Crazy school: It is standard for kids to push, hit, slap, choke and kick each other on a regular basis. The striking is harder than you see in the States and if done there, they would be suspended and a lot of them would be referred to the police. Nothing happens here. One boy walked up to another whom he was having a disagreement with and hit him in the head with a piece of a chair. The other boy then took the leg of another chair and broke it off rather quickly and started to chase him. He was stopped by a teacher. A group of kids from different villages were having issues and over the weekend got into a Little fight at the Gospel Fest I was at. That week in school, one of the students used scissors and stabbed the other in the back twice puncturing his lung
. Touchy situation as one of the younger teachers (19 years old) is friends with the one group of boys. In my reading class, there is a bathroom which the kids will just get up and go to. There have been numerous times where a boy will follow a girl and I have to struggle to get them out. I now lock kids out of my class if they don't want to participate or are disruptive. One day, out of eleven student in my class, no one showed. They just ditched the class. On average I have five students show. The principal has talked with the teachers on a few occasions about the teachers not showing up to school on time, not attending class or attending 15 minutes late, not being prepared and not putting in an effort to do a good job. The school lacks discipline everywhere, students and teachers. Kids ditch class or all of school with out consequences. They leave class when they want. Parents complain if they are sent home. I was asked to administer lashings to a few students one day who were misbehaving. I said no and asked if I could receive the same lashings they were going to get so i could know what it was like. I got one but they said they were afraid to hurt me so it wasn't as strong of one. They take a leather strap and have the students hold out there palms and they hit them in the palms. I have reported kids for cheating, disrespecting me, not following my directions and several have resulted in them getting lashings. I would say half of the teachers do try to do a good job with what they are facing
. One teacher was missing in action for three weeks while he was on a drinking binge. The principal didn't want to turn him in and tried to get him back to work. He did come so we will see if he keeps his job. This is his third time though.
Positive school: We took second in the boys and fourth in girls in the Secondary School Sports. this was track and field events and I spent many of an afternoon, morning and weekends working with some of the kids and it was rewarding and fun event. We had the top female and male senior athletes.
There were two female Peace Corps friends here that were raped and another one that was attacked in her home by a naked guy with a knife, She fought and got out with out being physically harmed. Two are now off of the island. Woman here are not treated very well. The men are aggressive. They have to deal with cat calls on a daily basis and rudeness and at times sexual remarks. When I tell locals about the assaults they seem concerned and outraged that it did occur. So there are good people yet the bad is bad.
All schools have a sports day where they just have running events all day. We have a large playing field next to our school so the neighboring villages use our field. ON one occasion, it was a village that had some bad blood with ours
. These sports days are filled with people drinking and getting high of all ages. After the event, a spectator from the other village went on the field and threw a bottle and the fight was on. All of a sudden people were coming out from everywhere with bottles and rocks. There was a fight with about twenty trowing everything that spilled on to the street and down into the village.
I don't get harassed. I at times may not feel comfortable but that is part of being in Peace Corps and being in a new country around new people. There are places I wont go at night time but day time I can go anywhere. I have many people who said they will take care of me and I have nothing to worry and to let them know of any problems.
For Easter we had a four day weekend. It is custom here to hike the volcano on Easter Monday. It had rained that weekend but we had good weather on Monday. We left at 2 a.m. and summitted by 5:30 a.m. On the way up we ran into a giant Leather back turtle on the beach making a nest to lay eggs. It was at least six feet long and 1200 lbs. Amazing animals and endangered. The locals would love to kill it and eat her. I was afraid for her safety but on our return we didn't see any signs of a slaughter or any news of one. It appears she made it back to the sea
. The volcano is active and last erupted in 1979. We spent about three hours on top and went into the crater and hiked around. No lava, some steam or gas. One of our group of eight got sick and was dehydrated and had a hard time getting back down. He ended up stopping a lot and laying down. Once on the beach he slept for a while. He still had an hour or so hike to go.
Some foods I have tried, many I would never had if I wasn't here include: Monaco (possum), iguana, iguana egg, dolphin, whale, pig foot soup, pig and goat liver, salt fish, salt pork, salt beef, chicken neck and back. I do have a garden and had a crop of corn, okra and now cucumbers. One man stated that I was a good farmer and that I should try to grow the local ganja. I have learned a lot about farming thanks to my neighbor who I could and will some day talk about him. He is a character. That will be a whole blog and then some on him. I also learned to make a Guinness punch. The ingredients are, Guinness, rum, cooked rice and rice water, sugar, egg whites and the slime water from okra. It is delicious. You eat the rice after you have a glass.
