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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dreams of Brighter Days

The music here is just wonderful. And it seems to come from everywhere. Walk around any village and you will hear it coming from multiple houses or floating across the valley. I've long been a fan of reggae/Caribbean music, but have never seen it up close as a way of life, of coping, of dreaming, of having fun. I was walking from the ferry to the Leeward bus stop to come home this evening and at one point a man walking nearby randomly sings out just one line of a common song. I am going to miss so much about this experience, this place, and the music is high on the list. 

This song has been one of the most frequently heard. It's by a couple of Jamaican artists and it's so darn catchy! I hope you like it, too.

But I am getting ahead of myself - and I am so behind on the blog! Let's see, last time we left off after scubadiving...that takes us to Walliabou!

Sunday, April 12, 2015
Some of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were filmed here in SVG. Walliabou is one of the locations. In particular I know the early scene where they are about to hang Captain Jack on the pier was filmed there. Things look a little different now! 

It can be hard to get a van on Sundays as so many drivers take off. Shamin and I decided to give it a try and head further leeward to check out the movie set and a small waterfall park we heard about. As we started to head up to the gap, we found one of our new friends waiting for us. We met John Friday night and he is full of energy. The three of us got a van for $5EC pretty close to the site. We walked down to the beach and I could not believe the movie had ever been there. Apparently much of the set was destroyed in some flooding and a hurricane. Plus I am hearing conflicting reports on whether the government removed some of it or whether or not they just didn't do a good job protecting it. Either way, it's a shame that this site wasn't better preserved to be a tourist spot. 

Yes, this is pretty much it.

Building remains

After we spent a few minutes on the beach, we left just as a vanload of people were arriving to be baptized. We started toward the waterfall park. We didn't make it back to the main road though before a man came out of a building and started talking to us. This is a very common occurrence. He entreated us to come inside his building and that we would be surprised. This is a moment I probably would not have investigated if we weren't with a local! But we go inside this non-nondescript building and find a bar that is...well, surprising. The man said he goes by Shadow. He served in the US military and then came back home to retire a few years before the filmed Pirates. He had lots of photos and displays about the movie. There were also bras and caps decorating the place! Apparently at night it turns into a dance club and if you dance on the bar you leave something. We found SVG's Coyote Ugly. After listening to some reggae and hearing his thoughts on the government (they were critical) and hearing about how he is off the grid (he solar charges batteries to run his place and gleefully said he runs as much power as he wants with no connection to the government), we said goodbye to go to the park. 
The Shadow knows.

This was a small park that has a water feature, lots of shade, small cafe. It is free to residents and only $5EC for us. It was a nice oasis and we were the only visitors. At one point the employee was taking a nap, so everyone was relaxed! We walked around and John pointed out some different trees and picked us some cocoa. You can eat the sweet fruit off the seeds, but grinding up the seeds is how you get chocolate. 
Lizards everywhere!

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Cocoa in its natural form.

Underwater shot.

SVG selfie!

While we were relaxing I got a chance to read a local paper. Very interesting and always good insight into a community. There was also an article about the Cuban partnership to use a drug to treat foot ulcers caused by diabetes. We went to a meeting presenting this new offering on our very first day. 

We were super glad John was with us when he got a friend to pick us up to head home. We had waited for a van quite a while and Shamin had to get back to town to catch the ferry to Bequia. Thanks to his help, it went smoothly! It was a good day!

Monday, April 14, 2015
It's Monday and clinic time! I headed back to Barrouallie. I was able to participate in part of the wound clinic. Patients come to the local clinics to get their wound dressings changed. I saw a guy who had dropped a brick on his foot a couple weeks before and now had a massive wound. It looked so painful. Sr Allen had me take a photo, but I will spare you from it. 

Next I observed one of the Community Health Associates. She (I didn't write her name down and it has now escaped me) was doing foot care for diabetic patients. She cleaned and trimmed toenails, oiled and massaged the lower legs. It looked like a pretty nice treatment! There is no podiatrist in SVG, so you can imagine how important this preventive care is for diabetic patients.

The rest of the clinic I spent wrangling 4 year olds. We were doing a bunch of physicals so they could get checked out and start school in the fall. I did quite a few eye exams and it's a challenge in this age - you have to keep their attention while you go through the chart with both eyes and then each eye individually. And there was a lot of distracting activity in the clinic. I was tired for sure when finished!

After clinic I stopped for some groceries and then headed home. The walking, the sun and the children wear me out! :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Sr Allen had meetings and it is such an event to go to town and get the ferry to Bequia that I instead took the day to stay home, do schoolwork and job hunt. Unfortunately the internet was up and down, but I got a few things done. 

There was also a nice rainstorm. We hit several days in a row where there was more rain, but most of the day is clear. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 
Today I got to go to clinic near home in Questelles! Sr Allen and I met at the local primary school and did physicals on the 6th graders. This is a requirement before they can go into secondary school. 

We set up in a computer room on the second floor of the school. She took the mattress from the office and placed it on a table. Sr Allen brings her otoscope and other supplies. The students are all very polite and a little nervous. I try to reassure them they are just getting an exam and no shots! Sr Allen and I took turns. I would do an exam while she charted hers and vice versa. 

Circumcision is not the norm here. Part of the exam included checking for phimosis which is when the foreskin doesn't retract. A couple of the boys only had a very small opening just large enough to urinate through. If this conditions continues, they will eventually require surgery. You can also do stretching exercises and steroid creams in the early stages. Doesn't sound too comfortable though. 

It was nice to have a clinical experience so close to home and to see what the school was like. The kids meet in their homeroom at the start of the day and they sing their prayers. There is definitely no separation of church and state here. Very different! All the students also wear uniforms whether it's a public or private school. I think it makes them look sharp.

As hot as it is the kids wear multiple layers. Most wear a white tank top (which they call 'vest') under their shirt and the girls all wear 'tights' (which are actually like hot pants) under their jumpers, plus a white button-down shirt. All the layers done seem to bother them and the tights let the girls be active in their skirts. 

Inside a classroom. No kid pics as I couldn't get parental permission.

One side of the school. The two buildings are separated by this courtyard.
 Most of the kids were very healthy. A few had asthma or eczema. A few had a lot of ear wax. I did lots of teaching about eating fruits and veggies as well as brushing your teeth and how to care for your ears. It was a good day!

I'm going to sign off now. It's getting late and I have my last clinic day tomorrow!


  1. As always, how wonderful to read about your experiences. Thanks for taking the time to write all this down. I'm surprised at all the layers the children wear! Will you return sometime for vacation?

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