October 29, 2012

My Dominica Christmas List

This Christmas will be a little different due to the fact we are getting ready to move to Dominica. With that in mind, I've made my Christmas list which is not the typical goodies that are normally on my list.

This list is filled with Dominican necessities. Just as a disclaimer, this list is subject to change!

  1. Gustbuster Umbrella
    Dominica is in a tropical location near the rain forests of South America. So it rains nearly every day. Matt probably won't want a pink one, but hey, this is my list not his. 
  2. Medical Supplies
    Speaking of Matt, there are a few things he needs like two pairs of navy scrubs and two pairs of hunter green scrubs, a blood pressure cuff and a dissection kit. I suppose I should put his items on here, too. 
  3. Comfy Sandals
    There is a great need for good walking shoes! I'm good with a cute pair of Keens, Tevos or Chacos or even these Crocs. Matt also needs a pair for anatomy lab. He likes these in black and tan. Size 12.
  4. Water Shoes
    For those muddy days. 6.5 or 7 please.
  5. Rain Boots
    See #1. Plus these cute liners to keep the moisture out.
  6. Mosquito Net
    Portsmouth used to be the capitol of Dominica, but they moved the capitol to the other end of the island because the mosquitoes are so bad there. Awesome.
  7. Walkie Talkies
    For when the power goes out and to keep in touch in a cheaper way than cell phones. Plus, these have weather stations built in. Much needed!
  8. Fans
    Lots and lots of fans. Fans of all sizes. Fans with clips. And fans with stands. Battery operated fans for when the power goes out, too.
  9. Lanterns
    Battery operated lantern for hurricane season.
  10. Mary Kay Products
    Anything and everything Mary Kay. I doubt there's a consultant in Dominica. At least not someone as great as mine!
  11. Organizational Supplies
    A bit of guilty pleasure for me. I love organizational items. And we'll need anything we can get to keep our items organized in a small amount of space. Especially something like this for all of our bathroom goodies. 
  12. OFF Items
    See #6.
  13. Water Storage
    When it rains heavily for several days in a row in Dominica, the water turns brown. We need to get water storage so we can have water saved when this happens.
  14. iPad
    Hey, a girl's got to have one nice thing on her list. And my nice thing just happens to be a 32G white iPad.
  15. Vera Purse
    Let's be honest, this list wouldn't be complete without a Vera bag. And this cute wallet/clutch to go with it. In the Provencal pattern. And I know what you're thinking, but a good purse is always a necessity, right mom? 


October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - The Aftermath

We made it through our first hurricane! It was definitely quite the adventure.

Let me take you through it.

Thursday the winds and rain started coming in. Sandy was expected to hit closest to us Friday around mid-day. So Thursday night we hunkered down at our apartment with the Womack's and our other friend Vedant and waited. In Indiana we've got tornadoes. The thing with tornadoes versus hurricanes is that tornadoes last for a very short time. Very short compared to hurricanes.  So we knew we were in for a long haul. And it was nearly a 2.5 day affair.

We lost power around 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning. At that point we still had running water. (I've gained a whole new appreciation for running water.)

That morning, the boys walked down to the Pepperpot Restaurant (who managed to stay open throughout the entire storm) to bring back breakfast. The winds were pretty heavy and there wasn't much rain.

Let me tell you, when there is no power and the weather is bad, there isn't much to do to pass the time. So we spent the day playing the 'time game' where we would try and guess the time. Very exciting stuff.

We also took a break to walk around the apartment to get some exercise and fresh air. Thrilling. We did get a taste of just how windy it was.

Notice the boards that were on the windows of Sunset.
Hurricane Sandy brought a lot of wind at about 75 mph. Surprisingly not a lot of rain - just mainly wind. The wind was hitting us from the side of the apartment by our front door. Our patio gave us some cushion from our back door, so we were able to keep that open to give us a bit of relief from the stuffiness inside.

With the winds hitting the front door, we were a little afraid of the door or windows being blown in. We did have to put a towel down because water was coming in under the door.

We weren't the only people who were getting cabin fever. Being that Sunset is housing for only students, things got a little interesting around here.

Future doctors of America. Here's your warning people.

The storm left Grand Bahama around 1 p.m. on Friday. However, the back end of the storm gave us even higher winds. 

We had to get creative with our food choices since there wasn't power, and it was getting too windy to walk to Pepperpot again, so for lunch we had peanut butter and nutella sandwiches along with fruit snacks and crackers. Jealous?

The power came back on for nearly 15 minutes at some point on Friday. And it went back off just after we closed up the windows and had the AC back on.

We lost water sometime Friday evening. Apparently, the storm caused 8' storm surges by the water company, so they needed to shut it down. The cell phone towers were also down. It's an uneasy feeling to be completely disconnected in all aspects.

