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Dominica

August 10, 1990

My biggest meal of the day was chips I ate with two beers at Vena’s after the swearing in. 

I typed up the swearing in program first thing this morning before I began entering my Catch-All article into the computer. It’s a good thing I did because it gave me a reason to accidentally remind Judy that she should prepare something to say for the welcome and introductions. 

After signing up for another bank account and sending off my first roll of film I walked home from the Peace Corps office in the rain and wore my new tropical suit for the first time. It rained all day and only really stopped when we were picked up for the ceremony. 

The EC-56 Dominican volunteers with President and First Lady Signorette.

At the ceremony Maryann read a reason for joining Peace Corps that I thought was mine but was actually Jay’s. The President’s speech was excellent. It was inspiration and supportive and he let it be known that our Dominican supervisors better be utilizing us or else he would have a talk with them to make sure we would have a fulfilling assignment. I took the oath and signed it and am now official Peace Corps.

Lennox Honeychurch, President Clarence Signorette, Ruth Nicholas, and other VIPs at the swearing-in at the Old Mill Cultural Center.
Don Whetstone, Paul R, and Jay Petersen after the swearing-in ceremony.

Aug 10

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Dominica

August 9, 1990

I told Mary Ann this morning that I had no problem staying here for two years. She interviewed everyone to confirm our commitment to the Peace Corps and see if any problems remained.

When she was through with all the interviews she and Felix drove us to the President’s office. The President welcomed us and gave us some advice on making it through the two years with respect and effectiveness. He was a very nice man who loved to talk and share his experiences. I think he is very proud of his country and has high expectations even though he knows the pace at which the country will progress. He will be at the swearing in but it is unlikely that the Prime Minister will attend.

I arrived home for my last dinner from Molly. I ate chicken, macaroni, and boiled green bananas and potatoes. I finally had first bowel movement since returning from St. Lucia. [Sentence omitted for too much detail, which I am willing to reveal in private if you really care] I really didn’t check it but I hope any damage done by living with Molly is over. 

Aug 9

Categories
Dominica

August 8, 1990

I couldn’t hand wash today because Bill was using the bowl and I’m glad I didn’t. It rained on and off all day. It usually does but there was a large amount of rain from a tropical wave.

It was raining today when I arrived at the Peace Corps office. We had presentations on the health system and law and order in Dominica. Judy presented the information on the health system.

The police officer who spoke to us gave us a lot of good advice on taking care of ourselves in Dominica. He said it required extra care in Portsmouth and stressed the severity of drug use or association.

Mary Ann also talked to us about her relationship to us and expectations. She was very upset about our dress code. She was upset by us wearing shorts on the plane and to the Trafalgar fete. It is very important that we dress respectably not only because we are teachers but also because we are ambassadors for the U.S. Shorts and t-shirts make us look sloppy and more like tourists.

After drinking some of the grapefruit juice I was given I went with Catherine to Cee-Bee’s where I bought a Billboard magazine and a book on plants and animals of the Cabrits. We also looked around in stores and stopped at the post office.

Don will not be able to move into his place until next week and will be staying with Brad & me in Portsmouth for a while. He, like me, cannot wait to leave our current homestay. Bill saw a cockroach in the refrigerator. I saw ants and a cockroach on the sink, in Molly’s room, and a dead one this morning in my room. I can’t believe I’m staying here.

Aug 8

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Dominica

August 7, 1990

Today was Brad’s and my day to look for housing in Portsmouth. We started by looking for Mrs. Lawrence’s house but the rain forced us to take cover in a bakery. After talking to us for a while, the owner sent us with a young child to find the house. We stopped at a shop where the owner told us about an apartment above. It was nice but the refrigerator was not working. 

Looking confused on the corner of the street, Mrs. Lawrence’s daughter saw us and called us in to see the place. It was better than the place above the shop financially, 500 v 650.

After that we found Mrs. Garaway’s shop but she was gone. We were too early. We went to the bank and I opened up my savings account with a $50 travel cheque, which pays better than cash when converting to currency. It pays 4% interest if over $200.00.

