politics are embarrassing). I’ve had a lovely visit with family and friends, with cool clean air and creature comforts and lots of fabulous food. I know what I am going back to. There will be no surprises, no expectations. Sono is waiting for me.

Next dispatch will be from D/ca

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I'm Going Back To Dominica

So it is September 1 and I have my ticket to return to Dominica on the 25th,

Yes, I know…I know…

And furthermore, the issues that sent me back north have not been resolved and probably never can be. My intention is to go, not come back at Christmas, return in June for the summer here.

What has become clear is that I am ‘finished’ with Brooke Valley. There is nothing here for me. My house and garden of 40 years are close to being a burden, not a pleasure. I cannot conjure up a future for myself here. Although I certainly have friends here, and there are activities I enjoy, and my family is here, somehow I can’t project an image of myself LIVING here – doing what? There is no CHALLENGE.

As challenging as it might be, I have no interest or desire to jump on Hans’ band wagon. Yes, of course, I could do volunteer work here – whatever I am doing there, I could do here. Doing volunteer work is not my reason for going anywhere.

I love it here. The cool nights, the pretty landscape, the ease, the convenience, the cleanliness, the food, the level of social awareness and activity, the friends and family…you name it, it is all good. But there is something HUGE missing!

What is it?

Can it be an intimacy I never felt I had? Can it be that life in Dominica is ‘in your face’, not at arms length, sanitized, as it feels here?

I do not know.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

NEXT

It occurs to me that having written about why I am leaving Dominica, I should also write about the reasons to stay or return. There are several strong reasons. I will do this in the next weeks.

Meanwhile, here is a story

RIDING WITH COCKTER

Sono and I had to go to Rosseau to pick up the new propellor, the 25 ho motor and do some other city errands, so we hired his friend, Cockter (pronounced cock-tah, a patois word meaning a stick to dig in the earth or a staff) and his pick up truck.

It was raining, but Cockter was more or less on time. He had to "do something" before he came to get us! Off we went at top speed in his rattling, rusty rogue of a truck. Cockter is a big man and the gear shift was on the floor, so Sono and I were squashed hard up against the passenger door.

Now, Rosseau is only 30 miles from Portsmouth, but the road is winding, twisting and narrow and features potholes the size of a bath tub, so it takes an hour to get there. The road is snug up against the mountain on one side and a precipice going down to the ocean on the other. It is a very busy highway with an endless stream of huge Diatsue dump trucks carrying tarish, pickup trucks carrying people, people carrying loads on their heads, vans, busses, cars, goats. Dominicans drive on the left - sort of - mostly in the middle and the prevailing attitude is every man for himself.

So, as I said, off we go. I give myself over to fate and decide to enjoy the ride.

About 10 minutes into the trip, Cockter parks on the non-existent shoulder, jumps out, opens the hood (bonnet). Sono is not far behind, They jiggle the battery, declare it "good to go" and jump back in. Another 5 minutes of driving, reminiscent of a midway ride, and Cockter pulls over again, this time to pee. "Let's go again", he says as he heists himself back into the truck.

Sono and Cockter keep up a constant flow of chatter in broad idiomatic Dominican mixed with patois. I understand less than half of what they are saying. Between them Sono and Cockter know everyone we pass. There is much honking and waving. The personal and family histories of all are discussed in detail.

Closer to Rosseau the Chinese (chi-nee) are reconstructing the road. Huge bulldozers are carving away hairpin curves, building sea walls and preparing new road beds. The process is analyzed and, of course, found to be wrong. No one stops for the construction. You just push through.

And so we reach Rosseau. It is a humid 38 degrees C. The Rosseau River is dirty and the harbour is muddy because it is raining. Poor Sono stumbles out of the vehicle. He has been bouncing along on the metal rim of the seat and the CD speaker has been jamming into his shoulder, "My cote bondar (arse) hurts and my shoulder is mashed up," he says.

Our first stop is the Mercury agent to get the propellor, which is too small, then over to Fisheries for the motor, but they are closed (?) and nobody knows why. Then we go to the police station to pick up Sono's passport, but they are closed for lunch. Next we find a shop to buy a battery for my watch, and discover a long lost brother! No kidding, really. They haven't seen each other for years. They are genuinely happy to see each other, but nothing much transpires and they go their separate ways. Back over to the police station and get the passport.

On the way home we have to stop in Fond Cole, an industrial park, to buy some rope. Sono knows exactly where the place is, Cockter does not. He drives where he thinks it should be, not listening Sono's directions. Cockter quickly realizes he can get under Sono's skin by randomly driving all over the place and pulling in to any old factory parking lot. Sono is sweating trying to keep his temper. By sheer accident Cockter pulls into the right place and we get our bales of rope.

