About time I stopped sniffling about my situation and started dealing with it. With a more positive attitude, the day turned out interesting.
First, however, was a visit to the hospital. Nothing wrong with me. Just needed to have some blood taken for the work permit. They are very cautious about HIV here; apparently a problem. I know, keep that in mind, but I see no dangers on that front here. Anyway, the hospital.
Yesterday, Julio pops into my office and asks if I’m ready. “For what?” Apparently, it was time to go to the doctor’s office for a blood test, or a skin scrape, I wasn’t sure. So we go to this standalone building, kind of small. There was a receptionist desk but no receptionist. The doctor (at least I think he was a doctor, I was never introduced) was in a small side office. No one else was around, no patients, no staff. He filled out two forms with my name on them, one blue and one red. The blue was for the hospital the next day for a blood test, the red for the day after when I would have to go to St. Kitts for a skin scrape. I guess I will find out what that is tomorrow. I shook the man’s hand and we left, Julio instructing me on what I had to do the next two days.
So, this morning at 8 was the hospital. I had to go to the “laboratory,” where a crowd was already gathering before the doors opened. I was sixth in line and even with some disruption entering the facility (I guess you could call it that) everyone managed to understand their place in line. Very unorganized organized. I was the only white person there, although there were a few Latinos. Posters on the wall warned against the danger of unsafe sex and HIV.
The blood draws were taken right outside the reception area, which was small and cramped with people. From my angle, I could see one of the chairs and the aide taking the blood. I was hoping everything was antiseptic. Also, did I mention I don’t like needles? Getting a preview of what was about to happen to me did not make my morning any better. My name was called (or at least a reasonable resemblance to my name) and I popped around the corner to find a smiling young lady waiting for me. I cracked a joke about “Good try with the name,” which generated a chuckle from her and the young man next to her also administering the draws. You see, they had two wooden chairs side-by-side doing the blood draws. How quaint! It was painless, she did a nice job, and I told her so. The cost was EC$10, or US$3.50.
After some time in the office, I got a call from Merv-Ann to pick her up at the courthouse. Tuesday is court day and she is doing the reporting. This was good because I wanted to get lunch downtown anyway, at a place called Boddies, where you can order takeout from dishes displayed in front of you. It’s not cheap but pretty good. I ordered BBQ chicken with potato salad, salad and vegetables. I bought Merv-Ann lunch and she ordered a fish sandwich, which took forever to make. I thought it might be a good idea to treat her and build some bridges that had become a problem.
After dropping her off at the office and eating my lunch at home, where I also had some
iced tea, I decided today was the day for my first haircut in Nevis. I had noticed a place, Sherry’s, down the road from the hospital. It was a bit more than I expected – about 8 chairs and 4-5 staff. There were here young guys, one getting his hair cut and the other two already finished, and a couple of ladies with curlers and such.
The owner ended up cutting my hair, which was a far different experience than in Batam. No razor trim around the ears and neck, no mustache or eyebrow trim, no shoulder massage, and certainly no shave. All the latter you can get in Batam, plus the haircut, for $2.50. The cost here: $17.50. Sherry has a big, well-supplied shop so maybe there are some less-successful places where the price will be lower.
Back to work, where I’m working on four stories at one time but can’t get anyone to respond to questions via email. Then Julio tells me I’m catching the 7 a.m. ferry, not the 8:30, the next morning to St. Kitts for the “skin scrape.” Troy from the office and Julio’s wife Maria also are going.
I had decided after work to start my garden. Even if I leave this place soon, it’s a physical activity that I will enjoy indulging in after work. A great release. And then, some days I just might go fishing. But today, after work, I walked over to Ms. William’s house to get the digging tools she said I could use – a spade axe (best I can describe it) and a pitchfork.
I staked out an area in the backyard that Ms. Williams had previously pointed out to me, and started by moving rocks from here to there. Then, once a vague outline had been formed with stones, it was pitchfork time. Felt pretty good at the time but I suspect my back will be howling at me all the way to St. Kitts in the morning.
So, why waste your time building a garden and growing stuff if you might leave at any time?
I guess my overall answer to that would be that we all have our hobbies, activities we take part in on a regular basis that take of our time and probably of our pocketbook. A hobby is mobile, transportable. It’s not (usually) tied down to one specific place or race.
Gardening is a great hobby and, yes, it would bother me if I grew some terrific plants from seed and then saw them die because I had to leave. My recent experience, however, might be enlightening:
I had spent quite a bit of money (for me, anyway) outfitting a small herb garden on the roof of my building. With seeds my daughter forwarded to me from North Carolina I was able to grow some amazing basil plants, thyme, the oregano was coming, dill, parsley, tomato, sage (did I leave anything out?). I was quite proud of my herbs, created a “Pak Ken’s Organics” brand, with logo and everything. What was I thinking?
It didn’t matter. I knew the outcome and still took on the task. It was therapy, a way to put the stressful issue in a box somewhere for just a few minutes, a brief respite from the turmoil. Surely, someone will want my creations.
Actually, it was brilliant! I wasn’t brilliant, just the concept. I was under a lot of stress because of my uncertain future at Smiling Hill. I pretty much nailed the scenarios six months before they happened but none of my friends thought I was right at the time. But thinking I knew the outcome and dealing with that possibility did not offer me sleep.
Anyway, gardening is one of those activities where your mind quickly becomes either 1. off on a tangent thought, your motions in the garden created more by repetition than current thought, or 2. totally focused on the task at hand, analyzing the leaf eaten by a bug, or how much the oregano has spread. Either way, the hobby has taken your mind into a better place.
And gardening is totally repetitive. You move, your hobby moves with you. Oh, and my plants in Batam: Most were taken and replanted for the Goodies garden, one basil plant was given to Bjorn, and the rest, including all the empty containers and soil I had, was gratefully rescued from the rooftop by a friend of Dewi’s. All found a good home.
In other words, my new garden may only be a passing fancy, but it will provide me with almost daily entertainment and release while I am here.