Monday, December 27, 2010

My Newfound Fat Reserves are not Keeping Me Warm.

Ok, we're having some confusion about the followers, but I'm pretty sure that Amanda is a new follower, at least officially. So welcome Amanda! You're not only pretty cool for willingly marrying one of my best friends, you are now part of a very exclusive blog-following club.

So I feel fat and cold. Welcome to Winnipeg. But we'll get to that in a minute.

Our trip home was one big pile of flying. We connected in Barbados again, just as we did last time, and just as we will next time. A strange thing happened this time though: I was thoroughly unimpressed. The first time we were there, it was a nice gateway into Dominica; it was hot as balls, but had the amenities to not throw us into complete shock. Our return visit was different. Maybe it's because it was Christmas time, but Barbados was a tourist trap. The only difference between being in North America and being there was that they've got hot weather and beaches, which, frankly, I'm not too keen on. Perhaps one of the most unimpressive things was an unexpected emotion I felt: I missed Dominica. For all my complaints about the island - and they are all legitimate - there is a rawness and simplicity to the island which suits me well. Barbados seemed to lack a strong sense of itself this time around, as if it's sole purpose is to make money. Love it or hate it, Dominica has set up pretty strict laws to protect their culture and their environment, and the difference was tangible.

Strangely, everyone in Barbados actually wears this year-round.

Back to me being fat now. Every year at Christmas I come home with a mentality of: "Hey, I've been away from Mom's cookin' for awhile, so I deserve to treat myself just a little bit." Then I gain some weight, kick myself in the ass, eat a little less and exercise a little more. Not so this year. This year I have the above mentality, dangerously mixed with, "Fuck it, when's the next time I'm going to be in North America? Nom nom nom nom nom." Exercise is not happening. You know what is happening? Beer. Scotch. Chocolate. Popcorn. Milk. Seafood. More Chocolate. In no particular order and usually cooked in a pile of butter. And so I grow larger.

It is also, as mentioned above, very cold here, but that's a given. Denise is coming soon (oh hey, if you haven't read the post below, I suckered her into agreeing to marry me) and I doubt she'll make it through here alive. Or at least without significant frostbite. Good thing she's a doctor.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

6,686 kilometres later...

Okie dokie,

So, it has been a while since I blogged and much has happened…

Mark and I went to Pagua Bay after my final exam, as planned.  It was dark by the time we got out there, so we couldn’t really appreciate the gorgeousness until the next day.  Our cabana was amazing.  I pretty much want to live there.  I had steak for dinner and cheesecake for dessert and everything was awesome.

View from our porch at Pagua Bay
Not too shabby...

The life of a doctor's spouse.

The next day, he had breakfast on our patio and hung out at the cabana.  We had the option of going down to the river for a swim, but all we really wanted to do was relax and lounge and be on our computers (as Mark has already mentioned).  We got to the airport super early, having been scared by the Liat horror stories.  It was pretty smooth sailing for us though, except that our flight was delayed by 30 minutes.  Also, there is NO vending machine and NO water fountain once you get passed security at the Dominica airport, which is just stupid, especially when your flight is delayed.  We got to Barbados that night and went to our hotel.  Even though our stay at this hotel was awesome the first time, we were thoroughly unimpressed this time around – their internet was down, the toilet in our room didn’t flush, the air conditioner was SO loud that it literally woke us up in the middle of the night, and the service was super slow and borderline rude.  We are going to try a new place when we fly back to Dominica in January. 

After 5.5 hours on a plane, we were finally back on Canadian soil!  Although we weren't quite yet home, fortunately, the Toronto airport had everything I wanted and needed…

Venti sugar-free-vanilla non-fat caramel macchiato...never lets me down.

5 more hours in a plane, and we were back in the 604 area code.

Since being back in Vancouver, we have managed to do a lot of things we missed.  Namely sushi and Denny’s and Granville island.  I also got to do some shopping, including this little beauty….

Straight As = Tiffany's Ring.

That’s right.  By some act of God I managed to get straight As this semester, and am now the proud owner of a beautiful new Tiffany’s ring.

However, I like this ring even better…

A shiny new rock from Mark, who proposed on Saturday, December 18th (our 2 year and 2 month anniversary) at the arcade where we had our first date.

I said yes.

So, how does a young couple celebrate an engagement in Vancouver after spending 4 months living on a rock…...?

They go sit in a dark room with a bunch of strangers and get separate popcorns...

