October 30, 2008

From our bedroom window...............

You won't believe what we witnessed from our bedroom window. The other day Amelia went off to the bedroom to watch .....you guessed it "REBA" and all of sudden she comes running out to the kitchen yelling, "mom, come quick I think the neighbors are doing something to that huge bird they have."

From our bedroom window, we can see the house next door. The have quite a bit of land and they raise goats and ......these huge looking birds. We thought they were geese but our landlords say it is a turkey.....doesn't look like any turkey I have seen? Regardless, this huge strange bird is kept in this coup and we have been spying on it for a while.

As Amelia and I return to the bedroom, these two women are helping the bird across the lawn. One women has her hand around the birds neck and the other women has the body, but they are still allowing the bird to do the bulk of the work by letting its feet walk on the ground to the middle of the lawn. It was a really strange sight to see.

Once they got to middle of the lawn, the women holding the body, pulled the feet out from under the bird and laid it down and then grabbed this wooden box and placed it over the bird. There was a open end that the head could lay outside of. So at this point the birds body is under the wooden box and its head and neck are outside of it. I know full well what is going to happen. Amelia (who is a vegetarian and will be forever more!) turns so her back is to the window and hugs me and I can not pull myself away. I know, I am 37 and have known for a long time that somehow chickens, cows, pigs, turkeys.......are killed, so that we can enjoy their meat but I never actually had given it any thought. Now here before me was this beautiful creature we had been studying and watching, about to die. It felt really odd.

Unfortunately, the ladies must not have had an axe because much to my horror, they got out a serrated knife and this is how they removed the head. It is at this point that the two women and their son, choose to look up to our bedroom window. There we were, looking on in horror. It didn't seem to phase them though and they continued. We couldn't take it anymore and we left the bedroom but Millie couldn't stay gone for long. I got a play by play for the rest of the tasks they had to complete and Millie got an education.

Last night Amelia, saw the neighbors move their goat from the pasture to the front lawn. She started screaming, "They are going to kill the goat. They're going to kill the goat." Graham, Alex and Amelia tear off to the bedroom with the video camera in hand.......so far, the goat is still alive but it is very strange that they have it tied close to the house in the short grass.....we will let you know what happens.

I think I might be closing the curtains for the rest of the week!

October 24, 2008

Our new "BUG" normal.....

The first couple of weeks here, I was jumping and screaming and calling Graham or Alex to kill or scare away freaky bugs or critters, but now they have become our normal. Each time we walk outside you catch sight of a lizard scurrying away from you. They are really quick but Alex and Amelia are quicker and they managed to catch one and then they put it on our boat to eat any bugs that may have made their way inside when the roof was off! They named it Mr. Greenbeans. Graham saw it the other day in our forward bathroom, doing his job!

The cockroaches are the yuckiest. The other night I came out to the kitchen to get a glass of water and there was a huge red one with what looked like a suit of amour on. It ran so fast from the stove across the counter and under the sink, it was insane. The next morning we tried to find it but it is gone.

The funniest thing I have seen is when Graham took the cabbage out of the fridge last night and he jumped and yelped and there on the floor was a little frog that had jumped out of it. Unfortunately it was half dead and Alex did the honors of removing it.

The most beautiful bug we have seen is this really colorful, acrobatic, catepillar. I probably never would of noticed them but Graham seems to have an eye for these things and called our attention to them. Once we saw the first one, the trees came alive and we saw MANY! Funny how that works.

The grasshoppers here are 10 times bigger than the grasshoppers we know. It is like they are on steroids. You can't help but stop and watch, it is like a freaky movie. I still feel a little scared when I see them.

We have a huge abundance of these ummmm cross between a fly and hornet thingy's. They don't seem to bother us but if you do get in their way they sting. Alex was stung once by one. The "no see ums" seem to be the worst though. Our feet and ankles are all chewed up.

Our normal is slowly changing........

October 20, 2008

Pure Happiness

Today we headed out on another adventure. We looked on our map and found out that the tallest waterfall on the island was on our side of the island and only one bus ride away. It is called Mt. Carmel and is located on a fellows land. He charges a $1 and lets you hike in. Let me tell you, it was well worth our buck. We loved it. It was neat to hike through the lush landscape and then through the trees see an spectacular water fall. Alex kept saying how much cooler this was than the Concord fall. He really liked the trek part and that we were the only people around.

