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Life in St. Kitts, continued - Catherine Fischer [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Catherine Fischer

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Life in St. Kitts, continued [Aug. 30th, 2002|07:39 pm]
Catherine Fischer
Saturday, August 24. Yesterday was a terrific day! White House Bay has completely different marine fauna than Shipwreck Beach – no polychaetes, for example. However, there were two eels (snowflake-pattern white and black, and cream-colored with brown and yellow spots!) – one of which slithered in a among the rocks on the bottom like a snake! He was hunting; when he came across a hole with a sculpin in it, he barged in past the sculpin, looking for a tasty lodger, no doubt! He didn’t find one, and the sculpin looked wholly offended by the encounter. I laughed out loud. While we were there, a very large school of small silver fish (with neon stripes!) – thousands – was swarming in the area, feeding on the enormous concentration of brine shrimp (White House is the outflow for Great Salt Pond, which is pink with brine shrimp). The pelicans were diving all around us, feeding on the fish, and some really big fish (jack, perhaps – they were a meter long) came in to feast, as well. Of course, the frigatebirds were hanging out, eyeing the pelicans; some small black-headed terns were attempting to rob the pelicans, too. Really dynamic! (One pelican landed within 6 feet of my head!) I finally found the shipwreck – it’s enormous, and encrusted with fan corals, gorgonians, hydroids, sponges, luminous translucent blue tunicates, and these gorgeous transparent anemones – and teeming with all sorts of fish. The propeller is perhaps 6 feet in diameter. I also saw a stonefish sitting on a rock, which , fortunately, I didn’t touch before I saw him. As we left, I also got a good look at the flamingo – I remembered to bring my binoculars, this time. He’s certainly the pinkest flamingo I’ve ever seen. The salt ponds really are thick with brine shrimp; they could easily support a colony of flamingos, let alone this one solitary one. There’s so much food, in fact, that the flamingo doesn’t move – he doesn’t have to.

Afterward, we went up the road to South Friar’s Bay to eat at the little beach shack restaurant there (Brian was their second customer, ever, since he swims and snorkels there a lot, and he gets preferred treatment). While Brian and Leonie finished their meal, I checked out the reef offshore at Brian’s prompting – totally different microenvironment, once again. Saw a meter-long porcupine pufferfish – they get really big! And that’s not even inflated (I don’t think I scare them enough to inflate. They just hide in the rocks from me). Also saw an angelfish the size of a dinner plate with the most gorgeous coloring – all cobalt blue and gold and canary yellow, in elaborate patterns. He was really shy, though, and kept hiding from me. Lots of really large parrotfish, here. The reef is around an old lava flow which looks for all the world like a manmade wall. Also saw a really large school of squid, all iridescent and translucent, and shifting colors like the dappled light of cloud shadows playing around the sun. Gorgeous creatures.

From there, we drove back through town, picked up some great barbecued chicken, killer breadfruit salad, and homemade ginger beer at Chicken Man (whose official name is actually Sharry’s Barbecue), and had a lovely, leisurely dinner on Brian and Leonie’s verandah, watching the light fade over the water. All in all, a great day. This morning, I’m off to get more green coconuts from the open market downtown. Unfortunately, the internet connection is still not up, but I can’t do anything about it until Monday.

Well, today (Saturday, August 24) was both an eventful and a truly uneventful day. The only people I interacted with were the people I bought coconuts and fruit and vegetables from in the open market – I’m having a hard time adjusting to the silence of a solitary existence, after all these years of communal living. Worse yet, I am suffering a withdrawal of sorts in the touch department; there is no one here to hug, no one to tickle, no one to run my hand over lightly as I pass by. It is, of course, worst a night, while it’s still too early to sleep, but too dark outside to go and do anything (I don’t hang out in bars, especially not alone, and I don’t have anyone to visit – all of my friends from last semester are off-island). Once school starts, I know I’ll have studying as a crutch, but for now I wander around my apartment, looking for something to distract me.

Actually, I did meet another student; Michele put me up to it, as she lives just up the street. I asked if she wanted to join me at the open market or snorkeling, but she was going with the welcoming committee to set up her bank account, etc. And she left her snorkeling gear back in the States. Ah, well.

Thoroughly swept the apartment – I’ve gotten tired of that crunchy feeling under my feet when I get out of bed in the middle of the night. Got all of my laundry done – seems like I have to do laundry twice a week, here. I thought for sure it would rain as soon as I had hung all of my sheets and towels and shirts to dry, but that particular rain medicine didn’t work today. Moved in a spare table Leonie gave me to use – yay; space on which to prepare food! (Currently, I have 12”x8” of counter space, directly in front of my microwave.) And finally set up the Select Comfort air mattress – on top of the other mattress, despite the fact that the mattress Brian and Leonie provided is a twin or a full, so the queen-sized air mattress hangs over the edge all the way around. Nonetheless, I should sleep more comfortably tonight.

