“Take ya time, take ya time” my host father Patrick says to me as sweat falls from my head unto the machete. The time is 5:50am and I’ve just come back from a run around the Paix Bouche and Plateau areas of the Babbonuo community. The roads are tight squeezes even in the quiet hours of the early morning, with only some cats, stray dogs, and the lone worker heading into town to the resorts for work. The rays of sunlight dip in and out of breadfruit trees, through swift clouds, and over the never ending rolling green hills where these communities have anchored their homes into the cliffs and valleys.The rain comes and goes sporadically, and even though it is the dry season, this land is much more lush than any I encountered back stateside. “Take ya time,” as I begin hacking into the coconut to hit it’s glorious water, with a few furious swipes it is cracked open and engorged. “Good, but you do better tomorrow.”
Even though it has been just under a week living abroad in the Caribbean I have yet to go to the beach, I have instead been getting lost among the rolling coaster like hills which twist and turn among homemade houses and communities. The tropical vegetation here itself seems to spring to life when the rain falls, and change the skyline’s spectacular open valley vistas into Pixar-esque hues of deep green, blue, and pillowy pinkish white.
The homestay I am lucky to stay with is an older retired couple named Gene and Patrick (or Oliver), and I have the pleasure of being their second host son to reside within their house. We sit in a lovely dead end at the end of a steep driveway, and are surrounded by houses with their extended family, which is enormous from cousins, sisters, aunts, nieces, nephews, and young children, and many dogs. The house guard dog is a black lab/German shepherd with the intimidating name of “Sprinkles”.
There is no wifi, but I am more than comfortable using it within the training site and parts of the city that have it for free. It has actually led to a strong awareness of the surroundings, smells, tastes, and even my thoughts. It has barely been a week, and this is in no way, shape, or form of the kind of service the first classes of the PC underwent like Sgt. Shriver or some of my friends in less beach related sites, but realizing when I stepped into the home that when I was home I would be cut off or unplugged for the next 7 weeks, definitely led to a mini “oh sh*t” moment.
Rather than diving into Buzzfeed, Vice, or NY Times articles at night, slothing through sloth memes, swipping through Instagram and Facebook, or binge-watching Netflix and HBO as many a night went the past year, I hope to remain more present, or at least strive to be in these times ahead. Even with the single book I have with me Cutting for Stone given to me by my amazing girlfriend Caroline, I feel more invested in the characters, more attune to the plot, and even more eager to read after I’m done with the chores. After dinner, small talk, and general studying (so many PC acronyms, languages, and lessons ahead), and just reflecting on the day/service ahead I feel more than okay just taking my time.