A trip to Roseau

Yesterday my friend Katie and I went to Roseau to visit another friend and to explore the capital of Dominica. To give an idea of what the travel is like from Portsmouth (where I live) to Roseau, here is a map:
About an hour drive.

To get from Portsmouth to Roseau you have to take a transport. What is a transport, exactly? Well, it's basically a taxi. Transport vans have the letter H on the license plate so you can identify them. You stand on the side of the road, flag them down, ask if they are going to where your destination is (in my case, Roseau), and if they are, you just hop in the van and enjoy the ride. Oh, and it's a shared van of anywhere from 1-10 other people. There is also a bus stop that you can go to if flagging down vans isn't your thing, but it's my understanding that they charge you a little more for the fee if you get a transport from there. Luckily Katie and I got a transport within minutes. Unfortunately, though, about half way through the trip our transport van experienced a little technical difficulty.

A flat tire is no fun.

We walked up the road a bit to stand in the shade while the men fixed the tire.

Surprisingly, it only took them about 10-15 minutes to replace the tire. We got to Roseau safe and sound, met up with my friend Rachel, and then it was time for some shopping. Rachel has lived in Dominica for 7 years now, so she was kind enough to give us a tour of all the shopping spots in Roseau.

I thought this sign was funny. Dusting powders, anybody? Zan's is one of the many stores we stopped at.

I don't remember what store this was in, but it's pretty awesome (and picture worthy) that they had mens underwear up on hangers.

After a few hours we were ready for some lunch, so we stopped at The Orchard for burgers.

First time I've had a burger in a month, score!

Just walking around--kind of a bad picture (whoops).

Overall, the trip was amazing. Roseau is so different than Portsmouth (in my opinion) and I loved it! I can't wait to explore more of this beautiful island :) Thanks again to Rachel and Katie for the amazing good time.


Laptop Shenanigans

It all started last semester when Dave's power adapter to his little M11X Alienware laptop got fried. Luckily he was able to find a universal power adapter after a few frustrating days (remember, there are no such stores as Walmart here). When he came home for break we were both presently surprised when Alienware decided to mail Dave a new power adapter free of charge ( this was about two months ago).

Fast forward to this past Saturday--life in Dominica was business as usual. Until Dave realized his laptop wouldn't turn on, that is. It would try to boot-up, then crash. This is every med students worse nightmare, they can't survive without a computer! For the entire day Dave tinkered with the laptop and was on the phone with Alienware tech support trying to fix it. Five days and a new hardrive later, the laptop is still not working.

Looooong story short, we're going to have to ship it back to the States to get fixed, then have it shipped back to us here. In the mean time, Dave has been using my laptop and we went to the university's IT department to be put on the waiting list for a loaner laptop (say that sentence 3 fast three times--I dare you). Four days went by and we keep dropping by the IT department to get updates about the loaner laptop since we were only second on the waiting list. There are a few things I dislike about the IT department here: 1) Every time we go in there they seem confused about their jobs. Every.Single.Time., 2) They only have two loaner laptops for the entire student body, 3) Today was the FIFTH day in a row that we've gone in there and they JUST decided to tell us that since Dave is in the honors program, "Pace", he could go to the Pace administration office and get a loaner there too. That office is literally one minute away, so we walk over to the office and less than five minutes later walk out with a loaner laptop. Couldn't they have told us that on day one?!?!

This week has been exhausting. I need less technology and more of this (my view at the pool while tanning):


Adjusting to Dominica

We went to the beach a few days ago and it was by far the most gorgeous day we have enjoyed here yet. The sunshine made the ocean look like liquid gold, the breeze was perfect, the sky was a cloudless blue, and the boys (Dave and PJ) were having a blast chasing after eachother in the sand. The catch? I forgot my camera, of course! So, instead of posting pictures and a short synopsyis about that day, I'm going to post about my adjustment here in Dominica.

