St. Lucia

July 24, 1990

For breakfast I would have loved to have eaten all of the damn chickens making noise outside my window at 5am. I read a chapter of Catch-22 and took a shower until it was time to eat. I ironed some of the wrinkles out of my pants but not enough to satisfy Mrs. Clauzel who made me take them off and ironed them for me before I left.

In addition to that she made us breakfast and our bag lunch. Breakfast was only toast and juice because unlike David, I passed on the egg. She made corned beef sandwiches which I didn’t eat. I only drank the juice and even passed on the mango.

After I drank the juice, I had my medical interview during which I confessed that I was not sexually active when asked what forms of contraceptives I used. My blood pressure was 110/60, told I was young and fit, and that I didn’t look my weight, 145 lbs. 

In addition to that interview I also had one with Dick Pyle, Country Director, whose wife is best friends with Mikki Jarvis [I think that was my college Spanish professor]. He was very good at complimenting me and acknowledging my skills and abilities.

July 24


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


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


July 21, 1990

We went for a late breakfast after ironing, showering, and putting in laundry. Mikki and Jay had already gone into town house-hunting so Brad and I went back to the Shillingfords’ house for the morning. I read my international version of Newsweek and watched cartoons with Devi. I got to see “Beetlejuice.” The Shillingfords decided to all go to town and leave Brad and me on our own. Mr. Shillingford told me if I had a daughter with a black woman it would be the same color as his daughter Sheree. Mr. Shillingford proudly told Brad and me once before that his grandfather was white.

After they left we watched TV including “The Naked Gun” on HBO and went to lunch. After playing cards and meeting with Don and Sue we went to Don’s homestay to get Sue’s and Brad’s hats made by Catherine of Grand Bay. We also walked to the bay and got our feet wet and other parts. My shorts and shirt are still damp. Sue saw a scorpion on the coast.

Brad and I went to the Shillingfords because I had to hang up clothes which were no longer being washed once the water went off. Teresa hung them up although I’m not positive they were thoroughly rinsed. We went for dinner played cards some more and I lost again. We got the chance to watch wrestling with Mrs. Leathum. She was really into it. It was TBS wrestling. Brad and I left to get back and prepare for tomorrow’s move to St. Lucia.

July 21


July 20, 1990

After finding some dry clothes on the line I dressed up for today’s activities. Brad and I left for breakfast on foot. We left after eating custard, bananas, bread, juice, and meat.

Upon arriving at the school we had a combined class (all 9 of us) in patois and a lesson in singing the National Anthem. I was the worst singer of the nine, but I figure if I sing it loud enough it won’t sound too bad in St. Lucia.

After that we got on transport to town. I sat on a block behind a rasta whose locks got closer to my mouth as he leaned back in the overcrowded bus.

When we made it to town I exchanged some money, bought postcards, a t-shirt, and flags to wave when we sing the national anthem of Dominica. Our planned session on family relationships was canceled when the speaker did not arrive. I went shopping again for plastic shoes (Toyotas in green, yellow, and red) and the papers with the Peace Corps articles. We listened to the current PCVs’ suggestions on housing at 1 pm. 

After those words of wisdom, I played around with the spreadsheets and database programs on the Peace Corps Macintosh. Brad and I then went shopping for gifts for our homestays. We bought a map for the Leathums and a book for the Shillingfords.

Mikki and Jay joined for another cramped ride home. This time Mikki almost didn’t make it without puking. Mr. Shillingford was home and offered us beers when we arrived. Brad and I were let known that alcohol-drinking was the proper, manly thing to do in Dominica. I had a beer but Brad doesn’t drink. Mr. Shillingford was amused that I could drink about 4 beers with friends compared to his 20.

We ran down for dinner shortly after and then Brad, Sue, and I visited Don. I had an attack of diarrhea and [had] some tea to cure it. We saw Don’s homestay, Catherine, make a hat. We finally made it home and happily because tonight there were lights and power.

July 20


July 19, 1990

After a horrible night’s sleep of roosters (starting at 3AM) and Sheree crying we woke up and went to breakfast early in order to get to Rouseau in time for a Portsmouth transport. The transport left around 9 and we arrived at the Portsmouth Secondary School after 10.

Brad and I gave our qualifications to Mrs. Murdock who will be leaving the position of principal soon to travel with her husband, the former APCD of Dominica. She filled us in about the school, introduced us to Brian, who is a Math teacher there, and gave us the books we will be using. They seem very easy to me. Mr. Fabien was also there.

After that meeting, he drove us to the Catholic Presbytary, where we met Father Reggie. Like Athlene Murdock he promised to keep an eye open for housing possibilities for us.

Following that meeting we had a long wait for transport back to Rouseau. On Thursdays Rouseau used to close down in the afternoon and people are still in the habit of not going to town. Thursday is also the day the banana boats are loaded.