It was perfect.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pagua Bay.

Denise has finished her exam, and we're relaxing at a hotel in Pagua Bay. In no way do we feel bad that we're in a beautiful resort, surrounded by lovely scenery, nearby trails, and the sound of crashing waves, and all we're doing is playing on our computers outside. There's a hammock, so we're being leisurely.

The resort is somewhere in there.

We're home soon. Right now we're just waiting for our flight to Barbados this evening, then we're off to Canada tomorrow afternoon.

Holy balls.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Too good not to share...

My cousin Denine (who I get to see very soon!) recently posted on her Facebook wall that she wanted "a baby monkey riding backwards on a pig" for Christmas.

I had no idea what she was talking about until she posted this link...


When I feel super stressed or nervous about my final tomorrow, I watch this video, and the world is okay again.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cleaning house and clearing stomaches.

Ok, so we have some business to attend to.

First off, welcome to the blog Elvie and Natal! Counting Monique as two people, we now have seventeen followers. I remember when all we had was a measly little blog that no one read. Now look at this empire! For anyone who reads this but isn't following (cough Mike cough), if you press "Follow" then we'll give you a big fat shout out the next time!


But Elvie, who exactly are you? Your profile picture reveals nothing. Denise and I scoured our facebook friend list, and the only initials that could match were my friend Lindsey. Is that you?

While on the subject of anonymity, someone posted "Happy wives make happy lives." While both accurate and deep, I still have no clue who said it.

Moving on, Denise and I have been calamitously ill the last two days. I went out for some beers two nights ago, and was out of action for the next day, vomiting profusely. I'd be happy to admit when alcohol kicks my ass, but there was something amiss here; I really did not drink enough to warrant how sick I was, and so I suspect food poisoning. Similarly, Denise went out last night and had some drinks, and has been debilitated all day - again way out of proportion for what was consumed. The main connection between the two nights is the beer at the Tomato. I couldn't conclusively say what was the reason for our reactions, but I would have to raise a suspicious eyebrow at that establishment.

Sure, it's all fun and games now...

Anyhow, hopefully it's back on track tomorrow, and then we're heading for civilization again on Wednesday afternoon. I'm so excited to leave I feel a constant gravitational pull towards the airport.

Monday, December 6, 2010

An update on how awesome I am, and how awesome Mark is...in our own ways...

Greetings world,

Today, I wrote my LAST MIDTERM for the semester.  All I have left now is a final next Tuesday, and then I am officially done my first semester of medical school.

I was pretty nervous about this exam this morning.  I didn’t feel prepared, despite hours upon hours of studying in the weeks leading up to it.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when I got my grade back this afternoon (I never cease to be amazed by how fast Ross is at getting you your grades….at UBC you would have to wait for weeks).  I got an A!  And we all know what that means…online shopping!  (It also means I am ONE exam away from my Tiffany’s ring)  Here are a few of the things I am thinking of getting for this midterm though.  I can’t decide, so opinions would be appreciated (links are at the bottom if you wanted to check out the awesome websites for your own personal needs).  Most of the things fall well below my $100 limit, so there is some room for mixin' and matchin'.

One thing I am getting for sure is this map.  It’s covered in foil, so you can scratch off where you’ve been…like a lottery ticket!  So cool!  Not sure if Dominica is on there...

1. Regular map.

2. Scratchy scratchy
3. Custom map

Part of the reason I might have done surprisingly well this morning is because my awesome boyfriend got up with me at 7am, even though he didn’t work until 1pm, and made me fresh squeezed orange juice.  That’s right, the man literally rolled out of bed and squeezed oranges for me, none for himself.  If that’s not love, I don’t know what love is.
What a guy.

In back-dated news, below is a picture of our hockey team.  We’re like an old car.  At first, you’re like, “Why am I investing in this...it stinks”, and then you get some new parts and clean it up a bit, and you end up with a fine running machine.  We are still awaiting new parts…but we remain optimistic.  One of our team-mates is missing from the photo.  She was the only other girl, but had to leave before we took this picture to go play a volleyball game.

