I am turning into April Ludgate over here. 

It’s true. I realized it today on my hour bus ride to town from a Peace Corps workshop. Probably because I left my music at my house. Though it was actually a good, supportive day today, the feelings and changes are still there.

The idea that I am April Ludgate started to come to mind after getting hit on, once again, by a local. My original reaction is immediately “EW NO”. If those words every actually slip from my mouth by accident, I have no choice but to explain to the man making me feel gross that now…


All seriousness, I do become super sarcastic. Seems to be working.

It is now pouring down rain, which is still pretty scary after Erika. So much school has already been cancelled. My school let out early yesterday because it was raining so hard that a bridge to some children and teachers’ homes started flooding. I will now quote a fellow/former volunteer Chui. “Whoever wanted to save the rainforest has never been in it.”


I’ve lost count of how many mosquitoes I’ve killed by hand. I’d say that’s an accomplishment.

The intigration process is exhausting. I feel tired all the time and not really myself. The other night I went to a child’s birthday party. I was going to head home but I knew the birthday boy’s mother and she stopped me and handed me a glass of wine. Wasn’t going to refuse that but despite her warm welcoming, trying to make new “friends” in a new culture is difficult. Just imagine introducing yourself to someone, and the only response you receive is “okay.”


After I try, I just stand there until I see someone who will make less awkward conversation with me for five minutes. Five minutes is the goal. I aim high.


And then there’s co-teaching in a new culture.


It’s good to remind yourself a few reasons why you’re here. Oh yeah, that thing called a real job.


Then when I get home from school, I can tell the new environment is really draining me.


Now so far we have had the occasional awesome integration invitation going out and having a good time. You just have to be open and ready for every opportunity that might knock at your door. Except there’s no knocking. Just someone yelling your name from the street. Hopefully it’s not that guy trying to hit on you again.


It’s a part of the culture. It’s cool mom.

And now I have officially turned you into April Ludgate, haven’t I? Because now you’re thinking


But April has some good points.


And in reality,


Luckily, this island has pizza. OR I WOULD BE ON A PLANE RIGHT NOW.
But for the most part, the island of Dominica is very beautiful and the people really care about each other.

  

So don’t let this face I’m making most of the time fool you.

New goal: turn into Leslie Knope and get s*** done. (

Hopefully picture of my little cuties learning how to read coming soon!

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There is nothing really going on here. 

I’ve had more free time than I have in a long time. School doesn’t start for another month. I want to buy a guitar and try to teach myself for the third time how to play. You can probably guess I failed miserably the other two times. I think I can this time. I’m reading more than I ever have. Let me know of any good books I can download. Or perhaps you can send me. I can add you to my penpal list!

Now I have free time to do this!!! I also realize I need to watch different shows.

What I think is going to happen if the PC staff sees me in a bar

 

What I want to say when people from home
ask me how everything is

 

What happens when I try to talk in Kweyol

 

What I’m thinking when I’m given food sometimes.

 

First days

We made it to Dominica. The island I will be working for the next two years. After a late night with fellow volunteers that I have now been separated from by the different island after growing so close with these past seven weeks, I had to wake up at 4am to make it to the ferry. And guess who set their alarm to pm? Of course I did. So at 5:15am the SSM (safety and security manager) is banging on my front door. And rightfully so. Lucky I was fully packed minus a few last minute things which went unused on that graceful morning and shoved into my carry on as quickly as possible. The saddest thing was only giving my host mom and brother who had taken amazing care of me the past seven weeks a speedy hug and out the door. My host father and my host brother’s girlfriend didn’t even make it out of bed. 

  
This is going to be boring because I have no pictures for the rest of these events. I apologize in advance. The SSM gets me to the ferry where the other 7 volunteers who woke up on time were waiting in line. I joined them for another two hours. Though if anyone comes to visit me, I do recommend taking the ferry to Dominica from St. Lucia, even if I slept 3/4 of the way. It’s beautiful and if you do need some sleep you’ll get a lot more room than on that tiny, shaky plane.  

Once in Dominica, we are rushed with hugs from the current volunteers who have been teaching on the island for the past year. And I meet my new host mother. “You’re my 14th volunteer” is the first thing she tells me, and very proudly. I soon learn that she is very proud of each and every volunteer on that list. It’s kind of nice to know that she will brag about me to her 15th volunteer. Or at least I hope she does. 

On Sunday I went to the church where my host father is the pastor. It takes an hour to get there, but it’s built in the sand on the beach. I can’t help but look out the window during service to see children playing in the ocean, dragging in giant logs to use as floats. 

Emincipaion holiday is Monday. No training for this girl. I tried to help my host mom with cooking and cleaning but she says there is no work for me. Apparently once school starts back it won’t be as quiet in our village. If my windows are open my students will want to be in and out of my house all the time. I am supposed to enjoy this time. I haven’t slept, read, and relaxed that much in seven weeks. We did go visit my host grandparents, ages 85 and 91. After I tell my host grandmother I’m from the states I am asked, “do you have plenty of income?” 

