So Long, Farewell, Grenada…

What can I say, it’s been real, Grenada.  We’ve had our ups and downs that’s for sure, but I appreciate the experience.

When Matt and I moved to Grenada in January of 2010, we had just got engaged a few weeks earlier.

December 22, 2009

It was such an exciting time for us, with Matt starting medical school, and the beginning of planning our wedding.  Sometimes I can’t believe that two years flew by so fast, but then I stop and think about all that’s happened since we first got to Grenada, and then I can believe it’s been that long.

As we say our final farewell’s to Grenada tomorrow, I thought I’d leave you with…

Ten Things I’ve Learned Over The Last 2 Years While Living Abroad in Grenada

1.)  I learned how to cook! 

It’s kind of funny because prior to getting engaged, I had maybe cooked Matt a real dinner one or two times.  I know, it’s kind of crazy considering we dated for about 2.5 years before getting engaged!  I guess I never needed to learn, we lived with his parents, and his mom cooked delicious meals every night!  Why learn?  It was kind of a rude awakening when we landed in Grenada, and Matt looked at me to fill the shoes of his mom’s cooking (and trust me, those aren’t easy shoes to fill!), but I tried my best, and somewhere along the way I learned a thing or two.  Here I am now, whipping up all kinds of different meals, like chicken parmesan, lasagna, chili, chicken fajitas, an array of fish dishes, roasted whole chickens, homemade banana bread, pumpkin pies, meatloaf, minestrone soup, etc.  (P.S.  I just got really hungry talking about all of those foods.)

2.)  You never want to get sick in 3rd world country.

Matt and I learned this the hard way.  Matt got e coli the first semester we were down here, and it was not a good situation, to say the very least.  We ended up at St. George’s General Hospital in the city of St. George’s, and let me just tell you, it was the stuff nightmares are made out of…cockroaches on hospital beds, extremely UN-urgent medical care, dirty equipment lying around, and generally stuff that you might see residing in Dr. Giggles’ office…Let’s put it this way, I wouldn’t want to get a head injury, or anything extremely serious like that in Grenada.  Get my drift?

3.)  I’m not a very outdoorsy.

I’m pretty sure that I mentioned this already in a post, but here it is again; I don’t like nature.  Okay, that’s not exactly it, I love nature, I just prefer to not be thrust out into it.  Instead, I prefer to observe it from afar, and not be involved in activities such as, getting my make-up/hair messed up, getting sweaty/and or dirty, anything requiring me to trudge through rain or dirt, or any activities involving the ocean (other than lying on the beach and also observing it from afar.)

Exhibit A.

After looking everywhere for me at the Kauai Coffee Plantation on our honeymoon,  Matt found me in the tiny section in the gift shop where they sell soaps and perfumes.  It goes without saying, that I was not very interested in the coffee beans, but very engaged in the pretty things.  P.S. He took this picture without me knowing. 

4.)  You might have to bond with a local in order to understand the culture in Grenada.

It’s kind of ironic, that the first time I really started to understand the Grenadian culture was just about a week ago.  Matt and I have had a taxi driver named Bernard for nearly two years now, and he drives us around on the rare occasions that we go out to dinner. Bernard has lived in Grenada his entire life, and has never left the island.  EVER.  Recently on a trip to the Immigration office, it was just me and B-nard (as I fondly like to call him), and we had quite a nice little chat.

Before I get into that, let me explain that Bernard and I often have awkward encounters when it comes time to pay him for the rides.  Usually he says something like, “Just give me whateva you tink (tink is “think” in Grenadian), Saaaaaaaahhhh-rah.”  This inevitably confuses me, and I have no idea how to respond to it, so I usually say something like, “Well, I have no idea, Bernard!  You have to tell me how much!”  Then, we go back and forth, until I get flustered to the point where I throw money at him (not literally), probably over paying him.

So, on our trip to the Immigration Office, we were chattering away, and Bernard revealed to me that he has no intention to ever go to America.  When I asked why, he said it simply.  “In America you don’t get nothin’ for free.  If yer hungry in Grenada, someone will give you some callaloo (a vegetable) for free if you need to eat.  You have to pay for everyting in America.”

So, there you have it.  I finally understood why Bernard and I had all of those miscommunications about paying him for his services.  Perhaps if I had offered him some callaloo a time or two, we may have understood one another a long time ago…

Me, Bernard, the fam, and the infamous taxi van.