Things I am getting used to:
  • Seeing cows every single day on my walk to campus.
  • Using a propane stove/oven and learning the (unmarked) cooking temperature.
  • Killing ants. I'm a pro! Maybe I should start an extermination business back at home...
  • Adapting to not being able to find what I need in the grocery store all the time. Need 2% milk for a recipe? Shelf milk will work! No hamburger buns? Two pieces of bread will be fine!
  • The walking. Dave likes to study at the furthest study hall from our apartment, go figure. I'm going to be in amazing shape by the time I leave this island.
  • The weather. It'll be a beautiful sunny day and ten minutes later there is a torrential down pour and you're wondering what you've ever done in life to deserve to be so miserably soaked. Ok, maybe that's a little too dramatic.
  • Bugs! I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I'm actually getting used to the little devils. I can't tolerate them in my apartment, but I don't feel overly disgusted when I see them any where else anymore.
  • Converting Eastern Caribbean Currency ("EC") into USD without a calculator - woohoo!!!
  • Giving PJ showers since we don't have a bathtub.
Well, thats all for now. I'm going to go curl up in my bed and keep fighting off this cold.


Dating a Medical Student

Dave doing what he does best--studying.

Being the significant other of a medical student is not for the faint of heart. Why?

*The student has long hours of studying every single day (yes, weekends too) and little time for...well, anything (and everyone) else.
The upside? When you do spend time together it's cherished and enjoyed to the fullest.

*They start talking in what seems like a foreign language. "1st generation antagonist"--what???
The upside? You learn something new everyday.

*The stress is tremendous so the student is on edge most of the time. Especially close to exam days.
The upside? It feels great to be the person to take care of them and help them relax.

*Clinical rotations. Some (surgery) entail working LONG hours and being on call. Some (peds) are a fairly light load. Either way, it's still a huge amount of stress and responsibility and you see them even less than the first two years of med school.
The upside? They are one more step toward achieving their dream of being an MD!

*You hear interesting stories about the cadaver dissections and/or shown 'interesting' pictures of all sorts of diseases that they learned during school.
The upside? Er... well, no upside. :)

*There is no such thing as solidifying plans. Normally you are flying by the seat of your pants.
The upside? You learn to be flexible and patient.

Dave is in the beginning of his second year of school and we're living life one lecture hour at a time. One day he'll be an attending and have a schedule that resembles some sort of normalcy, right??


What do I do here?

A lot of people ask what I do here in Dominica while Dave is busy with Med School. Honestly, I really don't do too much of anything. Well, I won't for the next two weeks at least. Here is a glimpse of my daily routine:

7:40AM - Wake Up
8:15AM - Take PJ to daycare
9:00AM - Surf the web and hang out with Dave at the Study Hall (aka "the barn")
12:00PM - Lunch with Dave & PJ
1:00PM - Drop PJ back off at daycare and head back to the barn with Dave (i.e. more surfing the web)
5:00PM - Pick up PJ from daycare and go home
5:20-8:00PM - Play with PJ/Cook dinner/Put PJ to bed/Wait for Dave to get home
10:00PMish - Go to sleep.

Once in a while I'll go tan or hang out with friends. Oh, and on the weekends I plan on taking PJ to the pool/beach. But... that's pretty much it. Exciting, eh? Come June my summer classes start though so right now I'm just trying to enjoy my break and do as little as possible ( and I'm loving every minute!).

Camping... IN my apartment.

During our first week living in Dominica our water was shut off for a day. Yesterday (week two of being here) we came home to no electricity. At first we thought that we just ran out (electricity is bought prepaid) so Dave went to the store and bought us more electricity. It still didn't work. No AC, no lights (thank God for flashlights!), fridge was getting warm.... just not fun.

We called our landlord right away (around 8PM). Turns out our meter (what feeds electricity to our apartment) was broken and the repair person was about an hour away. Our landlord assured us that the meter would be fixed that night and to hang tight. Hearing some horror stories from other people about what we call "island time" (basically locals taking hours...or days... to get things done) I figured we'd be 'camping' out in our apartment for the night.

No internet, no lights, no AC, brushing our teeth in the dark, using a flashlight to go to the bathroom, having all of the windows open and hearing all the bugs chirping really did feel like camping!

Luckily, though, at around 10:30PM the repair guy and our landlord showed up at the apartment and fixed the meter. Around 11:00PM the electricity was back on. In Dominica, fixing a problem that quickly is a big deal. I was super impressed... and especially happy to have AC back. Crossing my fingers for no more mishaps :)


So Why "Ikkins"?