The best part of my day was when he asked if I would climb up on the rocks with him and stand under the waterfall. My usual answer to questions like this is ....."Ask your Dad". Once I see Graham do it, then I will usually follow suit but this time, I said "SURE"! He was shocked. While Amelia and Graham swam, Alex and I made our way up the slippery rocks and stood under the rushing water. He let out the loudest hollar you have ever heard. Pure happiness is what I felt. This new plan of getting out the house is working out!

October 18, 2008

What the heck happened to us????

Graham and I were talking about our backpacking days. It occurred to us that we backpacked thru Egypt without so much as a bandaide in our packs. We didn't even think about where the nearest hospital or doctor or the police were for that matter. We would never have considered a paid tour, never would of taken a taxi, never would of carried sunscreen and bug spray with us whereever we went. We were always looking for something out off the beaten track and getting there without a herd of tourists with us, was an accomplishment!......the conversation ended with...."What the heck happened to us???". We decided that even though we have kids and we do have to have a bandaide in our packs, it was time for us, to get back to our roots and start adventuring!

We were going to pay $25 US each and do the island/waterfall tour but under the new family guidelines, this was out of the question. Time to figure out how we see this island and the waterfalls without tour or taxi. As a family we pulled up the tourist map of Grenada and picked a the Concord Waterfall's for our first adventure.

We took two buses to get to where they let us out on the main road at Concord. Then the locals began harassing us, to take a guided tour or a taxi. They seemed shocked that we planned on walking all the way with two kids. We didn't let it affect us and off we started on the road to the falls. People we passed on the road seemed equally shocked that we were going to walk all of the way. It turned out that the hike was 2 miles UP, in extreme heat. We had lots of water with us, so we all stayed hydrated and we took plenty of breaks. The only worrisome thing was that Amelia's face, turned into the elephant man. She gets this freaky red blotchy face when she gets extremely hot and sweaty. We decided it was time to cool off in the stream that was coming from way up at the top of the mountain. We used their hats as buckets and pour hatful after hatful all over us. Once we were sufficently cooled we began the second half of our journey. Even though it was hard, we were all having fun.

When we arrived at the top, we all felt proud as the locals kept asking how we got there, with no car, bus or taxi. I am sure you can all imagine us proud as peacocks! We went down the stone stairs and there was the prettiest waterfall. It wasn't huge but there was a nice pool below it that you could swim in. It looked straight out of a movie. We were all so hot that it didn't take long to strip down to our suits and jump in. HOLY CANOLY.....it was so COLD. Didn't matter to us though, feeling cold was wonderful. Graham took the kids for a swim behind the waterfall and we ate our P&J's at the top of one of the mini falls overlooking the beautiful scenary. It felt like we were sitting in Jurassic park. Really cool and lush.

The hike back down was pretty easy and seemed so much quicker. We all had such a great time. We can't wait to go and explore the other parts of the island. The other benefit is that the kids are obviously not getting enough exercise because they woke up this morning, VERY SORE. It is hard to exercise in this heat but I think the hiking to waterfalls is the way to go, because it ends with a swim!

So, Graham and I have managed to recapture a little bit of our adventerous spirit. We both realize we are now parents but we want to teach the kids that sometime the best time is not the waterfall at the end but figuring out how to get there!

October 16, 2008

Spending Uncle Rob's Money.....

Today was the day that the kids have been waiting for, for a while! Uncle Rob gave both the kids $30 bucks when we left Toronto, to buy themselves something. The $30 has been burning a hole in their pockets ever since.

We headed by bus to the capital city of St. George. The first thing on the agenda was a hair cut for me. We found a great little beauty shop with AIR CONDITIONING and a TV with Fraiser on???? We all could of spent the day in there. We then headed up and down the streets and into all the little shops, so many interesting things. Alex found a great wallet for $2 and a beautiful necklace for Amelia for her b-day for $12. They both split the cost on a couple of really nice presents for Nanny and Papa, in hopes they come down for a visit! Amelia found a really cool shirt with "Yes I'm Pretty" written in bedazzle across the front, for only $4 and she also got a keychain.

They were both really happy when in amongst so many different shops and smells, we came across a SUBWAY! Amelia got her favorite veggie sub and Alex his, the BMT! A little taste of home.

Amelia got in a fight with a nasty shop keeper. She went in to ask how much the bikini was in the window and the lady said $30ec (which is about $12cdn) and Amelia said oh thats to much for me, since she didn't have that much money left. The lady thought Amelia meant that $30 was too much for a bikini and she proceed to blast her. I walked in, in the middle of it and explained to the lady that Amelia was spending her own money and didn't have that much left. Once she realized she started laughing. Geeesssh!

