Saturday, 30 April 2016

Amazing Race

What did you do today?

Well, I watched people retrieve coins from the bottom of a pool and chug bottles of tonic water. Confused? Today was the Mercy Ships version of the amazing race. 12 teams of three completed tasks all around Tamatave. My station was to collect 50 coins from the bottom of the pool and then go buy an ice cream cone for each person on the team and eat it in a minute. Unfortunately the ice cream place did not open until 10 and were getting started at 8; so we modified the challenge by using tonic water instead. I think it was challenging in a different way than the ice cream would have been. At the end of the day all 12 teams completed the challenge successfully and I had a lot of empty bottles to show for it...

This week was a surprising challenge. I had an overwhelming moment where I was scared to leave the ship. I was contemplating trying to make new friends, to leave behind the familiarity of life on the ship, and how I was going to cope with all the changes. I was able to pull myself together but those thoughts are still whirling around in my head. On another note, I sign up for two triathlons yesterday. I sign up for a try-a-tri in Hunstville, the weekend I get back and the sprint tri that I am training for at the beginning of August. I realized as I was going to sleep last night that I would need to find a bike within five days of my return home; I didn't think that all the way through. 

I am thoroughly enjoying the weekend; I hope you are doing the same.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Down the Canal

My computer was being fussy yesterday so I didn't get to post but here it is.

On Saturday I finally ventured to the Palmarium hotel (home of so many lemurs). I say finally because it is a very popular weekend excursion and one that most people who have been in Madagascar for 16 months would have already done. However, because I am content to stay close to the ship, it has never been necessary. That all changed when a friend from head office came to visit. We set up a small group and off we went. The boat ride to the hotel was beautiful. Fantala was finally fading away and our freedom was given back to us. There was a time when we couldn't stray too far from the ship just in case things worsened with the cyclone and the the ship needed to pull out of port.

I had the pleasure of some wonderful company. We were 6 all together and I only knew one person before we left. Everyone seemed to get along quite well but it is always disappointing when you realize that there are so many fabulous people on the ship and there is a strong possibility you are missing out on getting to know someone that could become a great friend. Anyway, we got to see lemurs and hike around the jungle/forest. I have to confess that a lemur jumped on me and I instantly started crying. The fear of rabies has been instilled in me because I hear the crew nurse talk about it every week in new crew orientation.

Traveller's Palm - If you put something between the areas where the branches connect, to make an opening, water comes pouring out!

The pictures say it all. I had a great trip (apart from the lemur trying to get me shipped home to have incredibly expensive rabies shots).

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Cyclones and Tortillas

Well the title is a lie beacause there is only one cyclone but it sounded better with both the words pluralized. This week was a MUCH better week for my emotional well-being. I can't say that is true for everyone on board because with the looming threat of Fantala, not everyone can rest easy. I do have to say that people are not panicking and it seems that everyone is just going to work, doing what they need to get to get ready. There is a possibility that we may have to sail away from the dock to avoid damaging the ship and the pier. However, that all depends on the storm. I haven't been worried about it at all and I would like to say that it is because I have full trust that God will protect us, but I don't think it is just that. The community has been praying that we would be spared from this and that the surgery schedule would not be interrupted but the reality is that whatever happens, we will manage. The people on this vessel are extremely capable, and intelligent and God is with us; there is no need to worry. A deck officer mentioned an interesting website and it is kind of mesmerizing with all the colours and the swirling arrows. Here is the link if you want to check it out:

The crew galley was closed for a short time because of the possibility of sailing but it is open once again. My recipe of the day? Flour tortillas! They were very easy but I am trying to figure out how to keep them soft because they became kind of brittle and resistant.

I also learned a new word that I really like: apoplectic. Here is the definition. Go use it!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Lost It

To say this week was an emotional roller coaster would be quite accurate. Wait, I like roller coasters so perhaps I will edit that to be it was a week of huge highs and death drop lows. I celebrated an answer to prayer, I cried when I thought it was taken away. I laughed harder than I have in ages with a wonderful group of women. I cried because I didn't get cheese for my sandwich. I cried because I am not humble and I can't delight in other people's successes. I smiled thinking about being loved. I cried because what I thought were mandatory meetings are meetings that crew are strongly encouraged to attend (mandatory implies repercussions for non attendance). I cried because of the injustices in the system and the feeling that if I were to be a lawyer I might cry for the rest of my life dealing with situations such as this. I cried because I got flowers that I didn't deserve from a mystery giver. I ate the best lunch and laughed on the way to the ship in the back of a pousse pousse. Yes, I am a crazy lady sometimes and the little things cause me to lose myself to the point where I am walking out of the dining room with tears running down my face because I can't handle standing in line to get lunch anymore. Then I talk to other people and realize that I am not alone in how I feel. Sometimes people hide all the hardest parts of their lives for a whole slew of reasons, I am sure. I usually do because I don't want to be perceived as negative and awful, because no one likes a complainer, and because sometimes I feel like what I am thinking/worrying about is something that I have made more complex in my mind and that it isn't even that hard.

You are not alone.

Sunday, 3 April 2016


The Saturday before Easter saw me participating in the practice of Ukrainian egg decorating. It was so fun and I got lost in all the details and creative options. You use wax to create layers of colour and patterns.
On Sunday there were two different services and an incredibly fabulous brunch that I got to share with a lovely group of people. 

This week has been full of ups and downs. I had a bit of a realization that I am now a short-term crew member. I have less than 3 months left in my commitment and it feels like I am being phased out of community while I can see my new co-workers being phased in and it is difficult. I know that my feelings can sometimes deceive me into believing things that aren't necessarily true, but I feel like I don't have a place here anymore and that is going to make it increasingly difficult to remain present and positive about work and life. This is life on the ship and I haven't yet been on the leaving side so it is a new experience for me. Since I have time I will try and keep the friends I have and make friends of the other short term crew that don't get taken into the long-term crew circle of friends. This is not a criticism of long-term crew members, because I understand that it is a coping mechanism. When you are here for a long time you see so many people come and go, so in order not to get too attached people often steer clear of those they know won't be around very long to avoid the heartbreak that comes with saying goodbye. 

On another note: I thought I was done with rice and beans after eating them everyday, twice a day while in Haiti for our field practicum but I was wrong. Last night I made plenty of rice and beans. The hot peppers that are sold at the market here are scotch bonnet peppers. If you look up where they fall on the Scoville scale they are near the top. At 150,000-325,000 units they are WAY spicier than a jalapeno (2,500-8,000). Anyway, this was the result of my Saturday evening:

Before all that bean making I got to talk to my mom who was at my grandparents house while they were making sausages. When she sat down on the couch I could see my baby-self behind her. My mom was happier than her face suggests. 

That's all I've got. Have a great week!