Thursday, February 10, 2011

I don't always remember where I am.

Denise and I have slowly but surely transformed our apartment towards something that resembles our taste. It's not really there, and it won't ever be: notwithstanding the likelihood of us moving to another apartment soon (we've been having some beef with our landlord), life here is so impermanent, and things like affordable furniture and art so rare, that it's not worth the investment to nest here. The same can be said for our last apartment in Vancouver, where we knew we wouldn't be there for more than a year. Essentially, and I know this is the complaint of someone who has led a pretty fortunate life, Denise and I have never had the chance to make a home.

Even though our place here is not exactly what we want it to be, it lets us forget where we are. With the pretty dependable air conditioning and our fridge full of snacks and condiments, we can forget that outside it's 30+ every day, and that the road to campus is pretty regularly an insect-infested river because of the consistent spurts of rain.

Life here seems to be a balance of treating yourself to luxuries (AC ain't cheap. Our electricity bill each month is somewhere in the vicinity of 120 US), and the inevitable reminders of where you are. Tonight, for instance, I was walking towards The Tomato, which is really the only place in town that has decent, American-style food. My day was very long (explanation another time), and I was looking forward to a decent meal with my bonnie lass, when I saw a ragged local approach me.

"Hey mon!" he said.

"Hello," I replied curtly.

"Hey mon, come here."

Shit, I thought.

He opens his bag to me. "Ginga?"



Was he insulting my hair?


I looked in. The man wanted to sell me ginger roots. At 6pm on a Thursday night, as the sun is setting. Is there a huge market for ginger that I don't know about? Why is this man selling me ginger?

I turned him down, heading for The Tomato, and reminded myself that yes, I do live in the Caribbean.

In a similar situation, I was drinking a coffee with a friend of mine at Rituals, the only place to get a decent espresso on the island. We sat outside, drinking our coffees, watching people pass by on the main road. A young woman was jogging past the shop on the opposite side of the street, when a cow emerges from the bushes, and stops in front of her. It stares at her, chewing grass. Evidently a first semester, she slows down and stops, unsure of what to do. She goes left; the cow mirrors. She goes right; the cow mirrors. Eventually she crosses the street and keeps running, and my friend and I watch traffic slow to not hit the cow that is no longer moving. Again, any illusion that I was enjoying a coffee in civilization fizzled pretty quickly, and I simply stared at the udders of that cow, willing it to provide better milk than the powdered kind that filled my latte.

Despite our best efforts to forget it, we live in the Caribbean (thank God for the red squiggly line - I always spell it Carribean). I know that for those who read this blog often enough, we seem to complain a lot. While Denise would disagree, I'm split on how I feel about the place. Sometimes I love being here; it's an adventure and a unique opportunity to read and write, and work all sorts of different jobs that I wouldn't normally do. Other times, I'm just so damned sick of being reminded that I am this far from home.

The silver lining is that home will soon be coming to me. My parents arrive on Tuesday, and my mother has agreed to brave the nausea-inducing road from Roseau to Portsmouth. Then we're going to drive back down, Denise and I, and we'll spend the next 6 days on a cruise.

Maybe they'll have real milk.


  1. I know what you mean about feeling far from home. Sometimes it's wonderful and you're like 'haha suckers it's 30 degrees!' and sometimes you just really really want a california roll.

    I'd like to think that there's a roaring trade in black market ginger.

  2. I know, it's hard to kick the frequent fantasies of good food. I swear to god, three times a week I'm approached with random food like guava, mangos, or bananas. I think people just pick them somewhere and sell them to the yuppies. Ginger though? That stuff takes work.

  3. When is your tour in Dominica at its end?

  4. Next Christmas we'll be moving to the States (hopefully).