Monday, March 18, 2013

The Great Grenadian Goat

Grenada is full of beautiful beaches, lush greenery, amazing waterfalls, and... GOATS! No, that was not a typo, GOATS! Everywhere you go, you can count at least ten goats along the way. They are usually tied up on ropes or contained within people's yards, however some are roaming free on the streets. Goats have become part of the scenery in our new home, so I was completely caught off guard when a huge goat nearly attacked!

On Fridays I volunteer at the school for special needs in the Limes neighborhood. The children are truly adorable, and I have so much fun leading them during their physical education hour. We warm up, stretch, run and play different games. Last week they taught me how to play cricket; the students thought it was hilarious that I had never played. I tried to explain that cricket is not a popular sport in the United States, and they thought I was crazy! 

Last Friday started out like any other day. I woke up, made breakfast for James, got dressed and hopped on the 10:45 bus to the special needs school. I met up with my friend JP on the bus, and decided to take the short cut to the school. We were going down the narrow path behind the gas station when a goat came out of nowhere! Honestly, goats are not that scary, but this one was BIG and had bloodshot eyes! Although I was sure we were going to get kicked or bitten, JP suggested we inch our way around the goat, through the tall brush. When we tried the goat reared up on his hind legs, opened his big bloodshot eyes and bah-ed very loudly! He looked like he was going to charge when a little Grenadian man hopped out of the bushes and said, "Ohhh sorry 'bout my goat mon!" and without any further explanation lead the goat down the trail. After the initial shock, we both started cracking up. I don't think I will be taking the short cut ever again! 

Although this was my first encounter with a Grenadian goat, I have a feeling it will not be my last! I guess this is all part of the Grenadian adventure! When I called my Mom later that day and told her the story, she just laughed and said O.M.Grenada. I knew then, that the Great Grenadian Goat definitely was worthy of a blog entry!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Two Cents On Centipedes

This past week, I had a traumatizing experience with a creepy, crawly critter: the centipede!! Prior to my "centipede attack", I really had no thought or care about them. Now, I am terrified! 

It all started so innocently; I was excelling at my wifely duties by making a delicious dinner for my hardworking husband. We were having Chicken Alfredo over pasta. I went to drain the pasta, and realized I needed to put on my oven mitts because my Le Creuset was scolding hot! I grabbed my gloves off the convenient hook they were hanging on, and slipped my hands in. Immediately, I felt something scratchy, like velcro. Before I had a second to think what it could possibly be, the velcro like feeling started moving and I felt a bite. As any girly girl like myself would do, I screamed my loudest bloodcurdling, someone-is-murdering-me cry, jumped in the air and threw down my mitts. My once seemingly innocent mitts lay on the floor. My finger, where I had been bitten was burning as I watched the centipede scramble out of the glove. I shrieked for my husband, James, to get it as he jumped up from his desk, took of his flip-flop and smashed it! Wham, wham wham... dead! 

Needless to say, for the rest of the night (and to this day) I am traumatized! We searched the internet to find out if the centipede was poisonous. Good thing for me, it wasn't. Although my finger did swell and I had some pain, I was not seriously injured. It took a very big glass of wine to calm down and fall asleep that night, but it was a lesson well learned. Always check your oven mitts! Ohhhh my Grenada!! 

Resort Living

I've been slacking on my posts, so this is REALLY backdated (like from October backdated) but unquestionably noteworthy. The Nichols came to Grenada! My mom (Cora), dad (Rob), brother (Renny), sister-in-law (Amber), niece (Teagan) and nephew (August) all came to visit our little island. Although we missed my oldest brother (Robby) and other sister-in-law (Inessa), we had such a great time!

