Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trip to Roseau

Mark here. Today there were events planned for spouses, family and friends (btw, I count as "spouse" here, much to Denise's delight). The main event was a trip to the capital, Roseau. It's an hour bus ride from the campus, and it winds and bumps the whole way - almost vomit inducing. Roseau itself is pretty cool, though similarly underdeveloped. What was so exciting about it was that I was able to find several products that we couldn't find near the university, or products that were half the price (I discovered that the local beer, which tastes like Molson Canadian, can be purchased for about 2 EC [75 cents CDN] a pop), like Nutella, chicken broth, and cutlery. What we've found is that things that are small and non-perishable (like pasta or canned goods) are cheap, but things that are large or expire quickly (like furniture or milk) are very pricey, I suppose because everything is imported. It's nice to have our place stocked a little bit, though we are both beginning to miss having milk available.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Electricity Part II, plus Cows

Mark here. This is a two parter.

First off, we've had the pleasure of experiencing our first of what will likely be several power outages. Apparently lightning (from Tropical Storm Earl) struck something important somewhere, and much of the island lost power. For Denise and I, we lost power for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon, which was fine, and in the middle of last night, which was not fine. The AC stopped working, and our room quickly became very muggy. Denise felt compelled to wake me to complain, for which I am very grateful. We got the power back maybe 10 hours later, and the sound of fridge turning back on is sweet indeed. We then rested in blissful coolness.

Second part. Cows. Streets here don't really have much logic, and no one has addresses, I guess because it's small enough that the locals know where everything is. The main street which we live off of is called, I kid you not, Moo Cow Trail. The reason for this is (presumably) because maybe a dozen cows hang out on this street, and moo very loudly, and very often. Our friends from Banana Trail were disappointed to find no bananas on their street. As I was leaving the apartment this morning, right outside our building was a bull with huge horns, probably a foot long. I stared down at my flip-flops and remembered a Demitri Martin joke, where he says that wearing flip flops is a way of telling the world that you hope you don't get chased today. So I switched into sandals and walked calmly past the bull, who calmly chewed at a bush.

We've been having trouble directly uploading videos to blogger, so we uploaded a video of our neighbourhood cows to youtube. Enjoy.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Electricity in Dominica

Mark here. Denise and I have had to learn the ropes of the electrical system in Dominica, which is pretty different from what we've experienced in Vancouver. First off, electricity is super expensive (1 unit = 1 EC [East Caribbean Dollar] = 40 cents Cdn), but is really only used in huge amounts by air conditioning. When we first arrived at our apartment, we discovered that we had 50 units of electricity to play with. When we don't use air conditioning, we use maybe 3 units a day, which is not bad at all. Using AC means it's closer to 15 units a day (it's really only used at night). We've decided to splurge and use AC while we're still not used to the heat, although many people say that it's the only way to stay sane, and is a luxury that is worth it on an island that affords only sporadic niceties.

Paying for it is strange as well. It's pay-as-you-go, which in itself is pretty neat for the eco-minded, as you can track how much electricity you use every day and feel its direct repercussions. You can buy electricity at the local 7-11 (not an actual 711), which we did, but watched with anxiety as our units fell below 10 units. Would we have to forego AC tonight? Did the electricity only top up when the weekend was over? Egads!

Luckily, we had an electrician come by to fix our light bulbs, and he told us that we have to input a code that was on the receipt (thank god that Denise always keeps receipts), which he then did for us.

So no worries, the air conditioning will flow smoothly tonight, and slowly take money out of our pockets while we dream of things like Starbucks and sushi. Mmm.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


We have been in Dominica for 2 full days now, and have yet to fully unpack.  The essentials have been dealt with - my clothes, my shoes, our toiletries, and the Wii is set up.  The idea of unpacking during the day is daunting because of the heat.  By the time evening rolls around, all we want to do is laze about and watch a DVD or read.  I'm assuming (/hoping) that everything will be in it's new place in our new home by tomorrow night.  Orientation starts Monday, and I'm sure the checklist of things to do is only going to get longer and longer. 

It's crazy to think that our life fit into 5 suitcases.

- Denise

Our first posting.

Mark here. Denise is taking an evening nap. We thought it would be a good idea to create a blog for all our friends and family, and perhaps people moving to Dominica in the future, to chronicle our experience here.

What triggered this was that this morning we woke at 5:30 to head to the market in Portsmouth, to buy fruits and veggies. Once home, after a lengthy nap, we made a salad that consisted largely of a huge avocado we bought. We didn't have any dressing though, so we squeezed a small half-grapefruit over the salad. Quite tasty. We wanted to tell the world about this avocado, though. So there you have it. We ate a delicious, oversized, super inexpensive avocado. With grapefruit juice. You are now informed.