Coast to Coast Like Buttered Toast
From left to right: Denise, Mark, Donald, Mike, Idene, Marco (missing: Constance)

NB: Marco had never held a hockey stick before he played with us.  However, he is an awesome soccer player.  He pretty much just used his feet and shoulders for a lot of the game and sort of dragged the stick around with him.  He was amazing!
I guess that’s it for now.  I am going to start slowly packing throughout the week.  Mark and I are heading to Pagua Bay right after my exam is done next week.  For those who don’t know, Pagua Bay is the closest thing Dominica has to a resort.  It is 5 minutes from the airport, so it will save us travelling time when we fly out the next day.   Plus, they have steak, which might be how I decide to celebrate the end of the semester (unless I decide to hold out for The Keg).
Here are some more random pictures…

Mark with cows in our backyard.
These are the same cows from the videos...they are like celebrities and we are cow-paparazzi.

Me with palm tree at school.
On our way home from a celebratory drink after an exam.

Ciao for now!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Adventures in Diet Coke and a Battle of the Cows.

Diet Coke here is called Coke Light. It's the same thing, and you can buy Diet Coke in cans here on the island, but generally, if you want a DC, you need to buy it in one of those 591 ml Coke Light bottles.

We used to buy Coke Light at the 7-11 (again, not the same thing; this one is open literally from 7 to 11) for 2.25 EC (a little under a buck CDN). Then a couple of weeks ago, we noticed they were out, so we went to our back-up source. Soon they were out. One by one, all of our sources of the calorie-less drink went dry. Then the rumours started. Fourth semester students lurked behind shadows and whispered that we shouldn't be expecting anymore Coke Light; this happens every semester, they said, as the stores stop stockpiling things for the Christmas break, since everyone leaves. Panic settled in, not only on Diet Coke-addicted Denise, but on the entire student populace, many of whom depend on it for an easy source of caffeine. The campus grew anxious.

Denise and I resorted to desperate measures. One of the vending machines on campus sells actual Diet Coke - we bought it out. Still, we didn't have enough to sustain her over this stressful exam period. I even asked the father of the student I teach, a well-connected man, to keep an eye out. He said he'd send one of his workers to look for it.

Last week, I happened to be in Portsmouth an hour early to volunteer, and so I looked everywhere, to no avail. Coke Light could not be found in Dominica. Then, at the last store, one of the storekeepers leaned over and told me about one possible resource: a small shop a few blocks off the main road. So I went down this sketchy street, where men sat on the side of the road and stared at me. One even stopped me and asked me what I was doing.

"Diet Coke," I responded, then scurried away.

Portsmouth's main street.

I found the place, a hole in the wall with no customers, and searched through their fridge. There, at the back, I found four bottles of the sweet nectar, and bought them promptly. The owner probably charged me more than he would others, but didn't realize he could have charged me anything - Denise is not a happy person to be around sans Coke Light, and this makes me an unhappy person.

When I went to volunteer, one of the kids told me he could get me some Coke Light, no problem. I scoffed. I doubted he could do it, but I gave him the challenge, and worst case scenario is that he finds it, and I give him a fat tip. I gave him my number just in case, but I was skeptical.

Then a miracle! One of the stores on campus had nine Coke Lights! I bought seven of them, if only because  that would hold us over, and I didn't want to deprive someone of their addiction. Then the next morning: a call from the student, telling me he has twenty-four Coke Lights for me, for the low price of 41 EC (I clearly will pay him far more - this is like charging .65 CDN for a 591 ml bottle). We went from a period of frightening Coke Light starvation to the land of plenty.

Now I hear that all the stores in Porstmouth have been restocked. So we have a stockpile of about thirty Coke Lights, more if my boss comes through with his own supply, and a long holiday over which to hoard them.

Denise tells me, however, that this new batch of Coke Light tastes kind of suspicious.

On a less dramatic note, we heard some alarming sounds outside our apartment the other day, and took this video of some cow/bull drama. It turns out that the distressed bull was trying to hump another cow, which we (unfortunately?) missed because my camera died. Soon after the clip cuts, the bull pretty much ran after a cow that looked exactly alike, and spent 15 minutes trying to mount. We got bored and left before finding out if it succeeded.



Friday, December 3, 2010

Mark's schedule sets.

This week I breathe a sigh of relief, because I now have my schedule for next semester. There was quite a lot of question marks surrounding what I'd be doing, and where I'd be doing it - at one point this semester I had five paying jobs and three volunteering jobs. It has now settled to three paying jobs and one volunteering position. It'll be very nice to have some consistency from day-to-day.