Matt and Bernard's child, Jerome. He loved Matt, as all children do.

5.)  You should never go to a foreign country and expect it to be like America. (I learned this one the hard way.)

If I could pass on these words of wisdom to any American traveling abroad, this would be it.  I had a quite the eye opener when I got to Grenada.

Me:  “Wait, there’s no milk for two weeks straight?  Or eggs?  Or chicken?  And this is normal?! Waaaaaahhhhh!! <– (Snookie style.)

Especially when we first got down here, I found all of these things very frustrating.  I didn’t expect Grenada to have the same abundant supermarkets as in America, but I at least thought they would have the essentials.  The lack of food options has been one of the hardest parts about living here for me.  I’ve had to really let go of a lot of my expectations of what I think is normal, and try to improvise more with our meals.  I think if I would have come to Grenada free of expectations, than I might have been pleasantly surprised. Instead, I thought it was going to be something it wasn’t, and it made it that much harder to adjust.

And other non-American things to adapt to in Grenada…

No hot water (or no water at all for that matter, for days at a time), laundry shut down due to water droughts for weeks on end, humongous spiders, centipedes, lizards, and frogs (yes frogs!) in your apartment from time to time.  Ick.

6.)  To be patient.

Okay, so this is probably a blatant lie, but I wish I had learned to be more patient while living down here.  In my defense, I think I’ve definitely had a few break-through moments, in the patience department, but for the most part my New Yorker self (I can call myself a New Yorker since I’ve been living there over 10 years) was astonished at how slow it can take to do a simple task.  I’d be lying to you if I told you that it didn’t frustrate the hell out of me, but I think this also goes along with what I said earlier about expectations.  On a side note, one time fire alarms were going off on campus, and the fire department came two hours later after the students had already put it out themselves!  Now do you see what I mean?!

7.)  How to KIT

Prior to moving to Grenada, I’ll admit that I wasn’t always the best about keeping in touch.  I was always working, working, working, and it was typical for me to not see or speak to my girlfriends for weeks, or even months, at a time.  I’ve always made a point to call my parents every day, but I didn’t always go that extra mile for my friends.  So sorry friends!

When I arrived in Grenada, I realized how much I needed those people in my life, though.  I began working harder to bridge those gaps, and found that it was essential for me to do so.  Thankfully I had Skype, to stay connected with family and friends for the entire two years we’ve been in Grenada, and I also utilized Facebook to send little messages here and there, or an email just to say hello, a postcard, or a phone call.  I really do think that all of these things help you to stay grounded when you are so far away from home, and I would recommend it to anyone traveling abroad.

8.)  To not be alarmed if you cross paths with a cow…or goat…and one time, a bull.

Yeah, I just stand in fields in wedges and mini's while bulls are a few feet away. <--Not so much. This photo was taken by a good friend and photographer named Ashley Willis, somewhere in upcountry Grenada.  P.S.  Yes, that's a bull.  When he started charging me, I ran like wild banshee away from that sucker it as fast as I could.

When we first got to Grenada, seeing random cows crossing the road, alarmed me.  I was sure the bus drivers were going to hit them, and each time, I would clench my eyes closed and pray I wouldn’t hear a thud.  Poor cow-ies.  Instead, I never heard anything, but I did feel my head jolt forward, as the driver swerved to maneuver the bus around the huge cattle.  Cows, and array of other animals crossing busy roads, are as common as deer running out in front of you on a highway in the dead of winter in Michigan.  It took me at least three months to get used to it, but when I finally did, I had a peaceful bus ride.

9.)  It’s totally normal to see machete’s.

People walk around wielding machete’s like they’re Rambo here!  It’s kind of rad, actually.

Oh you know, just a little ol' machete...

The first time I saw a Grenadian man with a machete, I was out for a run.  I totally thought I was about to murdered, but when I saw him happily chopping down some kind of pickery bush, and paying no mind to me whatsoever.  I realized then, that he was not interested in killing me at all, so I let out a huge sigh of relief.  I blame all of the shows like Disappeared, Dateline, and 48 Hours Mystery, for my hysteria.

10.)  How to Write!

