Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sibling love and missing moments

After a hiatus that just flew by, I'm back to keep you posted on life on this (increasingly) small tropical island. I find myself saying "cheese on this island is very small" even more now!
First things first, my brother Matt, my first visitor while working abroad, spent a week here and it was both refreshing and exhausting. I felt simultaneously like a tour guide, parent, sister and bank. Working overseas has its perks - new and stimulating environments, meeting a world of different people, personal growth, running from winter in Canada, but it necessitates sacrifices as well. These sacrifices are more evident a certain times than others. Missing time while my younger brother grows up is right up there on the list of things it pains me to give up. I definitely learned that I can't bridge that distance in a week, especially not by overspending and giving him everything.
I can understand how a separated parent can feel by buying things to make up for lost time. But at least from my end, just spending time together - checking out a junior surf competition at Bathsheba on the East Coast and hanging out all together with some friends here - was the greatest feeling. I know a week cannot make up for many months missing at a time, but just appreciating it nonetheless as an opportunity to share my life with family and spend whatever time we have together, catching up. The feeling of hearing my brother rave about how amazing his first surf lesson was and together, watching him catch a wave on his own, is incredible.
Other highlights of his time here include getting him to dance, our tour of the Mount Gay Rum facility, not your average domino games, eating a lot of good food and enjoying the beaches. All I can do is be happy that we got to spend this time together.

In other news, I need to get back in shape for Oistins 10km run at the end of April. Too much hailing of the ice cream truck recently. And on the work front, looks like I might be in Antigua for my birthday and a couple days following for some youth media training, so fingers crossed I'll find out early this week.

Nickname updates: Met the following people in the last two weeks - Scotland Yard, Blood Stain (intense), Sacky, Ziggy and Damian (after Ziggy and Damian Marley).

And lastly, looking forward to Reggae Fest and Oistins Fish Fest - I heard some women can de-bone a flying fish in seconds! - at the end of April.

After a rainy session at Surfer's Point

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's about time!

I have been in Barbados for almost 6 months. Barbados is 430 square kilometres. Just the size of urban Ottawa is 357 square kilometers. It is slightly embarrassing to admit that I had not toured the country before yesterday. But at least we did it and since this week is a bit chaotic for me - my brother is coming on Wednesday! - this post might be dominated by photos. I have a feeling most people won't mind!
I did end up having a lovely weekend, involving celebrating a friend Ricardo's birthday (check out the snicker's decorated cake we got for him) on Friday and taking in a performance from Peter Ram, a popular bashment freestyle artist. Saturday was probably a contender for my laziest day ever in Barbados, and Sunday went surfing at Surfer's Point and first time I didn't get pushed into any waves. After surfing, spent the rest of the day on the island tour. Would like to give more details but need my rest right now, will update this later in the week hopefully.

Started by picking up a slew of great people pon de west coast, and saw him!

Finally made it to the North point - where do you want to go from here?

It's Animal Flower Cave (though we didn't go down in it - apparently the sea anemones for which it's named have mostly been washed away with rough weather the last few years.

So I made due with relaxing and taking in the amazing view.

Catching a rainbow!

This is Cherry Tree Hill (strangely no cherry trees) with a beautiful view to the Scotland district of Barbados, famous for the only rolling hills on the island and "ecky-beckies", White Barbadian descendants of prisoners and indebted servants.

I thought this was THE windmill of Barbados; apparently not.

Prime example of island erosion and the effects of climate change. That is a house. On a rock.

Pools at Bathsheba - should have brought my bathing suit!

Reminds me of a crazy straw!

Each parish has it's own parish church (so we saw quite a few). This one is where the former PM David Thompson is buried.

After going through St. Michael, St. James, St. Peter, St. Lucy, St. Andrew, St. John, St. Joseph and St. Philip, we go round past the airport and back home in Christ Church. That's almost all the parishes in one day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A mix of things going on

First, Happy International Women's Day! To borrow from a note written by Melissa: "Today is simply a reminder that we (children, men, women and everyone in between) should mobilise for women yesterday, today, tomorrow and for all the days after that." It's not about the specific day but just to recognize that each individual, woman or otherwise, is unique and faces unique challenges, has special talents and embodies all the potential in the world if they are given an opportunity.
In other news, I had a fairly quiet weekend, with another surf lesson on Sunday with some new and old faces. Finally learning to catch my own waves; I can read when a set is coming in but still hard to time the paddling so that I actually ride the wave and not get rocked by it! I was at the beach with a friend Saturday afternoon, played a little raquette ball, enjoyed some rum punch and swam around for awhile. Last week, I went to a different friend's football (soccer) match, and watching from the sidelines really made me miss playing! Here is a picture from the game with a friend's little sister Samantha.
It's down to crunch time in Spanish class, so plan on cramming that for the next few weeks. The Institute is actually planning an Easter weekend trip to Venezuela - pretty cheap so it's tempting.

Otherwise, still running in the mornings and really liking experimenting in the kitchen recently, especially with red lentils. Next to milo, this is my current mini obsession. But eating more veg (even tried these), feeling good and thinking about my lovely friends in DC.

As I continue budgetting for food here, I thought you might appreciate a visual illustration of purchasing conundrums in a small island state.

This 2L jug of decent rum costs about 20 dollars

This package of strawberries costs 11.

Tax went up 2.5% in January, so VAT is sitting at 17.5% at a time when impacts from the economic crisis in North America as still being felt here. All over the world, prices of foodstuffs are going up, which affects people's buying choices. Already I can see a lot of American and fast food influence on people's eating habits here - between KFC and the local McDonald's equivalent Cheffette, I can see a lot of people get that taste for salt and a bargain. Here's hoping public health becomes more of a priority.

Also, my brother comes in T-one week!