Our last stop was the fruit and veggie market. We got a bag of mangoes, passion fruit and sweet oranges for $2 a bag. We got a bunch of tiny bananas for only $1.

We got home and Graham was already home from the boat and making fresh lime juice, with limes from the tree out back! He then whipped up an amazing curry for inside the four Rotti's I bought at the market. Right now we all full and have finished a tournament of battleship and are just waiting for survivor to begin. All in all, a pretty cool day. THANKS UNCLE ROB!!!!

October 15, 2008

My teacher doesn't beat me.....

One of the things that the kids really notice here is that people discipline their kids by hitting them. The first we became aware of it was when we had the landlords over for a drink and Mrs. Blackette asked us in front of the kids if we beat them. We were shocked but laughed it off and said something silly like, "...only when they deserve it".

The next time we saw evidence of this fact, it wasn't so simple. The kids and I took the bus to a new beach and the bus let us out at the main road and we needed to walk down the side road. We all got out of the bus and as the conductor and I worked out my change, the kids looked down the road we were taking. They saw a women and her two sons (looked to be 12 and 13), she had a stick and was beating one of the boys over the head. They tugged at me to hurry up and as the bus drove away and I tried to make sense of what they were saying, I looked to see the women throwing the stick away. The kids said that at first they thought they were all kids playing but then they realized it was more brutal than that and they saw it was their mom. As we walked past them on this narrow road, they all walked single file. She placed the boy she had not beaten in front and then herself and then the beaten boy behind her. The kids mentioned how angry her faced looked and she held the boy behind her close but we managed to catch his eye. He was crying and looked embarrassed, his one eye swollen. The kids and I did alot of talking as we walked to the beach. They were very disturbed by this.

Last night the kids were playing out front with the two youngest neighbor kids, Dana and DJ. Amelia asked DJ if he liked going to school(they just moved here from St. Vincent) and he said, "Yes, my teacher doesn't beat me". The kids asked him to repeat himself because they weren't sure they heard right. I was up on the balcony and I knew what he said. Amelia said, "Our teachers in Canada don't beat you at all". Alex said, "In Canada it is against the law to hit children. If an adult hits a kid they could go to jail". DJ and Dana looked happy with that answer.

As the four of them played I couldn't help but wonder, how often on this trip Alex and Amelia were going to realize how fortunate they are to live in Canada.

October 11, 2008


"To swear off making mistakes is very easy. All you have to do is to swear off having ideas."

We have been asking ourselves, as have others, was buying "Artemo" a mistake. I hate admitting to a mistake. It feels like failure, poor judgement, stupidity. Graham and I have been talking about this though. It seems with each job he begins on the boat, the job leads to 6 more jobs. It isn't often if ever he finds something done well. Our list of "To Do's" gets longer and longer. We continue to prioritize with "must be done before we sail" and "can wait til after we have begun".

So here is where I take a big gulp and say it...."We made a mistake buying Artemo". We only knew what we knew at that time and the boat met alot of our criteria; 1) Full Keel 2) Center Cockpit 3) Ketch 4) Dry Hull 5) Lots of living space 6) Easy access engine room .........the good news is that it still meets all of these criteria...the bad news is that all of the other things wrong with Artemo have cast a shadow over these. Graham said to me the number one thing we should of looked for is a boat that was being SAILED. Artemo had been sitting for a few years and we had thought Harry was actively sailing her but now on reflection we realize he was not. I wish the surveyor would have found the dry rot or would have found the bad wiring or the list goes on but now here we are with our mistake (so hard to say that word).

Now there are so many great inspirational quotes about mistakes and I am sure off the top of your heads you can all think of a few. We are not beat and we are not walking away from Artemo. We have learned a ton from this mistake(man that's hard to say)and a lot of great things have happened because of this mistake. We are going to know Artemo from the inside out and this is going to be a HUGE plus when something goes wrong.

So where are we at with the boat, you ask, right now the boat manager said they would be off Artemo for 2 days and now here we sit at 2 weeks and still no workers. They have about 6 weeks of work left ahead of them. Graham is going to the boat everyday and working on replacing all the seacocks, the anchor chain, re-wiring, new toilets, new flooring, installation of the wind generators, the self steering geer, the water maker and the SSB. It feels like there is alot to get done right now and it feels strange to be putting out money for boat repairs and living expenses (rent, etc) and not having any money coming in. I am sure we will get use to this (maybe) but this is the first time in our lives together that our savings are getting less, not more! It also worries us with the markets the way they are. We definitely need to give each other pep talks every once in a while and reflect on how amazing our journey already is and if things were easy we wouldn't be able to feel that huge sense of pride when we overcome them.

