July 14, 1990

I beat the alarm clock again this morning. I did not want to get up before 6:30 so I lied in bed. Brad’s alarm clock went off and he woke up and showered. I finally got up and took a cold shower. There was one knob and one temperature. Today I remembered to take shampoo into the bathroom and wash my hair. Devee asked me how I got my wet hair to look its way after combing it. She and her father were watching pro wrestling.

After pressing my shirt for today and tomorrow we went off to the Lethrums for breakfast of a roll, passion fruit juice, and a mango. We then took off for market.

Bill, Jay, Brad, and I sat in the back of the truck while Sue and Mikki sat in front with John (that’s his last name). When we arrived the first thing we did was taste coconut juice. It was rather plain. The coconuts were very young with little pulp. When we returned we walked to the bottom of Le Ley to see the Atlantic Ocean. Much garbage was at the shore where it is very rocky.

The view of the Atlantic Ocean from Grand Bay Secondary School. July 1990

On the way back, we met Yolanda and her host and then returned for a lunch of dolphin fish, rice, and other platters of dasheen and spinach.

After lunch Mr. Lethrum drove us back to Teresa’s in order that we could get ready for church. We were going to a wedding. I read the National Geographic article which was much more interesting after seeing the island. I napped a little and got ready for church. I did not shower because the water was not running earlier in the afternoon and I did not want to waste it.

National Geographic
Column from the June 1990 issue of National Geographic

The wedding was fabulous. It followed the typical format in the U.S. Catholic churches. Following the wedding we went up steep winding hills to the reception. There was soft drinks, beer, appetizers, meals for everyone. People danced. I did not get a chance to dance.

I met some important people who gave me some names to check out in Portsmouth when I look for a place to live.

July 14


July 13, 1990

Breakfast was much more enjoyable than the dinner last night. We were served around 8 am an hour and a half after I woke up to the irregular sound of the rooster. 

Breakfast began with Milo, a Nestlé chocolate drink that tasted more like coffee. We were also served an omelet that tasted like potato pancakes, fried bananas, cucumbers, delicious rolls, and guava juice. I stocked up on this meal.

We left with the luggage we wanted to store at the Peace Corps office, almost without Bill who has a habit of wandering away on his own. After that we arrived to the hall for our introduction to volunteers and supervisors. 

The volunteers were extremely helpful in filling us in on Dominica and how poor our advice was prior to arrival. Two supervisors discussed the possibility of finding a way for Brad to come to Portsmouth.

I found out there is a medical school for Americans in the area and that they were used to renting to Americans in that area. Mrs. Murdock also said she would help us check out places for rent on Wednesday.

We were served refreshments which included cupcakes, muffins, meat pies, sandwiches, and my favorite juice passion fruit. After clearing them out we went back to End of Eden and began our trip to Grand Bay.

My first picture of Dominica. The view from the “End of Eden” guest house. July 13, 1990.

Grand Bay is the place for us to be immersed in culture and meet our host families. Mrs. Leathum was introduced as my host. Brad and I were staying with her daughter, Mrs. Shillingsford, but being fed by Mrs. Leathum.

Dinner was marvelous. She served fried chicken, rice, salad, potatoes, dasheen. Again, I drank passion fruit. Her house had a TV which was on constantly. When I arrived a CBS station from Colorado was on but it changed to MTV and VH-1. Apparently the cable operation pirates off the satellite feeds. There are other stations that I assume are more constant. 

The new edition of the newspaper contained an article informing the public of our arrival and earlier ceremony. Mr. Leathum bought the paper which we saw it in.

Some friends from St. Thomas visited him and the Petersons walked Brad and me home.  I gave them my torchlight because it gets dark after 7 and there isn’t too much street lighting.

I met Mrs. Shillingford’s daughter Devie and Mary (sic). The former is 5 and the latter 11 months. Devie is very precocious and smart. She counted to 100 by one’s and fives.

