Saturday, September 27, 2014

Iguanas and roosters and "mom" voice, Oh My!

As I gazed out the window of my treatment room, I took a deep breath and inhaled the scenery: a palm tree swaying in the tropical breeze. A butterfly fluttering through the bright pink flowers. A tiny hummingbird hovering next to my window. A dog sunning himself, stretching on a tree, pulling a 2 foot iguana out of a branch...and...viciously eating the iguana. What? Good Gawd. NO! NO! NO! I had to absolutely look away when I saw a mama hen waddle into the scene of the iguana-cide with her babes. Turn Around! Turn around, mother hen!
Unsuspecting Iguana

The scene from my treatment room window: Sh*t's about to get real

It's been 7 weeks of island life and, occasionally, I actually forget that I'm somewhere "foreign." That is, until I witness lizards falling from trees, dogs hunting iguanas, and trapped roosters (...if I had a dollar for every time a student says, "Ma'am, Ma'am! there's a rooster stuck in the garbage again!")

The roosters looking to dumpster dive in the school

Yep, life on the island isn't all beaches and cocktails...there's some hard realities. You know, the circle of life and so on. Otherwise, I must admit that I'm really feeling like this a fabulous place to call home. Cayman is pretty magical and I'm settling in - and trust me, there have been many moments where I've questioned if I will ever begin to feel like I'm "fitting in." My surroundings are becoming familiar, I have a really great core group of people whom I can now call my friends, the homesickness is beginning to subside, and I feel myself acclimating to "island life." I even found myself muttering in traffic when an inpatient driver honked at my hesitation, "Seriously dude! this island is 22 miles long. I know for a fact that you don't actually have far to travel, so settle down!" (For the record, on Thursdays, I travel the total 22 miles across! Whoa - pack a lunch!)

My new job has probably been one of the most challenging aspects of this move. I went from working with adults with strokes and neurological diseases in a hospital setting to working with 4-8 year old children with speech and language delays. Although I have worked in the school setting before, I was very comfortable and confident working in the hospital with adult patients. Working with children, although less emotionally gruelling than working with hospitalized adults, requires a whole new set of skills and energy. Initially, I would come home exhausted from attempting to "sell" the /sssssss/ sound to a child with zero interest. Now; however, I've gotten to know my schools, the teachers, and the kiddos on my caseload. I see some really awesome children - funny, smart, interesting kids. And how can you not feel the love upon entering the classroom to, "Good morning Ms Kirstie!" followed by the desperate whispers, "Pick me! Pick me! Please pick me Ms Kirstie!" Haha. So, although the job is posing a set of new challenges, overall, I'm enjoying it.  (I did use my "mom" voice this week. I didn't know I even had a "mom" voice:  "ENOUGH! This game is OVER. There will be NO stickers today!" Yikes!)

Evan has been away for 3 weeks now. I miss him so much and I cannot wait to pick him up at the airport tomorrow afternoon. 3 weeks is much too long - reminiscent of our long distance hockey life, which I vowed to never repeat again in our relationship. We've suffered enough! (Try msn messenger chatting on dial-up internet or communicating via pay phones because it's the only way to score a decent international phone rate!) Since my mama left a week ago, I've definitely had some lonely moments, but I also feel independent and capable, which is a good way to feel, especially after 2 years of depending heavily on others with my knee struggles (remember:"who wants to bathe me today?" Yikes!).  This feels good. This is the first time in 7 weeks that I genuinely feel confident about our decision to try out this new and exciting life (prior to now, I was totally faking it. Just sayin')

my morning on the patio - it still blows my mind that I live in a place where cruise ships frequent!

On Thursdays, I drive to the remote east end of the island - it's incredible

Friday happy hour is my favourite hour(s) of the week! Cheers!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wine dispensers, Sunday brunch, and ocean dips: Mom is on the island!

"Um...I have a problem...well, at least I think it's a problem..." I stammered.

The principal looked up from his computer and nodded, "What's the problem, Ms Kirstie?"

"There's a lizard, or like an iguana, um, running, well, scurrying about in my treatment room."

Unfazed, the principal stood up and followed me to my treatment room.

