Tag Archives: Caribbean

Switching Blogs

Hi friends! As you may have realized, I’ve been absent off of this blog for quite some time. This is because I have switched over to a blog that I am writing with my pen name. I’m still blogging about life in the Caribbean, but I’m also sharing how my writing and online publishing escapades are progressing.

Come with me as I make the switch to my blog as Juliana Rose! Hope to see you there!

Caribbean House Tour

I live up the hill from Kevan with his grandmother and grandfather, but I spend most of the time with his grandmother. She is called Apo, which means “grandmother” in a Chinese dialect called Hakka. Apo was born in Jamaica but studied in Hong Kong when she was younger, so she speaks Hakka.

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Here’s the front of the house. On the left you can see a piece of the gate where you come in, and on the right is a retaining wall. The whole property is fenced in.
Here you can see the kitchen and dining area. You can see how you come into the kitchen from the car park. Apo let's me cook and use anything in the kitchen, so that's great.
Here you can see the kitchen and dining area. You can see how you come into the kitchen from the car park. Apo let’s me cook and use anything in the kitchen, so that’s great.
The living room is next to the dining room and also leads into the TV room, which is on the right. The bedrooms are down the hallway on the left.
The living room is next to the dining room and also leads into the TV room, which is on the right. The bedrooms are down the hallway on the left.

 

This is my room! I tried to get it mostly clean for the picture. The fan is positioned to keep mosquitoes off of me at night, and you can see on the nightstand a little white box that burns mosquito-repelling tablets.
This is my room! I tried to get it mostly clean for the picture. The fan is positioned to keep mosquitoes off of me at night, and you can see on the nightstand a little white box that burns mosquito-repelling tablets.
It's hard to get a picture, but here is an idea of my bathroom anyway. I should put the hair dryer in the closet since it is too hot to use it most of the time.
It’s hard to get a picture, but here is an idea of my bathroom anyway. I should put the hair dryer in the closet since it is too hot to use it most of the time.
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Finally, this is the yard. I get to swim anytime I want, and it’s also nice to sit out on the porch (if I’m wearing lots of bug spray and the fan is on!).

 

Moving In

My first few days of settling in have been busy. I am living at Kevan’s grandma’s house – I have my own room, and essentially my own bathroom too. I’m really lucky. The last of my stuff got unpacked today, and most everything has a place now. I forgot how many things I left here on previous visits and how much I sent with Kevan when he visited me. For all my thoughts about living simply and not having too many material things, I probably have more clothes here than Kevan.

Kevan had a phone set up for me when I got here. It’s his old phone and he says it stinks, but I’m finding that it works better than my previous phone. Opens things right away, downloads apps, et cetera. It even (gasp) has a front-facing camera! (I had an iPhone 3, so naturally it was getting slow in its old age.) I’ve connected with some of my friends on WhatsApp, which is great, and I’ve been using my phone to call people with whom I want to meet for my scholarship and for job-seeking purposes. Exciting.

On Saturday I went with Kevan and one of his scout friends to cut bamboo for a booth that the scouts are having this week. I only had my phone, and Kevan was not lying when he said the camera was bad. It has a lot of focus issues. The front-facing camera focuses great, but of course I can’t quite see the picture I’m taking. Anyway, bamboo-cutting was cool. I helped a little. Nothing says “Caribbean jungle island woman” like hacking at bamboo with a machete, right?

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I’ve driven a few times since arriving. I think that remembering to stay on the left side of the road is a lesser problem, and that getting used to narrow roads and driving etiquette here are going to be the tough part. Kevan says I have to learn how to honk. Some honks mean thank you, some mean “hey I know you,”  and angry honks are angry. There are also huge potholes around, and I accidentally drove through one and splashed a guy. I feel really bad about that.

This already feels different from the other times I’ve been here. Having my own room and space, my own phone, my own key, and practicing driving all are starting to make it feel like I live in Trinidad.

 

A one-way flight to the Caribbean

This is the point in my life where I begin looking for a one-way flight to Trinidad. Who knew.

This is the dream that a lot of people dream about. Many blog posts and articles pop up on facebook that have titles like, “How I quit my job to travel the world!” or “I sold everything I own and moved to <random cool location> and found a job there.” And it’s exciting, and you think to yourself, why don’t I just do that? But you don’t, and I don’t, and it’s probably because the idea sounds great, but the reality is that it will cost a lot of money, and travel bloggers are thing but it’s maybe not your thing, and you’re not sure you could even get a job if you go to this place, and what about all the paperwork you’ll have to do to live and work somewhere else assuming you do find a job, and there’s the fact that you don’t know anybody there, plus how long are you going to stay and how many family gatherings and weddings (or – as much as you might not want to think about it – funerals) are you going to miss?

One of these fears has already been taken care of for me. I’m not moving to Trinidad on a whim, I’m moving there to be with Kevan, who conveniently has a very full network of family and friends and family-friends who are all fun and welcoming and supportive. On that same note, I have a place to stay: I’ll be living with Kevan’s grandmother to start off (who lives just up the road from Kevan – also convenient), and although I’m going to give her money for rent, it’ll be much less than if I were to actually rent an apartment there. Kevan tells me that she is excited to have me and has been telling him about the food she’s going to cook for me.

While this knowledge is extremely comforting, the rest of my fears are quite present.
What if I can’t get a job that pays enough to support myself and also to work to pay back my student loans? Average salaries there are much less than the U.S., but the cost of living is comparable.
What about traveling back to see friends and family? All the people close to me are scattered around the country, so with one trip per year I’d likely only see a few people, and that’s if it’s really well planned.

