July 28 See that flashing Eiffel Tower to your right? Well, right, how could you miss it? It's the icon for Bloglovin'. I've been momentarily limited to boat bound, sedentary activities due to this bum ankle and thought it was a good time to organize all my favorite blogs. Bloglovin' does that. I haven't gotten it all figured out yet, but it's worth looking into if you're a blog reader, blog writer, and you like to keep your computer neat and organized. I'll most likely replace the flashing tower with a more subtle icon, but for now: Check it out
The ankle is healing slowly. Every day is a bit better, but this slow down in activity is a frustrating bother. Thank goodnes for the internet, a wonderful husband who has been doing both of our chores, friends that stop by for conversation and a game of dominoes, and beautiful sunsets.
July 22nd GOING TO THE HOSPITAL IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY
Get me talking about health care in the United States and eventually you’ll hear me proclaim, “Nope, only way you’ll get me to see a doctor is if I’m bleeding from my eyeballs AND bones are protruding from my flesh. “ Even then I’ll be kicking and screaming, not from pain but the idea of having to see any medical professional. Be prepared to shoot me with a rifle used to sedate bears in the wild because that’s the only way I’d enter an ambulance in the US.
Nothing against doctors personally, but let’s be honest, the health care system is messed up in the US. So, I figure the system is considered big business and like any business I don’t like (yeah… Walmart), I don’t frequent it. Good old fashioned boycott. Thankfully, I’ve been healthy since I started my boycott. I guess it wouldn’t work if I weren’t. My experience with the US medical system was extensive pre-boycott. I’ve got the scalpel scars to prove that I should have had frequent flier miles or whatever equivalent the business of healthcare should come up with. Since it’s business and not out to really care for the sick and injured or GOD Forbid, prevent illness (that'd cut into the profit margin) I have some ideas for the US medical business to increase their profits even more: Put a screw in your foot and get a free, pretty black boot to hobble around on as a bonus. Maybe a punch card like the coffee shops offer: One punch per surgical procedure, two punches for removal of major organs, 10th one free. Maybe I shouldn’t be giving hospital administrators ideas, but I really don’t like the idea that when I go in for removal of cancer from my face, that there’s a hidden surcharge for the dermatologist’s advertising costs. Waiting in a doctor’s office for hours after the scheduled appointment because the doctor has to see a set quota of patients a day-like airlines overbooking-so that he can bill insurance companies that will refuse to cover the appointment just because they can the first go around makes me ponder why oh why. Oh, and I don’t like being poked and prodded anymore. Not that I appreciated it much before, but people (women) tend to lose their sense of dignity after going through the messiness of childbirth. I decided to take mine back.
I carry on with my life and do dangerous things-well not so much dangerous, but activities that may carry a slight risk to my overall health. When I decided to start running in hiking boots on a hash , I didn’t expect to slip on wet leaves, cascade down a slope, land on a rock and hear my ankle snap as it twisted. But the snap was quite impressive and I hoped others had heard the imposing sound. My first words even after the pain started shooting up my leg were, “Damn, Did you hear THAT snap!??!!” I know, I know, an expected expletive should have been uttered, but that didn’t come until I continued on the hike through a dry, slippery rock riverbed. Jim finally cajoled me into quitting the hash when we spied a road from the “trail”. At this point, walking was no longer possible without excruciating pain and I had to admit defeat. I gave up, got some advice from medical students behind us, hitched a ride from a local, and returned to the base camp for the hike. They wrapped my ankle, gave me a huge bag of ice and a beer. I’d be fine, I said. The medical students said not to take off my shoe. So I didn’t until around one in the morning when we somehow managed to get me back onto the boat. I won’t go into that scene or how I crawled on the floor in a public restroom to use the toilet. Yeah, so much for dignity.
Anyway, waking up to a grapefruit sized swelling of my left ankle and researching on the internet what that meant had me realizing that if we were to ever know what was happening under that swollen skin we would need to seek out an x-ray machine. Since doctors are the keepers of x-ray machines I had to succumb to the idea that my boycott was now over or never walk again. (Pain can cause one to be dramatic. Humor me.)
There are two hospitals on the island of Grenada. One is public, the other private. It was recommended that we use the private SAMs (St. Augustine Medical Center). After a day of resisting the idea of a medical facility visit and elevating the affected area, icing, resting, compressing and taking pain killers, the swelling did go down. However, the pain didn’t follow the decrease in swelling. A trip to SAMs became part of our Monday agenda. I didn’t argue. In fact, I suggested it. If I had continued to be stubborn, Jim wouldn’t bother shooting me with a tranquilizer gun and forcing me to go. He knows better so he waited for me to make the call.
This is how it works in Grenada. A phone call is made to the hospital. They didn’t give us an appointment, but said to try and get to the hospital before 11 am. We could take bus #1 and switch bus #4 and get delivered to the area of the hospital. My foot shook in pain at the idea of having to walk. We’re on anchor in the bay. Managing a ride in the dinghy and hopping up the dock was enough to make me shudder. We called Shade Man (he’s a cruiser’s lifeline for transportation). He picked us up at the marina in his van and took us directly to the hospital for $80 EC.