Finally, we head for home picking up a lady and her basket of tomatoes on the way. Luckily it has stopped raining because she is perched on the bales of rope in the back of the truck. She gets down at Picard and we buy a delicious Bar-B-Q'd chicken. We are home by 4.

The day isn't over yet...but that's another story.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT RETURNING?

How do I feel about returning to Canada?

Apprehensive and unsure would describe it.

My immediate family, Hans in particular, and friends have been more than lenient with my moods, vagaries, and eccentricities. My friends have been amazingly undeerstanding and supportive.

I am not finished! I will require more patience from family and friends.

I do not know where I will live
I do not know where I WANT to live
I do not know what I want
I do not know how to figure this out
I am embarassed to have these existential problems at my age
I am afraind of making the wrong choice

I will badly miss my Dominican family, and especially Sono.

And that about covers it

RETURNING

It is with deep regret and much hard thinking that I have decided to leave Dominica, and most likely I will not return. There are reasons, of course. Here are some of them.

I am lonely. After a year + I have not made a satisfying life for myself. Although I know a lot of people, have volunteered umpteen hours at 2 schools, been somewhat involved with the fisher folk and their life, attended the local Anglican church, enjoyed being greeted warmly by the local people and the children as I walk through Portsmouth, I am still alone - and I don't like it. Now that school is over I truly have nothing to do, no reason to be here,no purpose. I have done nothing creative since I have been here - no painting, no sewing, no embroidery. I have done some writing.

Although I am 100% healthy. no aches, no pains, lots of energy, there is no place that I can see to spend it. I have done all the usual tourist things, seen the Island from land and sea, There is nothing to do. The library is dismal, there is no cinema, there is occaisional theater which is often in patois, and no listenable music. It is not safe ton go out alone at night. There are no restaurants or coffee bars. Ross Medical University is a closed American enclave which I have not been able to penetrate. The women I teach with, for whom I have some respect, are nuns. People here do not drop-in or visit back and forth. It is just not done outside the family. Society's structure can be described as 'tribal'. I think this explains why. I do not have a car. I will not watch TV during the day, and the evening TV is awful. Renting DVD's has not reached here yet. I could travel to other islands, and perhaps even see more of this one, but doing this alone is no fun.

I am not cut out for the Caribbean life style. I am a bred in the bone type A person and I can't seem to make the mental adaptations necessary to 'relax' here. I have given it an honest try, and I just get more restless. There are many non Caribbeans living here who have no problem. I think I know how they do it. (1) they live in expat communities and have each other (2)the white women who choose to stay are young (3) they have the money to live in comfort (4)they have jobs and work here.

The family that I have been apart of for the last year is not MY family. I do not want their ups and downs or their problems. I have been living with a man(who has 2 teen age children) who is a shipwright by trade, but he has not built a boat in the last year. He is also a fisherman, but cannot make a living fishing. He, as many others, live hand-to-mouth. It goes like this: to go fishing for the day he must have 4 five gallon tanks of gas. This costs something like $150 Canadian. He must catch enough fish to sell to at least make his gas money back so he can fish another day. This rarely happens,and for the past 10 days there have been no fish, no one is catching. There are no government subsidies. I do not know how men with young families manage. Yes, I could give him the money for gas, but I strongly believe that this is his life, his occupation, his enterprise and he must support it - not me. It gives me great pain to watch. I do not want to watch it any more.

And finally there is the physical discomfort. It is relentlessly hot,never cooling off at night, and I am allergic to the mosquitoes. Dominica is a third world country with all the poverty, inefficiencies, inconveniencies, corruption and pollution that that brings.

Just a note about cultural differences: yes, they can be overcome, and certainly have been by many people all through the ages. Class, however, is a different matter. Intelligence, values and education notwithstanding, the gulf that results from deeply rooted differences in taste, approach to problems, world view and histories, is much more difficult to live with. And then there is semantics! The combination of cultural differences, class differences and semantics is something for young people to wrestle with. Love does not conquer all.

Geographically, Dominica is a gorgeous island with majestic mountains rising proudly out of the warm powerful Caribbean Ocean. There is no match for the grandeur of Dominica - not the Rockies, not the mighty rivers of the Canadian north, not the North Atlantic itself! To see Dominica from the air, or the sea, is truly breath taking. To travel up and down her mountains and valleys is a marvel. And then to realize that what you see rising above the ocean is mirrored below the ocean - that those volcanic mountains and valleys exist under the water is simply beyond description.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

CREEPY CRAWLIES

I haven't mentioned our constant struggle with insects, large and small, nocturnal and diurnal, flying and crawling. I'm only mentioning it now because I was recently bitten by a small centipede...and it HURT, and the reaction lasted for days.

