It has been three weeks since I arrived on the beautiful island of St. Vincent. I have many stories and experiences to share just from the short time I have been here so far. I will try my best to cover the important things in a brief yet complete manner 🙂 Here I go!
On August 1st, 32 Peace Corps Trainees split up into 4 groups of 8 and headed to their respective islands: Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada. I have to say, going from so many of us to just a small group of 8 was a huge change. It may seem like our support group has diminished, but in reality we sill have all 32 of us to support each other, even if it is from a distance.
I moved into my new community late at night on Saturday after a quick stop at one of the local rum shops with my host family. They wanted to introduce me to some of their friends and family before heading home. I went to bed shortly after arriving since it was late. The next morning I woke up in a strange house with what seemed like strangers to me… I was told to go with my host dad to see some locals roast breadfruit. This is one of their main staple foods here, and I sure do eat a lot of it.
Next, we headed to the local rum shop to meet some more of my host dad’s friends. They were speaking dialect the whole time, and I just sat in amazement/confusion trying to decipher the words that were coming out of their mouths. Coming into my new island placement, I thought I would not be getting the same language experience as I would have with the Kweyol in Dominica and St. Lucia. Little did I know, the English Creole they use here, called “Dialect”, is way more difficult to understand/speak that I ever imagined. They speak Dialect fast with little to no grammatical structure and a heavy Vincy accent. I am finally starting to begin to pick it up after 3 weeks of listening. It will take much, much longer to fully understand and be able to speak it as well, but that is my goal!
I have made a lot of friends in St. Vincent already, most of them animals…. Since school has not started yet, I have not been able to really meet any of the teachers that I will be working with, or anyone else around my age. I mainly just hang out with my host family who takes me to “limes”, which are social events, and I meet their friends/family. I did make one friend around my age, her name is Shacquilla and she is my “cousin”, a very sweet girl! So far my host family and I have gone to a Funeral, an Engagement Party, a Goodbye Party, etc. They really love “limes” here!
One of the things I really enjoyed was going to a Vincy funeral. I know that sounds horrible, but funerals here are actually a time for celebration of life. They are mostly a lively affair with singing, dancing, music, “liming”, drinking and chatting. The idea is that the person is celebrated and their life is cherished during the funeral. The whole event lasts most of the day, from about 2:00pm until midnight. It starts with a church service, they there is a procession to the cemetery, they they do the burying while they sing and dance and play drums and lastly everyone drinks some brandy at the cemetery (this is tradition). After all of that, some guests head to the house of the deceased and enjoy a meal together. Overall it is a wonderful celebration full of joy and love.
We are still in training for a total of 4 weeks in St. Vincent. During these weeks we have been trained on the Education system here, Safety and Security, Medical Safety, Language, Culture, History and Economics. We have gone on a few field trips during this time including an At-Risk Youth Center For Boys, the Botanical Gardens, Fort Charlotte, the market, etc. We have shadowed current Peace Corps Volunteers, seen much of the island and explored our surroundings. St. Vincent is beautiful, yet one of the least touristy of all of the Caribbean Islands. Most of the tourists go to the Grenadines which is part of St. Vincent. This is not such a bad thing because it gives me more of an authentic Peace Corps experience than I would have had in a more touristy area/island. I am thankful for that!
Yesterday my host dad took me to see his goats/sheep. He has about 30 of them living about a 15 minute walk from their home. He goes every morning and evening to tend to them and make sure they are feed and OK. When we got there, he fed the goat and sheep spoiled breadfruit which he said they love. He also gave them the normal feed as well as some branches from the “shade trees” that apparently are very good for them. While near the pen, we ventured a bit farther up the steep hill to see a nice view of Bequia, one of the Grenadine Islands. We also picked some “plums” from the trees and ate them. He got some coconuts down from the tree and cut them open for us to drink the coconut milk and spoon out the jelly inside.
That is all for now, so thank you for taking the time to read about my Peace Corps Experience in the Eastern Caribbean.