Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Taste of The Expat Life

Seemingly overnight, we are living the life of expats abroad.  We've been in Grenada now maybe 2 weeks (I say "maybe" because I think for about 5 days I said we'd been here about 8 days; I'd have to look at the logbook to actually tell you how long we've been here).  There is a big enough cruiser community, that it didn't take long to find the grocery and fun events like happy hours and kid-friendly movie nights hosted by restaurants.  That was quite nice and comfortable, but it wasn't much different from the typical cruiser life we'd been living.

But in the last week, we've unexpectedly kicked the expat life into high gear, thanks to the kids. 

First, Hannah had a medical issue that arose on a Saturday night.  Do kids' bodies have some intuitive sense of the most INconvenient time to get sick?!?  She woke up in the middle of the night with symptoms of a urinary tract infection.  So Sunday morning we got on the VHF to ask for recommendations for where to take her.  Quickly we got information about the local public hospital, the local private hospital and a doctor who will see you off hours.  I dinghied over to the nearby restaurant to use their wifi and to make inquiries by Skype and soon we had an appointment to see Dr. Radix just down the road from the anchorage.  I went back to the boat, grabbed the kids and Danny, and then dinghied back to the restaurant so we could walk to catch the bus to Dr. Radix's office.  About 15 minutes later, we were at Dr. Radix's office and had a positive diagnosis of UTI (the off hours appt was just less than USD$100).  Dr. Radix then gave us a ride to the pharmacy just down the road where we got 2 prescriptions for USD$10.  The pharmacy is just down the road from the tourist beach, so we made a day of it by heading to lunch and a wonderful afternoon at the beach.

Our real expat cred, however, started yesterday.  We've met a few young families on boats here and last week discovered that there is a half-day Montessori preschool very close to one of the anchorages.  The school takes children 3-7, and two young girls who live on boats attend.  So yesterday, Danny, Hannah, Rye and I all jumped aboard Mr. Lyons' bright red bus (it's a mini-van type bus) at the marina to ride to the school and let the kids try a day at school.  We rode the bus for maybe 10 minutes through the hilly, bougenvilla-lined roads behind the marina until we arrived at Miss Patty's school.

The two little cruiser girls who attend are South African and English, and (in Danny's words) the ride in to Miss Patty's school was like a scene from Mary Poppins, as the girls told us about the school and sang various nursery rhymes with their lilting accents.  "Miss Celia is one of our teachers and she is VERY nice and friendly!!"  The kids seemed to have had a good day, so Danny and I rode in again today to make sure they were comfortable having Hannah in the school.  She had a good day yesterday but they want to wait a week before making a final decision.

We got the kids ready for school and made their lunches while the cruisers VHF net was on this morning.  And, since, paradise is never truly paradise, the last thing we did before jumping in the dingy was to cover the kids with mosquito repellent, as Grenada, like most of the tropics, has quite a bit of Dengue. 

So there we were this morning, the kids covered in DEET, riding in a small red minivan with no seatbelts (much less car seats!), through the neighborhoods of Grenada to send them to Miss Patty's school.  And, oh, we haven't even met Miss Patty yet as she is out of town.  Ah well, we are definitely NOT in Kansas (or Seattle, as it were) any more. 

The important thing is that the kids are both thrilled to be going to school.  And Danny and I are thrilled that we might have a teensy bit of down time from being parents. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Time of Transition

We are in a time of transition. Ironically, I guess the transition is from being in a relatively constant state of movement to sitting still, getting to know a new place, and saying goodbye (some temporary, some permanent) to people that we have been traveling with at different times over the last 6 months. It's quite hard and emotional. It may not be as intense as surviving a risky climb, but we have had many miles to commiserate and help each other with broken wind generators and refrigerators barely keeping temp and pain-in-the-ass customs officials and whether to lock the dinghy at night and the fish landed or lost and where to get laundry done and and and ...

As a testament to the kind of transition place this is, the boatyards are chockfull of beautiful, blue water, cruising boats that are on the hard for hurricane season (which started June 1, by the way). It's a wonderful treat to see them all.

FYI, we are still sorting out our July-August plan, but it now looks like we will be leaving the boat in Grenada not Trinidad. And as its nearly 90 every day down here, we are hoping for seriously cold, wet weather in Seattle. Seriously.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

We made it to Grenada!

We have made it to Grenada, which feels like a real accomplishment. Ironically, this looks like it isn't the end of the line for us for hurricane season as we think we will take Blue Kai to Trinidad for the time when we are in Seattle. But Grenada is wonderful and vibrant and beautiful, so we are excited about living here in September and October when we get back from Seattle.

In other news, we are proud to report that both of our kids are now real, live swimmers. As in, they are swimming in deep water off the back of the boat with no flotation device. Rye, in fact, is now jumping off the side of the boat, which is about 6 feet above water level. I am honestly a bit amazed. Rye also had his first swim under water with goggles. He did it in the Tobago Cays of the Grenadines and saw a sea turtle. And I had to wait 45 years to snorkel with sea turtles!