That night, the boys used the grill to make us dinner. Sunset's grill was moved in a 'safe' area so we could have some hot food options. Although a good portion of the food blew away on the way back up to the apartment. 

We made it through the night, and by Saturday morning, we could see some blips of sunshine. By that time, we were definitely ready to get out a bit. So we called Tyrone who came and took us to get some breakfast. And by breakfast, we had lunch at Pollo Tropical. It was one of the only places open that didn't have a huge line. The winds were still pretty high, but the weather gave us a taste of Indiana fall weather as a sweatshirt was needed!

We got back to find out that the school was sending a bus by to take us to get some breakfast and then go to the hardware to get more candles and flashlights and other necessities  We didn't need to eat, but it was a chance to get out of the apartment, so we took it. We stocked up on candles, water and a lantern.

Apparently the north side of the island got hit rather hard. There was a lot of flooding, including the airport. The entire airport was underwater, and the cars that were parking in the lot were floating.

By Saturday night, the wind was calming down a bit. We walked down to KFC to grab some dinner as hot food was a must! We got a great view of the sunset and were reminded of the beauty around us.

The power kicked back on for a brief 20 minutes around 8 p.m. Saturday night. You could hear the cheers throughout Sunset. And the groans when it off. But then around 9 p.m. it came back on. And around 11 p.m. the cable started working again.

This morning, we had a trickle of water, so I thought the water was back on, but that's all we ended up getting. So we are still using the buckets of water from the pool to flush. Resourceful!

So now, we just wait until the water is back on fully. Until then, we just have to sit in our own stinkiness. One thing this hurricane has done, is made us get to know each other on a whole new level. 


October 25, 2012


Matt and I have made a new friend here. She promises to give us an experience we won't forget.

Unfortunately that experience will likely entail hours without power or running water. Flooding. High winds. And thunderstorms.

So yes, meet Hurricane Sandy.

Don't get me wrong, in Indiana we have our fair share of violent thunderstorms and the occasional tornado. But a hurricane just seems more daunting.

I think it's the hours without power that have me worried the most. No power here means no running water. And all it takes for the power to go out is a loud sneeze. So I have no hope that we WON'T lose power. It is just a matter of how long we'll be without it.

We've stocked up on bottled water, got our flash lights ready, loaded up our cell minutes and got non-perishable food. I've saved work down on to my desktop and I've bought three new books on my Kindle so I will have something to entertain me. We've also filled up our bathtubs so we have excess water to flush. Priorities! Tomorrow, I plan on turning up the temperature in the fridge and freezer so the temperature in the fridge will stay cooler longer and Matt's going to pick up some extra ice that we can put in there, too. With the food being so expensive here, I'd hate to lose what we've got already.

Our apartment faces south, so we will get a good view of the oncoming storms. Here's a look at what we've seen so far.

Wednesday Evening
Thursday - 6:45 a.m.
Thursday - 8 a.m.
Thursday 2 p.m. - Winds are picking up and the rain is starting. 
Boarding up the windows of Sunset. 
Thursday - 5 p.m. - The rain is really coming down and the wind is picking up.

Campus has closed for Matt on Thursday afternoon and all day Friday along with all of the major businesses here. Ross is giving each student two gallons of water.

So now it's Thursday evening. The storm should be coming in this evening and then hit us hard tomorrow. Pretty sure we'll lose power shortly! They wont turn it back on until the storm has passed. So prayers for a quick turnaround will be helpful!

Of course we can't make it off the island without having a hurricane hit. Even if it's at the tail end of the season when you don't typically see storms anymore. Of course it would happen this year. Just making sure we get the full experience I suppose. Thanks, Freeport.


October 24, 2012


You know what I figured out last night. Only four more weeks in the Bahamas. Which ultimately means roughly 10 weeks until Dominica.


I'm trying not to get too overwhelmed by leaving home again. This time for 16 months. In a country that is developing. Which will have even less 'conveniences' than the Bahamas. I don't want to be too caught up in moving, packing and preparing for Dominica to enjoy our short time at home. So I'm trying to 'control the controllables'  and get started what I can here. Things like getting the information ready to go for our Visas as soon as we get home, booking our flights the minute we get the official word Matt passed, and even getting a very early start on Christmas shopping by doing what we can online now.

Things that are stressing me out besides the obvious?