There are many, but the ones that most concern us are cockroaches, millipedes and centipedes and the ever present teeny, malicious mosquito and sand flea. They are all hideous ugly beasts, especially when they scurry suddenly out from under the bed or the couch. They don't exactly frighten me, but they do disgust me. I never walk around without flip flops on. Sono thought I always wore slippers because I didn't like the cool tile floors!!! Imagine! I love the tiles, which are not cool...I cover my feet because I don't want to inadvertently step on some ghastly bug. I do stomp on them, of course, but by choice. Usually I whack away at them with a broom, or another shoe. When I sit on the couch, I keep my feet tucked up. I seem to have a special attraction and super-duper reaction to the sand flea, which burns rather than itches. Rubbing half a lime on the affected area is soothing.

Sono is ever vigilant and it is rare for a centipede or millipede to get by him. At the instant he even suspects a threat he launches his 6 foot length, can of spray already deployed, asking the offender, "Where you going full speed so?" Then he blasts whatever it is...no well considered squirt for him!

To control the pests we use the ubiquitous mosquito coil, a product called Baygon, Sono's cap and my shoe. Although chickens and lizards abound and eat these creatures, they cannot possibly keep up with the supply.

I was going to put an image of the centipede and millipede in here, but they are way too horrible. If you feel you must see one, come visit me, or go to http://ocquill.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/centipede-022.jpg

By the way, the crickets are as big as cats and as loud as a screeching banshee. The cockroaches are equally huge, but at least they are silent! There are several species of lizards, geckos, and iguanas, all of which are welcome, and innocuous. Land crabs go clicking along the pavement at night seeking a hidey-hole. They say there re lots of snakes around, but I have never seen one.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

GUADELOUPE






I just returned from 5 lovely days on Guadeloupe. It is part of France with a Caribbean background. French speaking, good food, friendly people. We stopped briefly at the small islands off Guadeloupe they call The Saintes. Dominica is a 2 hour ferry ride, and we can see Guadeloupe on a clear day from here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

BITS AND PIECES

THE BANANA PLANTATION

The Dominicans like to tell the story of the English man (bloke-ass, as they are called) who came to Dominica to open a banana plantation and make his fortune.

So, he came, he bought a piece of land, he hired some local men to do the work. He had the banana trees planted. In time, they grew and they produced and were harvested. The local men simply did the next normal step in the process and cut the trees down. The English man was outraged and hauled them into court for willfully destroying his plantation. The case was quickly dismissed, and all Dominica had a great laugh. What the English man didn’t know about banana growing was that the tree only produces once and then dies back and another comes up in its place.

By the way, bananas have huge exotic purple flower.




TIME KEEPING

Making appointments and telling the time in the Caribbean has its issues. Here are some interpretations that might help.


I’ll be there in ten minutes
- I’ll be there some time this afternoon
The show starts at 7 PM
- The people in the show begin to turn up at 7PM
I’ll be right back
- But first I’ll have a beer on the way
The sign on the broken ATM says Monday, March 15…We expect the technician within the hour
- On Wednesday, March 17, it says…we expect the technician within the hour
I'm leaving now
- I forgot I was meeting you
"It have plenty of rain on dis side, boy"
- I'm not coming
"I at de top of de road"
-I'm just leaving
"Man can only be late once"
-so have another beer






BLOCK AND TACKLE

Last week we went to Roseau looking for a block and tackle so we could moor the boat in the bay. The fisheries shop didn’t have one, the girl at Frampton’s Hardware Store never heard of a block and tackle, the next hardware store also didn’t have one, and at Garraway’s the woman didn’t know what we wanted, but an elderly customer overheard us and explained to the clerk. A crowd gathered. Now, block and tackle in Dominican is pronounced block and tickle. We really only wanted the ‘tackle’ part of the apparatus, we have the block. Just imagine my reaction to the clerk yelling through the store to her colleague, “Josephine, the mister wants a tickle.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

A FIELD TRIP WITH CALLS






CALLS is a training centre for youth at risk. It is a two year program giving them a lot of remedial academics, life skills, work experience and some training in agriculture and woodwork. There are about 35 students ages 15 to 20. I teach there one day a week.

