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!