We finally met Mrs. Garaway and saw all three places and took the 4 room apartment above her shop at $250 per person. It is spacious and hurricane safe. Brad and I will be moving in on Saturday. We put down a deposit, $40, to beat another person who was interested in it but did not show up to put down her deposit. The deposit left us without enough money to get home but luckily we ran into Tony Savelli who loaned us the money until we got to the Peace Corps office to get our latest amount of walk around money. I got back to Molly’s after five and took the clothes off the line. It was my first set of clothes to be hand-washed. 

August 7

Categories
Dominica

August 6, 1990

I met with everyone this morning after a hard night’s sleep during which I sweat enough to be totally wet. Our complete group took a transport up to Trafalgar to Fet Kai Che, a festival to celebrate crop-over.

On our way up the hill we saw the Leathums standing in front of a house. We waved to them and Jay, Mikki, and I stopped to talk to them while everyone else headed for the Falls. Mrs. Leathum went up the hill with us to see the produce display and the art exhibit. We noticed Don and Bill had already returned from the Falls. 

Before heading for the Falls ourself we stopped at Mary Ann’s. The walk to the falls was long but worth it. The falls were high and there were huge rocks below where currents went through and pools of cold water gathered. Jay walked further down and cooled off in the water. We met a Canadian student from UVA down there.

After a hot walk back to the village, we had some chicken, pop corn, and soft drinks at the fete.

Before the day was over, Don agreed to take over Laurie Pratt’s house.

August 6

Categories
Dominica

August 5, 1990

The meal at noon provided the major excitement today. After eating portions of everything on my plate, I noticed a small, white grub worm crawling next to my rice. The expression on my face was enough for Bill to ask me if I swallowed a bone. I wish it were only that. My appetite was ruined. I finished my chicken and plantains but did not eat anything else.

Bill said it was probably nothing to worry about. It was probably just a worm similar to the ones in apples. He conjectured it may have come from the lettuce. I had some lettuce. He did not and he did not see anything crawling on his plate.

I don’t think I ate any of the worms. At least I hope I didn’t. I checked our PC medical book, Where There Is No Doctor. There were no pictures exactly like the worms I saw. I am still very nervous but will just have to wait and see.

Catherine and Yolanda arrived. They called to make arrangements for a trip tomorrow to the Trafalgar fete celebrating the end of the harvest. I also talked to Mikki, Jay, Brad, and Don today.

August 5

Categories
Dominica St. Lucia

August 4, 1990

Today was a day without any early activities and I slept until 6 when I heard Dave getting ready to leave. I joined him for breakfast without changing from my pajamas. We watched TV because we wanted to see if there were any last minute delays or accelerations of flights. There was a flight whose time was moved up 2 hrs. this week. Madeline was emotional. As Dave left she had a tear in her eye and David kissed and hugged her goodbye.

While they were at the airport, I listened to the Time on their stereo and had room in the living room to exercise. I also called Susan to let her know I should be taken off the list of people who did not need a ride. I learned early this morning that the Clauzels were not planning on taking me to the airport. The day before I told Susan they would, contrary to what Madeline told Susan.

The Time

When they came back they knew. Susan was at the airport leaving for Barbados and told them about the message I left for her. They told me they would take me.

Before I went to the airport with them Catherine and I met Sue at the market and I bought them a gift, an ice pick. She said they needed one last night. When I gave it to her, she had a couple of tears in her eyes and kissed me. I returned a kiss before they left me at the airport.

The flight was direct, late, and ended with an unexpectedly smooth landing. Brad and Mary Ann and another PCV who was in Trinidad during the coup met us and took us to our newest homestay. Her name is Molly Fontaine. 

While Bill and I were getting to know her, he spoke a lot of patois, I only said “wi.” Bill and I took a walk after dinner and got to know each other better. I found out he was married.

I came back and read my magazines.  Controversy was one of them. I had received two issues in the mail, one I already had, and a letter from the Eastern [High School] gang [where I taught before Peace Corps]. I was very happy to receive some mail from friends.

August 4

Categories
Dominica St. Lucia

July 26, 1990

Television is relatively new to the masses down here. More and more houses in the Caribbean have their own television in color with cable. They pay about $40 EC (approximately $16 US). However the price includes a movie channel like HBO or Showtime. Wrestling and Soap Operas are the most popular presentations. 

