Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oh Spring! How I’ve Missed You…

…and how I continue to miss you!  I admit I had no complaints about relocating to a tropical island at the onset of Erie’s frightening winter, but now, as spring approaches, I miss my beloved seasons!  Although Grenada is not completely without, its weather patterns are not governed as severely by Earth’s tilt.  So the island’s seasons are: wet and dry, and although they are (from my understanding) distinctly different, they hardly evoke for me the emotions and images as: winter, spring, summer and fall.  Grenada’s seasons are just adjectives: wet and dry, leaving little to the imagination—either it’s wet or dry, right?  For some reason I’m reminded of IcyHot® , the pain relief product whose name explains it all.  But, hey, at least we know what we’re in for.  Ultimately I just miss my crocuses.
            Other than the persistently static tropical weather, here’s what’s new:
            A couple weeks ago, I renewed my passport stamp—something that must be done every three months if you’re not a student (students have a six-month period before needing to renew).  I went with two other girls (one of whom had already done this last term and knew the routine).  Because I’d already read the how-to on the SO website, I was prepared—necessary documents in hand, cash ready for the fees, letter from SGU, appropriate attire donned, etc.  I’ve been to the courthouse in Erie for this legal form or that specific license or these official documents, and my visit to the Grenada immigration office was in many ways what I would expect of any legal process.  There are a set of specific steps that must be followed in a specific order and, if the t’s are not crossed and i’s are not dotted in a specific fashion, then the world will come to a specific end.  Or so you would be led to believe.  My t’s and i’s were impeccable, in case you wondered, and, yes, I am once again a legal, albeit temporary, resident of Grenada.

        At Queen Elizabeth this week, the children worked on an Easter project designed by one of the SO volunteers.  They decorated cardboard crosses with flowers and tissue paper (and quite artfully, I might add).  The project was a success and very appropriate since (I may or may not have mentioned this previously) Grenada is a very religious country (primarily Christian).  Though, the glue did double as finger-paint in some situations.

            After the crosses were finished, the typical running and screaming and climbing commenced.  Although on this visit, the usual was punctuated by the unusual.  A couple of the boys found a dead (though still fresh) centipede and lifted it up with a string noose.  Before coming to Grenada, I was aware of certain bugs that should be avoided, one of which was the centipede which, as I understand, can deliver a nasty sting.  But, in my never-ending sea of naivety, I assumed they would still conform to my definition of standard size (as far as centipedes are concerned).  That was a failed assumption, as you can probably see for yourself.  These things are massive on a prehistoric level.  (Tell me that thing doesn’t look like a trilobite relative!)

            Moving to another country and being neck deep in schoolwork still hasn’t deterred Ivan’s need to garden.  We may have left his little forest of apple, pear, oak, maple, sumac, and even cherimoya trees at home, but here Ivan has nurtured an avocado tree.  It all started five weeks ago when I cut open a melon of an avocado to find its pit encased in a zigzag of roots.  Ivan relocated it to a dish of water, unsure if it was still salvageable after having spent the last few days in our refrigerator.  Lo and behold, it was alive!  And it’s been thriving since.  We won’t be able to take the tree home with us, but we do have a babysitter treesitter lined up for this summer.  Hopefully by the time we leave Grenada for good, it’ll still be alive and we can pass it on to another couple.

            In the fashion of spring, Limes was in like a lion and out like a lamb this week.  That is to say, the drama was full-force when we arrived and by the end of class, there was little more than giggles.
            Without a fence surrounding the Limes locale, it’s pretty difficult to keep out the, ahem, riff-raff.  (It is worth noting, however, that efforts are being made to install a fence for just this reason.)  Tuesday, as the first volunteers arrived, we found the Limes area taken over by a couple men (I’d guess in their mid-20s) and some boys (ranging 10- to 15-years-old or thereabouts) making kites.  Stephanie diplomatically asked them to leave the area while class was underway.  We feared they would be a distraction to the attending children and kites are not allowed during class.  And if that wasn’t enough reason to request they go, one of the boys was sharpening his kite sticks with a knife.  Actually, it wasn’t just a knife; it was a kitchen knife, specifically a chef’s knife.  I’m talking about a 10-year-old boy waving around a ridiculously large and invariably sharp knife.  When Stephanie told him he needed to leave immediately, with all of his kite supplies, he demanded fifty dollars.  All the while tapping the knife against his arm in a charming little display of defiance and threat.  Seriously.  Eventually he moved along, without a cash incentive.  All the others, except one boy, left as well.  That last boy was also explicitly told to leave after he snapped open his pocket knife while little Deanna was standing not two feet away.

            Have you ever seen Chinatown?  Sometimes the last line of that movie reminds me of Grenada: Forget it, Jake.  It’s Chinatown.  I’m not referring to the undertones of corruption and power, but the helplessness in the face of something that’s too large for you to influence.  At what point do you slough off the responsibility that was never really assigned to you?  And is that the point in which you give up entirely or just shrug and say, It’s Chinatown?  For most of the SOs I’ve met, it’s the latter and while they may shrug, they don’t say It’s Chinatown, they say T.I.G. (an acronym for This Is Grenada) which in the context of this particular Limes experience boils down to: You can’t change it.  Just roll with it.
            Thanks to SOs with this attitude, the rest of Limes unfolded without a hitch and the kids had a phenomenal time bowling, reading and coloring.  Embedded in the fun were sheets of stickers, most of which I believe ended up on Jada’s face.  The class culminated with Jivvy, soaring on sugary waves of juice, dancing frenetically in the sinking sun.
Makeshift Bowling

She doesn't look happy, but she's doing it to herself

Ready to spin in circles...

...spinning too fast!


Jivvy grooving

            Last weekend I spent most of my time hunched over my pad of watercolor paper, working on my first painted self-portrait.  I like it.

            I’d also like to congratulate my fabulous sister-in-law on turning 29 again.  She’s going to be the first person I see when we get back home in May and I can’t wait!


  1. The avocado plant is AWESOME! The pictures of limes are adorable. And that picture of Johnson with the centipede still scares me.

  2. As usual, awesome documentary form, Allison. I so enjoy reading your tales of adventure (OK, maybe I'm laying it on a little thick) and looking at the results of your talent in photojournalism. The children are so cute...but probably not as innocent as they look. Children in the USA have no sense of what children in other countries see or experience...