The first job I'll have is working with a private family, teaching one of their children. I've been working with them for about a month now, and it's been a pretty enjoyable learning experience. Almost all of my training and work has been with teenagers, but now I'm working with a first grader everyday. He's a really intelligent kid, and it's been interesting learning how to teach someone so young.

The place where they live is ridiculous. The family lives up a mountain, and has a killer view. Their home is actually furnished with couches and art, which doesn't sound extravagant, but anything large or breakable is rare here, since everything arrives by boat. It's nice being in an actual home. When I was there this Thursday, the aunt of my student took me outside to show me a lemon tree growing nearby. With her children, we plucked six or seven of the lemons, and then she made us fresh lemonade. How idyllic is that?

Below is a video of the view from their house, which gives a really great perspective of Dominica:


After that I'll be working at aftercare, in the University's prep school. I took the job initially because it was in the field of education, and it was paid, but I'm surprised by how much I like it. Again, I have almost no experience with children, but I have found working with them far more seamless than I thought it would be (whenever I talk to my niece, who is almost three, I ask her questions like "Oh, are you about to put a block on that other block? That seems like a good idea...", whereas Denise will ask actual helpful questions about her school, how old she is, what she's wearing, etc.), and I've learned how to speak to them. It's also good to just be in an educational environment.

I try to model myself after this guy.

The third job I'll be working is at is Island Thrift, as manager. Initially stressful, I'm finding it the most intriguing of all three. I've never been anywhere close to a management position, and Island Thrift is the most bizarre company I've ever worked for - it's young, and it works by taking the stock in and out of luggage and selling it on tables outside. Yet I've started to develop a system that I hope makes sense, and that will make everyone's job a little easier. It's really the one variable in my entire schedule; everything else is more or less consistent, but this one could prove to be a good source of experience, and a pretty easy system to manage, or it could become a frustrating distraction. We'll see.

Denise and I are almost home. She's in the middle of a stretch of tests (five in fourteen days), and so likely won't be blogging anytime soon. We're both going stir crazy at the thought of being in Canada within two weeks. I can't decide whether I want to have a Vancouver beer, watch a movie in the big screen, or eat sushi first. Ugh.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Official withdrawal.

Good evening.

It is with a heavy heart that I withdraw my nomination for Presidency of the Ross Spouse Organization. I set my lofty ambitions far too loftily. Due to a scheduling difficulty, I won't have the privilege of working among Dominica's finest. It would have been a great pleasure, controlling the most powerful Spouse Organization in Dominica, but alas, the time was simply not ripe. I'm going to be spending some time consulting with my family and friends, as I attempt to figure out the next step in my political career.

I want to thank everyone who supported me in my endeavor to be el presidente. I want to congratulate my opponent, who may or may not have ever existed, on a well-fought campaign. Whomever replaces me on the ticket will, I'm sure, give their all to the cause, and they have my full-fledged support!

Thank you, God bless. And God bless the RSO!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

19 DAYS!!!

In 19 days we will be in snowy (?) Vancouver......

I am so fucking excited.

We left 95 days ago today, and since then, I have been making a list of things I want to do when I get home.  Here is a sample (the real list is much MUCH longer)....

- eat sushi, like, everyday,
- go to a movie and get an extra large popcorn and Diet Coke...maybe even some Reese's pieces,
- go to Staples,
- get a Starbucks and walk through Chapters,
- buy a fabulous new fall/winter outfit,
- wear my red coat from Paris,
- go to the mall with my mom,
- drink milk,
- go to Denny's and get a Grand Slam,
- get my hair done,
- go to Sephora/MAC and play with all the expensive make-up,
- get an Earl's salad,
- eat my weight in my mom's delicious Christmas treats (namely tarte de amendoa and rolo de chocolate),
- annoy my brother,
- eat Smarties and Ketchup chips
- get a Slurpee (I don't care how cold it is outside)

The list goes on and on.  Hopefully, I have enough time to do everything.  I plan on sleeping very little and maximizing my time in Canada.  I'm sure that the time is going to fly by too fast.

What I imagine snowy Vancouver to look like...

For the next 17 days though, I need to focus on school and getting straight As so that I can justify buying myself a ring I really want from Tiffany's (no, not an engagement right....).

Isn't she a beauty? I reserve to right to pick out a different ring once I get to the store though...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hagglin' like a mo fo.

Welcome Khemarint and Monique. I'm hoping you're the Monique I know in Dominica, and I'm hoping that Khemarint is someone really really cool. We'll count you as two people so that our tally is now 14 followers! We are all the coolest!