NOTE: The East Caribbean dollar is the currency of: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla and Montserrat. It is pegged to the US dollar at US$1 = EC$2.67.
We arrived at the hospital at 9:27. We were greeted, filled out ONE page of paperwork, put in a room, had my vitals taken by a very nice nurse and met the doctor by 9:45. The doctor was genial, competent and fairly intuitive when he asked, “What did you do to yourself?” and when I explained my tumble he interjected, “And you kept going on, right?” Am I really that transparent? I was in the x-ray room soon after. The x-ray tech SHOWED me the digital picture of my bones. He showed me what he was looking for in broken bones, he TOLD me that he saw nothing broken. He TALKED to me! Imagine that. This is something that I have NEVER experienced in any US hospital. The x-ray images are always a huge secret until you sit in a waiting room for an hour or more and then the doctor gives his determination. Like some sort of reality show big reveal, in the US you’re forced to wait, sweat it out, and get the news from the doctor and only the doctor. I prefer the Grenadian system.
So, by 10:00, I was wheeled back into the examination room and the doctor talked to me. He gave me a prescription that was filled at the hospital and we were calling Shade Man by 10 minutes after 10 to pick us up. We were back at the marina for an early lunch to celebrate that I had broken no bones!
So the breakdown of the cost in Eastern Caribbean Currency:
Doctor Fee $ 80
Tax $ 6.87
Total Cost: $232.67
In US Dollars that’s a cost of $86.17. The average cost of an emergency room visit in the US for a sprained ankle is $1,233 (according to a Washington Post article from March 2013 and repeated by many other sources: Google it), but can be as high as $20,000. Make your own conclusions on this mess in the US. But for myself, I’ll continue my boycott of the US Medical Big Business.
By the way, Jim's experience with a Canadian Emergency Room a few years ago was very similar and eye opening for us. So, go ahead and comment. Maybe we
can fix what ails the US Health Care disaster-oh nevermind, it's been tried. Too much money to be made by insurance companies to ever make it actually work for people who need
July 16 I can’t imagine coming to Grenada, sticking toes in the sand, soaking up the sun and leaving and saying “I’ve been to Grenada”. There is so much here to experience than just the beautiful beaches. When you need to find a grocery store, get to know the taxi drivers, know the routes to the bank and where to get the best pizza, can name at least three local bands and have a great relationship with your neighbors, I’m pretty much sure you can say you have defined the place as “home”. Grenada is “home”.
Participating in the local Hash House Harrier’s organized hashes has had us trekking through some remote areas of the island and partaking in some of the community that includes cruisers, locals, and med students. We’ve not only seen some beautiful sites on the hashes and gotten a nice, sweaty workout, but we’ve met some fascinating people from all over the world and had a lot of fun. Along with hashing, we've also been getting our cultural, environmental, and educational share of Grenada. Read on:
Cuddy, one of the famous among cruisers taxi drivers, invited us to join in his neighborhood’s Oil Down. An Oil Down is the Grenadian national food, but getting invited to participate in an Oil Down means that there will be lots of fun and lively conversation and not just food to prepare and eat. The food, though, is the central part of the party. A great amount of bread fruit, spices, salted fish, and many other vegetables native to Grenada are peeled, sliced, diced and prepared to put in the pot. Coconut provides the “Oil” portion of the Oil Down.
Our friends onboard s/v Nautilus brought bubbles for the children and we all brought a dessert to share. My chocolate chip cookie contribution may have been pilfered by the children because I didn’t see them once all the sweets were offered. That’s okay, because there was plenty to share!
We also received a bit of a history lesson on the meaning behind the Jab Jab and the upcoming events to take place at Carnival. (Video Above)
From The Island Mix Website, here is a fantastic explanation from member, Manishwaters:
“Before emancipation, slaves were forbidden to participate in Carnival, but this never stopped their backyard mas. After the end of slavery, gangs of recently liberated slaves, covered in black grease, molasses, or varnish, took to the streets, and rejoiced in their freedom. Scantily dressed, and sometimes with chains and padlocks around their legs, the former slaves attempted to offend polite society, which they blamed for decades of suffering. Since the Carnival was prettified and commercialized in the late 20th century, these traditional masqueraders have became less visible, their distinctive dances, speeches, and rituals are disappearing.
“The jab molassie — the name means “molasses devil” in French patois — is one of the oldest Carnival characters, possibly dating back to the days of slavery. He represents the ghost of a slave who met his death by falling into a vat of boiling molasses in a sugar factory. The story has changed from the old Jab-Molassi to the new, more familiar devil-like character. The jab jab — patois for “double devil” — has a similar name to the jab molassie, but a different history. The Jab Jab occupies a space between the worlds of life and death. The difference among various forms of devil mas were once distinct but have become blurred over time."
We’re taking a day of rest today because, quite frankly, we’re tired. We went on a two tank dive yesterday with ScubaTech. We dove on the shipwreck Veronica and then saw some amazingly bright coral on the reef that they have named Purple Rain. They were both beautiful dives, although ship wrecks tend to creep me out a little. This ship was abandoned, though, and not part of some terrible misfortune of death and destruction. It has created a living environment for many coral and sea life.
