December 8, 2013

Black Friday

After our delicious Thanksgiving feast, I had another day of traditions we were missing back home. We aren't the crazy Black Friday shoppers who stand in line for days. We're the ones who go around 8 a.m. when everyone else has gone back to bed.

But here in Dom, there of course isn't Black Friday shopping in stores. So, I had to make due with online shopping and other adventures. Side note, online shopping is definitely the way to go. You can still get the same prices all from the comfort of your PJ's.

My friend Ashley and I decided to go on a little adventure and do some sight-seeing here in Dominica for our Black Friday. We went to Trafalger Falls, Screw Spa, and then to the French Bakery in Roseau for lunch. It was a fantastic way to spend Black Friday. Maybe a new tradition?

Trafalger Falls is park of the national park here. It's a set a twin waterfalls. Absolutely gorgeous!

Our favorite driver stopped along the way to Trafalger for a sneak peak of the falls. You can see them off in the distance. Isn't Dom beautiful?

The path is well kept. It's just a few stairs and about a 10 minute walk to the falls.

And when you get there, you see this.


From there, we went to Screw Spa. I've been here a couple times already, but it definitely doesn't get old. The natural sulfur spa makes your skin feel so soft and refreshed. And it's just a great place to go relax. We were there when it was a little rainy, but it made the hot pool that much more enjoyable.

Then we were off to Zam Zam's for lunch - a great Mexican restaurant right on the water. On our way there, Bruno drove us through the Botanical Gardens and showed us this school bus. This accident happened when Hurricane David hit the island in 1978. The bus is still here today. Thankfully, no one was inside the bus when it happened.

Then we got to Zam Zam's. I had been craving Mexican food, so I was really excited. Their food is delicious. But when we got there, it turned out it was closed. A car had crashed into the side of the building, so it was closed for repairs until further notice. Only in Dominica folks.

So we decided to head to the French Bakery for lunch instead. It does have a real name instead of French Bakery, but to be honest, I don't know what it is. The food, though, is wonderful. I went there first my first semester here. Then they were closed for a bit while they changed management. They are finally back open and serving wood fire pizzas. Hands down the best pizza on the island.

And after that, it was back to Picard. Of course, I had to bring the rest of the pizza home for Matt to enjoy. He loved it as much as I did!

As we were driving out of Roseau, we saw the cargo ship that transports all of our barrels. Each of those containers carries several items of cargo. Pretty cool!

There is a place on the drive back to Picard that is my favorite overlook on the island. And Bruno, being the fantastic driver that he is, always makes sure that we get all the photos we want. And I'll tell you, that's a lot of photos. So he pulled over and let me get a few shots. This is overlooking the town of St. Joseph.

On another note, Matt is down to his last final of this semester! He takes it on Wednesday, and then he'll be done! So keep him and the rest of the Ross student body in your prayers as it is a very stressful time for the students. 

He'll be done on Wednesday, and then we leave for home on Friday! We fly to San Juan, then direct to Chicago. We were talking about our plans for the weekend, and it was so exciting to be able to say 'next weekend' instead of next month, etc. To say we are looking forward to it is an understatement. Matt especially since he hasn't been home since April! And I'll tell you this, sitting around and talking about all of the delicious places to eat doesn't make the time go any faster!

So anyway, I should mention that Matt had class on Black Friday, so he hasn't gotten to enjoy any adventures yet. But soon enough, we will hopefully be able to enjoy them together!

December 4, 2013

A Dominican Thanksgiving

To be completely honest, I was dreading Thanksgiving. I had a stubborn moment where I decided I was just going to ignore it and take the vacation days as days to sleep in and relax, and forget all about the holiday because we couldn't be home celebrating with our families.

But I adjusted my outlook and realized that it was important to celebrate our holiday here, even if were were thousands of miles away from where we wanted to be.

So, we had Thanksgiving. My first solo Thanksgiving, and the first time I ever cooked anything for Thanksgiving. I went all out.

Ross doesn't observe Thanksgiving here in Dominica, so Matt still had class in the morning. To get in the Thanksgiving spirit, we started the day with Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks Via.

It turns out, the hardest part of Thanksgiving in Dominican is finding enough room in our small fridge to store everything, and enough pots and pans to cook everything in. We ended up going with a turkey loaf type dish because I wasn't sure a full size turkey could fit in our oven. Plus it was around $40 USD. No thanks.

But don't worry. We still didn't go hungry.

We had turkey, real mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, crescent rolls and cranberry sauce. Then for dessert, we had carrot cake, pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon maple cream cheese frosting and peanut butter pie. Whew.