Prices are flexible in Dominica. It's the way things go here: people see you're white, assume you're a student, assume you have lots of cash, and charge you more than they should. You're supposed to come back with a counter-offer, but I have zero experience with this, and thus far have pretty much always accepted the grossly inflated price. Really, in the end, the difference is so marginal by Canadian standards that I let it go. Plus I suck at confrontation. Here and there I've gotten better - for instance, a week ago I haggled for a pineapple, bringing the price down from 12EC (4.50 CDN) to 10EC (3.75 CDN). Ballsy.

This is very much like when I haggled with the pineapple lady.

But this weekend was a milestone. The campus was holdings its "Arts and Crafts" fair, held once a semester. Generally that term is reserved for crappy pieces of make-it-yourself nonsense, but for this event there was genuinely awesome, locally made stuff. One of the things I bought, which I can't name because it's a Christmas present, was priced at 150EC. I really wanted to get it. With gravitas, I inquired if 130EC was ok with the vendor.

"Yeah sure," he said, in his laid-back Caribbean accent.


I secured the item, handed over the cash, and scurried over to Denise to brag about it. There I was, a twenty dollar bill heavier than I might have been if I was a lesser man. But I wasn't. And so I'm ballin'.

But then Denise used my money to buy other stuff.

So now I'm poor again.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dominica 1, Canada 0

Denise and I just ordered delivery from a cafe that's five minutes away. What we ordered:

-two long john donuts
-one apple fritter
-one Java Chip Chiller
-one beer

Total cost: 12$ CDN.

Sometimes, this place rules.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Assorted thoughts.

Locals here say "good night" as a salutation. It's very strange. It always feels like they're trying to hurry you away when you're simply telling them hello.

So I've settled into my position as Island Thrift Manager. More stressful than I'd thought it would be, I've taken on quite a bit of a project in trying to get it organized and more presentable. I've never been in a management position, and even though the company is pretty tiny, it's still a strange position for me.

Not much else, really, just felt like blogging. Go Leafs Go!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A heartfelt post...(the title was Mark's idea...no surprise there...)

Today I did the coolest thing that I have probably ever done...

cut        into

It was so fucking awesome.  

Sad, obviously, because our cadaver had a pretty rough body, and what I can imagine, a pretty rough end-of-life.  However, as a scientist and future physician, today was amazing.

We are doing a cardiovascular unit right now.  Even before today's dissection, I had been giving a lot of thought lately to being a cardiologist.  Specifically a neonatal or even prenatal cardiologist (I pretty much want to be Addison Montgomery from Grey's Anatomy).  

Although I've always thought the heart was really awesome, it wasn't until I started learning about the development of the heart from embryo to fetus to baby to adult and all the ways that this can go wrong that I considered making it a profession. Mark says that being a cardiologist makes sense for me....not totally sure what that means.

It turns out that being a cardiologist has the biggest return-on-invest (financially) out of any medical speciality.  Throw on a subspecialty of "neonatal" or "prenatal", and I have the potential to one day be sleeping in a water bed filled with molten diamonds on a pillow made of fluffed platinum.

Of course, the irony of all this is that my own heart is a piece of shit that only really works when it wants to.  I mean this literally and not in the emo sense.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Orion is sideways here. Which I suppose makes his belt more of a tie.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Battle of the Boxes.

Before we begin, welcome to Stephanie, the latest follower of our blog. This is by far the coolest group of people I've ever seen.

We just got a package from Denise's parents, filled with (surprise) Decadent cookies from Superstore, men's razors, granola bars, and scar cream for our multiplying mosquito bites (Denise openly acknowledges that the inclusion of this one was because of her superficiality). We've pretty much demolished the cookies. Mmm.

We're also awaiting a package from my own parents. Somewhere in there, I'm sure, are more cookies. All this is gearing up for Christmas treats, of course. The real question is: who will send more packages in the long run?

Will the Sousa family claim the throne on the awesomest amount of packages, or will the McLeans battle for the title?

In all honesty, we're trying to create a bidding war, like children of divorced parents at Christmas. But seriously, we really doubt either set of parents is going to man up on this one. (Cough).

Who will be the victor? Or will an underdog sibling or kind friend seek to win?

Feel free to email us for our address, btw.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What I bought myself for being awesome...