Upon arrival my almost four year old niece informed me that she had to take two planes to visit "Auntie Steph's New House". On the first plane she had to remind the older man sitting next to her to buckle his seat belt; she is such a responsible little lady! Everyone arrived Wednesday night and were picked up by the resort shuttle. Grenada is very different from the United States, as I have said many times before. So when the driver of the shuttle started putting the kids' car seats into the trunk I wasn't surprised. We had to ask him if there were seat belts in the shuttle (luckily there were two) and installed them ourselves. Grenadian people don't consider safety measures the way Americans do; I've seen mothers driving with their children on their laps here, but keep in mind, it is illegal for men to drive without a shirt on! Luckily we didn't have to travel far that night; the resort is only a few miles away from the airport!

My family stayed at Spice Island Beach Resort; this little piece of paradise is absolutely stunning. The rooms are bigger than our dorm, very well air-conditioned and have sliding glass doors that open directly onto Grand Anse beach. James and I were thrilled that my parents also booked us a room so we could have a luxury staycation while they were here! All the beaches on Grenada are beautiful, however, Grand Anse is by far my favorite. The water is the perfect temperature, cool enough to be refreshing, but warm enough to be comfortable. Each afternoon, our entire family loaded up on sunscreen and floated in the vibrant turquoise color of the Caribbean. There are no waves on Grand Anse, which allowed Teagan and August to splash in the water without worry. August enjoyed being held and splashing people in the water, although he didn't like it too much when he accidentally splashed himself. Meanwhile, dare devil Teagan was swimming back and forth between all of us, wanting to swim farther and farther out. Luckily James and Renny are both excellent swimmers and could keep up with her!

Along with beach time and much needed relaxation, we went on a few site seeing expeditions, which were not so relaxing. I've mentioned before that driving in Grenada is crazy, and my family experienced that first hand. Renny drove, while the rest of us held on for dear life. James was navigating the map, my mom and dad were in the middle seat with Teagan and I was basically sitting on top of Amber in the squishy back seat with August. Luckily my mom couldn't see how dangerous the driving was from the middle seat or we would have heard a lot more shrieks of terror. Family road trips are always fun, right?

One adventure led us on a two hour drive to Belmont Estate. There, we saw how Grenadian organic dark chocolate is made. Because my family came to Grenada during the "off-season", meaning before the cruise ships start coming, we were the only people at the estate and were able to have a private tour. James and I had been to Belmont Estate before, and the tour guide actually remembered us and welcomed us back. The people truly are very nice on the Island of Spice! Along with the chocolate factory, Belmont Estate is also home to a few monkeys and parrots; I think Sparkles the monkey was Teagan's favorite part. At the end of the tour the guide handed out samples of dark chocolate and cocoa tea. August loved the chocolate and kept trying to reach for more. I think we have a chocoholic in the making!

Our second adventure to downtown St. George was a much easier drive. Although we still feared for our lives, we were only in the car for about fifteen minutes instead of two hours. The only way to get to downtown St. George from Grand Anse or True Blue Campus is to drive along the coast, by the marina, and then drive through a rather long tunnel. The tunnel is barely wide enough for a car, and also used as a pedestrian passage. While Renny was driving through the tunnel we all had to shout "watch that person" and "you're going to hit them", while the Grenadian people casually walked through the tunnel without a care in the world. This is what happens when LA drivers come to Grenada! We went into St. George to check out Fort George and the spice market. Fort George was constructed in the 18th century and is located on an elevated peninsula, originally used for defense. Today it is most well known for its role in Grenadian history as the site of the assassination of Maurice Bishop, along with several members of his cabinet. While walking up the huge hill to the fort, we were quickly joined by our new friend, Randy. Randy started telling us all about the fort, and history of Grenada. He was a wealth of knowledge and guided us through the fort. In Grenada, there is no charge for admission to most historical sites, however, usually someone guides you, and then asks for a tip. After the fort, we stopped by the spice market and saw what they had to offer. Every spice you could ever imagine is available here, and the aroma is amazing! 

