20 October 2010

A Week in Sugar City

I apologize for my truancy; between moving into my apartment on Friday and Saturday, preparing an 8 minute movie for the Swearing-In Ceremony on Monday, and not having internet at home just yet, this is the first time I have been able to get online since Friday.  I have some good stories, though, and pictures! So you are obliged to forgive me.

Tropical Storm Otto on the Bay Road
Let's begin on Friday.  I moved into my "new" apartment that morning, took inventory stock of everything inside, literally and metaphorically, and rued the advent of a home-cooked meal that would not be mine to enjoy until Sunday night.  I took some pictures and video of the apartment as it was that first day, so that will go up with some other highlights at the end of this month.  Later, I spent the evening working on the movie, and at one point tried to plug an APC surge-protector strip into a 220-Volt adapter plugged into the wall.  The result was a loud BANG and all of the wall lights went out simultaneously.  *shock and dismay* It was clear that I had tripped the breaker on that circuit, but I hadn't even plugged anything into the APC strip yet!  Anybody have any idea why that would happen?  Nobody here had a similar experience, to my knowledge.  Ultimately it was fine, as Mavis helped me find the breaker box in my apartment, and we flipped the circuit back on with no problems.

The Bay Road following Otto
The next morning, Saturday, I was up early and bussed into town to purchase a house fan and EC$140 worth of cleaning supplies.  I gave my place a good scouring, including spending 3 hours on the bathroom alone, but not before getting home and realizing that despite having keys that turn the knob to my bedroom door lock, none of my keys actually unlock my bedroom door.  *extreme dismay* After about two hours of phoning friends and considering options I was eventually able to re-enter my bedroom, and I learned my lesson at that point.  Ultimately, I was able to get my laundry done on schedule as well, with time left in the afternoon for two walks down to the grocery store. 

Front of my apartment at Mattingley Heights
Now with a minimally stocked fridge and pantry, a clean apartment and some clean dishes, I was ready for anything.  Except, apparently, waking up the next morning to find I had accidentally left out my dish of food from the night before instead of putting it away and cleaning out the dish which I had intended to do.  What greeted me was a dish full of ants and a steady oncoming stream to and from the wall.  *mild dismay* It was nothing that a little Windex and Raid wouldn't fix.  (The Windex is perfect for stopping the ants in place immediately and sweeping them up with a paper towel, rather than spraying your dishes and counter with Raid.)

A view of the front step
My host father is gracious enough to give me a lift to church on Sunday mornings, despite my living on my own now, so I attended with him again that Sunday at St. George's Anglican.  I really enjoy it there, I'm getting around to recognizing people and they are getting around to recognizing me, though slower than I would have expected.  With a service identical to an Episcopal service in the States (except being twice as long), it is exactly what I grew accustomed to the last two or three years before moving back to Hiawassee.  The two hour service took only two visits before I didn't even notice anymore, and I'm quickly becoming accustomed to the parish-specific customs and songs.  For example, instead of reciting the Lord's Prayer after taking the offering, the congregation holds hands and sings the Lord's Prayer.  But of course, the music is not written down anywhere, so one must learn by ear the tunes intended to be chanted in both the bulletin and the Book of Common Prayer.  Just a few more visits, and I'll have it, no doubt.

A common Friday night sight from my veranda
Monday was the Swearing-In Ceremony.  As anticipated, it was akin to a college commencement, with formal protocol and remarks from a variety of VIPs, American, Kittitian, Peace Corps, and otherwise.  The Deputy Prime Minister was in attendance, and spoke on behalf of the Prime Minister and the sitting government.  The Deputy Governor-General was also there as Acting Governor-General, presumably because the appointed Governor-General is currently off-island.  Peace Corps's own Eastern Caribbean Country Director was there and made her encouraging comments.

At the Swearing-In Ceremony
I had not had the opportunity to hear the Deputy Prime Minister speak before, even though he is the government's appointed representative from my district, but it turns out he has a bent for the deadpan.  At one point, he apologized that his schedule did not permit him to stay longer, as his assistant scheduled for him a cabinet session that afternoon, but forgot to ask "whether or not he wanted to go to cabinet."  He cited his preference for the present company, and, in apologizing for the absence of the Prime Minister, pointed out that, curiously, he "would rather be in cabinet," to much laughter.

Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Sam Condor
The movie I compiled was a hit, I think.  I got lots of positive feedback from PCVs and host country nationals alike.  Yay, iMovie.  I can say with confidence that the audience laughed in all the right places, and I think the music selection went down well.  Especially popular was the wipe-to-profiles segment at 2:25.  Some people asked how I did that, but a true magician never reveals his secret.  For my part, I thought the music was a perfect fit for each segment, and catchy, too: I had "Don't Stop the Tempo" stuck in my head for days after.  I would have liked to add some footage from some other activities EC82 participated in, but a lack of either material, time left in the movie, or time left to make the movie constricted me to the four segments that ultimately passed muster.  And despite all of the planning and time and thought and attention that had been poured into making the movie happen, I was still so nervous on Monday morning, that I had to stand up in the back of the room whilst it was playing.

Newly dubbed PC Volunteers with PC Staff
But it all went well.  My class of EC82 stood and took our oath of service, not unlike the president's oath of office in structure and content, and signed official forms to the same end.  My fellow PCV from Nevis was asked to deliver the remarks from our training class, and performed with gusto.  He hit all of the good points and kept it brief and entertaining.  I will have his speech, as well as more photo and video footage from the ceremony, included in the highlight video for October.  But if you're dying for more video now, my friend from Antigua posted a video of some of her clips from St. Lucia and the first month at her site.

With that over and done with, most volunteers took the rest of the day off (it was 2 o'clock by the time we were back home, anyway) and we celebrated the end of training and the official beginning of a 730-day commitment to improving community-building capacity and bidirectional cultural discourse in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.  For my part, I am still engaged in my projects at the school and at the NSTP, so more specific updates for those in the future. And that brings everyone up to date.

P.S.  1500 all-time page views today.


  1. Re: Your power disaster

    You mention a 220V "adapter." Do you mean going from 220V in the wall to 110-120V devices plugged into it? And is your surge protector a 110-120V surge protector? (meaning, from here in the states.)

    That combo could conceivably work, but it's less than ideal. If you had used one of our surge protectors with the wrong input voltage, that could cause a 'splosion. You'll want to use a surge protector made for the native voltage there, otherwise you'll have issues.

    If you were in fact using a power transformer going from the wall's 220V power to the proper voltage for your surge protector, then the transformer might have failed. Had you used it previously? Are you sure it worked before?

    And by the way, your surge protector doesn't need to have anything plugged in to cause issues. Unless the surge protector itself is turned "off" (the hardware switch they all have), it's already sucking down power.

    I'll try to call you as you asked me to, but I don't know when I'll get a chance. I'm pretty swamped the next several evenings.

  2. Yes, it was a 220V to 110V step-down transformer. And yes, I have used it with much success before then. But, for who knows what reason, it apparently didn't work this time?! Anyway, there's a 110 outlet not far from the 220, so I'm using it to power the APC surge protector strip instead. And there was much rejoicing.