Mrs. A, the teacher in charge of Crafts training, is leading the group on a field trip to the Carib model village, which is on the other side of the Island, some 40 or so miles away, and invited me to go with them. We were to leave at 8: 30AM on two buses. After much milling about on the street, much shuffling between buses, much shouting and calling we are all finally on the bus. The driver jumps of his bus out and runs across the street to get something from the store. The youngsters take this as a sign to also make a break for it. Have you seen those dog movies where someone opens the door in the pound and all the dogs come barreling out full speed?

9:15 and we are again all rounded up and on the bus; all 20 of us on a van meant to seat 14 people. It is rolling, and we are saying our prayers for a safe journey. The bus is bursting with a cacophony of Spanish, Dominican, Patois, and Mrs. A exhorting the students to behave, accompanied by the bus radio, several MP3 players, and boys hanging out the windows hailing their friends as we pass through Portsmouth. It is already 28 degrees C.

OK, off we go. I am in the seat directly behind the driver so I can't see out the window. My seat partner is a heavy young lady. The radio speaker is right beside me. Someone passes a flash drive up to the bus driver who plugges it into his system and BOOM! Throbbing rap music is passing through the speakers directly into my heart. As in this genre, the thumping bass predominates. It pounds in my heart forcing it to keep time and jars it from its comfortable seat in my chest. Meanwhile we are careening up and down mountain roads and around hairpin curves at top speed,

We rush through lush, verdant dark green valleys, past banana plantations, and through colourful hamlets. Magnificent ocean views suddenly appear around every S curve. The mountains rise around me, dramatic, powerful, and alive. By now we are on the Atlantic side so we see rolling surf and rocky shores. We stop to pick up several students along the way who are boisterously greeted. Once, we stopped to buy bread at a bakery, which Mrs. A refused to dole out in spite of the piteous pleading from the boys at the back of the bus.

I won’t even try to describe the hour spent at the Carib Village, except to say that not one of the students there was even pretending to be interested. They were way too busy taking posed photos with their cell phone cameras, running up and down the paths, listening to their MP3 players, and exchanging epithets with each other. From the Village we went to a roadside stand and everyone bought ‘jellies’ and coconuts to eat and drink. Jellies are young coconuts, the white insides are not hard, but jelly like. Mrs. A allowed the bread to be distributed. More rounding up of students…more noise…more chaos…off to another Carib site accompanied by even less interest than previously. Back on the bus, and we are on our way back to Portsmouth. But…the bus stops, the boys jump out and run up an alley and disappear. I ask the girl next to me why we have stopped. She blandly replies, “I don’t know.” Mrs. A in the front seat seems unconcerned. The boys return and jump on the bus. We pass a soccer field. The boys get the bus to stop and out they pile. Mrs. A announces that she will allow them ½ an hour. The girl beside me begins to whine, “I want to go home.” After a time the boys drift back, but we have lost the driver. He reappears, and we go again. Are we really going to go non-stop this time? No. We drive up a short mountain road and stop at a gorgeous sprawling building. I realize that this is the high school that many of the students had gone to. They get out of the bus. I am just too exhausted and hot to move off the bus.

I can see the buildings from where we are parked. The school is set high on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic and is a beautiful grouping of covered passageways, small structures, and gardens. It looks like a resort. This is North East Comprehensive Secondary School. I am impressed.

That’s the last stop. Most of us fall asleep for the rest of the trip home. We are back in Portsmouth by 3PM.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Carnival 2010

Carnival started last night, Saturday, February 14, and will go until midnight Tuesday, (Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, depending where you are). Here in Dominica we do not have the big, splashy Carnival shows and parades. To be sure, there is a parade in Roseau, and we do ‘jump up’. I have now experienced 3 Carnivals, and that’s plenty. Unfortunately, the Dominican Carnival of today is a big, sodden, loud , often violent, drunk. I stay home.


Carnival, sometimes called ‘Mas: An abbreviated form of Masquerade, the French and Creole term for Carnival. Used as in the phrases: "Couwi Mas", "Run Mas", "Jouway Mas", and "Play Mas".


These are common costumes and still used in parades around Dominica. Masks, however, are banned, for obvious reasons.

SENSAY

Sensay Costume: A costume of West African origin worn at Carnival time in Dominica. It is made of frayed rope and other fibrous material such as pounded leaves of the agave, 'langue beff' (Furcraea tuberosa) that grows mainly on the west coast. The material is tied around the body in layers so that it cascades from the head to the feet. A mask is usually worn on the face and cow horns form the headpiece. Sensay costumes are also made of strips of paper, cloth, frayed plastic sacks and dry banana leaves 'pai fig'. They are similar to costumes used in West African tribal ceremonies. The word comes from the Twi language, senseh, which is a type of fowl with curled or ruffled feathers. The costume is named after its resemblance to the fowl, which also has special spiritual properties among the Twi people.