  1. The housing database to reserve an apartment will be open before we gain access to it. Since Matt is in MERP, those who have direct admission to Ross will gain access before us. Hopefully we won't get the short straw and end up in some scary, rat-filled, bat-filled apartment. Otherwise my flight home will be coming much sooner than 16 months. I don't mess around with rats, or bats or anything living in my space that isn't invited.
  2. Buying our plane tickets. Not only does my flight anxiety kick in high gear when I even look at the airline website, but we have to book a one-way ticket to Dominica, and then figure out a time to buy another ticket departing Dominica at some point to apply for the Visa. We can't be in Dominica longer than a year at a time. So either we pick a blind date, and then spend the extra money to change the ticket later on, or plan a day trip to a neighboring island like St. Maartin. I will be going to Vegas in April, but that still leaves a year's time after I get back that I'll be in Dominica. 
  3. Shipping our belongings. For our trip here, we didn't have to ship anything. We each brought two suitcases and two carry-ons, and we were fine. But because the only flights into Dominica are small planes (trigger flight anxiety), we have luggage restrictions. We can each only bring one suitcase that is 50 lbs. and two carry-ons that are 15 lbs. Most students ship their items in a barrel. But with Indiana being landlocked, we don't have access to barrels that I have found. They advised us to check out the options of shipping a plastic tub through UPS or Fed Ex. We'll see what we can find out.
  4. Money. Housing deposits, plane tickets, shipping, Visa apps, doctor's appointments (including chest xrays, vaccines, health tests, etc.) books, and shopping for items we need to take with us is expensive. Incredibly expensive. And we won't get a refund check until we get to Dominica. How we'll pay for that - I have no idea. 
So I look at this list and try to figure out how to make things easier for us. Piecing together little ways to minimalize things, make it more efficient, etc. Any insight would be appreciated.

One thing that's important to remember is what a great opportunity this is, and what all Matt has accomplished to get here. We try to not let the overwhelmed feeling get in the way of being appreciative for all that has been afforded to Matt and me, and to be proud of his hard work and determination.

Now, excuse me while I go prepare for Hurricane Sandy. Bottled water, flash lights, candles, Kindle downloading and cell minutes stocking here I come. 


October 18, 2012

One Month!


One month from today we will be flying home. Home sweet home.

I had my first nightmare about flying, so I guess that's a sign it's getting close.

I am so very excited about going home to fall weather, good food, family, EMMY, friends, driving on the right side, having a car, Target, MCALISTERS, mexican food, no sugar ants... I could go on and on. But I'll stop there.

Oh just one more - my cell phone! It will be a fully operational iPhone again instead of it functioning as a iPod touch. Ok, I promise I'll stop now.

As Matt and I are relishing our one month mark, we also received a packet of information to prepare for Dominica. We will have about two weeks or so to get the materials together for our visas which entails getting health forms, background checks, booking flights, applying for loans and more! That will be fun. And by fun I mean terrible.

So I'm doing my best to get things organized here as best I can to help that process go as smoothly as possible. And if you know me at all, that means I made lists. Spreadsheets actually. I spent a few hours on it last night. That's helped calm the nerves a bit.

We've also had a few things happen this week to remind us how blessed we are. One of them being the beautiful fall foliage sent to us which are now decorating our apartment here. A little touch of home! We've also received some very sweet notes from friends and family. I've also been reminded how lucky I am to be in the position I am. It's certainly something Matt and I don't take for granted.

So, here's to our last month in the Bahamas! Let's hope it goes by quickly.


October 15, 2012

Weekend with a QQ

Matt passed Mini 2!! Now he's just two more quizzes, one clinical case, and one big test left before we head to Dominica!

He's sitting pretty well going into the last portion of the semester here which we are thankful for. However Mini 3 is a long, four hour test that covers everything they've learned for the duration of the time here. No matter how much of a cushion you have going into Mini 3, you still need to study, study, study as it is the most important test.

But enough of that.

Mini 2 was on Thursday because Friday was Discovery Day, a holiday here in the Bahamas. Discovery Day is essentially the same thing as Columbus Day in the U.S. However, all of the natives (called Lucayans) were killed when the island was discovered. There are no native Lucayans anymore. Current Bahamians are ancestors of slaves who were brought over. But regardless, Bahamians love a holiday so the whole country shuts down. And there's your history lesson.

I had Friday off so I could take advantage of Matt's time being study free. We only get a few days out of our time here that he doesn't have to study, and we enjoyed every minute.

We rented a car with the Womack's so we could explore a bit more of the island on our own. It was one of the best ideas we've had! Having a car made us feel so much less trapped here. We could come and go when we wanted, and didn't have to wait on a taxi or pay the crazy taxi fairs. Our car was a Chery QQ. If you've ever seen the movie Just Married, that's what we felt like. We were packed in that car. But it was worth it!

And we only hit one dead end while navigating around the island! Success!

So we started our Friday by taking a trip to the Lucayan National Park to visit Gold Rock Beach. Gold Rock Beach is supposedly the most beautiful place on the island. And it definitely lived up to the hype. It was absolutely stunning. Everyone says to go at low tide. And we were glad we did. The sand bars stretched on and on, the water was perfectly clear and the views were spectacular.

As you can see from the video, we were pretty much the only ones there. Which made it even more beautiful.