We watched TV (the changing station) and Brad started falling asleep in his chair. It was getting late and I decided to turn in when Mr. Shillingford, Arthur, arrived. We talked to him for a while. He smelled of rum and mentioned that they were very wary of having guests in their new house. Felix was able to talk them into it. Finally they turned off the TV and I am now going to try and sleep. July 13, 1990

Dominica United States

July 12, 1990

Although I sat most of the day there was a lot of action for me today. Bill’s alarm rang before 5am a few hours after I finally stopped tossing and turning. I wasn’t sure what it was and tried to go back to sleep after he shut it off. Luckily he told me it was time to get up.

Group leaders had to be in the lobby at 5:30 and I was in charge of Dominican volunteers. My job involved handing out passports, tickets, and tips.

Sometime after 6 we made it on the bus and arrived at the airport to struggle and push our luggage to check-in. Some people were worried about the weight of the luggage but we had no problem. One person from St. Vincent had their luggage out too early -they were to leave later in the day – and it ended up at the airport with us. Luckily it was noticed and sent back.

We flew to San Juan and then Antigua where our unity began to dissolve when the independent minds wandered off without notice.

We made it to Dominica around 5:40 p.m. It was NOT the airport the greeters expected. After customs searched our luggage, we took a ride lasting more than an hour through the forests of Dominica. It was totally green except for the blue stockings protecting bananas from insects.

We arrived and unloaded and met MaryAnn, Felix, and Judy. We received our itinerary and locations of work. It turned out I was going to Portsmouth alone, the only volunteer there. I was initially disappointed to be separated from the group but changed my mind after weighing the pluses and minuses. 

We were served dinner which was very bland. I enjoyed the rice and beef the most. We also had good juice, a choice between cherry, guava, and passion fruit.

I ended the day packing for the next four weeks of training for my 2 yrs of service.

July 12, 1990

St. Lucia

July 11, 1990

Today started out with breakfast at Burger King and a bus ride to the Federal Building for immunization. I had to get all the shots because of poor records. I received shots in the arm for yellow fever and MMR. I had an MMR shot during high school. I also had an oral vaccine for polio. It tasted horrible.

When I get shots in the arm the nurses asked me if I lifted – I said I did push-ups but that IS all. The same thing happened once before at Great Adventure. I guess I better keep up with the push-ups for the next two years.

After the shots a couple of us went to K-Mart. It took much longer than we thought. I was late for my group instructions, which I needed to lead my group safely to Dominica, i.e., get them passports and tickets.

My last American meal was a Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries. I got to play PAC-Mania, saw Die Hard 2, and caught some HBO before packing for tomorrow’s transition.

July 11 1990

United States

July 10, 1990

After eating a cinnamon roll and orange drink this morning we had a full day of Peace Corps training. We were told about the average age of our group, 46, and were given health tips for living on our island.

I got to know a few of the fellow volunteers going to Dominica. Brad, who just graduated from college, will be teaching science. Nikki and Jay will be teaching home exercise and math respectively. They are married and are a very nice couple. Bill joined us and Sandy who is finishing her service in Dominica for dinner at the Bayside Mall. It is a long walk to the mall and we were late because Sandy was kept busy by trying to make an exchange.

She told us that you can get HBO & Showtime on Dominica. It sounds pretty easy but we must also deal with mice and roaches.

We ended the night’s sessions with a talk on diversity and Brad, Mikki, and Jay and I played 500 Rummy. Jay won.

July 10 1990

United States

July 9, 1990

The flight left the airport in Avoca 15 minutes late due to technical problems. The plane made it to Washington/Dulles in good time.

I called Clay but he wasn’t at work yet. I guess I could have called him at home, but I didn’t think about Clay being willing to call what may have been long distance from his home.

The second flight was on time but I had to sit next to two boneheads. One sounded like he had a phony British accent and the other sounded like “Rain Man” or a football player. They were going to the Bahamas and I was happy that I wasn’t. 

I got my bags after the flight and took a $14 taxi ride to the hotel where my roommate had already arrived. 

Bill will be an environmental educator on St. Kitts. He is from New Jersey and went to the University of Vermont.

Today’s sessions started about 3 and lasted until 7. Some of the Dominican PCVs and I went to Bayside Mall for pizza. 

9 July 1990