Monday, November 4, 2013

What I’ll Miss. What I’ll Forget.

            I think I already covered my bases previously about my long absences on here.  I took on quite a bit this last term, from Christmas knitting projects to Christmas art pieces to the most significant photography project I’ve ever been a part of (and, incidentally, created).  All of that combined with my efforts to plan our departure (which includes selling most of our possessions in Grenada) and our arrival (getting our hands on a car as soon as we get back to the States has been the biggest headache so far) means that I’ve been stuck at home most days.  Of course I’d like to get out more and swim in the sea and volunteer and just hang out with friends, but those social and recreational urges are being smothered pathetically by my manic need to prepare for life back home.  I keep looking at our return as the jarring moment when my life gets real again.  And I can’t help but think to myself, “Oh [expletive]!  What have I accomplished in the past two years?!”

            So that’s been the goal this term—apply myself to building whatever marketable skills I have that are going to help us through these next few years as we continue to move to … wherever.  Since self-employment is the most obvious decision for me for a family that can guarantee no permanent address, I think I made the right decision in what skills to hone.

            At least I can say that we are getting out at least four times a week for a nice run around the neighborhood.  And we’re actually getting better with that also!  Once a week, we run an extended loop around a cute neighborhood nearby.  It’s a perfect 7+ mile run through fairly quiet streets lined with trees and flowers.  It’s also a pretty strenuous route since it includes a few ridiculous hills.  I’m convinced that there is no limit on a hill’s grade in Grenada.  And running up Campeche hill, I’ve sworn to myself a few times that it must be some insane grade that’s simply not legal in the States.  But, still, in the past three weeks, Ivan and I have shaved 5 minutes off of that run.  Just one week after Ivan said he didn’t think we’d break a certain time, we broke it!  I have to admit, it was a pretty great feeling.  Unfortunately I don’t think the same thing will happen with our shorter runs.  As it turns out, I’m awful at running short distances and can barely keep up with Ivan.  But after about the fifth mile, I could run forever!

            We made it to a couple more hashes since my last post.  We’d like to go to more, but they tend to get a little pricey with the cost of transportation.  A few weeks ago we went to a hash along the northern edge of the island, right next to Rivers Antoine Rum Distillery.  The bus got us there about 40 minutes late.  Since hashes involve running through unfamiliar wooded areas, following scant piles of shredded paper, it’s important that all hashers finish before nightfall, lest they get lost.  When we showed up 40 minutes late, we were told that we had to take the walkers’ trail because we wouldn’t have time to finish the runners’ trail.  We resigned ourselves to that and started along at a decent pace.  When we reached the split for the runners and walkers, we decided to go for it and veered off onto the runners’ path.  We picked up our pace more, having no idea how long the trail was or if we’d make it back before nightfall.  We ran through the rum distillery’s grounds and looped back onto the road.  And just when I thought it was time to open up and really push for the last couple miles, we reached the finish!  Apparently it was 5 miles, but we finished with plenty of time to spare!

            A little over a week ago, we completed the 800th hash.  There were five trails in total—something to fit every level of fitness since the big hashes tended to draw larger crowds.  The venue was the Balthazar River.  The turnout was stupendous.  Ivan and I stuck together and took on the fifth trail—the iron man.  It was only 6.5 miles compared to last year’s 8.5-mile iron man at the 750th hash (which we barely completed before nightfall).  This time, we were pretty strong throughout and kept a great pace, despite the trail having an unnaturally disproportionate amount of uphill.  One part towards the beginning was a very steep decline.  The group bottlenecked there as hashers had to hold onto palm leaves and roots and bamboo to lower themselves.  Apparently while I was waiting, a number of ants decided to devour the back of my thigh.  When the crowd thinned and we slid to the bottom, I washed up in the river, but the damage was done.  For days, the bites became worse and blossomed into purple welts.  More bites rose on my collarbone and shoulders and lower back; but they weren’t ant bites.  They were little groups of painful light bumps.  Then there were the mosquito and sandfly bites on my legs.

            I guess the only thing I managed to wash off in the river that afternoon was the DEET.  None of the bites bothered me that night, though, and we had a whole lot of fun at the hash.  The food was good and the company was great.  Just before we left, the Grenadian Prime Minister stopped by to say hi to the hashers.  Overall it was a pretty cool evening.

            This week Ivan and his peers have their second set of midterms.  In five short weeks, they will begin taking their finals and will complete their first two years of medical school (the theory of medicine) and prepare to move on to clinical rotations (the practice of medicine).  Last week, the list of hospitals for clinical rotations was finally released to the students, so now we know what our options are.  Today, the clinical location request form was sent out.  That means we can submit our three top choices for clinical rotation locations!  Then we have to wait until April 15th (2-4 weeks before clinical rotations start) to find out where we got placed.  At that point, we begin our mad scramble to find housing and start moving yet again.

            Before any of that, Ivan will spend three full months studying for his U.S. Medical Licensing Exam Step 1—the gateway to the second half of medical school. 
            The Step 1 is a pretty big deal.  No, it’s a pretty monumental deal.  It encompasses everything learned in the first two years of med school.  Needless to say, that’s a lot and requires a lot of studying.  Knowing this, we decided that it would be best for us to have our own place while back home.  Ivan needs to feel comfortable and undistracted.  I’m not suggesting that our families are distracting when we live with them, but living in someone else’s home is in itself a distraction, despite how gracious they always are!  Ivan’s mom has been kind enough to allow us to move back into our old house (which has been on the market since we left) while we’re back in Erie.  We’re borrowing large furniture from friends and most everything else we need is stored with family, waiting for us when we get back! 

            We also put one Babe dog in storage when we left and she, too, is waiting for us to pick her up the day we get into Erie so she can welcome us back home.  We had a few serious scares with her,
but it’s starting to look like everything is going to work out and she’ll be back with her mommy and daddy in her old home in no time!

            Ivan and I are getting gradually more and more excited about returning home as the date grows closer.  Living in Grenada has been an amazing and awesome experience, but two years is perfectly long enough.  I’ll welcome the next adventure and traveling to new countries is something I always hope to do, but I might draw the line at any visit over six months long.

            From the outside, I can understand how Grenada may seem like paradise.  It certainly has many qualities you may equate with paradise: beautiful beaches, palm trees, ocean sunsets, hammocks and sand and pina coladas.  But two years later, nothing has changed.  The birds are the same; the trees are the same; the weather never changes.  As a girl who grew up in a temperate climate with deciduous trees, I need something different!  I haven’t seen the leaves change since 2011!  I want to see cardinals in the winter and robins in the summer!  I want to hear red-wing blackbirds in my parents’ field and watch the undulating formations of hundreds of starlings!  When I hear rustling next to me, I want it to be a bunny, not a lizard.  I want to live in a country where eating opossum and iguana generally isn’t practiced.  I’d like to be able to buy three pounds of turkey for Thanksgiving for less than $22usd (yes, that happened).  I’d like to drink from a water fountain without the seawater aftertaste.  I want to plug in appliances without wondering if our transformer is going to fry.  I haven’t experienced a true winter since 2011.  And I know I might get sick of it and might long for the beaches here, but I also might wrap up in a fluffy robe with a mug of hot cocoa, sit down with my sweet dog and just watch the snowflakes tumble down outside.

            So, yeah, I’m looking forward to going home.
I’m sorry about the lack of photos.  A series of unfortunate events has landed me with no point-and-shoots.

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