June 30, 2013

Mini Break

Last weekend, Matt had a fairly light study load since he had taken his first mini of the semester that week. I love these weekends as I can have his undivided attention for more than just a couple hours a day.

So this is my warning. This post will be pretty boring, as we thoroughly enjoyed the 'break' by doing nothing. There's only so much you can write about that.

Friday night we had a date night. He made the Dominican version of chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes. This is my favorite meal when I'm home and my mom always makes this for us when we visit. Good comfort food!

Saturday, he studied for a couple of hours, then we went to the beach. We were graced with the presence of the sun and took full advantage as it has been a rather unfortunate event lately.

I just love having the beach a few minutes away from where we live. After getting tired of the little Dominican frustrations we experience, a weekend at the beach puts in a little perspective of what a beautiful place we are living in.

Sunday we had the same routine. He studied for a few hours in the morning, and then we had time to go to the beach again. Two sunny days in a row was treat!

After studying for seven straight weeks, it was a much needed break to detox his mind and clear his head a bit before taking on the next block.

So we opted for lunch on the beach and took in the relaxing day.

Can you spot the crab?
Like I said, pretty boring. But at least there are some good pictures, and you can't go wrong with a video of Matt doing a cannonball.

June 25, 2013

Portsmouth Market

Portsmouth Market is a few miles from here in Picard and is best attended on Saturday mornings. Saturday mornings are usually reserved for sleeping in, but when the mood strikes, I may get up early to go.

Keep in mind this doesn't happen near as often as it should, but when I do go, I am ever so glad I did.

The fresh produce is cheaper than what IGA has available, and there's more selection as the IGA's produce is hit or miss.

Chelsea, Ann and I made our way to the market, and were welcomed by the scent of fresh baked bread, which is a wonderful thing early on a Saturday morning. From there, the bright colors, lively patrons and praise and worship music that is blaring sets the perfect ambiance for a Dominican morning.

You  make your way from table to table, scoping out the produce and make your selection of the finest, pineapple, peppers, lettuce, eggs, flowers, sugarcane and more.

Speaking of pineapple, it is in season right now. We were offered this giant pineapple for just $13EC which is about $5 USD.

And it is one of the most delicious pineapple I've tasted! Even better when you dip it in Nutella

If you are there at the right time, you can hear the fishermen blow the conch shell, which means they are bringing in the day's catch. 

Step up, and choose your cut to take home.

Definitely not my first choice. I'll stick to the pineapple.

Coconut water is also a hot commodity. Truck loads of jelly coconuts (the local term for a young, ripe coconut) are ever present. The vendors slice up the jelly with a machete and pour the water into your container.

Or, you can sip it straight out the coconut like this adorable girl.

As I mentioned earlier, praise and worship music is blaring throughout the market. The locals will often sing and dance, and we captured the sweetest older gentleman bubbling with joy that was too great not to capture.

It was a little windy, so it's too bad you can't hear the joyful sounds accompanying him.

The market is just a great way to immerse yourself in the local Dominican culture. You leave feeling refreshed and stocked with some fresh goodies.

The short drive back lends for some great Dominican sights. For instance... the Dominican Bus Station..

Art Gallery..

And local signage..

It's my goal to drag myself out of bed go to the market for often! Take a look at our treasures for the day.

June 23, 2013

Ft. Shirley Hike

Just north of us in Picard, is Cabrits National Park. This is home to Ft. Shirley. Ft. Shirley overlooks Prince Rupert Bay where Ross campus is located.

I'm sure you've noticed in my pictures, the two mini mountain peaks in many of my beach photos which are on the left in the photo below.

Chelsea and I took a transport (taxi) over to Cabrits and chose the trail that we thought would lead us to a beautiful overlook back over Douglas Bay, which is on the other side. 

The trails are rather well maintained, and surprisingly enough, there were several, several hermit crabs. Not what I expected  

The hike wasn't bad, and was covered by trees the whole time, so you aren't sweltering in the heat. As we started to see the clearing, we got really excited for the view we were about to see. 

As we walked up, we first saw a cannon over the water. Peering out further, it was just water. Nothing but water. Don't get me wrong, the water is gorgeous. But, it was not what we were expecting.

Turns out, we took the wrong trail. Whoops.

So that was about all we got. It was beautiful, and we were glad we did it. But we just didn't have the outcome we expected!

So we made our down, and stopped by the actual fort to take in some of the view there. It was a beautiful day, and we had a terrific view overlooking Prince Rupert Bay.

If you look closely here, the first major grouping of homes is Portsmouth. The second on the right, is Picard!

The bay was riddled with boats and made for perfect photos. We plan on going back, and hopefully we can find the right trail this time!

June 17, 2013

Sports Day Fun at Ross

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to help with Sports Day! Sports Day is an event held by the Pediatric Club and Sports Medicine Club here at Ross.

For Sports Day, the clubs join together to provide a day of athletics to local kids in the Dominica community. The kids are bused in courtesy of the clubs, and entertained to a day of sports, lunch and fun!

