Sunday, April 21, 2013

Gideon boot and a khaki suit.

By Cam Ferrie

My recent travels took me to St. Lucia. Friends of mine, Lukas and April, moved to the island the year before and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit. On arrival I was inundated with taxi drivers offering to take me anywhere on the island “for the best price” - whatever that meant. Luckily for me Lukas had sent a driver. “306” I said. “I’m looking for driver 306.” The sea of taxi drivers parted ways until I saw a lonely driver named Aluscious waiting patiently for my arrival.
That first drive was memorable. The airport sits about 55 kilometers south of the capital Castries, which translates into about an hour of driving when obeying the speed limits. My driver took 40 minutes. With hands grasped on to anything in reach and my feet planted firmly on the floor mat, I attempted to make small talk with Aluscious, who seemed to take pleasure in driving at atrocious speeds; passing around corners and barely missing pedestrians.  About 15 minutes in, we stopped in the town of Dennery for  an afternoon snack. For a couple of dollars I was treated with freshly baked creole bread made in what appeared to be a home-made earth stone oven.

I arrived in the capital late afternoon and was greeted by April, who was busy assisting youth in planning an upcoming conference. I sprawled out on the bed that was made for me and enjoyed the breeze of a fan that blew warm Caribbean air onto my face. Lukas returned home from work shortly after.  It had been four years since we’d talked. And we picked up exactly where we left off. Some say it’s the experience that binds friendships together. But I’m convinced it’s the music more than anything else. We immediately broke into a chorus of Jesus Christ Superstar’s Hossana before departing for a late night swim. Luckily, April and Lukas’ home is situated less than five minutes from Halcyon Beach. The moon was bright and lit a pathway to our destination. There’s nothing like reconnecting with old friends while bobbing around in the Caribbean Sea hours after sunset.

I am a brunch guy. I love it. It’s my favourite thing to do in Vancouver. Drinking coffee and touching base with passerbys that may or may not know you. What’s not to love?  To my surprise, brunch in the Caribbean is reserved for special occasions and is not often the norm for the everyday. It did not take us long to make drastic changes to the morning routine. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were replaced with steaming hot cups of black tea, fresh fruit, eggs, toast, and a pan de chocolate. Brilliant.

One of the best things about vacations is the ability to break the routine.  With a great start to the morning April, Lukas, and I discussed our plans for the week. We spent the first couple of days exploring Castries and Rodney Bay and snorkeled at a number of beaches in the north of the island. Near the end of the week we rented a car and headed south, picking up Danny – a Rastafarian who appreciates good reggae music - and continued down the long and winding road between Castries and Soufriere until we hit Gros Piton. And there it stood. A one mile hike ahead of us; a mountain whose incline shoots straight into the air.

I am in terrible shape but was excited about the idea of completing a four hour hike. For those that know me, know that I do not hike. But that’s the beautiful thing about vacations. There are no rules. And you crave activities outside your norm. It’s a strange thing that happens. How come I don’t hike in Vancouver? Is it the climate? Is it the hassle?

We began the ascent. Singing Richie Spice’s “Gideon Boot” until we finally made it to the top. Perhaps it was the love of music that got us all up in one piece. It certainly spurred some dynamic conversation, “what exactly is a gideon boot” Lukas asked Danny, who stated that it had something to do with spirituality. I was panting for breath but eager to hear some insight to the reggae song that had become our anthem for the day.

At the bottom we agreed it would be best to take a quick dip in the ocean to cool off.  We arrived at Jelousie Beach, which sits nestled between the Pitons. It’s gorgeous and is walled off magnificently betweenthe two giant mountains. The bay is protected and the reef fish spectacular; a snorkeler’s dream.

It was a memorable trip and one that will go down in the books. It is likely a mix of friends, places, and songs that made the experience so noteworthy.  The island is packed with fresh fruit, crazy drivers, and delicious jerk chicken. What’s not to love? Lukas and I had our last brunch together and listened to some Cat Stevens as we gorged on freshly picked papaya and flaky croissants. I said goodbye knowing it wasn’t and held on for dear life as Aluscious drove me back from Castries, through the small villages to the airport. I took one last breath of that sweet Caribbean air before stepping onto the plane and thought, “St. Lucia, I’ll never forget you.”

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Breaking the Fast with Dirt and Bugs

We are in the middle of the 19-day Baha'i Fast where we eat and drink only when the sun is set.  Yesterday we broke the Fast with dirt and bugs.  To you ultra-hygenic people, I apologize for offending your sensibilities.

I made beans and greens with rice which is a standard meal in our house.  We love it because it is full of spices, especially corainder...mmmm.  So I dumped a bunch of coriander into the beans and stirred away.  Then I sniffed the pot to see what I should add and it just smelled like dirt.  One thing we are constantly battling here is mold - moldy shoes, sinks, picture frames, books, and spices.  Unfortunately, the coriander that I bought at the store the day before was moldy and tasted like dirt.  I spiced it up with all sorts of other things and got it to taste tolerable, so I continued on.

