Sunday, 2 October 2016

Fitness Filled Fall!

Hey Friends,

What a crazy month it has been! Between settling back to the island life, Kyle back in classes, the extreme heat and my new position at work, time is flying!

A few exciting events have happened this month. It first started with the Nevis Running Festival. I participated in the 5k race on behalf of the Special Olympics team. I then ran in the 10k. It was hard work, there were a few hills I was not prepared for, and even at 6 am it is still really hot!
These were some of the participants for the 5k

5k Medal                                                                                    10k Medal

I also went on a hike up to some waterfalls. Truly and I took some visitors up the mountain on the long weekend. Before I leave, my goal will be to hike to the peak! I have heard it's pretty intense, so I need more practice with the smaller hikes :) 

This was a cool silo at the base of our hike

My friend's pup was anxiously waiting to continue the climb

Another event I participated in was called the Fit Games. It's a an obstacle course that you can compete in with a team or individually. My trainer signed me up unbeknownst to me! He needed a substitute, and you have to have at least one female on your team. So I only had 2 weeks to train, oh and then he told me the day before the competition that their team has been undefeated so no pressure :/ okay, cool... Anyway the day of the competition they changed the rules a bit which threw off which leg of the race I was completing. However we still managed to finish first! Phew! My other friend who I teach swimming with competed in the individual competition and won first place also! Kyle came out to support us, and managed to catch some of it on film, especially where I totally wiped out! I got a nasty cut on my leg from the tires I was running across. Good times! I'm not sure if I will compete again, it was harder than it looks, but at least I got a cool medal out of it. 
The winning team!

The fancy trophy that allows for bragging rights! The guy on the left was partner for most of the course! 

My friend Val who is also my swimming partner and she won the individual comp! 

The nasty tire burn I got. It makes for a good conversation starter ;) 

We have also started our swim program again. We have a good turn out so far, so I am excited to see how much we can build up our swim club. The Special Olympic athletes will also be involved in some of our classes. Our goal is to build a team to participate in the cross channel swim in March, where we swim from Nevis to St.Kitts. We are hoping to do it in a relay style. I am hoping to train and participate in that as well. Training involves swimming at 6am 3 mornings a week. I haven't really started yet, but hoping to next week. Ha! 

Finally, I completed in another 5k race this past weekend to support the St. Christopher Children's Home in St. Kitts. We ran around the golf course by the Marriot. It was fun to run somewhere different for a change, plus all the proceeds help the children!

This was the group I participated with! 

Currently, I don't have any other scheduled fitness events. I just continue to train for running and soon swimming. My friend on the island is trying to convince me to do the triathlon in November, but that involves riding a bike on these crazy roads, which I have no desire to do. 

On another note, I have been so busy with my new position it's kind of amazing what we have been able to do. Training teachers on implementing a checklist that myself and my colleague created for the preschools has certainly kept us busy. We have seen a lot about how the education system works on the island here. They have a lot of catching up to do if they want to come even close to North American standards, but the good news is they are realizing they need to make changes, so I am happy I get to help with that. Especially after receiving some devastating news that one of my clients I used to work with here passed away last week. She was the first child I worked with here, and one of the reasons I was able to get a job in the first place. I was so upset by this news and disappointed that it got to the point it did. She had been sick for a long time, I am just sad that no one here was able to help her in the way she deserved. 

Anyway, that's how our September went. We also survived hurricane Matthew. We experienced some high winds and some rain, but nothing to crazy like some of the other islands. I'm pretty sure it was still a tropical storm when it was over top of us. It was two full days of overcast weather. We haven't had that in the whole time I have been was actually a little depressing not to see the sun for awhile. The breeze was a nice break though, I was able to wear pants! 