We want to be in Curasco for Christmas and we saw that it only took Dad 3 days to sail there, so we have lots of wiggle room between now and then, if they get the heck back on our boat and get working! We have to keep focusing on the silver lining and focus on the fact that ..."this mistake is going to be the safest, prettiest mistake anyone has ever seen when we are done!!"

October 08, 2008

Making an Oil Down

We were really lucky to have our landlords spend a Saturday, showing us all how to make an "Oil Down". It was a very unique experience that we all really enjoyed. Now in the spirit of keeping the blog "real" and "honest".......none of us really enjoyed the actual eating part. Now don't get me wrong, it was edible but we found that so many of the ingredients were really quite dry, such as the green banana, breadfruit and the cornmeal dumplings. The flavor of the stew was actually quite good but it was a really heavy meal with not enough gravy. Luckily the oil down is so much more than the eating. The eating actually only took up about 1% of the time. We had so much fun, picking the ingredients from around our house, drinking from coconuts, peeling Caliloo, seeing what the inside of a breadfruit looks like and making new friends. Enjoy the video!

October 05, 2008

Church in Grenada

Today we went to church and I thought it might be fun to have a blurb from each of us on the experience. We all feel very lucky to have found such kind and generous landlords in Grenada, who would welcome us into their church the way they did. Enjoy!

"Church with the Blackette's was an intense and intimate experience. I liked the sense of community and fellowship in the church. After the service many people came to greet us with that trademark genuine Grenada warmth. The service was so different from anything I have ever been involved in. The service was the polar opposite of who I am: being loud, animated and intense. I know that the collection of money is a part of the service but it always bothers me to see it. The drive for cash seems to taint the message that was given." - Graham

"Church today was the longest and the most non-understandable. I sat through it for 5 hours. One person was suppose to come up and say "Thank You for inviting me" and she had a two hour speech. I spent the whole night before trying to find a dress to wear and I wish I would have had something more fancy. At least the muffins they handed out were yummy. There was lots and lots and lots of singing and Halleluiahs and Amens and Praise the lords." - Amelia

"The 1st hour was ok, the next 6 hours were boring. There was a band that played in the first hour which was nice. Then the two hour lady came up as I would put it. Then just when I thought it was done, it wasn't. The people here let their emotions out, for instance they yell helejuhah and amen randomly." - Alex

"I felt very out of place in the church. Everyone showed their emotions by waving their hands, clapping, shaking, dance, and Halleluiahing! I was interested but fully aware that I was awkward. The singing was fun. It isn't often you see an electric and bass guitar and full set of drums in a church. The sermon had some great messages and I did feel inspired. I believe in God and I truly felt his presence in the church. There were moments during the sermon where it got to much for me. Too much yelling and messages I didn't necessarily agree with. We left our house at 7am and we got back home 1:30. I think it was an overdose of church after being absent for so long but I still wouldn't have wanted to miss it!" - Julie

October 01, 2008

Back on the horse

Yesterday we went sailing on my Dad and Cheryl's boat. This was the first time the kids and I have sailed since our entry into Grenada in the squall and without steerage. It felt good to be back on the water. It wasn't long before my fears and nervousness had vanished and I was letting the kids hang their feet over the edge of the boat as "Mystic Journey" cut through the water on nice heel.

It is so strange how much better we all feel on a boat. I was thinking it is because when you are on your boat it is like you are in Canada. When we are at our apartment in the jungle, you are very aware that you are far far away from home and in a different country. The heat is also so much more manageable on the boat. There is a nice breeze and you can always jump in the water for swim. Also, as I looked around the bay, there were so many Canadian boats/flags it was crazy. Directly ahead of Dads boat was "Bonanza" from Calgary. It really feels good to be a part of a community.

Dad and Cheryl are sailing away to Bonaire tomorrow. It has been really comforting knowing they are nearby. Amelia has had some weird bites on her arm and having Cheryl the nurse check it out and ease my fears is always nice. We are going to miss them and our field trips to see them but Christmas is around the corner and COME HELL OR HIGH WATER we are going to have Artemo finished and be sailing to meet them for the holidays!