Sandy Bay (St. Vincent), St. Vincent and the Grenadines
I'm beginning to become more accustomed to finding lost, florescent-green lizards in my bedroom; strange bugs (biting me); and large men walking around, carrying incredibly intimidating machetes (while being lead around in isolated parts of the landscape). If I screamed, would anyone hear me—or care?
With my trusty bottle of rainwater in-hand, I'm not sure I could do much against a determined attacker but quench his thirst (hopefully for water, and not for my blood). It's like the Wild West here, except the six-shooters have been replaced with sharpened pieces of metal. Yee-haw Bush Man.
Who would have thought that one of the best Internet cafés I've used since Puerto Rico would be located inside of a Shell gas station. The Golden Rock, located on strip of road running along the east coast near the village of Union (a good 30 minutes south of me), has got several brand new Dell's, with a responsive connection. For only $5 EC an hour, the price is the right, but a bit of a chore to get to.
It was at the gas station that I learned of the recent murder of Glen Jackson, the prime minister's press secretary here in St. Vincent. Interestingly, of those I've heard speak of the incident, most point to/blame his homosexuality for the incident.
I'm excited. My comprehension level of what Akeem is saying has reached an amazing 25%—meaning for every 10 of the words spoken by Ben's brother, I'll understand at most two or three (the rest might as well be Swahili).
Rhythmically undulating in tone, and packed with fast-paced, unidentifiable slang mixed with slurred, broken English, the local dialect of this island (and those south of it) is a challenge to understand. Jokes fly straight over my head. The Queen's English, this is not. Thankfully, Ben (and his wife) turn on the White Man method of speech for me.
Some people (older women mostly) greet me with a friendly "Hello, Mr. Friday," as I stroll through Sandy Bay with Ben. Ben smiles and says they have me confused with another Caucasian that teaches here a few times a week (who I allegedly share similar physical attributes with). "Sometime people have a hard time telling different white people apart," he entertainingly remarked.
It's coming up on three months that I've been abroad. Not unlike the ebb and flow of the tides, the urge to drive a car comes and goes for me. Ben hasn't driven in four years; his wife has never once been behind a steering wheel in her 30 years.
I sorely need a hammock or a rocking chair for this place. I'm being fed three (tasty) meals a day, waiting to forget what day of the week it is, a sign (for me) of true departure from the city into the country—the Bush.
As there are no mirrors in the house, I've resolved myself to stop shaving. I'm going Bush Man—local. Most men here have facial hair, usually trimmed/groomed fairly recently. I, on the other hand, will (for the first time) let my scruff grow unchecked—at least until such a time as it drives me nuts or I run across a mirror and cringe.
Big Brother controls the television in the Bush. There is one TV station that is broadcast over the air here. Ben turned on the set one evening, revealing quite possibly one of the worst movies I've listened to (I couldn't look in its direction).
I found it odd, but wasn't surprised, that the single source of television entrainment for the island would be the Sci Fi Channel. My curiosity was peaked though when the following evening something like Public Access appeared, followed by the British news and an HBO movie. I asked Ben what was up.
Apparently, the TV fairies out there are picking and choosing the television lineup from a foreign satellite signal, like a giant government-sponsored Tivo. Ben dug up an old December newspaper, the final page of which sported the weeks upcoming selections (topped off with a pixelated TV Guide logo that I'm sure someone snagged off the Internet). Impressive—CNN for 30 minutes at noon, hours of fairly decent movies each evening from basic, cable, and premium channels. It's just like sitting on the couch with someone and never having control of the remote!
I've also come to the conclusion that people up here have superpowers. OK, maybe that's the wrong word choice, but folks around here definitely have impressive hearing, vision, and sense of smell. Faintly audible conversations are had over great distances, stealthy trucks detected behind blind turns, fishing boats noted on the horizon—the list goes on. With such developed senses, your guess is as good as mine as to why they love to play their music (especially in small, confined minibuses) at ear-bleeding levels.
"Do you smell cigarette smoke," Celestie asks, the breeze moving past me. I don't, but I'm sure it's there.