Both from Victoria's Secret.  I got 3 free lip glosses with my purchase, and only went $15 over my $100 budget, which, considering that I was super under on my last gift (it cost $50), I figured I deserved it.

I don't care that I can only wear that dress for 3 weeks....I am going to rock it.

Denise (obviously)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A long catch-up post...

Greetings friends,

Finally, after weeks of studying, I have free time.  Theoretically, I COULD be studying right now, but frankly, I have decided that I have earned the right to a day off.  It’s a national holiday, so nearly everything on campus is closed anyway, making this a perfect day to sit in a café (/the only café) with my laptop, my boyfriend, and my In Style magazine.  I got a head start on relaxing yesterday and went to the pool with my buddy Suzie, where we talked about fall fashion, and all the beautiful things we can’t wear here…

This past Monday, I wrote my 3rd midterm (they call them Minis here….which I guess is supposed to sound less scary than midterm).  Despite honestly thinking that I had potentially failed, I was pleasantly surprised when my grade was released (A is for Denise is Accidently Awesome).  Now, as a reward, I get to buy myself something online (up to $100 CAD), and have it shipped to my parent’s house.  I do this every time I get an A.  The goal is that I will do SO well in med school that I will have a heaving pile of presents waiting for me when I get home at Christmas, in addition to all the ones my spoiling parents buy me.  I am having a hard time deciding what to buy myself this time...any suggestions?

In less recent news, Mark and I were considering adopting a puppy from a friend of ours (hi Kate! And Happy Birthday!!).  He is SO cute.  It was the first time since Bowser died that I actually considered having a pet again.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out (our landlord gave us a bunch of reasons, all fair, as to why we couldn’t have a pet in our current apartment).  Fortunately, the dog did find a home.  With a face like this, how couldn’t he?

Rocky Balboa

I guess Mark and I had the option of moving into a pet-friendly apartment and taking the dog, but we really like where we live, and our landlord.  Also, I was afraid that with each semester becoming busier than the last, that all the burden of caring for a dog would fall on Mark, and that isn’t fair either.  I’m sure once we settle, he will have a dog, but the timing right now just didn’t work out.  L

On a less sad note, and in even less recent news, I had the luxury of going to Winnipeg a month ago for my cousin Jennifer’s wedding, in which I was a bridesmaid.  It was so fun and so sad at the same time.  I wanted to stay!  The first thing I did in the Toronto airport on my way up to Winnipeg was order Starbucks….obviously.  It tasted even better than I remembered…..

Iced grande sugar-free-vanilla non-fat caramel macchiato = heaven.
And yes, I was so excited that I got a barista to take a photo...

The next thing I did was order a Caesar at the bar….I may or may not have been a little bit drunk for the Toronto-Winnipeg connection…no big deal since I wasn’t flying.

I have no idea why my eyes look so small in this photo....

Due to a problem with the plane, I got to Winnipeg late (2am when it was supposed to be midnight).  My cousin Denine’s boyfriend, a ginger named Mark, picked me up from the airport and drove me to the mother-of-the-bride’s house (my mom’s cousin Natal).  The wedding the next day was rad.  I loved having an excuse to wear make-up and get my hair done.

Denine's Mark - my surrogate ginger while in Winnipeg
Me, my folks, and my bro.  The blonde girl, who is clearly not related to us, in my brother's girlfriend, Danica.
She's cool and stuff.
The next day, my family went over to Mark’s parents house for brunch.  We were all flying out that afternoon.  We Skyped with Mark while we were there….which was very awkward and cumbersome, but really fun.  Mark’s niece is the cutest.

Old photo, but you get an idea of the level of cute we are dealing with here...

I was welcomed by crazy rainfall when I landed in Dominica (we almost didn’t land because the weather was so bad).  By the time I got home after the 1 hour cab ride, I was ready to die.  The airport-to-Ross drive is probably the most nauseating ride I have ever been on.  Luckily, I had Mark at home ready to take care of me!

So…..I guess that’s pretty much it for now.  I think I am all caught up on my news.

T-43 days until I am back in Vancouver.  Yeah!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Delight in lying.

I had my first substitute teaching shift of my career today. Taught four classes for a friend of mine who teaches at the school. He decided to take the day off and visit a nearby island.

The children kept asking me what happened to him, and I told each grade a different story. Depending on who talks to him when he returns on Thursday, he was: (a) horribly injured in a skiing accident and helicoptered from the island, (b) vanished in a poof of smoke after a science experiment gone terribly wrong, (c) was mangled by a pack of wolves while trying to protect small children, or (d) offered a modeling contract which was effective immediately.