It takes an hour bus ride to get to the capital of Roseau where training is today. It’s a lot slower here than in St. Lucia. And much slower than home. I will now have something to read on me at all times. 

The past four days here have still been overwhelming. I am used to the support of my fellow volunteers and now best friends. But we still are there for each other. Deep down I know I’m not alone, but sometimes it feels like it. The St. Lucian Kweyol phrases I knew are different here. I sweat more. What I wouldn’t do for a hot shower. And I don’t have as many fruits a vegetables available to me. I miss strawberries and goat cheese. You think there would be goat cheese with all the goats around here! If I close my windows I will die of a heat stroke. If my windows are open, two dozen bugs want to be my new best friends. Sorry volunteers on other islands, you’ve been replaced. ADJUST ADJUST ADJUST is what we always must do. People, go home, hug your dog, take a thirty minute shower, then enjoy some tacos and Mellow Mushroom. That’s the life. 

We may plant the tree but we won’t be able to sit in the shade. 

The start of training has given us very long and repetitive days. I think we’re all getting used to everything, that being the packed bus rides and crazy mountain roads. If you walk to training, from where I live it’s a thirty five minute walk going up and down hills, but it’s nice Since we sit all day. I’ll have to admit the sex ed class was something different to wake you up. And no that was not a joke. 

In training they have tried to prepare for what’s to come the next two years: strange men on the street thinking they can come home with us, diseases we will most likely get like dengue fever and chikungunya and people staring at us because most of them don’t see Americans everyday (we are usually thought of as tourists), which all of that and the cultural awareness is important, but I think the most important advice I have received would be from a current volunteer in St. Lucia, that is to build as many relationships as possible. That especially means in the school. We should not automatically tell our co-teachers who have being teaching in their school for years how they should teach and run their classrooms. We should wait three months while, building a relationship with them and helping out the best way we can without bossy them around in THEIR classroom. After those three months I may feel like nothing is happening and my projects are going no where, but that’s when someone said something like “you may plant the tree but you won’t be able to sit in the shade.”

After a very long week of training, we had some time off.  


Needless to say, I will not be going back to Myrtle Beach for a while. 

 and I’m sure everyone who lives around there would be happy to come here. I promise I am doing work, I just only take pictures of the exciting stuff. 

I guess I am attention “Beach Corps” but I can learn to accept that. Though it’s been a week and it seems longer and that we’ve learned so much about the culture, but so much more for us to assimilate to. Most people are very nice when we meet them and will answer any question they have, but bus drivers try to over charge and a lot of the time get away with it. We stand out so much so men will try to talk to us or will go out of there way to sit with us. Nothing too uncomfortable, yet. This is why relationships are so important here. Everyone knows everyone. Our host families are a big help with that. Everything seems easy for the most part in this Caribbean culture, but that’s because I am never alone. I am always with a host family member or a fellow volunteer. I have ten weeks total to prepare to live on my own in a new neighborhood. Ssooooo prayers are encouraged.

And for those of you who where thinking, “that poor Anna, not being able to see Jurassic World”, we found a theater.  I have crazy eyes I was so excited. 

   

The first weekend. 

I just had my very first weekend in St. Lucia, starting my journey as a Peace Corps volunteer. It’s really hard to believe that venting to a friend and boyfriend lead me to blurt out “I’M JUST GOING TO JOIN THE PEACE CORPS!”, because I didn’t want to start teaching in South Carolina right out of college. I didn’t want a Monday through Friday 6am to 6pm job where I felt under appreciated and where I would try everything I could and still be wrong. And now I’m here. An original thought that I seriously thought would be absolutely nothing, turned into something very serious. Of course, similar feelings will occur while teaching here, I know, I know…

But there is just something about moving far away surrounded by unfamiliar faces (even your own because it’s drenched in sweat, more from nervousness than from heat) that can only be described by actually doing it.

Oh of course it’s hard and the hardest part hasn’t even started. I may or may not have cried all the way through my first flight. But we got that over with. I also may or may not have freaked out at the swarming strong personalities from my fellow volunteers. I forgot to mention amazing, interesting, and extremely supportive fellow volunteers. AND I’VE ONLY KNOWN THEM FOR THREE DAYS! Also I’m missing Jurassic World. So as you can read, a lot is happening in my mind and outside of it. And those volunteers are really the only ones who understand, as I go back and forth from freaking out and being excited. You can throw some exhaustion into that mix as well.

 The breathtaking view temporarily puts your mind at ease. 

Not to mention the amazing fruit found everywhere!

Like this coconut found on our walk Saturday morning that was banged against a rock for fifteen minutes until the coconut water busted out like a pinata.
After the weekend of getting our minds ready for training and scared of diseases we have a %99.9 percent chance of all getting (don’t worry I can’t die from any of them), we get ready to meet the families who will protect us, give us guidance, and answer all of our questions.

All ready my host family has been incredibly sweet. When First walked into the house, I told Patricia, my new mom, that her home is beautiful. She immediately corrected me and said “our home”.

IMG_0067

And thats my amazing view from my beautiful home.