Sunday, October 12, 2008
Just 5 More Days!
It doesn't seem possible, now that it's almost over, that I will be sworn-in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer this coming Friday. The U.S. Ambassador to the Caribbean will be administering our Oath of Office, the very same one that the President of the United States must take. Two more classroom days of training, a final interview with our Country Director - and then the real work begins.
What have I learned is that the PCV is a government job, from the pages and pages of instruction manuals to the pages and pages of forms that we must fill out and turn in every three months. The do's and do-not list is miles long - you sometime wonder how you can every get anything done. We all worry that we will be here for 2 years and not be able to accomplish much of anything. The operative word for the PC is 'sustainable.' They want us to begin programs and projects that will be carried on long after we are gone. But we have learned that absolutely everything on these islands is tied to which political party is in office - and that changes every 5 years. Right now we are in the middle of an election term, which means that everything will change in 2 1/2 years if this party is voted out and the opposition is elected. When that happens almost everything that has been accomplished is deleted, the leadership of every Ministry changs, and they then start all over again, with their vision of what these 2 small islands need. It's frustrating to those who have been here before us, and will continue to be to our group and those that follow.
Speaking of our group. When we mustered in Miami on August 25th, there were 39 of us. We just learned that the average drop-out rate is between 10-12% before swearing-in. We seem to have set a record - not one of our group has dropped out or been asked to leave. All 39 will be sworn in, St. Kitts the first, then St. Lucia and St. Vincent.
We're either gluttons for punishment or a pretty sharp group of volunteers - only time will tell.
This past week has been fun, tiring, boring, hot and dark. We are still experiencing rolling blackouts all across the island due to the fact that 2 of the 4 generators caught on fire 2 weeks ago and have yet to be replaced or fixed. Here at the house we lose power now around noon, with it coming back on sometime after 7 p.m. Not as bad as the first week when the lights were out all day and night for several days in a row. We didn't even have water for 3 days. Training class is running down - only 2 more days of classes, and yes, I passed all my tests. I'm getting my first hair cut on Tuesday since leaving the States. Have had several recommendations for the ex-pat community on who cuts the best 'white hair' and settled on a lovely lady downtown named Dawn. Keep your fingers crossed. One of the younger guys went for a haircut and came back with a buzz!
Oh - I got to see inside my apartment! It is HUGE! Seriously HUGE. Has a HUGE balcony overlooking downtown, a HUGE living room, a HUGH dining room, a HUGE kitchen, 2 HUGE bedrooms and two tiny bathrooms! The problem is there is hardly any furniture. A tiny, vinyl-covered love seat and chair in the living room, small table and 2 chairs in the dining room, 2 beds in the guest bedroom and 1 in the master. It does have a microwave and washer (no one has dryers). Comes with some sheets and towels, an iron and board, desperately needs to be painted, but I have 2 years to spiff it up. Learned that the Marriott, where I treat myself at least every-other-week to a real hamburger and French fries ($20 USD) sells off all the furnishings from it's 'high roller rooms' that they redo every 6 months. Hoping to get end tables, coffee table, and lamps - and a TV!
Have scheduled to have my cable and wireless set up next Monday, but timeliness is not next to godliness here, so this might be my last report for well over a week. But once I'm up and running, I'll once again have my same stateside phone number back up and working - the very same number that was my Wilmington home phone. So you all better call now and say 'hey.'
Oh - best thing to happen all week? - while working with kids on the driving range, met an old Returned PCV who served on St. Kitts 20 years ago. He told us wonderful stories of all he did while serving here (everything of which is now on our don't-do list) and how much the island had changed - or hasn't. What's really great is he is a golfer and was really interested in our youth program with Royal St. Kitts. He promised to go home and round up lots of equipment, shirts, gloves, balls, all those things you need to 'look and feel like a golfer' and none of which our kids can afford.
Well, time to eat a little dinner. Did I mention that I've had chicken at every meal for the past 10 days? Now you know why I would pay $20 for a real beef burger! I'm feel like I have feathers growing between my toes and soon will cluck instead of speak!
This week's pics are of 2 of my Peace Corps buddies, Lauren and George. We all went to Barry's Bar & Grill after our final class on Friday. Free "Sexy Punch" during happy hour (don't ask - after 2 I was very happy!) and fantastic fresh conch sauteed in butter and garlic - Yum!
Bye for now. The next time I write it will be from my own place and I'll be a 'real Peace Corps Volunteer!
Have a good week - take care of each other.
Posted by Re's Home on the Road at 4:04 PM