Jan 31, 2011

Studies, Trips & Island Life

[caption id="attachment_92" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Charlie relaxing on our whale watching trip"][/caption]

So I've been a delinquent blogger lately... I know this because many friends have sent me emails saying "update your blog soon!"  Sorry that you have to ask!  I have been busy lately and have been enjoying the island and even forgetting to bring my camera with me everywhere (gasp!).  And I feel like a blog post without photos is no good, no good at all.  But I scrounged up some photos and poached a few too, so hopefully I won't disappoint you!  Here is what has been going on lately:

[caption id="attachment_84" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Charlie in his scrubs before his first anatomy lab"][/caption]

For Charlie, studying.  Always.  He is working super hard and did well on his first exam, which is awesome.  He is trying to get his study routine down, but is struggling with information overload:  tons and tons of material and the impossibility of studying and knowing every single darn thing, which is a hard thing to handle when you are expected to know every single darn thing.  But he is doing well!  He actually went and played tennis with a friend yesterday and went to "Yoga at the Desk" to help him de-stress, so all is well in the land of science.

[caption id="attachment_97" align="aligncenter" width="335" caption="banana truck"][/caption]

I have been busy with friends (yes, Frannie, I finally have friends!), trips, volunteering, cooking, reading... I would like to fit in more art, more yoga (I have done some of both but not as much as I'd like), and more working out.  This can be done.  I am volunteering with a few different groups here on the island.  The first is called CALLS and it is the alternative high school here in Dominica for students who have had to drop out of high school or leave school for one reason or another.  Students choose to return school and attend CALLS and they all have pretty amazing stories and have gone through hardships that I cannot even imagine experiencing, especially as a high schooler.  The students range in age from 15 to early 20s.  I am working with a 17 year old boy who is hilarious.  I meet with him 1 hour a week as a mentor/tutor and work with him on reading and English.  After the CALLS students finish the 2 year program, they take the Dominica equivalent of a GED test.  The school also provides the students with vocational training and summer internships in their area of interest.  I am not sure who exactly runs the school, but there are some nuns there from Canada who are in charge of the mentoring/tutoring and there are also Peace Corps volunteers teaching there.  I have only been twice so far, but it is a pretty cool experience.  My latest challenge is finding a book on a third grade reading level on the topic of "drugs and the law" at my student's request.  I am pretty sure that will not happen, and luckily geared him towards mystery/crime type books.  We'll see.

[caption id="attachment_91" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="sailboat and gorgeous view on our whale watching trip"][/caption]

I am also volunteering at InLightIn (pronounced "enlighten"), a group founded by a pastor on the island who was either a Ross student or spouse (can't remember which) that provides a fun after school program for elementary school students in Portsmouth, the neighboring town, on Fridays.  We play with kids, do a simple craft project, provide them with a snack, and teach them some sort of lesson about virtues like kindness or generosity.  This past Friday we went to Portsmouth to hand out fliers and candy to get the students excited about starting InLightIn next week.  It was such an incredible experience to meet the kids and see their homes.  They all had the biggest smiles on their faces and were so excited to see the volunteers who they knew from previous semesters.  So that is going to be really fun. Here are some photos of the kids from InLighIn poached from my friend Heidi's blog. A few more pics...

[caption id="attachment_99" align="aligncenter" width="429" caption="Me in front of a view of Batibou Beach on the hike down"][/caption]

I have also been on some fun trips lately with some of the other spouses -- a trip to Trafalgar Falls (the waterfall Charlie and I visited the first week) and to the hot springs (where we had a mud bath and then soaked in the warm pools), a trip to Batibou Beach (a beautiful sandy beach where part of Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed), and a trip to Red Rock Haven, a beautiful island retreat and hotel with an awesome outdoor restaurant and gorgeous beaches surrounded by red rock cliffs.  Idiot me forgot my camera on most of these trips, but they were all so much fun and like everything here, were unbelievably beautiful.  If you come to visit, we will definitely go to Red Rock Haven and possibly Batibou and the hot springs.  One really cool thing about Red Rock is that you can see the neighboring islands faintly in the distance -- a small island called Les Saints, Guadeloupe, and another small island called Montserrat.  The spouses are hoping to plan a day trip to Les Saints where we would take a boat over, spend the day, and rent mopeds to explore the island -- FUN!

[caption id="attachment_90" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Batibou Beach"][/caption]

I think I neglected to write about out whale watching trip a few weeks ago -- WOW!  We took a boat from a dock nearby and went out for about 5 hours.  We traveled all the way to the other end of the island, to Scott's Head, and followed a family of 4 sperm whales.  They were gigantic and so beautiful.  What an experience!  Charlie loved it, and it was so much fun just being out on the boat!

What else has been going on? I've been cooking lots.  My new favorite is this Cranberry Oatmeal Bake that I made for Charlie to have for breakfast in the mornings, as it is healthy, tasty, and can easily be reheated in the microwave.  I added walnuts and used Trader Joe's mixed, dried fruit in it and it is delicious reheated with some cold milk drizzled over top.  YUM.  I am also toying with the idea of opening a "home kitchen" where I make a big batch of some sort of home cooked dinner one or two nights a week and students can pay a small amount, like 10 or 12 EC, for a tasty home cooked meal, like steak fajitas or chicken pot pie... So I have been busy trying to figure that out and scoping out recipes that are feasible to make down here.  I love a good challenge!

[caption id="attachment_93" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Us on the whale watching trip"][/caption]

Back to my book -- I am reading The Girl Who Played with Fire and cannot put it down -- and then off to yoga!

[caption id="attachment_87" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="sperm whales!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_95" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="expert whale watchers"][/caption]

Happy Monday!

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