"You didn't shut the door the entire way. They will run in and out of your room. I'm sure it's gone now. Have a great day!"

Um. Ok.

10 minutes prior to that conversation, I was standing on a chair with a 5 year old, stifling my screams, whist attempting to not appear frightened as a 2 foot long iguana freaked out, obviously trapped in my treatment room, knocking over materials with his giant tail.

Another life lesson, I suppose.

These days are full of life lessons.

The day after Ev left the island to get some work done back home (wait..where is "home" anymore?), my mom flew in. It's been so great having her here with me. The last time we spent so much time together was after my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th knee surgery. And let me tell you: drinking cocktails on the beach definitely trumps the memory of her holding my hair back while I'm puking. We've had such a great week!
Selfies in front of the condo

I'm still working full days, so mom is spending her days lounging by the pool and also doing some work from her computer - she's a freelance Writer, you know! - cool, hey? But I'm usually home around 4pm and then we've been taking trips to the beach or just spend the  afternoon lounging by the pool together. It's so nice to just have her around all the time. I've definitely had moments where I feel incredibly homesick. In addition, work has been challenging. Pretty good, but challenging. Other than the iguana on the loose, I've also experienced consecutive hours speech therapizing (I made that verb up) children whose speech I cannot understand (I'm a speech pathologist, I should get this!) But the dialect in addition to a speech disorder is throwing my speechie senses right off!  I've definitely felt the need to unwind when the work day is over. I did manage to introduce mom to Island happy hour -  an after-work Friday tradition that my new friends and I have started. This week we toured a very magical place - a place where wine dispenses from machines - like the self-serve slurpee machine at macs - but with wine. Beautiful free-flowing wine. Pure brilliance, if you ask me.
heaven on Earth? Yes!

The GPS in my car: Yes, this is a map of Tokyo. Super helpful.
This past weekend we took a road trip ALL the way to the east end of the island! That's 22 miles away! That constitutes as an intense road trip on this island.We toured the blow holes, where the waves crash into rocks, driving a spray of water feet into the air. We stopped at Rum Point and checked out the "Disneyland" of Cayman (hello, tourist zone!!), and we stopped at one of my favorite spots "Kaibo" in Cayman Kai for a world famous (well, island famous) Mudslide (so rich and creamy!)  Overall, we had an awesome day together touring the island. On Sunday; however, we were introduced to one of the most amazing island experiences one could even begin to imagine - Sunday Brunch at Luca. This is an event. I've done Sunday brunch at Grainfields. I've even enjoyed a brunch or two at the Saskatoon Inn - but this, people, was a brunch to write home about! The food, for one, was amazing - tables of seafood, sushi, salads, roast, eggs benny, decadent desserts etc, etc, etc etc...but, the most fabulous part of Sunday brunch was bottomless Prosecco. Prosecco, if you've never had, is an Italian sparkling white wine. Mixed with a little OJ, it's the breakfast bevvy of champions - and by "bottomless," I mean that your glass is NEVER less than 3/4 full - at all times. From 11:30 until 3:30, we drank, we ate, we drank, we drank, we ate. By 3:30, the brunching ladies were slightly disheveled. Our skirts were crooked and our earrings were falling off, but we were happy. Happy! Home by 4 and passed out by the pool by 5, I couldn't imagine a better way to spend my Sunday. I'm so happy that my mama was able to take in my first Sunday Brunch with me on the island. Epic.
Caution: Ladies Lunching

Ladies Lunching with bottomless Prosecco

I can't believe my mom leaves in 4 days. I'm going to be very sad to see her go. On that note, I'm posting this quickly so I can enjoy dinner on the patio with her this evening.


Spotts Beach to search for turtles

Mom's swimming! She likes it! She likes it!

Happy hour!

Welcome to the blow holes!

Rum Point

Mudslides at Kaibo

Walking off the Prosecco (crookedly) on Seven Mile Beach

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A simpler life

As I hugged a good friend goodbye, he commented, "You will have a much simpler life in the Caymans."

I didn't really understand what that meant, but I think I'm starting to figure it out. 