It all started with a little blog called “Sarah Smiles Awhile…and sometimes not so much.”  (By the way, I recently asked Matt if I should change the name of my blog, and he said, “Well the ‘and sometimes not so much’ part sounds a little bit like you’re depressed.”  I thought that was so freaking funny, and brutally honest, that he would say such a thing!  Then, I explained to him that the ‘and sometimes not so much’ part is supposed to communicate my sassiness to the reader, to which Matt replied, “Well, you are quite a sassy little broad.”  Bwaaahahaha!  Love him.)

Anyway, I learned to write, by writing on this blog…and taking two novel writing classes in one semester (<–P.S. What was I thinking?!)  I really, truly don’t think I would have ever started writing if it hadn’t been for Grenada.  Like I said, before living here, I rarely ever stopped to smell the roses.  Grenada gave me the opportunity to discover new hobbies and ambitions.  (Hint, hint: More to come on that later…)

I think my entire experience in Grenada can be summed up in these lyrics to the Paul Simon song…

“You Can Call Me Al”

A man walks down the street
It’s a street in a strange world
Maybe it’s the Third World
Maybe it’s his first time around
He doesn’t speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
The sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen and Hallelujah!

Have a listen…23 You Can Call Me Al

So, Grenada…

Here we are.

What can I say?  It’s been real.

We’ve broken up and gotten back together quite a few times.

But I’m sure at some point, somewhere…

I might even miss you a little bit.

xo

Sarah

~The End

It’s Just Me, Myself, and I…

Living in Grenada has made me realize some major realities about myself…

1.)  I’m high maintenance…Like, really high maintenance.  Like, even more high maintenance than even I was aware of prior to living here.  I’ve always liked to think of myself as somewhat adventurous, however it has become clear to me that I am anything but.  I see a lot of the other significant others (who are also living here as their hubby’s go through med school) going about their days hiking, snorkeling, and basically participating in all things outdoorsy, and I think to myself, “Wow, that sounds like tons of fun!”  However then I remember that I hate getting dirty, and I’m afraid of anything that could potentially include getting bruised or blemished in any way, shape, or form.  Thus, concluding my very high maintenance status.

Yes, I basically heart anything that doesn't involved getting dirty...

2.)  I am not a natural at the whole housewife thing.  Although, I do try really really hard at it, and Matt has reassured me that I’m a great housewife.  However, I still somehow feel like I’m lacking in that department.  For instance, I love things to be clean, but I loathe cleaning.  I really heart clean laundry, but I hate the process of doing it.  I actually do love love love cooking, but I hate cleaning everything up afterwards.  Let me add, that I do indeed carry out on all the above tasks, it’s just that I wish I was more enthusiastic about it.  Maybe I will find new devotion to it once we actually have an apartment that is bigger than this one teeny room. <–married housing.  Here’s hoping…

This is pretty accurate...

3.)  I am definitely a city girl.  I used to daydream with friend from my old job in the city, about how we would leave our stressful lives and move to a tropical island and just braid hair all day long.  AHHH WHAT?!  Like, seriously what the h was I thinking when I said this??!!  The reality is that island life is gorgeous, with beautiful weather and breathtaking beaches…but it’s an extremely slow-paced life here, with difficulties completing some of the simplest chores.  There is simply no rush to get anything done, which is fine and dandy for this culture, but for me, it drives me to loony-ville, and has made me realize that I thrive in a much faster paced lifestyle.  Just sayin’….

4.)  I reeeeally heart reality tv.  Grenada has brought about a new appreciation for all things reality for me…from Sister Wives, to Jersey Shore, can’t forget the whole Housewife gang, oh yeah, and Bachelor/Bachelor Pad, American Idol, and the list could really go on and on.  I know, I know, it sounds like all I watch is mindless television, right?  Well, you are right, but isn’t all television sort of mindless anyway? <–I’m totally just finding a way to excuse my trashy television taste….but you probably could already tell that.

