December 31, 2012


Well, we made it!

And it is gorgeous here.

Our flights were uneventful, except for the fact that American Airlines decided not to let us take our second suitcases on. So we had to shuffle four suitcases down to two in the O'Hare ticketing gate, during the holidays. You can imagine how well that went.

We only forgot to repack a couple of necessary items, but we are getting those down here thanks to some very friendly people! Plus we made a quick trip to Walmart in Miami. But, we got our luggage, so that's all that mattered.

We arrived into Dominica around 2 p.m. (They are an hour ahead of Indiana during the winter months as they don't observe daylight savings.) It was a quick trip through customs, then an hour long taxi ride to Portsmouth. Keep in mind, it was probably about 20 miles, but the roads are small and winding. It was a beautiful ride as it was through the hills and around the coastline.

From there, they take you to Jenner Hall, or the Barn, and get some briefings, student ID, get fed and then get luggage. We were also able to make a call home. Landlords then come and pick you up to take you to your apartment. Lucky for us, our apartment, Comfort Zone, is right next to the Barn!

We even got our barrels that night. Alexis Taxi is definitely the way to go. They even delivered them up three flights of stairs for us. Definitely worth it.

Beyond all of the initial unpacking, we've been taking tours, getting Matt's computer set up and attending various check-ins and such. We both have agreed we are happier here than Freeport. It's much more of a community, the locals are nicer, it's prettier and cleaner. It's also much more of a community here with a campus environment. Everything is within walking distance, so we aren't needing to rely on Tyrone. 

It also has been great to see some familiar faces from Freeport. That has helped Matt and I feel at home more than anything. It's also nice to know we can settle here for a bit. We aren't only going to be here for four months, so that is nice too. 

We are definitely getting our exercise, and our blistered feet are proof. Everywhere you go, there are hills and stairs and more. But with this kind of scenery, it's not a big deal.

We also finally went to visit the beach. The black sand is very cool! Your mind tells you it's mud, but it feels like sand. The beaches definitely aren't Bahama beaches, but they are gorgeous in their own way. This is the beach that is right behind our apartment and campus.

There is so much more to share with you all! But this post is getting long enough already. I'll be sure and post pictures/video of our apartment, and share details with you of our new life here.

Thank you all again for your support, love and prayers. We both feel their calming assurance over us!


December 18, 2012

Dominica - An Introduction

Since we are getting ready to move to our new home for 16 months, I thought I would share some information for you about Dominica so you can get familiar with where we're going to be. I know I had never heard of Dominica before this adventure, so I'm assuming many of you haven't either. And if you have, maybe you can enlighten me.

So here's a look at what I've found through my research!

First of all, it's not the Dominican Republic. I was guilty of that, too.

It's pronounced Dom-in-eek-a. 

Location is fairly important to know. It's about an hour and a half flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico. The island is 29 miles long and 16 miles wide.


The capitol of Dominica is Roseau. It is on the south end of the island. We will be living in Portsmouth, which is on the north end of the island. There are two airports on the island, but we will be flying into Melville Hall Airport. Apparently the ride from the airport to Portsmouth can get a little rough. So here's hoping we don't get carsick!


English is spoken there. But there is British English, African, French and Carib (native Dominican Indian) influence.

They use Eastern Caribbean currency - or EC. 

Dominica is known as the "Nature Island" because its untouched landscape. Tropical rain forests cover two thirds of the island. 

There are even eight volcanoes in the mountainous country.

There are natural waterfalls, hot springs, boiling lakes and more.

Diving is a popular pastime, as it is one of the top ten diving locations in the world. Hiking is also popular, with many trails available to explore. There are opportunities to see sea turtles and go whale watching. 

And they have black sand beaches!

71,000 people live in the country - 4,000 live in Portsmouth. There is one major 'highway' in the country connecting Portsmouth to Roseau. It takes about an hour to drive between the two cities.

It is very warm and humid in Dominica. Rainy season is from July-November and dry season is December-June. When it rains several days in a row, the water will turn brown. Apparently it is still safe to drink, but I don't think we'll be taking chances on that one. Dominica is also in the hurricane path. So we will be paying close attention to that during hurricane season.

Our apartment, Comfort Zone, will be very close to campus and to Picard Beach!

There is a IGA grocery store that is about a five minute walk from our apartment as well. From what I've learned, they have most of the same food items at the States, however it's not always guaranteed to be in stock. 

Electricity is prepaid. We will buy the electricity from the IGA in advance. We then take the receipt back home, and enter our receipt number onto the meter in the apartment. We will be able to track how much electricity we use. It's not as expensive as it was in Freeport, so that's good news, but it is still more expensive than it is in the States.

So that's a look at Dominica! I know once we get there, I will have so much more to share. 


December 13, 2012


I know, I know. I've been slacking on the blog.

I can't promise it will get better any time soon. But I'll try. Just trying to soak up all of our time at home while we still can!

This past week we got to go to Indy for a few days. I got to spend some much needed time in the office and see all of my coworkers! It was the perfect time to go as we got to enjoy the holiday party while we were in town. Always a good time. It's certainly refreshing to be back in a familiar place surrounded by such great people. And as always, just as sad to say goodbye again.

