Sunday, August 30, 2009

Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman

Last Saturday night, a dyslexic Laura turned 14 years old. The occasion was celebrated along with Charles' 5th birthday. There were pirates, a treasure hunt, barbeque ribs, chicken and shrimp, a pirate cake; it was crazy. Our dutch friends, Wim, Petra, and Stefan were invited to celebrate and they sang their version of happy birthday.

Monday, August 10, 2009

In A few More Days....

In only a few more days, Packards will partake of this beautiful watermelon. We have been watching it, sometimes checking it 5 times a day, carefully since June.
Fresh fruit, despite what one may think, is hard to come by around here. There are mangoes, in season, an occasional bunch of bananas, and other unusual fruits, including papaya, soursop (guanabanana), plantain, guava, on rare occasions a pineapple, and an abundance of coconut. None of these make a good sack lunch snack. Nearly all fruit is imported. A couple of weeks ago I scratched my head wondering how I could be on the Caribbean eating an avocado with a "Chile" sticker and a Red Delicious from Washington state. What the heck? Furthermore, the only fruits imported regularly are the apples, dry oranges, a few struggling strawberries, and grapes, at a mere 8$/lb. Sometimes there are melons, but they look squishy and moldy and are sold by the wedge. Once a street vendor had a whole watermelon. I would have bought it, but he wanted about $30 for it. I dejectedly shook my head and walked. We find ourselves yearning for any fresh fruit.

So, as an experiment, I threw these seeds in the ground. I found, to my astonishment, that they grew rapidly and with little care. After 10 years of failed attepted gardening in Arizona, I think I expected them to shrivel up and die a few days later.

But they grew. They grew more. They thrived....until the worms came to visit. WORMS!And the worms had no manners whatsoever, staying far longer than the socially-acceptable three-day visit. They, in fact, had no intention of leaving. So the battle began. Pest spray. Soap and water spray. Picking them off, at first with closed eyes, gloves and tweezers, throwing them quickly into a pail of water. Nausea. Later I became indifferent and just squished the little boogers between two fingers on the leaves, showing no mercy. "DIE, sucker, DIE!" I would think out loud. if you ask my kids what they did on their summer vacation this year, they might reply, "squish worms" (eerily reminding me of the nickel my dad paid us for each tomato worm we killed when we were little. I never made any money doing that).

Miraculously, we conquered worms in our desperation to have fresh melon. And now we watch, with frothing mouths, over the patio wall, the melons sit and ripen. So next time you are at Fry's/Smiths/Whole Foods, get a melon in our name an enjoy. ENJOY it, darnit!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Trouble Comes in Threes

Crime #1
Date: June 26, 2009
Location: front yard, Shaw/Packard residence, Upper Round Hill
Time : 7:25 AM
Perpetrater:passenger door, Hyundai Atas
Victim: Charles Packard's thumbkin, right hand,
Description: Rushing to get the front seat of the car on the way to school, Charles slammed the door of the perpetrator inadvertently onto the victim and let our a yell that everyone on this tiny island heard. Mother panic-tripped down a flight of stairs to his aid. But alas, the perpetrator refused to release the victim from its clenched jaws. The door simply refused open. Not from the inside, not from the outside. Not when the lock was violently pushed up and down several times. Not under shrieking threat of being torn off of its body. Mother further panicked, screaming for father. Father, seeing the drama from the kitchen window, searched frantically for a screwdriver with which to pry the door open. Mother began to sink in despair, certain her baby's thumb would soon be be severed off of his hand and he will have to be the first four-handed violinist or work as a circus clown for the rest of his life. To everyone's horror, father could not get the door open either. In desperation, he reached down and quickly yanked the victim out, thus saving thumbkin and, to his relief, his wife's poor, failing heart.
Mother is currently in recovery, and Charles and his victim have recovered. However, victim appears to be losing his helmet.

Crime #2
Date: June 29
location: Zeelandia beach, Sint Eustatius
Time: 2:14 PM
Perpetrator: a longboard named "Santa Cruz'
Victim: one Ethan Packard, age 14

Victim was on top of the perpetrator with permission from perpetrator, when perpetrator unexpectedly and ferociously flipped victim upside down in the ocean. Victim emerged from the water with a giant gash on his thigh, open to the bone. Victim was rushed immediately home where mother began her usual screaming routine. Victim taken to the hospital. Father drove, calm, as usual. Using the family vehicle ensured that they would arrive in 2 minutes rather than waiting the usual 30 minutes for the hospital "ambulance" (a beat-up pick-up truck, since the "real" ambulance is currently broken down, and there are circulating island rumors that certain folk of importance purchased a new ambulance on Ebay, but were scammed out of 50K, so there remains nothing but an old pick-up to pick up the dead and dying) . A doctor was called to meet us at the hostital since there were none at the hospital. Doctor Odonga arrived and did an excellent job at giving the victim approximately 15 stitches. Vicitm has recovered and appears happy to have his first stitches and a great story of surfing in the Caribbean to tell.

Crime #3
: June 30
Location: side porch, Upper Round Hill
Time: between 1 and 4 AM
Perpetrator: Unknkown
Victim: Edward Packard
Description: While vicitm was sleeping, his very nice bicycle was stolen from the residence. The car was also rummaged through, but nothing was stolen. Crime was reported to the police the next morning. Vicitm and spouse spent the following few days searching for the perpetrator. They posted fliers all over the town and spend much time talking with storekeepers and residents. The bike becamse the talk of the town (it's a very small town and the bike is a very distinguishable) and was so hot that apparently the perp couldn't hang onto it without risking jail time. Or, perhaps, they thought the Yankee was loaded and imagined a fat reward. A phone call to wife reported it "found" behind the police station. Since wife arrived without reward money, she arranged to meet the boy-caller, "Eric", at his home later. She came, along with the vicitm and three policemen. The boy "Eric" was acquitted, but not until he and his aunt and uncle spent an hour enraged at the victim and spouse for calling the police, and threatened lawsuit and accused, indirectly, the victims of racism and doing them wrong. Victim didn't care, and was enourmously relieved and LUCKY to have retrieved his bicycle, since this almost never happens on this island. A stolen bicycle is nearly always painted over or parts are pulled off of it and used elsewhere, or stored for 2 years until the student is gone.

And so, happily, this story has a happy ending.....

Officer Edwin, of the Dutch Politie, has become our friend