Sunday, February 21, 2016

Easy on the Eyes

Hey friends! It's been an action-packed month in the Cayman Islands.

Working with kids, or "kiddos," as I lovingly call them, is interesting.  There are definitely times that I mourn the loss of working with the adult population with whom I worked for about 7 years. For example, when I hear myself saying, "Fingers out of nose," "Hands out of pants!" "Get off the floor" "Don't put that in your mouth!" and my personal fav, which happened a few weeks ago, "You mean you can't wipe your own bum?" Oh dear. I'm not qualified to wipe little bums, that's for sure! On the other hand, the kiddos are pretty funny. I love how innocent and carefree they are. They're goofy and silly and not yet old enough to feel self conscious about it - which, in turn, makes me feel free to act goofy and silly. It feels good to rap fun songs, celebrate a successful role of the dice, and act out "Little Red Riding Hood" with puppets. That's right, puppets, people. I'm pretty much Romper Room (Man, I always hoped she would see me in her magic mirror!)

The majority of the staff in the schools that I work with are from the Caribbean, so the children aren't used to seeing blonde, blue-eyed people very often. The kiddos are intrigued by the fact that I look different than them and often ask questions to determine what my life is like - like I'm a new species of animal they've never encountered. One little guy asked me, "Miss, your husband white too with yellow hair?" One little girl asked me if my skin would turn the same colour as hers if I went in the sun.  One boy was so confused about which child at the school "belonged" to me, "Miss, which one your kid?" Haha. I've never been a minority before moving here. It's a strange feeling, but to be honest, I don't think about it much anymore. Occasionally I notice that I'm the only caucasian in a store or at a school, but I've never heard a racist remark or felt uncomfortable.

Overall, working with children is great. Their laugh is contagious, their joy is contagious, their pink eye is contagious.

Say wha?

That's right, pink eye. Gross. Me. Out.

I woke up one Monday morning and felt like my contact was ripped, as my eye was irritated, red, and itchy. By 11am, it was partially swollen shut and becoming crustier by the minute. After being diagnosed with conjunctivitis (Pink eye) and written off work for a week - an entire week! I settled down in my house with the intent to catch up on my reading and daytime TV, give my angry knee a proper break, and perhaps share some quality time with Ev. Boy, that didn't pan out at all.

By that afternoon, I was unable to see out of my eye and it was seeping. What a gross word. Seeping. Reading and watching TV were not an option, my eyes were too sensitive to sunlight to go outside, and Evan, of all the nerve, was working! Evan works from home and by "work," I actually mean "work." After a week of careful observation (I think I may have annoyed him?), I can conclude that Evan works, with just a few short breaks, for an average of 10 hours a day. Unreal. Why? Seriously, why?

By day 3 I had a fever, both eyes were red and angry, and I felt like total shit. I opened an email from the government warning me about the risk of Zika Virus in the Cayman Islands: "If you have the following symptoms: pink eye, fever, and joint pain," you may have the Zika Virus." Say Wha? Pink eye: check! Fever: check! joint pain: Um. I've had 6 knee surgeries, of course I have joint pain! Check!

So now not only was I a gross disgusting human being with weepy sticky infected eyes, but I was also thoroughly convinced that I had the Zika. After much research (AKA "google"), I determined that as long as I wasn't pregnant (which I was not), my symptoms should subside in a few days - no harm done.

I interrupted Evan from his computer, "Ev, I think I have the Zika!"

"What should we do?" he responded.

"I think as long as we don't partake in unprotected sex we are fine," I responded,

Now, I can't be sure because I only had about 20% vision in one goopy eye and 35% vision in the other, but I'm pretty certain I detected a look of disgust on Evan's face that indicated that he had absolutely no interest in participating in amorous activities with me. Who could blame him? Shuffling sadly around the house with sunglasses over my glasses, eyes leaking, and fever-induced sweating, this was not my finest moment.
Who wants to make out? Anyone? Anyone? (This is not actually me, by the way - taking a pink eye selfie did not ever occur to me!)


So we'll never know for sure if I had the Zika. It definitely sounds much more dramatic to contract some exotic mosquito transmitted virus than dirty old pink eye; therefore,  I think I'll just stick with the Zika self diagnosis.

Once everything cleared up, and the crust settled from my eyes, Ev and I took a quick 30 minute flight over to the Cayman Brac for the weekend. The Brac, as everyone refers to it, is a sister island just northeast of Grand Cayman. It's much smaller, but the landscape couldn't be more different. Instead of sandy beaches, the Brac is mostly comprised of bluffs and limestone. The bluff is pretty impressive, with a 140 ft drop into the Caribbean. A bird called the Brown Booby (haha, I said, "booby") nest on the bluff and we were able to see their fuzzy, little white booby babies! It feels satisfyingly juvenile to yell, "Look! Boobies!" It was a fantastic weekend! Our buddy, Monty, used to live on the Brac, so he introduced us to all the locals, invited us to a locals pig roast on the beach, and took us on an island tour (AKA: drive around in a jeep and stop at every bar along the way, and wake up with a true Brac hangover). Ev and I also managed to fit in some really beautiful dives - I've never seen so many fish! We were back in time to pick up my sister, Kayla, from the airport.

sunrise on the Brac - heading out on a dive

The bluff - 140 foot drop
Look!  Boobies! - a mom and baby 


Kayla is presently enrolled in her last year of business at the University of Saskatchewan. She played University volleyball for the past 4 years, making any travel during the school year difficult, so this was her first time visiting me on the island.

Kayla and I had an awesome time! I took her to all my favourite spots, we saw turtles, starfish, and stingrays, we baked, and we laid in bed at night and watched our favourite shows (The Bachelor!) with mud masks on our face. I loved showing Kayla where I lived and introducing her to my friends. Last summer when I was down and out, Kayla spent a lot of time just laying on the couch with me, bringing me treats, and cheering me up with her wicked sense of humour. Although I'm still struggling with some joint issues today, I felt well enough to explore the island and show her how awesome this little tropical paradise truly is. I miss her a lot and wish I could see her more often. I feel grateful to have such a great friendship with her. Confession: When I was 16, I occasionally would babysit Kayla. By "babysit," I mean steal booze from my dad's liquor cabinet while Kayla was sleeping. Phew, I feel so relieved getting that off my chest. Love you, Kayla!





That's my update. This week's goal is to avoid the head lice and any other mosquito transmitted viruses!

Cheers!

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