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Valentine's Day Weekend - Catherine Fischer — LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Catherine Fischer

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Valentine's Day Weekend [Feb. 18th, 2003|06:44 am]
Catherine Fischer
Had the quintessential Kittitian experience this weekend. Our first “hell week” (multiple exams in one week) ended on Valentine’s Day – I was supposed to study all day to catch up with the work I’d been neglecting while focusing on the material I was being tested on, but I was tired, and ran around town all afternoon with Kevin. Stopping in at Island Glass, I bought a dichroic glass bauble that caught my fancy: the color of Caribbean water. (Much as I love green, blues have been my solace here.) Getting home at dinner time, Kevin and I decided to take a “nap” before going to the full moon party on the beach – and slept all through the night. You never realize how much testing and test anxiety take it out of you. So did I study the next morning? Nope! Went to the fresh market for more pineapple and avocado, made guacamole, and packed up for snorkeling (I hadn’t been in a few weeks)! Friends of mine, who hadn’t yet been snorkeling, came with us; we were planning on snorkeling for a couple of hours, then ducking over to Sand Bank beach to body surf a bit, and eat a picnic on the sand.

Did it turn out that way? Nope! Melinda, who didn’t have a lot of experience snorkeling (nor with the ocean, I think), also rented equipment that didn’t fit her – nothing like trying to float in the ocean with water pouring into your mask to give you that authentic drowning experience! Plus, it was really windy that day, so little wavelets kept swamping her. We fussed with her equipment for probably a quarter of an hour, but did manage to get some satisfaction out of the trip; her boyfriend, Devin, who was visiting, adapted just fine to the water, and Kristen, the other friend who came, took to the water like a fish – she’d had experience snorkeling. Still, with me working nonstop with Melinda to make sure she could enjoy at least a little of the water, I didn’t really get to show anyone the really good reef…and then Kristen fell while getting out of the water, as we were going to meet our third friend at Sand Bank. Wouldn’t have been so bad, except that she fell on a spiny urchin – something that looks like a black pincushion for acupuncturists, with the pointy bits facing outward. Her hand was just full of spines, and way too deep for tweezers. So I packed Melinda and Devin off to Sand Bank with Kevin, and Kristen and I headed for the hospital (with great misgivings)

Of course, when you’re in a hurry in this country, every cruiser and tractor and goat-schlepping grandpa trundles his merry way out onto the road to test how slowly he can drive without entirely stalling, and I was about to suffer hemorrhagic stroke by the time we drove up to the hospital. Kristen’s hand was pretty swollen, by then, and an ugly purple color, and she was in enough pain to feel really queasy…but first, we had to make a detour to find someone in the hospital who could actually direct us to the emergency room. Once there, I had to shout down a hallway to get someone’s attention – she just waved me off and continued standing in the hallway staring at the wall. Someone else entirely came out several minutes later, and also ignored us. So I left to go to my house (a short distance up the road) to call the school nurses…except when I got there, I realized that Kevin had the house keys, and Brian and Leonie weren’t home. I turned around and drove the rest of the way to school (five more minutes up the road) and ran into the library (the only building open on a weekend with an outgoing phone), in my wetsuit skin, and called the nurse, who suggested I call the doctors to see if they’d gone home yet (they had), and then asked to be “kept informed”. (I had been under the mistaken impression that she’d come to the hospital with us.) The librarian, meanwhile, told me that Kristen should “put Vaseline on her hand and hold it over a fire” – ridiculous! – which advice I thanked her for, and drove back to the hospital to find Kristen waiting on the front step. “What happened?” I asked, knowing she could not possibly have been treated that quickly in St. Kitts. “They told me to put Vaseline on it and hold it over a fire!” she said. I rolled my eyes, helped her into the car, and drove to the pharmacy to get Vaseline, matches, antibacterial ointment, bandages, and analgesics.

Did I mention that neither of us had eaten all day?

So we got to Kristen’s house, and her landlady was walking up to her apartment – and told us we should put Vaseline on Kristen’s hand and hold it over a fire. So we did. For a really long time. Nothing happened. The analgesics kicked in, and Kristen started to feel better; we ate some food out of her freezer, the apartment filled with the smell of burning grease, and nothing happened. So we soaked her hand in vinegar (the spines of the urchin are calcareous, and will dissolve in acid). Nothing happened. Trish, the friend who’d been supposed to meet us at Sand Bank, called; she’d been dealing with a medical issue with her relatives, who were still in town, and never made it to the beach. Immediately afterward, Kevin called; they’d been totally sandblasted at the beach and had left. I sent him to bring stuff from our house – like tweezers – and he had to hunt around the apartment for them, so he arrived some time later. By now, it’s almost an hour after the time I needed to start getting ready for the catamaran trip (which everyone I mentioned was attending). I loan Kristen my tweezers and vet wrap, rush for home, take the world’s fasted shower, and scream down to the waterfront – leaving my camera behind. Doh! Kristen was already there, mummified in vet wrap; we got on board and loaded up on rum drinks, and started feeling better!

It was the night of the full moon, which is magical in the Caribbean; combined with the rum, the whole evening had a surreal quality, like a silver-washed dream. The wind was high, and the catamaran flew across the water like a frigate bird – spray drenched us all, and I stood for a long time on the prow of the ship, leaning on the wind, staring down into the ever-deepening blue. Kristen had three Killer Bees at Sunshine’s bar, and I had two (even though I knew better); although I don’t think Melinda liked being around us silly drunkies, everyone else had a terrific time. Trish told Kevin how much she wanted to be me while the rest of us stomped on her foot and told her she was born with a defective self-esteem gene; Kevin and I sneaked off down the beach to kiss in the Four Seasons’ gazebo, looking out over the water. Bioluminescent dinoflagellates lit up the waves like little reflections of the moon. Brimming over with moonlight and good company (and Killer Bees, no doubt), we sailed home to bed.

The next day rained all day – a good, steady, soaking rain – which it almost never does (or has, in my experience to date). It was the perfect day to stay in and study all day, although I wasn’t particularly productive; my head was still full of moonlight. Kevin and I were really happy it was raining, though; it’s been a dry year, and Mattingley Heights has been known to run out of water – just RUN OUT. As in no more. For months. We really don’t wish to experience this.

Between all the rain and the Caribbean sun, all of my tomato seeds (I finally started on my container garden) have finally sprouted – twenty tiny little tomato plants! Perhaps I’ll give some to Leonie, since there are way too many for the pot…

Yesterday I ran into the editor of the school paper again – she got my next bunch of poetry, and will be putting it into the Centaur! Indulging my creative side has been refreshing. Hopefully Dr. Reich will enjoy my haiku in his honor:

The Liver

Generous organ
The temple of Dr. Reich
You’ll learn to love it

You’d have to sit through a semester of his lectures to understand. However, he did once say that if it weren’t for the liver, the proximal tubular cells of the kidney would be the sexiest cells in the body…

Gotta get ready for school!