I love lying to students. I feel like it's good for them. They learn to be skeptical and not so naive when I tell them that under my new regime, mistakes are punished with push-ups.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I be gettin' busy.

I skyped with my parents tonight (hey mom, hey dad), and they pointed out that we've been slowing down on our blog updates. On my part, it's not for a lack of effort, but rather that new events are fewer and farther between these days. We're settling in. For Denise, her life is preoccupied with either studying or hastily trying to relax, so her posts tend to either come as a study break or after one of the monthly exams.

I've been waiting until a few things are official, but I now have two significant updates.

One significant update ha, ha, ha!

I have been promoted to Island Thrift Manager. I'll be taking over for Eric in January. What this means, essentially, is that I have to keep almost all of the Island Thrift stock here in our apartment (Denise has remarked that it's like having a North American store right in our own home. In particular she's pretty happy that she gets first dibs on candy and stationary when it arrives. I think she's enjoying my job more than I am), and do the necessary paperwork every night. I also need to be managerial (who knew). I'm pretty excited about this, because it allows me to determine my own hours, it's a pay raise, and it's exciting to have a project to work on, and hopefully ameliorate, while I'm here.

Two significant updates, ha, ha, ha!
The second thing is that I've been hired as a homeschooling teacher for a first grade boy, as well as hopefully his three cousins. I'm particularly excited about this because it's a chance to get back into an educational environment. It's nice to be able to work on my career while I'm here. It's also fantastic experience for me, a good source of income, and provides a pretty flexible schedule. I start next week. I'm really looking forward to it.

Other than that, life is little changed here. Denise is gearing up to face her third exam on Monday, so it's a stressful time for her. She has, however, been rocking the shit. So no worries.

Our hockey team has been playing well but losing consistently. We're considering trading a draft pick or two to steal other teams' players.

And we still miss Canada. We'll be home soon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Another one down.

Just finished this today, The Girl who Played with Fire. It's very similar to the first one. It's long, but I really enjoyed the pacing, the author drives you crazy by leading you along slowly and thoroughly. Well worth the read, but after tackling the first one.

Culture clash.

Yesterday I took a cab from my house to the campus. I do this every Wednesday morning, transporting Island Thrift's two tables and three luggage bags of stock back and forth. We have a regular cab driver named Roy. We've got an agreement with him, and he exclusively gives us rides for a fair fee (12 EC, or 4.50$ CDN, each way). Other cab drivers tried jacking up the prices on us, but Roy didn't, so we made an arrangement.

When he drove me in the morning, we got caught behind a dump truck on Moo Cow Trail, which was slowly moving between each house, blocking the entire lane, and taking their time with each garbage bin. The smell was horrendous; Roy stayed back fifty feet and still we could smell it. Roy, an honest, easy-going kind of guy, got really worked up about them. "You wouldn't find this shit anywhere else in the world," he told me. The garbage men have a terrible reputation for taking a long time and leaving a smelly mess everywhere they go. Honestly, it's a health hazard.

Meanwhile, we met our landlord the other day, who normally lives in Barbados. He's one cool cat. We invited him into our place, but he said that he didn't want to invade our privacy (this a nice change from our old Spanish landlord, who would refuse to take off his shoes, because of his Spanishness, and often peaked in our windows). He also apologized for how long it was taking to fix our Air Conditioning remote control, without which we can't turn the machine on. He talked about how services here should be much better, considering many of the technicians and other tradesmen are trained in the States, then come back here to work. He seemed to consider them an embarassment for Dominica.

Increasingly we've been seeing a kind of culture clash going on around us. Some of the people here are trying to shake off the image of a lazy Caribbean way of life. Most go along with the culture, which Ross students and spouses call "Island time" (meaning whatever you're trying to get will take a very long time to get to you, not necessarily because of geography, but because people here are in no rush to help you). Frankly, it's frustrating when you're used to North American customer service. There's no reason that most services should take as long as they do. I think that as the island develops from a third-world country, more and more businessmen are trying to change the culture of how people work here, and it's evident that they're exasperated. It's certainly an interesting dynamic.

Either way, it's comforting to know that we're slowly figuring out whom we can count on, and who will suddenly jack up their prices or take a long time to do a simple task. I hope that in the long run, those that work hard here are rewarded.