So, in case you have had your head under a rock for the last few weeks, or been away from civilization on a sailing boat, I just wanted to share a few of my highlights from the last 5 weeks...
Important facts you should know before you read any further:
I've been on a sailing boat with the Swiss Family.
I went to Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Martinique.
Everyday I pretended to be a school teacher and taught the little 'uns some English lessons.
It was HOT.
I love chocolate.
I am all finished with my profession as an Au Pair (but the story is not quite finished, yet).
9 Things I Want To Remember (or perhaps Forget):
1.) On about Day 2, we caught two very large fish: a Tuna & a Wahoo. The Wahoo was VERY big and repaid our evil act of killing it by being so large that we had to eat nothing else for about 5 days. I am deeply sorrowful for my actions. I now know that the size of the fish is directly proportional to the crazier the meal ideas. It was about day 3: Fish Lasagne, that this equation cleared itself in my mind.
2.) My Cabin. I was indeed very lucky to have my own closet aka my cabin on the boat. Actually, it wasn't too bad. I only had to share my bed with a very large sailing bag (still not quite sure what was in it, some sort of sail perhaps???), my own suitcase, and a foldable bike. I got half, and my bed mates got the other.
I also had my own bathroom. This was a very special bathroom. When you used the toilet you were also sitting in the shower. You also could use the sink and do your hair in the mirror at the same time. Very practical. But - the best (or worst part, depending on your disposition) about this bathroom was the window...right above...always open, when I am on. People walking over, looking in, my little round bathroom window in the roof....oh how I won't miss you...
3.) On the first day we washed the boat. I got to practice the commands I learnt in Primary School: Captains Coming, Scrub the Deck etc. However, unfortunately, when we were scrubbing the said deck, some said water leaked onto my said bed. Hours later, I could be found with a tiny 12 volt hairdryer trying to dry my said sheets.
4.) During the course of the trip, we were visited many times by locals trying to sell their wares via their boat. From the useful: Fruits, Vegetables, Bread, to the unwanted: Fish, T-shirts (they read: Live to Sail, Forced to Work), to the ridiculous: Dolphin Cruises, Water Taxis, Special Deals *wink wink*, we had many offers. No, I do not want to buy a cruise...I'm living on a boat!
5.) I had serious fears my hair would never be the same. It was about the second day that I gave up on it. Salt water....everyday....no brushing, no combing, no showering...I did suspect I'd be visiting a Barber by the end of it all...however, good news, I think I saved it just in time.
6.) Upon arrival in St Lucia, we were informed with many a shaking of heads and clucks that I, the evil Australian, would need a VISA. I knew this, and had tried to pre-organize it, but had been told to 'look after it once I got there.' The police at Customs and Immigration were not so impressed but did take advantage of the opportunity to escort me with not one, but two policemen to the airport, a good hour's drive away. I am quite a robust, scary looking girl, thus the need for two law enforcement officers. I have my suspicions that they just wanted a few paid hours to catch up on their gossip.
However, it was all sorted out and I did get to have a lovely drive through the country. And, of course, a VISA that is valid for the next three months. St Lucia, anybody?
We discovered, upon return to our sailing vessel that one of the police officers worked part time as a taxi driver and would thus be charging us for the trip...2+ hours of a Taxi?! Glad my employers covered that one! 'Twas a work expense, after all.
7.) It was in the Grenadines that I experienced one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Let me explain the situation:
We entered a market. It was a Monday. Slow Day.
Upon entering the Market, we were surrounded by vultures, nipping at our heels and trying to climb into our bags. Toothless faces, drew close and used the phrase 'My Friend' no less than 1,000 times a minute.
Host Mum and I were on a mission: to get the Fruits and Vegetables for the next few days. The Fruit and Vegetable People were also on a mission: to sell as much as they could to us at the highest price they could possibly get away for. And, if they couldn't sell it to us, would put it into our bags and then try and charge us for it. Finally, if that didn't work, give it to us as a gift and then charge us for it.
Trying to combat all this, along with understanding their accented English, along with protecting the girls from a few very strange characters, along with trying to share our business with as many of the sellers as possible, and trying to escape a marriage proposal *wink wink*, proved very difficult. And we still ended up paying $10 for a small, and old pineapple.
There's definately an art to healthy living.
8.) During my last week, we came across a few REALLY big mountains. Pitons, actually. I now know these are the pride and joy of St Lucia. And, I now know that small girls will run up these mountains leaving you panting and puffing behind, wanting to die. 771 metres later (yes, I made it all the way to the top!), those same girls are ready to skip back down, and I'm promising myself unlimited, but very much unavailable cokes, chocolate, bath soaks and massages ,if I will at least stand up and look 10% alive.
9.) Also in the land of St Lucia, we moved the boat to a different location and enjoyed another side of life there. We had organized and hired a driver for a tour of the island, and got instead a strange man with a van that needed a push start every time. This may have been due to the VERY large speaker somehow inserted into the back seat. I'm not talking about any large speaker, I'm talking about the largest speaker you can ever imagine fitting into a car. I foolishly decided to sit in the seat in front of it. I still can't hear out of one ear.
Our *cough* tour guide took us to some sites, apparently the big ones: the oil refinery and the closed fish market (still smells, fish or not) and then took us to his favourite place, an empty market place and a bar filled with the ever-endearing sound of Karaoke. I will never forget the screeching I heard in this place, but I hope one day I will able to sleep at night again.
It's been such a wonderful adventure. I can't believe the places I've been. I only wish I'd beat Dr Suess to the writing of 'Oh the Places You'll Go.'
And, the Au Pair adventure is over...I survived the year.
I'm not home yet...am currently visiting some wonderful friends in the States and will return to Switzerland for a last Hurrah in a few weeks for a couple of months.
And then...home? I think I've decided to go to Uni.
**I have much more to write, and many many photos to post as well....but thought it best to start with something....so that I can start to share current events. (Little bit obsessive compulsive, I know...this need to have everything in the right order....)**
And so, from the deep South, somewhere in Alabama, hidden under at least an inch of snow - Fare Thee Well.