16 October 2012

The Final Test

Then Tropical Storm Rafael (now Hurricane Rafael) passed through St. Kitts from late Friday through Monday, dropping torrential rains and causing mudslides all through Basseterre and around the island.  Since the center of the storm sort of hugged our southern coastline, the brunt of the winds came from the South, which means that Basseterre received a worse buffeting than usual.  Many of the primary North-to-South ghauts were completely flooded and drained water, mud, shrubberies, building supplies, and even cars into the bay!  A few of us volunteers had been saying we wanted to experience our very own lifelike hurricane, since our time up to now had been dotted with largely benign storms – it seems that we got what we asked for this weekend.  In fact, there is a sort of remarkable symmetry to it: when my group arrived on island in September of 2010, Hurricane Earl had just swept through the NE Caribbean, and the island was recovering from the shock of that.  Now, as I am preparing to leave, I am part of the contingent recovering from the shock of Hurricane Rafael.

In addition, I have been without running water since late Saturday, what with the storm knocking out the power for large swaths of time over the weekend and my neighborhood's water supply reliant on the water being pumped to the top of the hill I live on.  Usually this long after having power restored would be sufficient time for the water pump to have recovered, but the fact that it hasn't is indicative to me that it may be damaged and in need of repair.  Which means that my usual routines have been somewhat transformed: taking a shower has become bathing from a bucket, washing the dishes under cold running water has become soaking the dishes in room temperature soapy water, and washing my toothbrush off with running water has become saving potable water to rinse the toothpaste off.  Even things you wouldn't think about, like shaving or flushing the commode is different.  And this being the third day as such, it's doubtless I wouldn't have made it this far without the gracious help of my good friend Joy, who delivered a couple 10 gallon water containers to my apartment on Sunday. 

Current weather issues aside, I've been struggling to get myself over the hump to actually getting ready to leave.  I'm constantly pulled two ways about whether it's too early to pack something, whether it belongs in this suitcase or that, whether I need to pack it at all or leave it for the benefit of a friend or the next tenant in my apartment, etc.  It strikes me that this may be one of those "I'm not going to get to it until I feel the urgency pressing on me" issues.  So the over-under for when I get through packing is set for, I think, midnight Wednesday.  Mind you, my flight leaves SKB at 3:00 Thursday afternoon.  Now taking bets!

I've got some errands to run in town today: get some closeout papers signed and delivered to the Peace Corps office, close my savings account at the bank, and return the LIME modem that I am using to send this near-final update.  I already held my closing interview with my APCD, which went off without a hitch.  And after capturing some last minute photographs of my walk into town, which I am going to do this morning, I will be all caught up with my list of final things to do before leaving the island.  I have to say, though – I'm going to feel kind of guilty about the state that I'm going to be leaving the apartment in if I don't get running water with which to clean it up very soon.

Also, here's to the 200th post!

08 October 2012

I Believe

Whilst in a Monday meeting with my coworkers at the NSTP,  we were discussing the upcoming graduation ceremony for the A Ganar graduates.  I pointed out that I would be busy that Saturday volunteering at the 3rd Annual 5K Run for the St. Christopher Children's Home, and wouldn't be able to make it to the graduation.  And when the theme "I Believe; I Can Achieve" was discussed, I was inspired to contribute a poem in lieu of attending.  So I spent the time in the meeting composing the following poem; it was all done in about an hour's time.

My friends, my mentors, they encourage me;
My parents, my teachers, they want to see
The best come through in all I do
And show the world that I, for true,
Am worth the sacrifices they’ve made.  For
This I believe; I can achieve more
When I study those that want me to succeed.

The finish line looks far away,
But I’m being careful not to stray
From the path that takes me to the top.
Until I reach, I nah gon’ stop.
Some may doubt, but in my soul,
I believe; I can achieve the goal
That I have placed before myself.

In school, I’d fight and sweat and strive –
But thanks to A GANAR, I thrive
On the knowledge that I can do my part
To forge myself a brand-new start
Preparing myself for life’s big test.
I believe; I can achieve my best
By taking seriously the chances I’ve been blessed with.

I may not grow up to be rich,
My clothes may wear at every stitch,
But I know that yet still more import
Is found in whether I’m the sort
Of person the highest riches affords.
I believe; I can achieve rewards
In heaven and earth by doing my best every day.

I was favored with the attendance of over 50 friends, neighbors, and fellow volunteers at my 'Thanks and Goodbye' party on the evening of Friday the 28th.  Waking up at 6:00AM to start the cooking and going all the way through until guests began arriving around 5:30 that afternoon, I was almost completely spent even before the fun began.  But with the help of my good friend who showed me the ropes in preparing each of the local dishes on the menu (i.e. Cookup, Ginger Wings, Breadfruit Salad, Macaroni Pie) we got through it and was able to serve everyone who showed up looking for some good food and a good lime.  The Peace Corps and my work office were both well represented, and plenty of other friends and neighbors showed up and stayed until 10:00 that evening, just as the Tiki torches began to die out.  It was a success in the eyes of all the guests, and I took the rest of the weekend to recover.

I have but 10 days remaining in the Caribbean.  Some things left on my last minute to-do list are getting wrapped up presently: I went by Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor and purchased the portrait batik of a SK rum shop that will hang in my office, whenever and wherever I have one.  I submitted my health insurance application today, a small benefit when returning home after two years abroad.  Additionally, I was able to negotiate a discounted rate at the Royal St. Kitts Golf Course in Frigate Bay, and hope to take advantage of it this Thursday.  Aside from those three things, I'll have the first half of next week to complete any remaining trivial things before catching my flight back next Thursday the 18th.