I also had a new experience of playing island bingo! A couple of the spouses of students wanted to check it out so I tagged along. It was actually so fun. It was very loud and the bingo announcer was not your typical guy. He liked to call out numbers by saying O for October and G for Make America Great Again, and N for Nevis and then my favourite was when he said B10 minus 5. Or I16 plus 4. However it was all worth it because one of my friends actually won the jackpot! It was a full card, and right before she got bingo, someone thought they had it but it was a bad bingo! So 2 other people won also so they split the pot of 3300 EC. We then raced to the car and got out of there as quick as possible. People were jealous for sure! But it was a neat experience, and something I never thought I would do here. 
My card was a loser

My friend on the left was the big winner!

So that is the latest update here. Kyle begins hospital rotations this week, and I start my final two courses next week. It is going to be a busy couple of months until December. I'm not sure how much blogging time I will get now. I also will be travelling back to Canada for a week at the end of October for my best friends wedding. So exciting!! 

Thanks everyone for your continued support! We really appreciate it! 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Heading into the Home Stretch of Island Life

Hey everyone,

I know it has been awhile, but we are still living the island dream. My last post was back in April, and I basically finished out the school year and then headed home for the summer while Kyle finished up Med 3. Well he passed! He has begun Med 4 and we can finally see the light. 8 more months of island living. 

Even though we have a short amount of time left, we are going to be super busy. Before I left for the summer, I started yet another island project. I met a French Canadian gal, who is an awesome athlete! We had the opportunity to become certified swim instructors through FINA. We started up our own swim club called the Nevis Barracudas. Our goal is to teach a lot of the local kids how to swim, and we have even taken on teaching some of the Special Olympic Athletes. The program ran through the summer while I was away and the team made some great progress!! We will be continuing the program in the coming months, and I am excited to help make a difference for some of these kids. 

As well, my colleague and best friend on the island have made huge strides in the education world on Nevis. This last week was back to school, which was full of workshops and learning opportunities for the teachers on the island. My friend and I presented a workshop to the preschool and kindergarten teachers. We created a checklist to help bridge the gap for children transitioning to kindergarten. Lets just say presenting two, three-hour long workshops was both nerve wracking and exhausting! I have never done anything like that before, especially to a group of women from a completely different culture than what I am used to. #culturemapping For those at the Global Leadership Summit you will appreciate that! ;) Anyway, it was a successful day with some great feedback that ended with my friend and I getting our own office space at the Ministry of Education. It has the best view, and we have a computer! Amazing! I am so excited for this school year. Last year was so tough breaking through so many barriers and obstacles, but this year I will finally be able to use my skills in a beneficial way to help this island. 

Kyle is starting Med 4, so far he likes his new schedule, most days he is done at 3pm, and there is a lot more hands on experience this semester. He will even be spending some time at the local hospital. A blog update will definitely be needed after that! 

So we have only been back for a week, and the hardest part so far has been getting used to the heat. It has been crazy hot here, I know back home it was a great summer but the heat here is something else. A lot of humidity, and no AC is tough to get used too. Also, I'm pretty sure our lovely car's AC just broke. We are at the point where I am just praying it makes it through these last 8 months. 

I spent a few days at the beach here, and chatted with my friend about the fact that we know we aren't going to be here forever and so with the time we have left we really need to make the most of it and enjoy it as much as possible. This island may not have lots to offer but it is beautiful and I will never get bored of that. 

Beach selfie with my work wife

So as Kyle gets back into studying, I get back into working and studying (I only have 2 more courses left for my program so I will be done in December), we are both back to our routine island living. Full of iced coffees, tank tops and flip flops, donkeys and goats and just taking it day by day. 

Thank you everyone for your continued support. It was great to visit a lot of people over the summer and we are amazed at all the love from friends and family. It was a tough summer for us personally, and in those moments it is very hard being so far away and feeling helpless. Just know that we are always thinking of our family and praying for everyone even in the middle of the Caribbean. We love you guys! I will be back in October for my best friend's wedding, otherwise we will see you in December! 

Before we left, my mother-in-law made an amazing turkey dinner! We celebrated an early Thanksgiving and it was delicious!! 

Here are some of my favourite moments from being home this summer:

Ashley's Bachelorette Party 
Hanging out with my nephew!

Michigan Wedding

Jays game!

Cottage time with some great friends!

