Thursday, 27 September 2012

New found Love

Me: "Good morning!"
Grenadian: "Alright."

Culture shock shows itself in many different ways. Greetings, as exampled above, aren't always typical. Rain falls in torrents on laundry day. And good luck with trying to mail a birthday card. It'll arrive 2 weeks after your friend's special day. These things aren't bad but they do serve to remind me that I'm not in North America anymore (as if the humidity and the accents weren't enough..). Really, the most difficult adjustment for me has been grocery shopping. I can deal without climate control. The bugs don't gross me out too much. But not being able to run to Superstore and buy my beloved rooster sauce saddens me. Moreover, meticulously organising a meal plan doesn't guarantee easy grocery shopping. Dinner is at the mercy of grocery shelf stock. My wallet doesn't often recieve mercy from the mis-pricing of foods, either. The lazy side of me doesn't always appreciate walking to and from the grocery store multiple times on shopping day. However, at the end of all this complaining, I have a full fridge, full tummy (I have a bad habit of picking up a treat for myself at the store. I mean, since I'm out..), and am ready for the fun part. Cooking!

Culture shock typically describes a negative experience. For me, it has provided the opportunity for a  grand adventure. Living in Grenada without a job has forced me to slow down and consider what I should do with myself. I've been forced to confront myself about how I use my time and about what I value as important. Grenada has given me an appreciation for everyday life that I used to dismiss. Namely: cooking. When I lived in Greenville, I hated cooking. Don't get me wrong, I love eating but the process of chopping, dicing, measuring, and baking annoyed me. The mountain of dishes at the end didn't help my attitude at all. Nor did the tiny counter space in my little apartment kitchen. My change of heart occurred around the second week of our time in Grenada. Justin had bought me a Caribbean cookbook to help me with the overwhelming job of meal-making. As I flipped through the pages, I realised that I actually wanted to cook many of the recipes. Then the culminating thought: I have time to cook! I don't have anywhere I need to be! I can actually do this.
And so "do this" I have. My journey through food blogs began. I've found some fabulous recipes that use local ingredients. Most of the recipes have turned out much better than I ever hoped. Positive reinforcement from Justin has created a whole new love and enjoyment of cooking.

My desire to cook has grown since that second week and therefore has also forced me to cave in and join the meal plan crew. Despite my complaint about grocery stores, meal planning has greatly decreased the stress and time required for grocery shopping. It has lowered our food bill as well.
I'm excited to begin posting recipes that Justin and I have enjoyed. Maybe I'll throw a few pictures in there as well.

And don't worry. I'll still be posting about the beach, volunteering, bumming working around the house, Zoey, and med school.

Examples of meals we've had:

General Tso's Chicken

Okonomiyaki. Not the prettiest food but so delicious!
Zoey! (she's so cute!)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Back to the Beginning

Grenada. The Isle of Spice.
The people are Grenadians. 110,000 strong.
EC: East Caribbean Dollar. 1USD = 2.7 XCD
Liming verb: 1. To hang out indefinitely
Spicemas is Carnival.
St. George's University is known as "school of med"
Kirani James is the best athlete in the world. 
Schedule is a flexible word.

These are a few of the things I have learned in my month's residence in Grenada. The Caribbean has been quite the transition, as you can imagine. I haven't had to learn a new language (thankfully) but I have had to adjust to a new pace altogether. In a previous life, I was working third shift at a pharmaceutical company while trying to throw together food for Justin and me, spend time with friends, and sleep in there somewhere. Grenada is completely different. I now see the sun! I no longer have an excuse not to sweep the floor. I don't have a vehicle so my excursions are more planned. My puppy has a backyard. I live 6 minutes from the beach. (A darn good beach) And my husband is in medical school.

A quick recap of the past month:


1. Grand Anse Beach
I wasn't kidding when I said it's a beautiful beach. This picture was taken Monday afternoon during Justin post-exam celebration. The water is beautifully refreshing, clear, and cool. Grand Anse beach is the most beautiful beach in Grenada. White sand and beachside restaurants makes for an exquisite combination, don't you think?

Me watching the Carnival parade.

2. Carnival
We arrived in Grenada two weeks before Mas began. The entire island was exciting and new for two new kids but Mas was unlike anything we had ever seen. Monday morning began at 5am (2am for us because I woke up too early. I didn't want to miss anything!) with J'Ouvert (joo-vie). Night time was filled with music and dancing, sounds of chains, and laughter. Body paint flowed in abundance. We became golden people sprinkled with green and orange. Apparently J'Ouvert is the dance of the devil but we weren't creeped out by any evil spirits. I will say that J'Ouvert is the most inappropriate thing I have ever been a part of. Definitely not kid-friendly.
After lunch and a mid-day nap, we returned to St. George's for the main event. The parade. The parade is what the average person thinks of when they envision a street party in the Caribbean. Bright, elaborate, colourful costumes. Smiling people swaying to the music. Vendors selling food, drinks, crafts, beer, flags. I was not disappointed. Sunshine made the day hot but happy and the variety of costumes and performers made the whole event spectacular. As we were waiting, the friendliness of Grenada was poured out on me. A Grenadian woman befriended Justin and me. She imparted more information about Grenada than any pamphlet would. As a former UN manager, she had information on a variety of Caribbean nations, but she never lost her Grenadian-style friendliness and generosity.  We loved watching the parade with her.

Monday Night Mas lights

Monday night Mas was the final event. It was not to be missed so we made our way to the main road at 8pm. Light show! Really, the entire street was filled with glowing colours dancing. Deafening music added to the experience. The entire day was surreal.

3.  White Coat Ceremony
School finally did begin. We were ready after two weeks of waiting but of course the nervousness was still there. I attended a few orientation sessions with Justin but left most of the school business to him. :) After the five days of orientation ended, classes began. On the evening of the first day of school, I accompanied Justin to his White Coat Ceremony. Basically, the ceremony is an occasion to celebrate a student's success in acceptance into medical school and a reminder of the privileged path ahead.

My medical student.

Grenada is our home now. And amazingly, it's beginning to feel more normal to be here. Fun things are happening in my life and I'm excited to blog about my adventures.

And hopefully, my writing will improve as blogging becomes a regular activity. Please be patient. I'm new here. :)