After returning from the dives and cleaning up our gear, we did the heavy lifting of getting our new batteries on board. Actually,
I didn’t do much of the lifting. What’s wonderful about the cruising community is that there is always a helping hand giving generous aid. Jim and Randy, onboard s/v Nautilus, did the grunt work. Jim installed the new batteries and was a sweaty mess. He managed to clean up in time for our trip to the northern part of the island for turtle watching.
Turtle Watching: Jim and I agreed that this was one of the most fascinating experiences we have been witness to. The huge leatherback turtles are amazing species. We watched one lay her eggs and painstakingly camouflage the nest to protect it from predators then slowly make her way back into the surf and disappear into the ocean. Meanwhile, another research volunteer called us over several feet where hatchlings had emerged from their nest and were making their way to the sea. It was quite the experience.
Today, we’re catching up on some chores, relaxing and with no plans for the day. If you’re wondering why we’ve been up to so much: All this activity has been part of my 50th birthday celebration. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel different because I’m now half a century old/young, but I’ll contemplate that today and have a slice of the key lime pie I made this morning, go for a swim or two and get back to you on what this 50 thing means. I’ve never been good at numbers, though, so don’t expect much.
I’ll leave you with this: The steel drum band that was playing while we ate my birthday dinner here at Prickly Bay.
July 7 Back when we were researching our trip south I had come across some YouTube videos of dinghy raft ups where local musicians performed concerts in the middle of a bay. At times, during all the fact finding and reading blogs and watching videos and looking at maps, I thought that there was no way we’d ever get there and experience such things as dinghy raft ups. Well, “There” is now “Here” and our new reality and we experienced our first dinghy raft up concert yesterday afternoon. The musicians were really good. I spoke to a local couple who were on the barge watching the concert with us and asked them about music programs in the schools on Grenada. Music is such a huge part of the culture here, but they told me that everything that is learned musically is self-taught and school music programs are nonexistent. The young musicians spoke to Jim and the drummer told him that it was his life long vision to perform in a band. Kudos to them and all their hard work and being self taught. Impressive young men, for sure. It can’t be easy to perform on a stage that is actually a barge rolling in a bay of waves. It was quite ironic when they did their cover of “Don’t Rock the Boat Baby”.
Jim and I keep putting off the need to get provisions. We’ll have to take a bus ride with our bags and haul them back in the dinghy in the heat. I figure that we have rice, beans, a few frozen veggies and pasta along with a couple of cans of sardines-we’re good. Jim just doesn’t figure the goodness in that logic. I know that he can’t tolerate a diet without some red meat, though, for very long. Tomorrow will be provisioning day. Tomorrow is Tuesday and I’m pretty sure Tuesday is the day the fruit and vegetable man has goods to sell from his farm. He sets up a stand along side the road that is on our route to the Cash and Carry where we can stock up on staples. For now, Jim is considering a trip to the Tiki Hut for pizza rather than watching me conjure some strange meal out of what’s available. I’ll go for that. There’s really no excuse for not having adequate stores of food on the boat, though. We can obtain pretty much everything we need here in Grenada.
July 5 Happy Canada Day and Happy 4th of July! We’re back floating and on anchor in Prickly Bay. Everything that needed to be done on s/v Somewhere was completed in a whirlwind five days in the boatyard at Spice Island Marine. The temperatures in the boat climbed to a grueling 96 degrees. The heat and humidity on the outside of the boat was no relief. The hottest part of the day is between noon and 4. Without the breezes we catch when on anchor and with the blazing Grenadian sun beating down on us, no time of day is really all that comfortable when you’re sitting on jack stands.
We hired the yard to do the sanding and painting of the bottom. The crew at Spice Island Marine did an amazing job and much faster than we could have done it.
The underside wasn’t as bad with barnacles and sea growth as it appeared to be when we looked at it underwater and it all came off easily with a good power wash. We try to keep up with diving under the boat to keep it clean, but the critters in these warm waters seem to grow faster.
Jim and I did all the polishing of the stainless and waxing of the hull ourselves. We tried to get an early start-5:30 am start, to get the work done during the coolest part of the day. We replaced the zincs, the cutlass bearing in the prop, and fixed all sorts of little odds and ends that needed attention. We had a bow protector fabricated to prevent further anchor snubber chafe and we also are having a dinghy motor hoist made. Nick, the owner of Technick, ran out of time to get the hoist installed, though. So we’ll need to come back to a pier for the welding and installation.
Our 4th of July week was spent making our home happy again. We plan on sailing today to another anchorage to change our scenery and to see how fast Somewhere flies now that she doesn’t have the blooming garden of sea growth weighing her down. The cats are happy that we can run the air conditioning again and we are happy to be able to turn the freezer and frig back on. Most of all, we’re now able to dive in the water for a quick cool down when the heat starts baking us. The chores are all worth it. We may have missed the fireworks back home, but we're celebrating!