It was a long day, punctuated by a call from the boss from the U.S. and by a trip into town to run some important errands. I was up before dawn again and headed to the office thinking I’d use the Wifi outside until someone showed up with a key. But Julio, Carlos and Angela (the Spanish trio) were already there trying to get this week’s edition printed. Julio said he had been there since 2 a.m.
I left them to work their magic with the ancient press and soon could hear the rumbling as it roared to life. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a printing press plant when the presses are running. I might have been more excited if I had had anything to do with putting it together.
My immediate concern was to get together with three staff members, now that the week was done, to discuss my role and theirs going forward. Each person was given a copy of my assigned duties so they could understand I was in charge, and my resume, so they understood what I was bringing to the table.
I opted for individual meetings and sat down with Merv-Ann first, right after I gave her a
bit of hell for changing my edits on her articles in this week’s issue. She said she didn’t make the changes, which meant the boss did from Miami at the last minute. Maybe. We ended up having a long and fruitful discussion. I now knew that my only reporter was there only because she needed a job, and that she had no formal training as a journalist. But she has potential, given the right guidance.
Then I met with Troy, who is so laid back he almost got lost in the sofa in my office. While Merv-Ann is bright and aggressive, Troy does not seem as motivated. His job editorially is to post material on the Web site.
Jimmy, the graphic artist is off on Friday and apparently has a flexible schedule the rest of the week, depending on when he’s needed. Working with him, however, and getting him on board, is a priority because the paper essentially sucks design-wise. I will have to tread lightly but after talking with the boss I have something of a green light. For example, I told Ken, the owner, I wanted to see the pages before going to press and he agreed. Probably appreciated the initiative.
First punctuation: the call from Ken. So, when are you coming here, I asked. Not until February when the government changes hands, he responded. That is very odd and suggests he has some kind of arrangement with the party out of power and may not even be welcome here at this time. The paper is heavy politically on one side, to the point bordering on yellow journalism. After I told him there were three headline typos on the front page(e.g., the capital city, Basseterre, was misspelled) and that layout of his lead article had been botched, he was more than happy to let me get involved in the design and final review.
Julio was supposed to drive Merv-Ann and me into town for a new store opening but he
was busy delivering the papers to their various distribution points, so we first tried to get a taxi. She had no numbers and, of course, neither did I, so she had to ask someone in Charlestown to have a cabbie call her. When he did, he quoted a fare for each person of about $7, not a fare for the trip but for each person. We decided to walk. Of course, my batik shirt, a gift from Mawar and Sida, was soaked by the time we arrived. There was a small crowd of people for the ribbon-cutting and I took a few pictures of the owner. One of my priorities is to improve the quality of the photos we are publishing. I don’t know if it’s the originals or the printing process but everything is washed out when printed, and with deut after going to four banks, I realized it was a waste of time. My only option is to send the money (about $600) to my daughter is Asheville and have her get it exchanged at Wells Fargo and deposit in my account. Also withdrew some cash from an ATM, which is the same process as elsewhere, except the machine didn’t give me a choice between English and Indonesian.
Merv-Ann had complained that there were no office supplies for her to use, specifically pads for note-taking, an essential reporter’s tool, so I stopped in a store with stationary supplies and purchased several small pads and some pens. If I can find them at a reasonable price, I also plan to buy digital recorders for both of us, as she is using her phone for interviews now.
Next, I stopped at the Digicel office, where I picked up a SIM card and local phone number. The card cost EC$23.4 (about US$7.50) and came with EC$5 in credit. I bought another EC$20 in credit. My local number is 7652577 and I think the country code is 864.he next stop – Caribbean Cable – was on the way back to the apartment on Government Road. Now understand I do not yet know my addres. I asked the landlady but she said there wasn’t one. The very nice lady at the cable company worked me through that process and set me up with Internet (2MG upload and 1.5MG download) and cable TV. The total cost for the first month, including a modem, was EC$504 (about US$188). My monthly bill will be less than $100 for both and will be deducted from my bank account. The nice lady said she would try to have them installed on Monday – after a gave her a pained expression and said I was having withdrawal with no Internet. You gotta charm them sometimes.
I had long ago given up on finding Merv-Ann so I headed back up the hill, stopping briefly
at a local soda for a very cold Carib, backed up by some VERY loud music. Except for a pretty good spaghetti dinner, the night was filled with minor problems – for some reason I couldn’t get my laptop to play any of my stored videos and then, in the middle of the night, the floor fan stopped working, which meant I had to sleep on the living room couch, where there was a ceiling fan. I was too exhausted to care.
Well, folks, I’m definitely in a third world country again. I know there seems to be a lot of complaining here but I have to once again get used to a more primitive lifestyle, having been spoiled by my Smiling Hill experience (e.g., I have a pile of shirts that need to be ironed, something I didn’t have to do at Smiling Hill).
I’m finishing this post on Saturday morning and will walk to the office to access Wifi outside the locked front door. And BTW, my male friends, I haven’t seen any women yet who would interest me, but it is early. I think celibacy is in my future.