Unlike pretty much my last 10 posts (read: all of them), lots of trucs (stuff) and choses (things) have occurred in the past month. I live a relatively simple existence out here, and besides the occasional teaching obligation or social function, my days consist of intermittent sleeping and eating, interspersed with unhealthy doses of vitamin D.
However, like I said, February was quite different. It started with waking up in the night feeling genuinely froid (cold). For the first time in 6 months, I was actually not unbearably hot, and let me tell you: I didn’t like it.
Unfortunately, I woke up the next day with a headache, as well as a generally achy body and an overarching hatred for everything in the world. Later that night, I would also get dizzy, shaky, and throw-upy. At the same time, I was developing a rash on my palms and soles of my feet, a chunk of my tooth broke off, and webMD helped convince me that I had ebola x100.
However, after a couple visits to doctors and replacing my 6-8 glasses of Nutella with good ol’ fashioned water, I discovered I had Chikungunya. Common knowledge for us down in la Caraibe, chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that makes you hate life for about a week, and it definitely did its job. I didn’t have much time to ruminate, though, as Feb. 26th marked the beginning of our Carnaval vacation, and I had a boat to catch!
Jay, another assistant here on the island, had asked me months ago to join him on a hike along the Waitukubuli National Trail through the rainforests of Dominica. Located just north of Martinique, Dominica is vastly different, with a population an 1/8 the size of my little French island. They use the Eastern Caribbean dollar, drive on the left side of the road, and speak English (if you can call it that – their accents were an earful).
Our trip was initially meant to last 8 days, taking us along all 114 miles of the trail on the 14 designated segments, but this lofty goal was quickly derailed. Upon the morning of our first day of hiking, we learned that Segment 1 had had a rockslide, so our debut would begin at Segment 2. After the first requisite hour getting incredibly lost, we trekked through epic rainforests, stunning vistas, stinky sulfur springs, and even a small pig pen. Our plan was to camp (Jay in his tent, me in a hammock) along the way, but our first night (approx. halfway through Segment 3) yielded limited options – fortunately, we were picked up by Bryan, an angel in disguise, who brought us to his mansion in the mountains, leaving us with free reign over his comfy sofa.
The next day, we continued our hike through more gorgeous countryside, this time stopping at a quaint restaurant for sammiches, taking a detour for the Middleham waterfalls, and finding a roofed shelter in the middle of the rainforest. Because I’m an idiot and camping with just a hammock is a terrible idea, I ended up snuggling up with Jay in his single-person tent while it proceeded to downpour the entire night…and into the next day. Trudging through the soupy molasses in a chilly morning rain, we decided to end our hike early, mainly due to lack of calories (we grossly overestimated how many groceries stores we’d find along the way, and because of that, I ate the equivalent of a bowl of oatmeal over the span of those two days). Hitching a taxico back to Roseau (downtown Dominica), Jay and I wasted no time gorging on noms (including a stop at a Rastaraunt, with an exiquisite vegetarian pumpkin dish) before taking the ferry back to Martinique.
It was an adventure, albeit a bit short-lived, but I’m glad I got a chance to see what another Caribbean island is all about (check out my photos on Facebook!). Martinique has its pros and cons, and I’m thankful for what little time I have left here (5 weeks left and counting).
Other bullet points:
- I woke to my bed shaking one morning, then promptly went back to sleep. Turns out, there was a 6.7 magnitude earthquake on the island. Clearly, sleep was more important.
- My grandmother passed away, and because of travel issues and weather, I was unable to make it to the ceremony. However, Skyping family back home meant a lot to me.
- Shout-outs to Dana C. and Laura C. for awesome letters!
- I tutor two Martiniquan girls, ages 6 and 9, every Wednesday for an hour. We usually spend the first 30 minutes doing actual English, then the last half hour chatting about boys they have a crush on in school. Last week, though, we spent the entire lesson on their trampoline. I’m paid for this, and I actually do feel a bit guilty.
- The father/brother wombo-combo arrive in Martinique this Saturday, for which I’m oh-so excited. Hoping they can get on my suntanning level, pronto.
- Because I came home early from Dominica, both Rose and Elle are still on vacation, which means I get to walk around the house naked and poop with the door open. It’ll be a rude awakening when they return L
- Be on the lookout for 1 more blupdate (man, I love this word) before I head home!