Thursday, March 22, 2012

I was Asleep by 6:30 in the Evening...

…on St. Patrick’s Day.  In my defense, the early collapse followed a long, tiring day. 
Sandblast is an event that is organized by the Student Government Association (SGA) every term.  This term, it coincided with St. Patrick’s Day.  So the usual kegs of beer were transformed into kegs of green beer.  Other than that little spirited change, I understand Sandblast was largely the same as always.  A great host of students (and other authorized individuals, such as SOs) showed up in Grand Anse, each with a color-coded wristband that denoted not only that the wearer paid to attend, but also what type of drink he or she paid for (the options being alcoholic or non-alcoholic).  Next to a three-stories-tall inflated bottle of Carib beer, a stage was erected, and from it pulsed jarring tremors of bass, the vibrations of which could cause a spontaneous miscarriage within a mile radius.  Affixed near the center of the stage was what I initially mistook for a potato cannon, but the gun was actually launching suds.  I didn’t spend a lot of time near the five-foot subwoofers, so I didn’t see for myself, but I guess inebriation and bubble-wallowing go hand-in-hand.
Taking a quick dip before manning the tables as an SGA rep

In the middle of the fun

On the beach, tons of fun.

Would you drink green beer out of a coconut? Me too!

The sponsor of the day--and they were not shy about it!
Many party-goers spent their time on the adjoining beach where throngs of overworked students played water sports, chatted on the beach, or took a free ride on an inflated cushion drawn by a motorboat.  With very few exceptions, everyone wore their swimsuit.  Too bad I didn’t have the foresight to bring mine.  It just didn’t occur to me that the beach would be of access.  But that’s something I’ll keep in mind for next term.

Our visit to the orphanage this week came with its very own lesson in color combinations.  Did you know that blue food coloring somehow causes homemade Play-Doh to become a tacky mess in the hands of children?  While the same is not true of yellow food coloring—the yellow version held its form admirably—mixing the two Play-Dohs does not alleviate the blue problem.  Instead, you end up with glutinous green mush plastered on outstretched hands.  This makes for a mess (albeit a colorful one), but what fun is 100% clean?  Swampy handprints were plastered on the floorboards and banister.  While some children shook their hands fiercely to throw off dollops (imagine shaking your hands dry when the paper towel dispenser is empty), others were sent to wipe clean in the grass.  They still enjoyed skipping around the porch, threatening everyone with their gooey fluttering fingers.
I promise she was happier than she looks here

Are you super jealous?


Wiping off in the grass

The children of Limes may not have the moves of a choreographed backup-dancer squad, but that won’t slow them down.  They also have no objections to their dancing abilities being limited by the painful repetition of one song.  And one song only.  In fact, they were insistent that this one and only song be repeated indefinitely.  The song is the Cha Cha Slide and it’s the same one I posted videos of last week.  These kids can’t get enough of it!  (Incidentally, the first time I heard the song was five years ago, at my wedding.  It was not my most graceful moment.)

Those are some sweet moves!

A little drama isn’t unusual for Limes, but Tuesday was the first time I saw parents getting involved.  I can’t attest for the whole story since the first half occurred while Yunah and I were being harassed by a local man who wanted nothing more than our phone numbers and what churches we attended, but here’s the gist: one boy threw a rock at a girl (provocation likely played a part) and the girl’s mother demanded that her daughter be given the opportunity to do the same to him.  Meanwhile, a group of leftover Limes children crowded around to watch the outcome, and maybe learn a lesson or two.  Naturally, the first thought in everyone’s head was the well-known biblical references: gouging eyes (Leviticus, Exodus, Deuteronomy—the Old Testament encouraged equal retribution) and cheek slapping (Matthew—the New Testament was not as driven by vengeance).  I played the part of curious onlooker as Stephanie and Jessie (our fearless leaders) attempted to defuse the situation, reasoning that two wrongs don’t make a right and assuring the angry parent that rock-throwing is not allowed at Limes.
For my part, I understood both sides of the argument.  The SOs couldn’t very well stand by while one of their students was put in physical danger, despite his alleged guilt.  Anger breeds more anger and hatred breeds more hatred; for this reason, the SOs take care to instill morals and encourage empathy among the children.  The lessons woven into the Limes program were being trounced on right in front of us.  And so, the SO reps stepped up not only to the defense of the boy in danger, but also to the defense of the ideal of forgiveness.
Assuming that there is no situation in which turning the other cheek is not the best solution would be an act of naivety, however.  This much, I think, the girl’s mother understood.  Grenada is not a utopia, least of all the surrounding neighborhoods of the Limes location.  In a place where authority is challenged, guardians are few and far between, and supervision is practically unheard of, children must learn to defend themselves.  If a child is in an unavoidable confrontation and can’t reach an authoritative figure for help, he or she can’t just “turn the other [cheek]” for the sake of righteousness.  Maybe in this circumstance we opt to read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies?  Children can be insatiably brutal.
Luckily the confrontation seemed to ultimately be wrapped up with a few apologies and, although I wasn’t close enough to hear them, I’m sure a few threats were tossed around also.
I guess it’s a shame that this is how children behave (all children act this way without someone to tell them otherwise), but they are driven by their desires first and foremost.  They act without the burden of forethought or the understanding of guilt or the weight and impact of their decisions.  Were I to live in such bliss and moral freedom, I’d be able to find a handful of people I’d like to peg with rocks too (wait, didn’t people do that in the bible all the time?).  At least in Grenada, when someone is being bullied, their first resort is fisticuffs.  In America our children kill each other with semi-automatics in the classroom.
All I can say is I’m happy our spokespeople were Stephanie and Jessie whose resolute moral authority helped to calm an escalating confrontation.  Whereas I would’ve been caught in a quandary of indecision.  Overanalysis might be a weakness of mine.

These kids do love throwing stones. Check out the cut on Miguel's head.
Something of interest for my fellow Erieites*: I have neglected to specify how large, or, rather, how small SGU campus is.  Because square miles are to me what a thesaurus is to a mathematician, I will give you comparisons.  Behrend campus, including dorms, the Red C (now Burke building), and Knowledge Park, is larger than SGU.  If you can walk from the State Police Station to GE, you can traverse the campus.  Allowing for parking, about two Wal-Mart Supercenters (maybe two-and-a-half) could fit on campus.  The Millcreek Mall and Pavilion (including parking lots) is larger than SGU.
I don’t know if it’s just my apartment, or if the plumbing on the whole island is a little wonky, but when my landlord’s wife does her laundry (every day), the drains in our bathroom hiccup, like they’re defying gravity or something.  If you watch the video closely, you can see the water at the end of the drain gurgling and sloshing around.

This next video is of a blackbird on our balcony.  He wasn’t thrilled about being in my video, hence the puffing up and bouncing menacingly toward me.  He also made an odd sound that I assume was meant to be intimidating (you may have to crank the volume).

*I believe this is the accepted spelling of citizens of Erie, although spellcheck wanted to change it to eremites. 

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