After a few days, and a mini pre-birthday celebration for me, we were sad to see Renny, Amber and the kids leave. However, we were happy to have my parents stay on a little longer! As James went back to school, my mom, dad and I had a couple of our own adventures. One day, my parents wanted to see Annandale Falls and Grand Etang Lake. We looked at the map, and plotted our route, not knowing what lay ahead. We drove up through downtown St. George and kept on driving, after a good ten minutes, we realized that we had passed the turn off to head up the mountains. After turning around and discovering the missed road (located by the cricket stadium) we started our drive up the mountain and into the jungle of Grenada. It is amazing how quickly the air temperature cools down! After driving a while, we decided that we may have missed the turn off again. We may seem like terrible drivers, but it is difficult to navigate when there are no street signs, stop lights, or intersections. Most directions go something like this, and please imagine a Grenadian accent, "Miss, you see dat road ova there? You take dat road and follow it to da big palm tree, when you see da palm tree make a right, next you look for a man sitting on a rock. If he is not sitting on da rock, imagine a man sitting on da rock and turn left". Seriously, I once received these directions! 

Feeling completely lost, we decided to pull over and ask some workers, who were clearing the jungle back from the road, for directions. A worker, yielding a machete, came up to the car and started describing how to get to the falls. However, instead of giving us detailed directions, the worker decided to jump in the car and show us the way. Of course, this took us all by surprise, but he was in the car before we could protest! We learned his name was Sean, and Sean ended up being a great tour guide. Although Sean smelled heavily of Rum, and seemed a bit inebriated, he was very knowledgeable about the island and the tourist attractions. First, he took us to Annandale Falls. Annandale Falls were beautiful and lush with flowers and other jungle plants. My parents and I took a short five minute hike to the falls to find cliff divers, one of which was Sean's sister's boyfriend. We watched the divers, admired Annandale Falls' beauty, and then went on to Grand Etang to see the monkeys! When you step out of the car at Grand Etang, you are able to purchase some bananas to hand feed the monkeys. We only saw two, however when monkeys hear bus engines stop, they say about ten to fifteen come out of the jungle.  After feeding the monkeys, we enjoyed the view of Grand Etang Lake. Concluding our little tour Sean took us by his sister's spice shop, and then we dropped him back off. Grenadian people are so helpful and friendly, he didn't even ask for monetary compensation for his time, although we gave it to him anyway. The entire day was quite an adventure! 

My family's visit was so fun, but went by much too fast; It is truly amazing to have loved ones come visit! We miss them terribly while in Grenada, and can't wait to have them come back again!! We are looking forward to having James' mom and brother come in March, and my parents again in April! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Not too Crabby!

In crab races, as in life, sometimes you win and sometimes Grenada wins. Last night we were BIG winners!! James and I went with a few friends to watch and bet on crab races at The Owl on Grand Anse Beach. Although the crab races are usually directly on the sand, the event was relocated to the dining room due to sudden cloudburst. We arrived at the little restaurant with high hopes and few Eastern Caribbean dollars. Having never been to a crab race I had no idea of the treat we were in for!

First, six crabs were placed into an obviously well used kitchen salad bowl; they were named for the countries from which they came (or so we were told) and marked with chalked numbers on their shells. We were asked to examine the crabs to determine our wagers. After some careful consideration, we decided to go with our patriotism and bet on USA. Because I had never bet on crabs before, I did not know that there would be multiple races; I went for broke and put all twenty Eastern Caribbean dollars on Uncle Sam. Please keep in mind, twenty Eastern Caribbean dollars converts roughly to eight United States dollars. When I sat back down James asked how much I bet and I told him everything. It was then he chose to tell me how there would be multiple races... Whoops!