I got the rice out and started pouring rice into the pot.  Bugs came out too.  They are small bugs but they are still bugs and no matter what container I put the rice in they get in.  This has happened twice before and I threw out the rice which makes me cringe and is ridiculous, so I decided that we will have to deal.  I discovered that bugs float to the top of the water when you wash the rice and then it is easy to pick them out.  Fun with bugs.  I am completely ignoring the fact that they look suspiciously like tiny cockroaches.  I guess I can look at it another way - killing cockroaches at this size is waaaaaaaay easier and less creepy than when they get big.

So, we broke the fast with our dirt and bugs beans and rice.  Needless to say, there are a lot of leftovers.  And despite these annoyances St. Lucia we love!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Full Moon Story of a Different Kind

That same full moon (or almost full - I think it was the day after) Lukas and I thought that the moon was SOOO beautiful that we should go for a swim.

Swimming in the full moon is wonderful, we have done it before.  

Down to the beach we went, stopping to look at the moon in the trees, how it lights up the palms, and the gorgeous ripple of the ocean underneath it.  We ran into the ocean gushing over the beauty of it all.  We enjoyed approximately 8 seconds of bliss and then we both changed our tune - Ouch, ow, OW, let's get out here are jelly fish!  Our moonlight swim lasted about 20 seconds.

We still don't know why the jelly fish were out that night.  Time of year? Water temperature? The moon?  A combination of things?  If you know, please enlighten us so we can time our next moonlight swim accordingly.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Full Moon

Feeble attempt at capturing the moon by an unskilled photographer -
you can all imagine a beautiful full moon in your mind
Full moons in general are gorgeous.  Full moons in St. Lucia are incredible.  There is something about the moonlight on the water and streaming through the forest that makes the moon seem so close.  This time of year when the air is clear, the moon is bright in the sky well before sunset.

A few months ago I was invited to attend a full moon meditation at Pigeon Island.  I did not know what to expect, but I love Pigeon Island, the full moon on the water, and time to practice meditation.  We sat on a hill looking out on the moon and it's reflection on the water.  After a moon salutation (like a sun salutation), we meditated.  

I held my family, friends, and community in my thoughts and prayers and felt the warmth of the air, the breeze off the water, the peace of those around me, and the shine of the moon.  Natural beauty has always been able to touch me deeply and this night was one of those moments where the beauty of the world around me and the beauty of the people was strong.  

I am grateful that I had that time under the moon and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers again under the moon.

Okay, so this probably makes me sound like a hippie humboldt groovy full moon one with the earth kind of girl, but come on, these are my roots, and I think you know what I mean no matter what your background.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

For Shame...

Wow, it has been so long since I blogged that I don't know where to start.  I have been busy - since my last post I worked at the School of Music for two weeks, I went to Barbados for two weeks, and Lukas' mom visited us for two weeks.  The rest of life was crammed into the remaining two weeks, I guess.

A list of potential blog posts is staring at me from my desktop, so I will get to work!  Let's start with some Christmas music heard this season in the bus.

From Jamaica

From St Lucia (Soca)
While the lyrics are PG, the innuendos may not have been warned.

St Lucia (Calypso)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trinidad Again!

Earlier this month I spent a week in Trinidad for a training on the new Baha'i Children's Class materials.  The new lessons focus on things like prayer, obedience, living in harmony, seeking knowledge, being a good friend, service, and consultation.  We also started looking at the third year of lessons about all of the different Manifestations and their Messages.  We talked about children and families all week - exactly what I love!  The week was full of study and learning together, so there wasn't much time for sightseeing, but I did make more of an effort to take pictures.  With the help of my 15-year-old friend Lovanne (she had never left St. Lucia before this trip) we got some fun ones.

Open sky, space...reminds me of the Willamette Valley
Our meeting place

Hindu prayer flags - there was a day to honor the dead when we were there.
Hindu's make food and leave it in the yard to feed those who have passed on.
When you see these prayer flags out in front of a house, you are welcome to say prayers with them.
I love how diverse Trinidad is.  Here there are two churches, the Baha'i home where many gatherings happen, and Hindu prayer flags in several yards around.

The river down the road - again, space
See, I was there
Kirby and Becky from St. Lucia
Trinidad is famous for its thin, delicious roti.  We ate it with curry and kuchela (a green mango chutney-like deliciousness).
Building Store - cool name!
The mall - Lovanne's first "big" mall
Why buy souvenirs when you can take pictures of them :)  Thanks Lovanne!
Diwali coming up
I couldn't get over how beautiful the sky and space was with the hills in the distance.
Every place has its own beauty.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tropical Depression and Beach Holy Days

"All the children are being sent home from school due to the tropical depression," Lukas says, "I don't have to go to work!"

Yes, a few days of gray skies and torrential downpours and us islanders come down with some serious tropical depression - so bad that we have to go home!  Hehe - tropical depression - we laughed about that one for probably far too long.

Andreya, who Lukas went to school with at Western Oregon University is teaching Voice at the School of Music ( I haven't mentioned that.  Very exciting!).  Miss Oregonian was confused, "Wait, we aren't going to work because of the rain???" Ah, cultural adjustments.

Today, this hot, sunny, bright day, we celebrated the Birth of the Bab, a Baha'i Holy Day, at the beach!    I imagined my family and friends in Oregon celebrating cozy indoors as the leaves turn colors outside and maybe the rain pours down.  It is strange not to have seasons!  Birthdays and holidays sneak up on me and I can't remember what month it is, but I can go to the beach when I want :)