March 13, 2006

Idling in the Bush
Sandy Bay (St. Vincent), St. Vincent and the Grenadines

There isn't a lot for me to do here, but I help out as best I can, as often as I can.

Planting plantain trees

Most tasks I've participated in have involved the gathering or preparation of the materials Ben uses to make his baskets. I try not to slice my fingers (too deep) as I "bone" massive palm fronds with a kitchen knife, or fold dead plants. Among the more interesting tasks I've participated in has been the planting of a field of young plantain trees—about 40 of them. Ben calls me "Bush Man" now.

Because of my background in computers, I'm getting tapped to look at all sorts of troubled electronics. Yes, I've dealt with the inner workings of these mysterious machines for most of my life, but that hardly qualifies me to do much more than blindly pull apart the broken PlayStation controller laid in front of me and look for an obvious ailment (I figured a little jungle critter had found a new home under the X button). Sorry nice neighbor lady, but I know just enough about the charged capacitors inside your television to keep me from opening it up.

Crazy Culture

I enjoyed watching the bewildered look on the faces of Ben's wife and brother as I described to them the act of "catch and release" fishing the other day (something that I haven't done in a long time). "Yes," I told them, "you actually spend your day catching fish and putting them back in the water. …Nope, you don't eat them." They looked back at me with a "you people are nuts" reaction all over their faces, probably the same look I had on my face when I recently saw ketchup being dumped all over a bowl of rice with a wing of deep-fried chicken on top of it. Yes, both concepts are a little strange, but oddly satisfying from time to time.

White Man on a Black (Volcanic Sand) Beach

I'm not sure if it's the potassium-high from all the bananas in my bloodstream (I've honestly eaten more of 'em in the past week than I have in the totality of my life prior to this island), but I took the effort and time out of my not-so-busy schedule to hike the 45 minutes to the nearest beach yesterday. Mental note: black sand is not an enjoyable experience to walk on mid-day (hot!), or see caked all over your body.

I have an abundant amount of time on my hands to sit and think about where I want to go after my stint here, but not much in the way of resources to help me. My seclusion from all things Internet and tourist/traveler has left me to pick over my atlas and the scraps of northern Caribbean information floating around in my head.

I recently came into possession of a massive—think biblical in size—2003 Lonely Planet guide to Central America. I'm trying not to read it. I don't like to read guidebook opinion until I've experienced the location firsthand. When I do research beforehand, it's usually factual information I'm interested in (like you might find in an encyclopedia). After I've been someplace for a bit, I'll happily dig into a guidebook and see what it has to say.

Now I'm not carrying this brick of a book around just for the heck of it; I've decided that my next big jump will probably be into Belize (with Guatemala as my second choice), in about a months time. I've still got to look into the airfare situation though (trying to avoid the US$600+ ticket price).

In the meantime, I'm planning on celebrating my mid-April birthday in a place with people and a nightlife. Word has it that the half-Dutch, half-French controlled island of Saint Martin is a lively spot, and even sports an unimpressive nude beach! Humm, I wouldn't mind some nice warm sun on my nether region; maybe I can do some damage to this wicked tan line that I've got going on!

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