“The Young and the Restless” and the CBS soaps that get shown are watched at the snackette near the Shillingford house in Grand Bay by everyone, young and old, male and female, in the nearby neighborhood. Wrestling gets watched by males and females. Mrs. Leathum was watching one night while we were at the house and seemed genuinely interested as if it were real. Everyone else there, Brad, Jay, and Mikki, laughed and I confessed that I was a fan. Mr. Shillingford also watched it when I was at his house and asked me about my favorite wrestlers. Mrs. Leathum said they’ve put on wrestling shows in Roseau. I don’t know who came. Jay told Mr. Leathum that it was fake when he asked Jay. Pat Klinger, a Dominican PCV, said they believe it is real because it is on TV.

Not about about my day in St. Lucia, but I did write at the top of the page: went to Vigie Beach.

Relaxing after a hard day of training on Vigie beach near Couples hotel in St. Lucia. July 1990

written on July 26

Categories
Dominica

July 23, 1990

I slept on and off but overall pretty well until 5AM when Brad’s alarm clock went off. Don was in the shower again so I waited in line. I let Catherine use the toilet before I took my shower with some bug. Of course it was cold but it was a shower hose.

I went back to my room and used the sink to prepare for the day. I wore a wrinkled shirt, black pants, white socks, and my Reeboks. I forgot my toothpaste and had to wait for Brad to get up before I brushed my teeth.

After waiting a few moments, we had a breakfast of juice, coffee, and toast and loaded into the transport to the airport. We all made it on this time. We left late and had to get off the plane in Martinique.

Yolanda, Bill, Catherine, Don, Brad, and Sue loading into the transport at the Floral Gardens guest house. July 1990

While we were waiting for another plane, I bought water and a danish. It cost me about $3 US. I also paid for Don’s beer ($2 US) because he only had coins with which he paid me. We got back on the flight and took a 15 minute trip to St. Lucia where Felix was waiting.

We received our spending money and rode to the school where the training was. The others were on a scavenger hunt and we went off for refreshments.

After 12 we headed back to the school, listened to the results of the scavenger hunt for various cites in St. Lucia. We signed up for interviews and received T/D shots.

Following these activities we went for a walk and ate at “Flintstones.” I had chicken, bread, and lime juice. I had soursop ice cream for dessert which tasted just like Brad’s Passion Fruit ice cream which tasted just like vanilla.

The training session resumed with skits. Ours was the shortest and least telling of the trainees’ adventures in their countries. We also had an explanation for the creole training.

After training Dave Matheny and I were picked up by our Homestays for St. Lucia. They are a retired couple who lived in England many years. We got the chance to watch the Bush announcement of his Supreme Court nominee and had tuna for dinner.

July 23

Categories
Dominica

July 22, 1990

The move to St. Lucia started with me removing clothes from the line. The clothes were extremely wrinkled after sitting in a hot washing machine during the afternoon. Frustrated, I ironed them and packed everything away.

After packing, we said our goodbyes to the Shillingfords, gave them our gift (Lennox Honeychurch’s Island Culture), and walked down for breakfast. We said our goodbyes to the Leathums and gave them their gift (a map of Dominica).

We finally picked up, got our suitcases and left for a spaghetti dinner at APCD MaryAnn Murray’s house. I met some more PCVs and RPCVs who returned to Dominica. Tony was working on a masters through Pitt and attended McDowell High School [where my niece and nephew went to school] since he was originally from Erie [PA]. His dad is in charge of hiring.

Brad, Don, and Maryann at the spaghetti dinner at Maryann’s house in Trafalgar. July 1990

We left Trafalgar for the airport to catch our flight to St. Lucia. Two of the volunteers were bumped and eventually we were all bumped and taken to a guest house not far from Melville Hall Airport. We were given very beautiful rooms and a beautiful meal.

The meal was a choice of chicken, beef, or fish. I chose chicken. We were served in addition to the chicken, a dasheen puff, rice, carrots, lettuce, banana salad, a cucumber slice, and beets. For dessert I had fruit cake which was fresh and delicious.

After that the manager showed us the craft shop. They had hats like the one Catherine made Brad and Sue. However they charged $25 EC fro the hats. Although I liked the thermometer I decided to pass on souvineers [sic] and went to bed.

July 22