Next the man orchestrating the event took the crabs, in the salad bowl, to the middle of a large wooden circle and turned the bowl upside down. When the bowl was lifted back off the ground the races began.   This was the Olympics of crab racing. The first crab to make it to the edge of the circle and fall off the wooden ledge, would be named the champion. As everyone knows, both James and I are extremely competitive, so our courteous encouragement soon escalated into full blown jumping and cheering as our little crab made his way for the edge of the circle. It was between USA and Sweden; Sweden was hanging onto the edge by two little legs when USA made the leap. It had been a long flight for Sweden, and no one blamed him for his timid hesitation. We had won the race and doubled our dollars!!

After our big win, we decided to bet more cautiously, putting a more reasonable amount of Eastern Caribbean dollars on the little crabs we had chosen. We must know how to pick winners because we won every race we bet on but one! The one race we lost was to none other but the Grenadian crab. Some say he was just plain fast like his cousin, Kirani James, but I think it was due to the home court advantage! If James' medical school doesn't work out, I think I have a real future in crab race gambling!

Hope you are not having a crabby day! O.M.Grenada!

xo, Steph

The Arena

The Well-Used Salad Bowl and Crabs

 Picking the Winner!

 Solo Shot of the Winner

 Victory Lap

Thursday, September 6, 2012


School is now in full swing and James is been extremely busy. He has class everyday, starting at eight-thirty, and studies from the minute class gets out until dinner.  I am so proud of his work ethic and dedication; I have no doubt it will pay off when it is time for midterms and finals!

Since my husband is neck-deep in text books, I have had to keep myself entertained, and believe me, I am definitely entertained! I have become friends with other wives of medical and veterinary students on campus through the Significant Others Organization and the Christian Student Association. James and I attended the CSA potluck, and I met a few girls who have become my closest friends on the island. It is so interesting to meet people from all over the world and to hear their stories. Most of the girls I became friends with were married within the past year, just like us! Having a group of girls to hang out with makes the entire experience much more fun. 

It seems like everyday there is something to do. We volunteer a couple times a week at the Limes' after school program, working with children from ages four to sixteen years old. The children are absolutely adorable, and deserve their own post, so more on that later. Besides volunteering, we have taken Yoga and Pilate's classes, joined the dance team "Cardiac Arrest" and had many beach and pool days. I swear, I have exercised more in these past few weeks than I have since college! My body is remembering some long lost muscles that I thought were gone for good!! :) 

One of the perks of being a wife of a student at SGU is access to the University Club on Mondays and Thursdays. The University Club is a little off campus, and exclusively for faculty every other day of the week. It has a gorgeous pool, restaurant and boccie ball court for our use. It is so tranquil and relaxing, and a great way to meet other SO's (significant others). Many of the SO's have their children here with them. Last week there was a little boy at the pool who reminded me so much of my niece; it made me miss her! He had me playing sharks with him, and showed me how he could swim across the entire pool and gather every pool toy! I think my little diva T would be his BFF. 

Well, my lovely friends, I have to get to Yoga class. Namaste! I hope you are all having a wonderful week. I have added a couple pictures of the beaches we've been to so far! 


XO, Steph

Grand Anse Beach
(My favorite beach, and the closest to campus!!)

Magazine Beach
(I've only been here once; I will post more pictures next time I go!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Home, Home on the Island

James and my living quarters, although small, are actually very comfortable! We live in the True Blue married dormitory on campus which has its pros and cons. I feel very safe on campus; James is often at the library or class until dark, so it is nice to feel safe when I am home alone at night. We also LOVE the fact that our utilities are included with our rent, so we can blast the air conditioning and take long, hot showers without care! Such a luxury!!

Another living on campus perk is that we don't need a car and can easily take the SGU buses anywhere close we need to go. I can easily take the bus to the market, friends' houses, the beach and pool, and the school I volunteer at. Although I miss the convenience of having my own car, and miss belting out my Broadway tunes while driving, buses are definitely the way to get around. The Grenadian people are CRAZY drivers; Not only are the driving laws loosely followed, or completely ignored, but they also drive on the other side of the street, like in England. Cars swerve around other cars, cut drivers off, pull out in front of others, or completely stop in the middle of the street often. Even on the buses, it is like we are in a video game or playing chicken until dodging another car at the last minute!