It's not all unicorns and rainbows. My day still consists of the daily "life" things that everyone partakes in, regardless of where you live. My alarm wakes me up at 6:30am. I get dressed - contrary to what you might imagine, I can't wear shorts and a tank top to work. I wear the typical work attire - dress pants and a nice shirt (too hot for scarves - dammit!) I drive to work. Often there is traffic. Sometimes I get beeped at. Sometimes there's a jerk who won't let me in, sometimes a kind soul waves me forward. I work for 7.5 hours. Sometimes I have a good day. Sometimes my day isn't so great. Some people are super friendly. Some people are stand-offish and rude. Some days I wait in line at a crowded grocery store. Sometimes  I worry about spending too much money. I drive home, eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed. Some days my heart hurts, wishing I was surrounded by all of my family and friends again. I miss them a lot. 

The magical part of living on a tropical island is all the wonderful little things you fit into your mundane everyday "normal" schedule. 

Instead of drinking my tea in my car or at my kitchen counter, I drink it on the patio, gazing at the ocean with Evan. On Thursdays a cruise ship floats by at 7am. Every time I see that cruise ship I think, "Wow, I live in a place where cruise ships dock! That's pretty cool!"

Although I might be sitting in traffic on my way to work, I'm often looking at palm trees, brightly coloured flowers, and occasionally the turquoise blue ocean. It hasn't gotten old...yet, and it makes the drive interesting. 

My schools are all "indoor/outdoor" buildings. You access each classroom from the outdoors. So although I'm inside most of my working day, I'm constantly walking with children to my therapy room out in the hot Caribbean sun, reminding me that I'm doing speech therapy somewhere special. One of my schools sits directly on a hill overlooking the ocean! I can actually hear the waves crashing against the shore while I'm doing speech therapy. Incredible. 
View from my school's playground with ocean in background. These kiddos have no idea how great this is!

I'm home by 4-4:30 most days. Some days I go to the gym - often Evan and I will take EDO Japan into town together for our gym outings. Sometimes after the gym, we set up shop on Seven Mile Beach, take the dog for a beach walk,  and watch the sunset. Sometimes we go home and opt for a dip in the pool. We've been barbecuing quite a bit and often eat our meals outside, listening to the waves lap on the shore. We're usually in bed by 9pm because we're exhausted (Plus, the sun sets around 7, so the evenings seem long). Overall, it's pretty great. 

I think my favorite thing about this move, thus far, is the time that Evan and I get to spend together on a daily basis. Back in Prince Albert, we both worked hard. Evan worked very hard. He worked long days, long hours, and even after returning home at the end of the day, he was often on his computer or his telephone dealing with the business. We didn't really hang out much, to be honest. We worked hard and looked forward to vacations, when we scheduled time to catch up with each other's lives. If we did have a free Saturday night together, we often ran out of ideas of things to do (in the winter, especially). Our go-to was renting a movie, during which, 95% of the time, I would fall asleep! haha. 

Here we go for walks on the beach. We swim in the ocean. I sit out and chat with Ev while he BBQ's. We play around in the pool, just like we did when we were teenagers, "How long can you hold your handstand for?" We take the dog for walks together.  I make fun of the fact that he hits either a chicken or an iguana every time he drives ("They don't take this car seriously!") We laugh a lot. We've been having a lot of fun with each other. I forgot how much I like this guy, which is an awesome feeling after 17 years as a couple. 

When I look back 10 years ago, I remember aspiring to own a beautiful house, possess a good job, and have lots of nice things. We sacrificed those things to move here. It scares me a bit...well, a whole lot, actually...but, I'm beginning to see the beauty in this lifestyle, mainly the fact that we're experiencing a new and exciting life together....and the stuff, although nice...was just, well, stuff. 

On that note, Ev flew back to Canada today for 3 whole weeks. Boo! 

But...Mom arrives on the island tonight! Whoo hoo!

I'm really going to miss my buddy but I'm so looking forward to showing my mama around the island. I'm pretty sure she's gonna dig it. The fridge is stocked with light beer and the Casa awaits! :)

The blowholes: This pic's for you, Darren Hunter!