From http://www.lennoxhonychurch.com/heritage.cfm?Id=212

MOKO JUMBIE

is a derivation of the god "Moko", coming straight out of West African tradition. Moko is a “diviner” in the Congo language. The term "jumbie" or ghost was added by the freed slaves. It was believed that the height of the stilts was associated with the ability to foresee evil faster than ordinary men. The Moko Jumbie was felt to be a protector of the village.
This mas is well-known throughout the Caribbean. It is an authentic African masquerade mounted on sticks. The stilt walker plays on stilts 10 to 12 feet high. His costume consists of a brightly coloured skirt or pants, jacket and elaborate hat. He would dance through the streets all day, and collect money from people on the upper floors and balconies. His dance was similar to a jig, and he was often accompanied by a drum, flute and triangle.

Friday, February 12, 2010

MONTSERRAT

From the Washington Post February 12, 2010
Montserrat volcano shoots plume of ash 9 miles into sky, forces evacuation of village

By: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A volcano on Montserrat shot ash some nine miles (15 kilometres) into the sky Thursday, one of its most dramatic events since a devastating 1997 eruption that drove away half the Caribbean island's population.

The partial collapse of the dome in the volcano's crater also unleashed flows of hot gas and rocks, triggering sirens for the evacuation of about 20 people from a nearby village.

Paul Cole, director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, said it appeared to be the most material ejected by the volcano in about four years. He estimated 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the hardened lava dome had collapsed.

"When we're looking at the lava dome now, there's a large scoop out of it that's missing," Cole said.

The dome has crumbled several times since the volcano became active in 1995, and Cole said it is possible activity will settle down as the dome builds itself up again. He said there is no immediate cause for concern about more dangerous eruptions.

The 1997 eruption killed 19 people and buried much of the island, including its former capital, Plymouth, which is now abandoned. Half the British territory's 12,000 inhabitants left.

for a map go here.

http://www.paradise-islands.org/CaribbeanMapLarge.jpg


Monserrat is a tiny island just east of Dominica. The prevailing winds are westerly, therefore, we, in Dominica are getting a rain of volcanic ash. It is everywhere and accumulating. The usually lush green vegetation is dusted with fine white dust. The sky is hazy. I can feel it on this keyboard as I type. By the time I got home from Portsmouth this morning my mouth and eyes were gritty. I can taste the sulphur. People with breathing problems will have trouble. The fine dust, combined with the usual dust and exhaust emissions can only make things worse.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

RETURN

OK-So I'm back

The trip down was 100% uneventful, much to my delighted surprise. No problem at Immigration, no problem at Customs. USA airport security was slow, as predicted, but I had followed the rules about carry-on luggage so I was not held up. My stowed luggage was grossly overweight and I paid dearly for that.

By this week I will have all papers and letters in place and ready to apply for residency. This will NOT be permanent status -you need 5 years as a resident for that - but it will give me the freedom to come and go when I want, and to apply for a work permit should I want to. I expect this to be a huge, slow bureaucratic process, this being Dominica.

I am dragging my feet a little on the land purchase/house building dream. I feel I don't want or need to rush into anything so final and permanent. No, I am not having second thoughts. I just don't feel pushed or rushed as I did earlier. I don't know why. I also believe that in time the right opportunity will reveal itself. What a relief.

The weather has been balmy, cool for here, (i.e. @25 degrees C), very windy).

I have been to CALLS to schedule a teaching day, and went across the street to St.John's School. It was closed for yet another holiday. I'll give them half a day to start.

More later...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It’s been far too long, so much has happened, so much is yet to happen.

In early December, I returned to Brooke Valley for Christmas and New Year, to see friends and family, to put together the needed papers for an application for permanent residency in Dominica, and to collect some items that would make life easier in D/ca. I have everything together now, and I am ready to return to the Caribbean. My intention, as I have said, is to make a life there.

My time back here has helped to answer some questions, clarify some hopes and dreams and confirm some ideas. I know what I will miss. I know who I will miss. I know what I am leaving. I am sure that I am going back to D/ca with no romantic fantasies, but rather with some dreams that are possible to realize, and with much anticipation. I know what the trade-offs are. If, however, this whole venture falls apart, I know what the consequences are, and I am willing to risk it. I believe that the risk is small and absolutely worth it. I also know what the consequences are if I don’t go. Clearly, I cannot live in BV any longer.

I am entering this new life with no regrets. If I don’t go, I will regret it.

January 19, 2010 is my return date and I can hardly bear the wait….