Two posts this Saturday morning as I sit on the company steps outside using the Wifi. No key to office.
Forr whatever reason, I’m getting up very early. Seems to me my now-confused biological clock would have me doing the opposite. At any rate, my 3 a.m. wakeup from Thursday evolved to a 4:30 Friday morning. Part of it is dealing with the new stresses and frustrations inherent in what I am doing. Part of it is boredom – no one really to talk to yet.
About this stage in Costa Rica, I ran into my good friend Jack, who helped to overcome that isolation problem. Meanwhile, I will continue to walk as far as I can each night, in a different direction each night, until I get the lay of the land. Since it’s Friday (at 5:30 a.m.), it may be a good night to head into downtown Charlestown. The walk in is downhill and I can catch a taxi back, if necessary. Except: Since I don’t know my address. And I need to go to the bank. And wherever to get Internet and TV for the apartment. And somewhere to get a SIM card for my phone.
I’ve been making some parallels of my situation here to my time in Costa Rica. The biggest difference now is that I have a full-time job that takes up all my day, leaving little time for addressing personal matters. Another difference, of course, is the language – English now, Spanish then (although I’ve been trying out a little of the Spanish I remember on Julio, who is from the Dominican Republic). Another difference is the color of the skin of the locals.
The people I have encountered here seem friendly enough but they also seem reserved, not wanting to open up too much to a stranger. This is evident in the office, which I will address. To my friends who care, there does not seem to be any kampung bule-type area here, so I may have to be celibate for awhile.
About my surroundings.
My apartment sits on the Mt. Nevis slope, maybe two miles from downtown Charlestown. This is not ideal without transportation. There is a relatively busy road in front, east about 4 blocks is the office, and west is the IGA and the area I explored yesterday. Due north is town.
The house I’m in sits about 50 yards back from the road, with a field of overgrowth between it and the road. There is a big yard, with banana and coconut trees in back, where the volcano dominates the skyline. So, on one side I can see the Caribbean, on the other a volcano. There s nothing but jungle in the back, with monkeys, according to my neighbor.
To the left as I look out my front door is the neighbor’s house. I met the woman living there briefly. Think her name s Huggins.
She has a mango tree in her backyard that hangs over into my new yard and says the monkeys are always coming in to steal the fruit. She also has a dog, as does seemingly everyone here. In Indonesia, cats were king because Muslims think dogs are unclean (they are). Here, everyone has a dog. So there is constant barking. At least that helps the security situation. I will look for a cat.
Speaking of security, I have learned that these islands have a high rate of murder and crime. Good grief! So I should be careful. Recently, four guys robbed one of the banks on Nevis. Their haul was only about $2,500 and I’m not sure where they thought they could go. The island is so small. But it is also looking like the police competency is low. In fact, I’m guessing the competency for a lot of tasks is low here, based on the population size and the remoteness of the islands.
Did my first laundry since I was in Sicily. At least I don’t have to hand wash in a sink, as I did in Costa Rica, Croatia and Sicily. . There are drying lines in the backyard and wouldn’t you know it, it rained, hard, the night I hung everything out to dry. Luckily, the next day brought sunshine and brisk breezes. But now I have a lot of shirts that need ironing. That laundry service at Smiling Hill is looking pretty good now.
As I’m writing this, the sun is starting to light the sky and the hummingbirds are flitting about the yellow blossoms in the front yard. Just drinking instant coffee right now as I haven’t found a coffeemaker yet. There also is no coffeemaker at the office, and nowhere close to buy lunch. So, I’m cooking and brown bagging, and can come home for lunch if necessary. Only a short walk.
Nobody has said anything yet about my work hours but I suspect we are off on the weekends, which means maybe I will have a chance to do some fishing. I may have to walk to the beach, however. Guess I can get a taxi back if I have too many fish to carry. But first I need a cast net to catch bait. On my “to do” list for today, along with the bank, TV, Internet and SIM card.
Did I mention is kind of fun to once again be writing in my blog. Soon, I will be writing for the paper, probably next week. As yet, though, I have no idea what I will be writing about. Have to get that office situation organized. But the lethargy there is palatable. It’s the islands, mon!
Hey, for my Indonesian friends who can read in English, this is Friday, so a batik shirt is on the dress code agenda. Should make a stir at the office. So far, I’ve been wearing shorts, flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts. Not sure that will fly when I go out to do stories.
Finally, groceries are very expensive here. For example: onions, $1.20/lb; small package of spaghetti, $2.60; apples, $1 each; small bottle of ketchup, $1.85; frozen fish fillet, $4.64/lb; chicken thighs, frozen, $1.20/lb; no brand cola, $2.57/2 liters; Nescafe instant coffee, 100 grams, $6.80; ½ gallon milk, $4.45; ground beef, $3.65; peanut butter, $4.10, 9 oz.; Idaho potatoes, $1.15/ln; pork chops, $3.83/lb; soybean oil, $3.50/ small (olive oil is way too expensive to buy).