And Last…

5.)  I really enjoy my time with just me, myself, and I.  I’ve always been someone who marches to the beat of my own drum, and this experience has only magnified it.  I’m not saying I don’t like to hang out with my friends, or to get out and do fun things, because I do.  What I am saying, is that I really love my alone time, and have found that it’s essential for me to prosper.  I love to read, write, listen to music, exercise, etc.  Most of these things I do solo, and I love it.  Call me a loner, if you will, but I disagree.  I just happen to really love the time I have to think, reflect, get my school work done, and to

basically…

The End~

A Somewhat Hairy Sitch…

So, today I decided to give myself a haircut.  Why?  I really couldn’t tell ya.  Maybe it was boredom?  Living in the Caribbean I know sounds super exotic, right?  Well, that was kind of rude of me to assume, maybe it sounds like a H-E-double L- hole to you…either way or however you view it, I guarantee this place is not what it seems to you…ugh, there I go again with the assuming…I guess what I am trying to say is, living in Grenada is not always that exciting, and sometimes you have to make your own fun, which is precisely what I did today. (<–If by fun you mean almost having a breakdown because you got half-way through cutting your own hair, only to realize that there was a very very good chance you were about to ruin your hair, then it was tons and tons of fun! WOOO!  Can you tell I’m lying?  I am totally lying to you right now.

I woke up this morning feeling like, UGH.  Do you ever wake up feeling like that?  I just looked in the mirror and my hair looked so flat and tepid, that I thought my hair could use a little one-two, and that was it.  The idea to cut my own hair was sprung…(Btdubs, I have cut my own hair before, but just a lil’ trim and everything turned out just fine, so what was the harm?)…I know you’re probably wondering why there aren’t places in Grenada where I can go and have my hair cut, and I will answer that question by saying, there are places, but I have heard horror stories about them chopping off people’s hair and such.  So, therefore I wouldn’t even consider entrusting my tresses into those wretched scenes. On a side note, it is me who actually is the resident hair stylist on campus, and I do cuts out of our apartment all the time, because the students don’t want to have their huuuur cut by any of those cray cray hair places either…(<–Can you tell I am trying my best to justify to you all that I am not a high maintenance loony person?)  P.S. They have been known to cut women’s layers with a clipper. (<–Yep, stillllll justifying…) Anyway, so I thought my idea was a brilliant one, and I even told me husband about my plan, and he said, and I quote, “Oh Lordy, I’m gettin’ out of here.”  Because he knows where this little endeavor was about to take me, and even he could see that it was taking me on sure shot ride straight to where the crazy people reside.

So, I got my little spot all set up, in our bathroom, which is where all the magic was going to happen.  I had my handheld mirror, combs, water bottle, mat on the floor (as to not make a mess), and I was ready to go.  I wet my hair down, sectioned it out with clips, and everything was right with the universe.  About half-way through trimming the ends of my hair, I started to get cocky, and my mind raced in a bit of a mania, and I thought to myself, “I am already cutting my hair…and the wedding is over now…so why not just go for it, and really give myself a change.”  Yes, anyone can see where this story is headed.

P.S.  This is where pictures of the wondrous experience would be, but I can’t even post them because you would all see the photographs of a woman on the verge of hysterical histrionics.  ‘Nuff said.

So, I proceeded to take more and more off the layers, until I got to a point, of what some might call, no return…kind of a fork in the road…a dead end, if you will…but I had to keep going, I mean, I had no choice.  I had over ambitiously cut way too much off the layers at the back of my head, so when I got to the front of my hair, I freaked.  When I saw that in order for my hair to be even all the way throughout, that I needed to take off…well, a lot of hair (I don’t even want to tell you inches because it will make you shudder), I had somewhat of a nervous breakdown.

Matt came into the bathroom and attempted to defuse the situation.  He said, “Would it help if I took some pictures?” (He was only trying to help, because I had, had a tripod set up to take some shots while I was doing what was supposed to be a fun little project…)  But it wasn’t the picture-taking situation that had me worked up, it was this dreadful haircut I was knee-deep in that had me cursing the world.  I didn’t even need to answer, because I think he could see the crazy look in my eye, that there would be no pictures today.  No, none at all.  It was not a picture perfect kind of day.

I managed to walk away for a few minutes to compose my thoughts, eat some candy, read my blog comments, twiddle my thumbs, before going back into the place that had become my own little personal hell…aka, the scene of the crime.  So, I gathered my thoughts, took a deep breath, picked my sanity off the floor, and began to cut.

Somehow, someway I managed to finish without completely losing my marbles.  I just calmly went through the rest of my hair section by section, until I finished.  When all was said and done, it actually looked…good.  I have to say, I was actually pleasantly surprised with the results…which leads me to believe that maybe I was just being crazy, and it really wasn’t that bad all along…Perhaps I just thought it was…

All I know is, whatever the case may have been, I will never…and I repeat…never…cut my own hair again.  I prom.

P.S. Remind me that I made this vow 6 months from now…