I admit ikkins is a pretty odd nickname, but there is a story behind it.

For Christmas of 2003 I received my very own xbox and xbox live account (BIG deal at the time!). As my boyfriend-at-the-time and I were setting everything up we had to create a handle for my xbox live account. After sitting around for who knows how long trying to come up with a username I liked, my boyfriend blurted out "how about ikkins? Nikki backwards with an s at the end". Simple, unique, rolled off the tongue. From that point on I have been known as ikkins. Most of the time the only people who actually use my nickname are my gaming buddies, but I decided to use it as my blog title since it's different and very "me".

Okay, so maybe that wasn't a great story, but it's a story none-the-less and now you know how "ikkins" was born. VoilĂ 


We're not in Kansas Anymore

Since I always rave about how amazing it is here (did I mention the ocean water is warm??) I figured I'd do a post about the downsides of living in Dominica. Here is my list:
  • Not being able to say "Okay PJ, hop in the car, lets go!". Instead I am the car (pushing the stroller) everywhere we go.
  • I'm not thrilled about the bugs but I consider myself very lucky that our home is relatively bug-free.
  • The water got shut off for a day (that means no flushing the toilets or taking showers all day). Supposedly the water company shuts off water when it rains heavily. Oii vey...
Hmm....well, I tried really hard to think of other things that were not so great about living in Dominica but I couldn't come up with any more (so far anyway). Not being able to flush the toilet all day did suck though.

On an entirely different note, here are a few pictures of my new friends family here:

Group dinner outing!!

The guys!!! But somehow I didn't get Dave in this!



Day at the Beach

PJ's first time in the ocean!

He loved every minute.

We had so much fun!


Overcast day, but the way the clouds on the mountain looked gorgeous.

He's so goofy.

And of course, he had to make a sand castle. Or attempt to...


Dominica Day 2

Our apartment is totally unpacked (minus the barrel) and we're finally just relaxing. Here are some pictures from our adventures today:

Can you see the KFC sign? This pic was taken a few feet away from our apartment.

Dave showing PJ

That orange building is our apartment complex!

PJ looking for bugs.

He found a bug!!

But thought it was gross...

Loving Dominica!

Our view during breakfast (cloudy day).

Another shot.

Thank God I brought a stroller.

On our way back to the apartment.


Dominica Day 1

Well, we made it! Over all the trip went very smoothly. Our first flight out of Louisville ended up getting cancelled. We got lucky though and our re-booked flights ended up getting us into San Juan an hour before we were originally scheduled to arrive! We stayed the night in San Juan last night, then flew to Dominica this afternoon.

PJ had a blast traveling. I'm not one to dote on her kid, but I'm going to dote right now. He did so well that people actually complimented him for how well he was (on all three flights). Ok, I'm done doting. Here are some pictures from the last two days:

Getting all of our luggage off the truck at Louisville airport.

And this is how I relax during my 4 hour wait for my re-booked flight.

He's doing it right too.

Minutes away from PJ's first flight take off !

Monkey see monkey do.

Nothing like some serious car action on an airplane.

Doing what I do best on airplanes.

Technology--I love it.

My first look at Dominica. Oh, and that is an airplane propeller on the left.

Once we arrived in Dominica we breezed through customs and got a transport to our apartment (which I LOVE). Three hours and five unpacked suitcases later we're slowly but surely making this place our home. My first impression of the island is "it's really not as bad as everyone makes it out to be". I have only been here for six hours though, so ask me again in a few weeks. Dave is going to take PJ and I on a mini island tour tomorrow. More pics and updates to come.


Time To Travel

Tomorrow morning Dave, PJ, and I will be making the two day trip down to Dominica. Many people have asked about flight information and travel plans so I figured I'd post it here for everyone.

Monday May 2nd:
11:40AM Depart Louisville
1:00PM Arrive in Fort Worth, Texas
4:30PM Depart Fort Worth, Texas
10:00PM Arrive in San Juan, PR
(staying over night in San Juan)

Tuesday May 3rd:
12:40PM Depart San Juan, PR
2:20PM Arrive in Dominica

We're all packed and ready to go! Pray that we have uneventful travels  :)