Finally we made it back for the rest of a dry speech on politics in Dominica. The speaker was so tall he almost walked into the overhead fan. Jay gave away the sandwiches Mrs. Leathum prepared for us but we didn’t take. I had some Kool-Aid at the Peace Corps office and a soda and Milo bar in Portsmouth.

We made it back to Grand Bay in a minivan that at one time held 20 or more people. We hung the clothes that were in the washer and put in one more load. Toni invited me up to his snackette and gave me a Coke. I also got a lesson on politics.

I left for dinner which included Macaroni & Cheese, played “Up & Down” and won my first time playing, by candlelight. The lights went off again.

written on July 20


July 18, 1990

Wednesday started with a patois lesson on verbs and tenses and the days of the week. Interviews were going on with our APCD MaryAnn Murray. I had to wait for an hour for it. It was primarily a chance for her to get to know us better. At lunchtime we hd tuna and tasted fried breadfruit which is similar to french fries. After lunch we heard from Chief Education Officer Anthony Lockhart. Mrs. Shillingford confirmed what he said. We learned that their education system is only for the best and the standards are much higher than those in the U.S. We worked in the cemetery from 5-6:30 moving stones from the lawn, cutting plant growth, and raking up dead grass. Bill, Sue, Mikki, Jay, Brad and I made some small improvements. During our dinner which included a custard and Kool-Aid the lights went out. Apparently they usually go out on Thursdays because of the work on the hydro-electric plant but they also went out .. today.

written on July 19


July 17, 1990

In today’s class we learned more patois: how to tell your name, profession, nationality, and your state. We learned the words for relatives, too. Mikki is continuing to do better.

Brad, Sue, and Micki walk to training at Grand Bay Secondary School. July 1990

Her husband Jay wasn’t feeling well. He had the Hershey Squirts and did not go to the afternoon session.

He went to morning language lessons while the people from my group went to the health center. I started my community service by cutting grass. The girls talked to nurses and Bill got a chance to visit the fire station.

After that visit we had lunch and went for a history lesson on Dominica. The information was important and presented well but I was hit by down-time. Lennox Honeychurch, the presenter, lives in or near Portsmouth and he seemed hopeful to see me there.

Brad and I got our laundry off the line and went back down to the Leathum’s. I broke a glass on the patio before we took off for church meeting. It was much longer and more personal than I expected. We got a chance to do some community service, more for me and finally some for them, by agreeing to help clean the cemetery. 

After the meeting we went nuts over dry mix chicken soup after finishing ice cream on the way home.

July 17


July 16, 1990

On Monday we began our lessons in the patois after a community meeting. We learned the sounds of patois and greetings. My half of the group was very good. Mikki got frustrated and cried unnecessarily. She had the most trouble but wasn’t that bad. Bill and Yolanda were also in the group and Felix Henderson taught us. 

Felix Henderson

After our lessons we had time for community analysis but spent most of the time talking with John and Joel who just finished their first year teaching in Dominica. Yolanda and I walked along the wrong path and ended at the top of the hill where four other Peace Corps workers joined us for refreshments at the snackette. I had a 7-Up. 

I walked Yolanda to her homestay’s house and had a glass of water and then started on my way back. I ran into Don on the way back and tried my creole on him- bonapwemidi -but he didn’t understand.

I finally made it back to the Leathum’s and had lunch. I made sure I consumed many liquids. Then we went back to school.

We heard PCVs talk about personal safety. There should not be too many problems trying to be safe. It just takes some caution.

We also heard about hurricane safety. I pray that we will be spared the experience of a hurricane. I think overall it would be a life-enhancing experience but one I could do without. 

After that we went to the Leathum’s and had our dinner. I had guava jelly which was great. We walked home after dinner.

I got the chance to watch Pro Wrestling with Mr. Shillingford and we started on our laundry. As soon as we finished the power went off and we went to bed. Before bed I had my first BM on the island.

written on July 17


July 15, 1990

Today again started early with a visit to 7AM church service. The service lasted two hours and was interesting and similar to the wedding service, even though Mr. Lethrum was not happy about the amount of time or the drum which inspired shaking.

After church we ate breakfast and went for a visit to see Fred. A mad lady who quoted Bible verses to us as we sat on the balcony followed us and disturbed our meeting.

Next door the Baptist church started their service and two van loads of white people arrived to see the church they were helping to support and to start dental and eye examinations.

After we finished talking to an older lady from South Carolina we came back to the Shillingfords and I watched He-Man with Devee.

We left to go on an outing to Soufrier and Scot’s Head. We went there only after construction made us go the other way. It rained only when we ate and afterwards we walked to the top of the mountain on Scot’s Head. We swam in the Caribbean Sea and saw the Atlantic Ocean on the other side.

On the way back I had a chance to try their ice cream which had a strong coconut flavor. I also noted that I burned a little today on the face as I looked in the mirror at the end of the day.

July 15, 1990