And we even saw dolphins! Two! Matt was probably about 15 feet away from the pair, while I was more like 15 yards away, but they were so fun to watch swimming back and forth.

Here's a look at a few of my favorite pictures from the day.

The beautiful spot where we camped for lunch.

Gorgeous right? Pictures don't capture it justly. 

Saturday night we went and tried a new restaurant on the west end of the island. We figured if we had paid a taxi the fair to go to Gold Rock Beach which is 45 minutes east of us, then to go to dinner on the west end, we would have paid more than what we paid for the rental car for the entire weekend. 

Gas here is over $5 a gallon. But it's still cheaper than a taxi.

Saturday, we took full advantage of the QQ and went ........ you guessed it. Grocery shopping! There's something to be said for getting your own groceries and not having to wait on a taxi to pick you up, or walking home with them.

The Sam's Club of the Bahamas - Cost Right. And here's what is looks like to go grocery shopping for two families in a tiny QQ.

We packed the QQ full!

Saturday we took the day to go to Xanadu Beach. Another beach we haven't been before. There was no one at that beach either. But the turquoise shade of the water here was stunning!

Saturday night was another quiet dinner out at the Port. We sadly returned the car Sunday morning. But quickly made plans to rent another car with the Womack's for the last weekend we're here. It will make it so much easier to run the last minute errands, and more affordable to make the trip to the airport. But rest assured, we won't be renting the QQ again, as we will need a little more room for our luggage!

Sunday was Landon's birthday party. He will turn 4 on the 19th. I can't believe he is 4 already. He is growing up entirely too fast! 

Thank goodness for Skype, as Matt and I could join in the opening of presents festivities! We all pitched in and got him a playground for his big gift. He was pretty excited! And he was of course spoiled with a plethora of other presents to unwrap, too.


So now, we are back to the routine. Exciting part of it is though - one month from Thursday we will be flying home! I have to admit, time is going quickly here, but sometimes just not fast enough. Although with weekends like this past weekend, it does make the time more enjoyable.


October 10, 2012

From the Horse's Mouth - Part 2

Well tomorrow is Mini 2. There is the same amount of material as there was on the last exam, but it is the type of material that will be the challenge. On this exam we have pulmonary and circulatory systems in physiology, thoracic and abdominal in anatomy, just about 80% of infectious viruses microbiology and some metabolic pathways in biochemistry.

This exam is historically the most challenging of the three exams we will take. I've been studying pretty hard these past few days and feeling pretty good. Mini 2 will count for 30% of the overall grade. It will last two hours and starts as 8 a.m. I'm definitely ready to get this exam over with.

We have a rental car for Friday and Saturday (since Friday is a holiday here so we get a 3 day weekend!!!) so we will be out and exploring the island.

Thank you all again for all of your constant words of love and support! 5 more weeks!



October 9, 2012

Bahama Problems

I thought I would have some fun with this post. There's some truth and some sarcasm. But here's a look at some of the Bahama Problems we experience.

You go to the grocery to find there's no milk that's not expired. If you do find milk, it's probably going to be $7 a gallon.

You can't swim in the ocean because there's a regatta.

You must remember to cover your drains at night. Otherwise a cockroach will come to visit.

Swearing in public is against the law.

You can't find chicken breasts at the grocery, but you have a fine selection of ox tails and pig feet.

You can't find a comfortable place to sit just anywhere.

There's no good place to find Mexican or Chinese food. There's just Chicken in Bag.

You decorate pantries and counter tops with bay leaves, otherwise you will be overtaken by sugar ants.

You can't walk up a flight of stairs without looking like you just ran a marathon.

These are your neighbors. Along with snakes. 

When doing laundry, your clothes don't dry because the air is so humid.

You only put a light bulb in one of the sockets on your light fixtures, because the electricity bill is so expensive.

You can't walk too long without being asked if 'you're doing ok' from one of the locals. Translation - 'do you want to buy drugs?'

It's hard to cool off, because the ocean feels like bath water.

Forget using a GPS, without addresses, TomTom is pretty useless.

Your new friends are a bunch of hermits.

You can't get a reliable cable signal or internet connection in the afternoon or evening, because there are too many other students using it at the same time.

Don't forget to pack your umbrella and your sunglasses. Not because it's rainy now and the sun will come out later, but because it is rainy with sunny skies all at the same time.

So we have a balcony. That has been overtaken by pigeons. Pardon the disgustingness.

You get American cable, with American advertisements, but there are no American stores or restaurants nearby to satisfy the craving.

Less than six weeks till our time here will be over. We are trying to enjoy it, and I'm sure we will look back on the time here with fond memories. But I'm definitely ready to have the comforts of home once again - i.e. decent priced toilet paper, good fountain dt. coke and no dirt bikes racing down the highway at 3 a.m.!
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