Gabi and Murphy! BFF

I spent a lot of time with my sister. She was thrilled for every moment! ;) 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Special Olympics St. Kitts-Nevis National Games 2016

Hey Friends,

It's crazy to think I started on this island as your "Nevis Housewife", however things have drastically changed, and to make life a little more interesting last week I attended my first ever Special Olympics National Games for St.Kitts-Nevis. What an experience!

A bit of background info: I started on the committee in September of 2015 as secretary, however due to the business it entailed, and the fact that I had 0 experience in this area, and that there were so many unknowns as to planning for events, who the athletes are, who all these people are I was working with, I had no relationships with anyone, and working a full time job plus completing a masters degree, I stepped down as secretary and decided to focus my attention on the athletes themselves, specifically with swimming. 

Being on an island surrounded by water, one would think that everyone here can swim. Not true! Most of the locals are actually afraid of water due to fear of sharks. A reasonable doubt I suppose if this is all you have known. However I managed to find 3 swimmers for the Nevis side, and was assisting in training them for competition. 

After weeks of planning, countless meetings, headaches, and emails the competition finally arrived. Now seeing as this was my first go round, I had no clue what to expect. Even the people who have been a part of this for several years had no clue what to expect! I can't imagine though, in North America Special Olympic teams have to worry about ferry times and organizing rides to and from port. That was very chaotic. However our athletes made it to St.Kitts safely for the track and field day. There was even a performance by a local Soca artist Nicha B! I was so proud of myself for knowing who he was and knowing the song he sang. Some of the locals were shocked at my knowledge! ;) 
The track day went well all things considered! It was a long hot day, and we cut it close to getting the boat back to Nevis but I think the athletes had a great time. There was a team from Connecticut who attends our meet every year, and I over heard one of the coaches say they thought things were nice and organized (even though we got the schedule of events on arrival). Medals were won, smiles were had, and only a minor sprained ankle occurred! 
This was the opening ceremonies

Athletes from the Connecticut Team

Super Star Runners

The next day we had a Bocce Ball tournament on Nevis. Team Connecticut came over for an island tour, so obviously it makes sense to have the white newbie girl show them around...I learned a lot about Nevis, so I guess it worked out. 
Again something I didn't expect to be part of the job when working with Special Olympics. 
The team made it to Nevis! 

This was my tour bus! (Don't worry I didn't drive, the taxi driver was our great tour guide!)

New Friends

Bocce Ball!

The last day was the aquatics day. This time I was at the forefront. Managing my athletes and coaches and parents and coordinating the ferry and payment for the ferry was stressful! Not to mention I was very sea sick on the way over to St.Kitts! To much reading. 
St. Maarten was joining us for the day, but their plane was delayed, the schedule of events had to be changed, and the organizer of the aquatics who quit two weeks before the event decided to show up and not tell anyone and helped run the show. What a whirlwind! However, once things calmed down, and the breeze showed up, I was able to enjoy watching my athletes swim their hearts out and earn some medals. One of my favourite moments was seeing one of my swimmers who complained all training about being afraid of water and not wanting to swim, and how she thought she couldn't swim well, absolutely owned at front crawl and came first! Seeing her face light up at the finish line, and receiving a medal made the whole experience and months of planning totally worth it. Take a look at some highlights from the event!

Butterfly swim! 

These 2 girls, I have been working with for the past 3 months! They have worked so hard!

A small pool, and our own make shift lanes, but it worked! Pool Noodles are very useful! 

Medal Ceremony!

This has been an incredible opportunity on this island, and it has allowed me to break through my comfort zone and truly start to feel like I am part of this community. I met some amazing people, was able to work with some fantastic athletes, and I really hope to continue to make a difference in these kid's lives. They deserve opportunities like every other child, and I hope to spread the word around the island and show some awareness about Special Olympics. I may be new to the game, but somehow it landed me an interview on local TV, and I developed the swim program which I hope to grow in the time I have left here. 

It was definitely a week to remember!! 

A little fun dining experience after the games. This guy stole my french fry right out of my hand! Ketchup and everything!!