By midday I was feeling overheated; lay down on the new bed and instantly fell asleep. Felt a bit better after the nap, so I went snorkeling at South Friar’s Bay. When I arrived, some guy came up and offered to rent me a beach chair for $2; when I fished $2 EC out of my wallet, he said “No; that’s EC – I meant American!” I told him in that case, I didn’t need a chair. I don’t even have any American currency anymore, except for some assorted change I’ve been meaning to deposit into my bank account. Today’s featured Cool Fish: a little guy that tends to guard a small patch of territory – turquoise head, lime-green body, and a pale blue “saddle” between two large black bands. I watched one grab a tiny little crab and swim hell-bent for leather away with it, but other fish attacked him for his prize and the crab escaped. I saw the World’s Most Beautiful Fish, again – there only seems to be one on this particular reef. Saw the squid, saw a couple of large and obviously pelagic fish in to feed on the swarms of tiny ones, saw another eel (they’re sneaky and hide well, so you pretty much have to be looking in the right direction at the right time to see them), and saw a spotted eagle ray, gliding by on the sandy bottom. I dove down to get a better look (I was still 20’ away from him), but the motion spooked him and he jetted away faster than I would have thought possible for such a graceful creature.

This evening, while I was writing and eating dinner, I saw Leonie and Brian out in the yard – the smartest time to garden: in the cool of the evening, with the gloaming providing enough light to see by. Both of the cats were out romping next to Leonie, ambushing each other (and Leonie). I went out to join them, and Leonie showed me all of the trees she’s planted – guava, banana, mango, fig, papaya, bougainvillea, datura, mimosa, palm, almond… I’m envious. We were discussing what kind of tree she would plant in the giant hole the neighbor’s dog dug up in the yard, and Leonie spotted a centipede on the wall – the first centipede I’ve yet seen. It was 3” long, and not moving. Kind of a disappointment, really. I’m starting to get the feeling that centipedes here are like black widows back home – yeah, we’ve got them, but so what? Leonie also pointed out a couple of adorable geckos – one of them was less than an inch long and nestled into a small datura leaf, like a baby in a cradle. Leonie calls the geckos “woodslaves”, and points out that their droppings are everywhere on the verandah. They give her the heebie-jeebies, but she tolerates them because they eat mosquitoes and other undesirable insects. Saw a terrific lizard (different from the “woodslaves”) – at least 2 and a half feet long nose to tail. They move so quickly, I wonder if they’re monitors? The morphology seems right…(Kevin has since informed me that they’re anoles…)

While we were teasing the cats with a trimmed branch (they took turns pouncing on it, then decided it would be more fun to pounce on each other), Leonie asked if I’d like to adopt Badcat. Seems he’s never formally been admitted to her house; he showed up before Tigger was fixed (and before he was neutered), and they just can’t seem to shake him. She just feeds him because he needs to be fed. Made me sad. Since I can get high quality cat food from school for free, I’ll at least feed him while I’m here – he likes me a lot, anyways (he sits on my lap and purrs, which he doesn’t do with Leonie or Brian). She also told me that his previous owner (she found out who it was, but they left, abandoning him) named him “Abby” – I immediately thought “Abby… normal?” Poor Badcat. I scritched him extra this evening.

I’m definitely not getting my hair cut while I’m here. The only hair salons I’ve seen were these: the Uppercut Barber Shop (ouchie!), and the Young Blood Hair Salon (the lettering is in “dripping blood” font). Crikey! Also saw a funny graffito: “Socka Joe Bush”. Wonder what it means? I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more funny graffiti.

Got a really good look at a mongoose as I was pulling out of the beach; Brian tells me they scavenge people’s trash, but otherwise can only be found in the canfields (where I, as a solitary female, do not go). Speaking of trash, I scavenged an entire grocery bag of assorted trash from the reef today (including the bag, which is what started it – for crying out loud, sea turtles nest on this beach… sea turtles, who die by the thousands each year because they ingest plastic bags). Sheesh. Think I’ll make a habit of collecting trash whenever I snorkel.

Alas, tomorrow is Sunday, so I can’t go to the bookstore and get BOOKS to entertain myself with – everything is closed on Sunday. And I do mean everything. Gas stations, school, the hospital (except for a skeleton crew for emergencies). Looking forward to the DVD player arriving. Wish I’d brought it in my luggage. Along with the other books I shipped. Sigh. I think I’ll amuse myself by making guacamole (the avocados here are tremendous and exceptionally good) and etching my name in everything I own with my newly reclaimed dremel tool. Then again, maybe I’ll spend the evening chatting with Leonie; she just walked by.
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