Cole was in charge of the day, so I got to join in and help teach tennis. It was so great to interact with kids who ages were roughly 8-12 years. This elementary school was from the village of Marigot, which is near Melville Hall Airport. So it was roughly an hour's drive to campus.

Many of them have never been to Ross, as you have to have an ID to get onto campus. So this marked a special occasion to play tennis, soccer and basketball on a nice set of courts and have interaction with the Ross Community.

A special thanks to Chelsea for letting me post her awesome pictures she captured of the day!

The day started off with the groups of kids dividing up and splitting between stations of tennis, basketball and soccer. For tennis, we started with a brief overview of the rules - the goal being to hit the ball in the green and not over the fence. I then demonstrated the forehand and backhand while they took turns practicing each shot. And then after that, it was pretty much a free for all. There's only so much you can do when a bunch of kids get their hands on tennis rackets. 

Most of the kids had not played tennis before, but rather table tennis. Many of them were natural athletes and picked it up right away. Very impressive!

After the stations, we walked the group of kids over to the Subway deck for a quick lunch. To us, Subway is nothing new; it's a staple in the US. However, here in Dominica, the only Subway is on Ross's campus, so therefore, nearly all the kids had their first Subway experience on Saturday. They were all very sweet and wanted to take extra sandwiches home for their siblings or parents so they could try it, too. Very endearing. Of course, they devoured it all, along with the platters of cookies!

For the afternoon, the kids were brought back for rousing relay games, a nutrition presentation and a bit of free time.

This little doll latched on to Chelsea and followed us nearly every step we took. We certainly didn't mind. Such a charmer!

We ended the day with nothing other than a water balloon toss! Such fun. You can only imagine the chaos that ensued when we started handing out the balloons!

All in all, it was one of the best days I've had here. It was so great to give back to the community, participate in an event that these children will remember, and have fun sharing my passion for tennis as well. I was so happy to help as I think I may have had more fun than the kids....if that's even possible.

June 9, 2013

Scott's Head and Champagne Reef

This weekend I got to visit my top must see attraction in Dominica!

We took a trip and went to see Scott's Head. Scott's Head is the southern most tip of Dominica. It's past Roseau, so it was just over an hour or so drive. There is a small 'island' that stretches out across a thin strip of land from the main part of Dominica. Once you drive across the strip, you make a short hike up to the tip of Scott's Head. From there, the view is absolutely stunning.

If you take a look at the map, you can see how Scott's Head jets out from the rest of the island.

What makes Scott's Head even more unique, is that it is where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Take a look!

You can see the calm waters of the Caribbean on the left and the rough waters of the Atlantic on the right. Plus, you can see Dominica for miles and miles. Isn't it just the most beautiful site?

We couldn't have asked for a better day to go either. The sun was shining, there were few clouds in the sky, and we had a great breeze. It was such a nice change from the rain of rainy season, and it was a perfect day to be spending so much time outdoors.

Just absolutely breathtaking. 

Funny story! Chelsea and Tabby were up top taking photos, and decided to the take the fun, jumping photo. Now, keep in mind this is at the top of the miniature mountain. So there are places to stand, and then drop-offs. Tabby went first and mid jump, her flip flop goes flying! There was no saving the poor flop, so Tabby toughed it out and spent the rest of the day with one shoe. 

After making the hike back down, we walked to a little cove for some snorkeling and beach time. Again, the beautiful day made the water so clear.

After Scott's Head, we headed toward Champagne Reef. Champagne Reef is known for their snorkeling as bubbles come up from the ground resembling champagne. I'm not a huge fan of snorkeling, so Tabby and I picked a spot on a rock and sat and enjoyed the beautiful scenery while the others snorkeled.

The beach of Champagne Reef is all rocks. So they built a nice wooden boardwalk to the make the walk so much easier!

Can you spot the iguana?
We all changed clothes back up at the restaurant. They had a couple of changing rooms for guests to use. While we were taking turns using the rooms, a brave iguana started prowling toward the group. At first it was pretty neat to see one not scurry off right away. But then they informed us that the iguanas would bite, so don't get too close. About then, the brave iguana took a sharp turn and ran underneath the door of one of the changing rooms! It didn't stay long, as it turned around rather quick and ran through the middle of us all. Poor Angie had the unwanted visitor in the room with her! Only in Dominica.

After a busy morning, we went to Zam Zam's for lunch. It's a small Mexican restaurant right on the waterfront. 

And it was absolutely delicious! We had great company, too, as most of the guys were able to join us this trip. Except for Matt and Bryan, we had a full group!

After Zam Zam's, we went into Roseau for a bit. Unfortunately most of the booths in the market were closed, so we opted for some delicious ice cream. Of course, Cole took the lead in ordering Pizza Hut to go for us all - a rare treat and a must have when you're in Roseau. I took back a pizza for Matt to enjoy, since he was doing school things all day!

After Pizza Hut, we made the trip back to Picard. The day was exhausting, but so much fun. I am definitely planning on taking Matt as he would have loved the experience! And I would love to go back again.

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