Aside from not having to drive, another pro about living on campus is that James often comes home to meet up with me for lunch or dinner before he goes back to class, lab or the library; this is something he would not be able to do if we lived off campus. I love being able to meet up with him for a quick bite and to discuss our days. The only con about living on campus is the size of our teeny tiny studio apartment.  The foot of our bed nearly touches our kitchenette, and the size of my closet is just... shocking!!! I definitely miss my closet at home, and the shelves my husband built to carefully contain my Louboutins. Although small, we do have room for a little table, two desks, and a bed. We also have a very small bathroom and kitchenette. We may look into other living options, but for now, I think we will stay on campus, at least for the rest of this school year.

Here are a couple of pictures of our little home away from home! I hope you enjoy!! O.M.Grenada!!!

XO, Steph

Our Dorm

View From Our Window

Home Accents

 Table for Two

 Our Room

My Teeny Tiny Closet

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh My Grenada

It is really amazing to think what can happen in a year. Life can change so dramatically, and lead one on the most unexpected adventures. Although scary and exciting, I know God has a plan for all of us and we must have faith and trust in His guidance. A year ago today I would have never believed someone if they told me I would be living in Grenada, married to a doctor-to-be! At this time last year, my husband and I were not even engaged yet! My husband, James, had been a practicing business litigator when he had a change of heart. Being the kind, strong and compassionate man that he is, he could not see the good he was doing the world through his work as a lawyer. He has always had an interest in medicine and decided to follow his dreams, which led us here, to St. George's University on the little island of Grenada!

We have been on Grenada for almost two weeks now, and it has been quite a culture shock from Orange County, California. Grenada is called the Spice Isle, and as soon as I stepped off the plane I knew why. The humid air envelops you with the smell of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. The local people, the food, and the pace of the island are all extremely new, different and interesting.

The locals of Grenada, truly could not be more welcoming to the students at SGU. They love to say, "the people on the Isle of Spice are very nice", and from what we have experienced we agree! The only difficulty we have encountered is understanding their accents! Contrary to the pace of the island, the locals speak very quickly! James had been calling the "regular" bus, the "reggae" bus for an entire day before we could understand the difference! After some slight embarrassment, we now get a good giggle out of it! Another term Grenadian people use is "rounds-about" when referring to a "round-about", and let me tell you, there are a million "rounds-abouts" in Grenada, we just go "rounds and rounds-about"! We are slowly picking up on the slang and I have to say, James can do a pretty awesome Grenadian accent!

Before coming to the island, we had heard that the food would not be too good, so we braced ourselves for the worst. However, we both agree that the food has been great! Although some grocery items are difficult to attain. For example, we have only successfully purchased milk once. Every time we go to Spiceland Mall, which also has a grocery store, the milk is completely sold out. When there is milk, there is only 2%, which is a little hard to get used to after years and years of nonfat, it tastes like my cereal is in creamer! Eggs are also hard to get here on the island; there are eggs for sale on campus every Tuesday and it is a fight to be among the first to get there before they run out. I realize how much I have taken milk and eggs for granted at home! Being the avid tea drinker that I am, I am struggling to get used to tea without milk.

Lastly, the pace of the island is very... very....... very..............slow. During our first trip to the grocery store, we stood in line to check out for forty-five minutes! Luckily, James and I worked as a team; he stood in line and I ran around the store trying to find what we needed. I have learned that if I think something should take about thirty minutes at home, give yourself time for an hour, or more!
James and I have both led such fast paced lives for so long, I think it will take a while for us to truly slow down. Perhaps it will be good for our health! ISLAND TIME MON! - meant to be said in a Grenadian accent!

With that, my dear friends, let me say for the first but not the last time, O. M. Grenada.

XOXO, Steph