While I do not have a job, my first two months there will be spent traveling and working on a project for a scholarship that I won. That’s another thing that has fallen into place really well, because I can job search while doing that, and it’ll be easier to job search from there than from here. I am also fortunate that I’ll have Kevan’s family and friends looking for a job for me too.

I thought my fears rant was going to be much longer. I actually typed a few and then deleted them because it felt silly. One was weddings – I have four close friends whose weddings I really, really want to attend. However, none of them are engaged yet, and based off of the current state of things they’ll likely get married far apart from each other, so it won’t be unreasonable to attend all of them. Another is paperwork, but ultimately that will be just a pain and not a showstopper.

Overall, I’m pumped for this adventure. I’m grateful that I have this opportunity, and that so many things are falling into place for this to happen. I know that I have a lot of surprises ahead of me. I’ll have many opportunities to learn and overcome challenges. There will be times when I’ll be frustrated or confused, but I’m hopeful that those moments will be greatly outnumbered by the happy and fulfilling moments. I’m excited to see how everything plays out.

 

 

Tobago Adventure Day

On the second day of the Tobago trip, we drove around the entire island and stopped at a TON of places along the way.

Quick note: Rather than add captions to half of these photos, I’ll just tell you now that a lot of these pictures were taken by Keeshan! You can read about some of his outdoor adventures on Trail Pace.

12371039_10156345289665402_6221399198500670375_oOur first stop was Argyle waterfall. There was a mandatory admission fee that included a guide if we wanted one, so we chose to have one since we were paying for it either way. We definitely didn’t need one in terms of the trail since it was very clear where we were supposed to go, but it was awesome to learn about some of the local plants and birds.  The only bird I remember is the blue crowned motmot which is quite pretty and, as you may have guessed, has a blue crown. The guide mostly told us about trees, but he also showed us a ground provision called tania or tanya. I guess it’s not commonly used since I’ve never heard of it before, but I’d love to try to cook some. One think I really like about Trinidad and Tobago is the fact that there are so many different fruits and vegetables that grow here that I’d never really heard of or tried before.

The guide told us that the waterfall had 17 levels, but we only went up to level four. As you can see, each level change was a little trek all on its own.

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1064802_10156345291640402_5161321816323446801_oAnother highlight of the Argyle waterfall was that a stray dog loyally followed us the whole way, even up the really steep parts. Apparently in T&T stray dogs are called “potongs.”

 

 

 

After Argyle we went to Flagstaff Hill for lunch. I don’t know if the hill is second or third or any tallest ranked hill in Tobago, but Kevan said that at least I could put that it is the Northeastest most hill. So there you go.

Fun highlight: There was a radio tower that you could just walk up to and climb if you had the inclination. (I’m sure that wasn’t they intention, but hey, it was there.) Look how far up Kevan climbed!DSCN0535

Look I climbed really high too!DSCN0536

Haha just kidding no I did not.DSCN0537

 

DSCN0538Anyway, we ate lunch on a very sunken in bench and looked out over the bush. “Bush” loosely means “wildly growing plants.” Example one: When I have something compostable like an orange peel, Kevan says to throw it “into the bush,” where the bush is grass cuttings and plants in his yard. Example two: We go on hikes “through the bush” where the bush is all of the plants and trees that are growing naturally. Example three: His grandma said that her grandchildren grew “like bush.”

DSCN0546We went to Pirate’s Bay and walked down some very slippery steps to the beach. We snorkeled there and it was awesome. Snorkeling is becoming one of my new favorite things, though I’ve technically only gone three ish times for real.  Growing up in a completely land-locked area, my main experiences with water were swimming pools, which of course lack waves and are chlorinated. I tried snorkeling once last year and did a bad job. That was try #1. Breathing around the salt water in the tube made my throat scratchy, and being far from where I could touch the bottom was scary.  This year we had two really good snorkeling outings in Tobago. I’m more Pirates Bayconfident in the water this year, I think as a result of an accumulation of many little swimming experiences and practice. This year, having the snorkel wasn’t scary anymore, and it made me more confident to swim out farther. When you snorkel you are just floating on your stomach, face down with the tube sticking up out of the water. It’s much easier than swimming because your position is very natural and you don’t have to fight to keep yourself or your head up. I am still far from being a good snorkeler, but I’d like to keep doing it.

As the day went on I lost track of where we went. Where is this? I do not know.886927_10156345223985402_3376668435051890804_o

 

Fort something, which had two cannons and a gazebo.DSCN0562

When the sun is out, everything has the most beautiful colors.DSCN0566 DSCN0540

 

12371155_10156345300180402_5597429645858008953_oI don’t remember the name of this waterfall either. We walked across a field with goats to get to this little hike.

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And we’ll end with some boats.

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I don’t remember exactly what we did that evening, but I think it involved eating leftovers and going to bed at around 8:30. A full day of activities will do that to you. I find it kind of funny that we only really have days like these when we visit new places. Okay, it makes sense that if we lived in Tobago, we could have done all of these things over the course of many days. But 1) would we have? and 2) is that better? When you live somewhere, you have the tendency to think that you have all the time in the world to do a thing/visit a place. But suddenly you’re moving somewhere else because of a job or school, and you never did that thing. (Or perhaps you live your whole life in that place and then you’re 70 and thinking about how you never did that thing and now you’re too old.) In conclusion, do the things.