I took a ferry ride from my village with two friends in the Peace Corps to Bequea which is an island near by. It was about a two and half hour ride
. This was a party boat from the beginning. Loud DJ and dancing and tons of liquor and pot. We missed the boat coming back and had to get a speed boat to take us to catch up to the ferry. The three white people approached the boat rocking with music and people partying hard. We pulled up next to it and a lot of people were hanging over watching. We got help onto the ferry and off we went. It was fun and the kids at school laughed at me for days.There were a lot of drunk students on the boat as they were allowed to buy alcohol. There were a few fights on board on the way back. We had to sit at sea until the police came to the wharf and then we docked and a few were arrested. There was a fight right on the wharf and the police pulled his gun and fired it. People ran back on the boat including me while others jumped into the water and swam for it. When I exited the boat, a cop had cocked his gun and then twirled it like in the wild wild west movies, not very good either. A lot of people wont take these party boats because of the fighting. Ted, another peace corp guy who lives in the village next to me and I knew one of the organizers and he insisted on us drinking for free. If I was a drinker it would have been dangerous.. There are good people like him who treat us very good. On Bequia we ate a nice lunch and had a beach all to ourselves. The majority of the hundreds of people the boat went to the opposite side that we didn't know about.
The police here are corrupt, some abuse there power
. You have to be 18 with no criminal background to be a cop. They have a unit called the Back Squad. They dress in all black and are tough. They will rough someone up for anything and everyone knows it. They at times stop the public vans and will pull Rostas out and search for drugs. If it is a small amount of weed, they will give it back and let us go on our way. They also do the raids in the bush, chopping and burning the marijuana crops. Three cops were arrested and found guilty of assaulting an 18 year old. They held him down by his arms and feet and beat him with a hose and kicked him. He was in a coma for a week. the cops were suspended from there work pending the outcome of court. It was a little over a year, the case. They were fined and had to do community service work. the police chief then reinstated them to their previous positions stating that they are some of his best investigators and had never been in trouble before. They even lied under oath about the incident before coming clean.
We celebrated the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps on the island here with an exhibition during the day of all the activities we are involved with on the island and then a cultural show with awards handed out to locals who have played an important role in Peace Corps. We have been here for 44 years.
Four of us went camping in Mayreau in the Grenadines for five days
. We had a gorgeous beach to ourselves and slept in hammocks, cooked out, beach fires and relaxed. Only 250 people live here. A lot of yachters stop in. We went diving and saw sharks, turtles, sting rays and eagle rays.
There is a good bar about 35 minute walk from me with a pool table and t.v. that shows sports. There are some good pool players here and they think I am good. I used to be good years ago and I have my streaks here. I now can call for a ride if I want to go there at anytime but I don't call, I walk. One time, it was my game and another guy insisted on putting the money in the table and rack the balls. I stopped him and said I can do that. Not sure if he thought I didn't know how or just because of whom I am, a white man or tourist? I have played a lot of dominoes. I at times have a game at my house with friends from the neighborhood.
I use a cutlass or a machete as it is called in the states to cut my yard. I file it razor sharp on both sides. One day I was cutting under my water pipe and as I held the pipe up with one hand, I hit my hand with the cutlass on the follow through. It felt like I hit a piece of wood, that thud sound of impact. I'm lucky that I only hit my index finger. I did get the thumb but it was incredible in that you could see a cut along my finger nail of the thumb, just barely.My finger wasn't good
. I had a clean gash above my knuckle and am glad I didn't chop it off. I bent my finger and blood everywhere with a big smiley face cut looking at me. Stuck finger in my mouth, went in to clean it, got first aid kit. rinsed it out. got dizzy and lightheaded, sat on floor, went to couch, passed out. awoke sweating like a pig, I didn't feel good and just laid there holding my finger straight which closed the wound nicely. A student came by and I went outside to see him with blood on my face from when I had it in my mouth. He asked why I had blood on my fave after a few minutes. I said it was from my knuckle which was bleeding from filing my cutlass which was partially true. I cleaned the wound and bandaged it. I should have gone to hospital but it was a thirty minute walk and I just didn't feel like I could walk it. I went to the doctor in town the following day and was told I did a good job with it and should have had stitches but no need now since it seemed to be healing nicely. there is still a bump and scar and I can't bend the finger all the way so I think I will go to an American doctor to have him just check it out. I have to cut my yard about every three weeks and I get these stupid white head weeds everywhere. I then have my neighbor burn the yard with a poison to kill everything. It doesn't last that long though.
Carnival is coming up next month. It is two weeks of solid partying
. I am volunteering once a week working on costumes for a band for the parade. We have over 500 great looking costumes to make. I will be playing in it. There are nine costumes and you parade through town and dance. We then go on stage to get judged. I am a little nervous as I was never much of a dancer let alone a dance to Soca music. But Hell, when am I going to get this opportunity again. This is one of the best Carnivals in the Caribbean and I am going to participate. The big dance is "wine". Picture a stripper giving someone a lap dance and that is what it is but dancing.
I do go to church every now and then. It is an Evangelical church. They life to play loud music with the speakers facing out so everyone can hear it. Often a dog may come in and walk along the pews and people will shoe him off to the next pew.
So there seems to be a lot of crazy things or people around. Don't get me wrong, there are some really good people but the crazies tend to stick out and make the day exciting.