I cooked for three days to get ready for this feast.

But it was delicious. It turned out better than I could have hoped for.

We had our friend Bryan over to join us as his fiance' Tabby is back at home getting ready for their upcoming nuptials. We can't wait to celebrate with them and see the rest of our island family in just a few weeks!

So even though this Thanksgiving wasn't with our family, we still had a wonderful holiday with so much to be thankful for.

November 22, 2013

A Picture Story

Three weeks from today we'll be on our way HOME. Home. I love the sound of that word.

We fly to San Juan then direct to O'hare from there. We have sworn off Liat, and will be trying Seaborne Airlines to get us out of Dominica, then American from there. It has to be better than Liat.

But anyway, with us getting ready to leave for four weeks, I've been trying to soak up the beauty to take that with me while home.

Just look at this place. You don't find these untouched beautiful areas just anywhere. Grateful to call this place a temporary home.

Yes, those are cows. On the beach. Because, why not?

The view on campus.

On the main road walking to campus.
Dominican Oranges. Oddly enough, they aren't orange here.
The normally calm waters have turned into wild waves.

It seems the trade winds are coming in and bringing cooler air, and more active water. These photos above were taken on the beach by campus.

Ross also holds an annual arts and crafts expo. Local artisans are invited to sell their crafts and a portion of the proceeds benefit local charities. It's a great fundraiser, and a great way to stock up on souvenirs. Matt and I definitely took advantage, but couldn't resist the beautiful crafts.

Matt is getting ready for finals. He has mini three on Dec. 3. He will take his last exam for the semester on Dec. 11. And then we are off Dec. 13! So these next few weeks will be stressful as we wind down our third semester. Your thoughts and prayers will surely be appreciated!

I've been feeling a bit under the weather recently. This island can be very tough on your body. I hadn't been feeling well for a few days, so I went to the campus clinic where they provide feel health care to students and families. Dengue Fever, an awful disease spread by mosquitoes, has been on campus so I was tested for that. Thankfully, no Dengue for me. Just a bad case of the flu.

I'll tell you, having a fever is miserable enough, but having a fever when you're already in sweltering heat is a whole new battle. 

It is hard to believe last year at this time we were coming home from the Bahamas as Matt had just finished MERP. He was talking the other day at how unbelievable it is to think the amount of material he has taken in a year, and how far we've come in just one short year. With all that in mind, it is awfully exciting to think about where we could be in just a year from now.

November 12, 2013

A Very Dominican Christmas

First of all, I know it's not yet Thanksgiving. I, too, was once adamant about no Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving. No Christmas music until then either. But alas, I have changed. Don't judge me.

Let me explain. We are leaving for home Dec. 13. Which means, the very Charlie Brown Christmas tree we bought here for a steep $40 EC ($15 USD, Holla!) would only get to be up for a couple of weeks before we were gone. And for that price, I wanted to enjoy it as long as possible.

And I'm a little anxious to go home, so it makes it seem closer.

So yes, we are those people who already have our Christmas decorations up with the holiday music blaring. It makes me happy.

But look at this beauty.


Like I said, Charlie Brown tree it is. But we love it. 

I decorated it with the traditional Dominican plaid fabric bows. The 'skirt' is the extra fabric that I had every intention of sewing stockings for. We'll see if that happens. And the mat underneath is from my favorite Dominican basket ladies.

You'll notice there are no lights. We don't want to have to pay for electricity for the lights, so it will go without.

And although it is a very simple tree, we love it. We've made it our own with what we have here. And the purpose of the tree is fulfilled.

When we were home, we had purchased solar powered string lights for outdoor which we brought back. I have been so excited to put these up, but wanted to wait. We had two strings, so we put them on each balcony. They are perfect! And they add a bit of festive cheer to our home for the season. But let's be honest. We will probably leave them up.

So there you have it. I have to admit, it is hard to get in the holiday spirit being in the tropics when Indiana is getting their first bit of snow. But, putting a little effort into our surroundings has helped put us in the right frame of mind.

I remember when we were first accepted, Matt was reading up on several blogs of those who were already here. I think I was still in denial at that point. But anyway, one of the blogs he read was about a family decorating for Christmas, and using the limited resources (in comparison to those at home) to create a festive holiday atmosphere. He said that was one of the things he looked forward to the most, was having a simpler approach to things, and making due with what we have. At the time, I thought of it as one more item we would have to go without. But we've successfully used notebook paper as wrapping paper, postcards as birthday cards and now, fabric scraps as tree decorations. I don't think we're necessarily going without - it's just different. A different approach to our traditions which we will hopefully remember in Christmases to come.

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