Week One in Dominica

July 6
The flight from Ottawa to Toronto was quick and easy. Toronto to Bridgetown went off without a hitch. We arrived about 2 o'clock, grabbed a cab and headed to the Pirate's Inn Hotel. Those of us returning to Barbados zipped over to the Scotia Bank, which was a two minute walk. Fee free banking. Hurrah!

Now for the good part. Bathing suits on, to the beach for a swim. Even though there was plenty of seaweed in the water and it was overcast and relatively cool, we went for a refreshing swim after a long day. While walking home, just as it was getting dark we saw a sign for a vegan restaurant. We headed down the side street in search of the restaurant. It was only a block off the main beach in a tiny space, directly across from a dumpster. But this did not deter us nor did it encourage us to eat inside, rather than at the tables on the sidewalk. Only the imminent rain made us go in. The food was fantastic and the waiter was super friendly and entertaining. I found him to be endearing because he was the Barbadian version of one of my cousins.

July 7
We were up bright and early the next morning for our trip back to the airport and on to Dominica. Our team leader had arranged for our same taxi driver to pick us up and…. He was there early! So much for me getting away with being my usual late self. No such luck!

From Bridgetown we flew to Antigua and then from there to Dominica. Upon arrival we were met by 3 people from DAT. The ride to the hotel was almost an hour up and down hills on an incredibly windy and somewhat narrow road through the rain forest over to the west coast. Spectacular scenery!

What a treat checking into the hotel. We have a view of the hills and the sea! Unbelievable! What luck. The rest of the day was left to us. Dinner at a Fusion restaurant was great. Apparently the chef is from Montreal. We also wandered around town to get oriented. Yes, we have a view and are in the historic district of the capital. Our final priority for the day was checking to see if we could use the pool at the Fort Young Hotel across the road. Since it was late, we were asked to return on the 8th.
Garroway Hotel
5th Floor View

Rear View of Hotel
July 8
Breakfast and off to the union office to meet our co-tutors and do some planning. The ministry co-tutors were not available so those two teachers did some planning to share with their Dominican partner. We had a tour of Convent High School where we would be doing the workshops.  I am excited to see that there is a lab with 34 computers, all with Internet access.  They use Linux and Open Office software, along with Google Docs.  There is no usb access.  I will be busy sending all of my documents to Google Drive.
DAT Office
Working with Co-Tutor
Convent High School

Working with Co-tutors
At one o'clock we were driven back to the hotel with a stop at the Scotia Bank. Here comes the really fun part of the day. Having taken money out in Bridgetown, I felt pretty secure going to the Scotia Bank to take out some local currency. Haha.

In goes the card and then the password. I hear the machine counting the money. The card starts to come out, but no!. … It stops part way out! I try to grab it with my fingers, and just as I try to grab it, it gets sucked back in. NOOO… The machine has eaten my card!!!! The locals tell me to go in to the bank immediately before it closes.

In I go. The person who said she was going to help me simply disappeared. Marcus, our driver appears to take charge, thank goodness! He lines up and takes me to another bank employee. The employee calmly smiles and tells me to return the next day to retrieve my card and not to worry that they would facilitate me. OK then. I have my 5 minutes of distress and then move on.

After another great lunch the team leader attempts to take money out of 2 different banks. No cash! We later hear that the stock market had been shut down in New York. Oh no, a worldwide conspiracy? Yikes!

So, on to the good news. We got a great deal to use the pool next door that includes a yummy slushy punch with or without rum.  In the evening  went to a natural sulfur hot spring. It was amazing! Up and down a narrow, steep windy road to our destination in the dark jungle. There were three pools of differing temperatures and we were the only ones there.  One hour of relaxing and moving from pool to pool all for $5 each. What a deal!!!

July 9
From nine until one p.m. we worked with our co-tutors at the union office.    I met with my co-tutor briefly to discuss what was planned overall and then for the first day.  We will modify as we go.  There are 150 participants signed up and almost 1/3 are signed up for ICT.  

I got my bank card back.  Yippee!  A little afraid to try again.  After getting my card back, we picked up the rotis we had ordered for lunch the day before.  Once again, yummy food!  And then, yes, you guessed it, off to the pool.  We lounged at the pool until dusk.  This just may become our new daily debrief location.

Pizza take out for dinner and off to bed to rest up for our first day of workshops, after the 8:30 opening ceremony.

The Pool
Rainbow at the Pool

View from Pool

July 10
Up bright and early to be at school for 7:30. Fortunately the school is a two minute ride.  Marcus picks us up every day and drives us home.

Opening ceremonies begin promptly at 8:30.  The DAT (Dominican Association of Teachers) starts on time.  In her speech the union president made a comment about the press asking if the ceremony would begin at 8:30 and her response was that it will start promptly at 8:30 regardless.  The Minister of Education was in attendance and addressed the audience.  In his speech he addressed the issue of abuse and the need for teachers to be observant.  It is everywhere!  Our team leader also spoke to the audience.  For the closing the Canada Team sang the Canadian National Anthem and then the Dominicans sang their national anthem.

Minister of Education
DAT President


By 10 a.m. we were off to our sessions.  33 teachers were present for the ICT workshop.  One of the participants made me especially happy.  I had spoken to her before opening ceremonies.  She was a mature early education teacher and had not yet signed up.  She had already participated in special education and one of the others.  I suggested she do the drama workshop because there would be things to take back and do with her students.  She did not take my advice and instead signed up for ICT because she had very little knowledge or experience.  Kudos to her!  How brave!!

The morning flew by.  Participants set up a gmail account, sent an email, completed an 18 question survey on Survey Monkey, looked at a variety of websites and learned about computer hardware and software.  My co-tutor and I wondered if perhaps we had moved too quickly, but everyone seemed to be good.  Glancing at the survey results and working with the teachers it appears that there are only 4 of the 33 who are not comfortable with computers.  This is going to be great!

We left the school about 1:30.  Back to the union office for photocopying and then back to the hotel.  No wait.. not back to the hotel.  Marcus, our very friendly driver/tour guide took us for a tour of the city.  We went up to a view point from where you can see the entire city.  He also took us on a tour of the Botanical Gardens.  There is a bamboo tree house, which at one time was completely filled in and apparently dark inside during the day.  Word is that a lot of "hanky panky" went on in the bamboo house.  Love it!  We also saw the parrot that is on the flag and a truck that was under a huge baobab tree.  During the hurricane, that devistated the country, of 1979 a baobab tree fell on a bus.  The plan was to remove the tree and the school bus, but the tree continued to grow, so they left the fallen tree and the bus.

Squashed Bus
Hurricane Info

View of Roseau

By four o'clock we were back.  Out for dinner and debrief.  Off again at 7:30 to the Arawak House of Culture to watch a three hour dance and singing performance.  It was lovely.  There were some very talented individuals.

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