Our time was limited, but we packed in as much as could. Every night we had something going on, and I think the bags under my eyes by the end proved it. For example, Friday night we got back to the hotel around midnight (I have to mention how strange it was to stay in a hotel in Indy, when we've had a home there for eight years.). We were up before 7 a.m. to meet Katie and Kelly for a delicious breakfast at Patachou. We left there to run a quick errand, then met Sheila, Chris and Landon downtown at the Children's Museum. We were there just over an hour then headed back up to the northside to meet Erin, Mom Medjeski and D$ (Dylan's alter ego) at McAlister's. Then it was the three hour drive back up north. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see all of our friends. But maybe a Facetime session is in order.

Landon was excited to have a picture with Buzz and Woody at the Museum. 
So yes, I finally got to go to McAlisters! We even got two gallons of sweet tea to bring back home with us to enjoy before we go. And we got a super sweet travel survival kit from Mom Medjeski! Matt got to enjoy his favorite Indy meal, the Heartstopper  from Chatham Tap, too. So it was a successful trip for him as well! Just exhausting!

But, we got all of the stuff for our Visa packets finished and mailed. That's a huge relief. Now we're just hoping we did everything correctly. Fingers crossed!

Beyond that, we're finishing our Christmas shopping and getting the few last minute things on our Dominica shopping list. And hoping we can then fit all those things in our suitcases since our barrels are officially on a boat to Dominica! Woot!

We had our first snowfall! It didn't stick around too long, but we're hoping we can get another in before we leave. 

I'm still avoiding looking at the calendar. It's surreal to think we'll be leaving for 16 months soon. I know it's a great opportunity and all the positives that come with it, but it is still extremely intimidating. And then there's the whole fear (phobia is a better word) of flying. I firmly believe that if flying wasn't so traumatic for me, I wouldn't be as intimidated as I am.

But on a lighter note, Indiana has been spoiling us with some beautiful skies, so I thought I'd leave you with a taste of the beauty we've been seeing! This is one of the reasons why I love being home.


December 2, 2012


Our barrels are all packed! Woo!

It's a little weird to have them packed. That means Dominica is that much closer. I'm not near as nervous about Dominica as I was Freeport, and I think that's because I know what to expect a little more now. But it is still rather intimidating to be leaving for 16 months.

For some who don't know, I thought I would explain the barrel shipping process. Not that I'm nowhere near an expert, as I'm just learning this myself.

We didn't have to ship anything to the Bahamas, as we didn't have many luggage restrictions, and it was only four months. But going to Dominica, we can only take two suitcases, one that is 50 lbs. and one that is 20 lbs. Then we can have a carry-on and a personal item.

So that means we need to ship quite a few things. A barrel is the most recommended method. We got our barrels from a couple of different places, but they can be bought at shipping supply stores. We got one from my dad's work, and the other from a family friend. One barrel is 75 gallons and one is 30 gallons.

Once the barrels are packed, we take them to Conway Trucking, who then transports them to Tropical Shipping in Miami. From there, they are loaded onto an ocean freighter and transported to Dominica. It takes about two days to get to Miami, and then one week to get to Dominica. I've arranged for the taxi service in Dominica to pick up the barrels. They will pick them up and pay the customs fees for us. Then, once we arrive, the taxi service will have them delivered to our apartment, and we will need to reimburse them for the customs tax in order to get our belongings. There is also a $30 service fee per barrel. Totally worth it in my opinion!

Emmy was watching over and directing.
Getting it locked up. I was supervising.
So, what type of stuff did we bring? Here's a short list.

Quick Dry Towels
Mildew Resistant Shower Liner
Pots and Pans
Kitchen Utensils
Snap-tight Tupperware
Hand Sanitizer
Bug Sprays
Bug Spray for Linens
Bug Spray with Deet
Thermal/Blackout Curtain
Collapsible Mixing Bowls, Colander, Measuring Cups
Reusable Sandwich Bags
Taco Seasoning
Gatorade Mix
Wrinkle Releaser 
Lots of Clothing/Swimwear
Water Resistant Backpacks
Gustbuster Umbrellas
Rain Boots
Make Up
Laundry Detergent to do in the Sink
Clothes Line and Clothes Pins
Comfy Shoes and Hiking Shoes
Adhesive Hooks
Mosquito Net
Battery Operated Lantern
Flash Lights
Random School/Office Supplies
Random Supply of Medicines/Topical Creams
Mattress Pad
Lightweight Comforter
Bed Bug Encasement for the Pillows and Mattress
Insulated Grocery Bag
Mini Crock Pot
Mini George Foreman
Oversized Beach Towels
Various organizational supplies

Some of this stuff they will have in Dominica, but some not. Regardless, it's typically  cheaper to bring than to buy there. Plus, if you use a certain brand, they recommend bring that.

And yes, we fit nearly everything in the two barrels - with Dad as the tetris master. The rest we should be able to get into our suitcases. For our electronics, (computers, iPads, phones, etc.) they recommend putting that in our personal item bag to bring with us. Electronics can carry a huge customs tax. Plus, even if we put it on our suitcases, the suitcases don't always arrive on time as it is dependent on the weight for the plane if the suitcases make it on or not. With that being said, my sponsor also recommended packing a set of linens in the carry-on too. Great idea!

So, that's the science behind packing our barrels. A big thanks to the creator of space bags for making it much easier to get everything in them.

Now we just hope nothing breaks or explodes. I don't really want all of my belongings smelling like mouthwash and covered in baby powder.

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