August 16, 1990

It looks like we might be able to get someone to do our wash soon. On the way back from a day at the Cabrits & Douglas Bay, a lady asked us who we were. After telling her that we were Peace Corps workers, she asked if we need our clothes washed. She may stop by to talk to us about it and if it is within our budget we might let her. I hand washed my clothes tonight after a dinner of chicken and rice.

The clothes I wore today were very sweaty from all the walking we did. We walked up a very long path on the West Cabrits. I was frustrated because I was afraid it would lead to nowhere but it took us to a cannon and great view of the sea. We walked back down among all the lizards and saw Lennox and some of the children he was informing about the Cabrits.

Jay and Brad on the West Cabrit overlooking the Caribbean Sea. August 1990

I met a couple of Portsmouth Secondary School students. I don’t know if I’ll be teaching them because I don’t know what I’m going to teach and even that won’t be certain until the end of September after we’ve been teaching. I’m not too worried. I’ll be happy to be busy and meeting people.

Aug 16


August 15, 1990

Don left us early this morning and left behind some of his food. I went out to replenish our bread supply and bought whole wheat bread and jacquari. The whole wheat was by mistake but I’m glad. It tastes good.

I also bought a mouse trap for the mouse we saw yesterday. After nightfall we caught it and tossed it in the garbage. I spotted another mouse and Brad set the trap for the next one. I hope that’s all there is. Jay was here when the trap went off.

He came mid afternoon and brought letters. I got one from John Michael [my cousin] and one from Metzer [my college roommate]. John Michael was surprised and Metzer’s was enjoyable. I felt a little homesick and slightly depressed as I read them. I really miss everyone and wish I wasn’t so far away.

Jay and Brad in the dining room in my Bay Street apartment.

But my spirits did pick up as I talked with Jay, saw the article in the news about swearing-in, and played “Hearts.” I had to learn it because I couldn’t remember ever playing it before. I also felt much happier after popping some corn. Brad and I finally mopped the floor but it got pretty dirty before the day’s end and we decided that we would like to have someone do our wash.

Aug 15


August 14, 1990

The boredom was worse today. I got depressed right before dinner but eventually snapped out of it as we ate, cleaned up, and played 500 rummy again. I think I’m going to need a TV to get through these two years.

Today’s adventure was to go to Douglas Bay again and try the goggles Don got in town yesterday. I took my underwater camera too. Before we left we heard about a tropical storm in Trinidad and Tobago. We weren’t sure how it would affect us. We didn’t get too far before it rained. It did often and heavy.

We were able to take a walk past Tan Tan along the road that leads through the swamp and to the beach. We must have walked 7 or 8 miles. We were only in the water for a few minutes when it looked like clouds from the tropical storm would make it impossible to swim.

On the way back we saw many crabs and heard a lot of lizards running through the grass. I jumped once after hearing so many of them. The three of us stopped at the Purple Turtle and a bar run by Oliver Joseph who was at the disaster preparedness meeting.

Aug 14


August 13, 1990

I didn’t feel any goose bumps just heat. I wasn’t really too hot except when we took an early morning walk to Fort Shirley on the Cabrits. The walk was just as long as the one to the beach the other day and at first we had trouble finding it. We went past the path which was up the hill and perpendicular to the direction we were walking.

It was really a nice place to visit. They have restored much of it and placed displays inside the buildings. Most of the displays are unfinished. We signed the visitors’ book. Most of the people who signed it were from Dominica but there were some US citizens and others.

We didn’t take a look at all the buildings on the Cabrits because we were overdressed and unprepared. My mind was in such a haze this morning I didn’t really think about what we should take. I was in such a rush that we went to the bakery and stores before most of them were open.

When we got back I washed clothes and did a little cleaning. Brad cleaned the outside of the refrigerator and I did a little sweeping. It got pretty boring today. Tonight we played 500 Rummy. Lennox stopped by today.

Aug 13 


August 12, 1990

Don has also been encouraging us to get more out of Mrs. Garaway but I tried to point out that we shouldn’t go beyond honesty. If it is the honesty that makes me a weak negotiator, I don’t mind. I’ve had enough dishonesty in my life.

The view from the veranda at my apartment on Bay Street. August 1990

One of the things I’ve been thinking about while I’m here in Dominica is starting a monthly Peace Corps Bible study. A lot of volunteers have strong religious values or lean toward them. I was also grateful for hearing that there is a Methodist church in Portsmouth.

I heard about it at a disaster preparedness meeting that advised people on how to survive a hurricane. We are in hurricane season and we are approaching the serious months of the season. The meeting reminded us of some important matters we have to keep in mind.

We went to this meeting after we had walked north to go on the beach and swim. The beaches were small and the hotels I expected were non-existant. The water was clear and cool enough to give me goose bumps.

Aug 12


August 11, 1990

On my first day as an official Peace Corps worker Brad and I moved to Portsmouth. Don came with us because his apartment won’t be ready until next week and I invited him to stay with us since our apartment has two extra rooms. Although he will pay because he is staying for a long time, guests who stay for only a day or two will not mean we have to pay more rent. I hope I get some guests. 

The Middle Room With Don’s Stuff
The Bay Street Apartment. Aug 90

I signed the contract which leaves Brad under no obligation. I’m glad about that because this is his first time on his own and Sue Kelly really scared him (I think) when she was pointing out all the problems the rental agreement might cause. Mrs. Garaway was very receptive to the changes we asked for.  We even got a gas stove because Don didn’t use the electric stove correctly which made us think we would not be able to boil water. The stove is in bad shape anyway. There are only two burners of which only one works. We didn’t test the oven.

We swept out the place and cleaned the kitchen and the plates and silverware. 

While I was fixing up my room, I was listening to Prince on low volume. “Head” was playing at low volume because I didn’t know how the other two guys would like it. Don came in my room to help me with my mosquito netting and checked out my solar walkman. When he heard the music he liked it enough to want me to turn it up. Brad was happy he was on the other side so he wouldn’t have to hear it.

My bedroom at my apartment in Portsmouth. August 11, 1990

We also listened to music as the three of us played “Up & Down the River.” I came in last place again and Don won.

I took my first shower in the house and after everyone else finished theirs we noticed a big puddle on the floor. It looks like another thing to talk to Mrs. Garaway about.

I’ve been very laid back about this whole apartment thing. I have not been aggressive at all. It makes me wonder how I would do in law school or after law school when I may need to negotiate. Don paid me a compliment and said I would be very successful. I hope he’s right.

Aug 11


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


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


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


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