Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Pooch and the Beach

Kito’s favorite days are when we take her to the beach. Generally, she’ll nip at everyone’s toes until she gets too tired to romp around, and then she’ll settle down and dig herself a shady little hole. IMG_5448

Sometimes, we play with other dogs at the beach. She loves that. Her best bud is Sasha, the gentle German shepherd.

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Last week, she watched Ben surf for a while from the cliffs above. I captured the many sides of her little personality.

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Where do you like to take your dog?

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Making the Dean’s List

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Med school is a beast. Last semester, Ben spent ten to twelve hours daily on medical school activities: lecture, studying, practice problems, tests. He worked hard, and it paid off. He finished the semester with a 93% average, honoring all his classes.

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American University of the Caribbean recognizes its honor students each semester with a ceremony and dinner reception. It was awesome to watch my smart, handsome man walk across the stage and receive his Dean’s List certificate!

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A few other awards and honors were recognized during the ceremony. One of these is the community engagement award. Ben G. (not my Ben) and Kyle M. received this award for their work with the SXM Little League Player Development Program, the tutoring and baseball program I volunteer with. One of the faculty members read a speech written by each of them. Hopefully, a few other AUC students had their interest piqued at the ceremony and will start volunteering with us, now that Kyle and his wife, Andrea, are leaving the island.

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After the ceremony and my enthusiastic admiration of Ben’s certificate, we headed to the student lounge for some free food and conversation. I was impressed to see prestigious faculty helping to serve the food. That shows what kind of community we enjoy here at American University of the Caribbean.

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Hopefully, we’ll be here again at this time next semester! Please keep Ben in your prayers as he works hard toward his goal of becoming a medical missionary and hospital founder in East Africa.

This is the Life!

Island jeep, surfboards, tropical French countryside. This is the Caribbean life, and we love living it.

Most days are filled with studying for my husband, Ben and his friend Matt. They work hard at medical school, and were both selected as teacher’s assistants in Anatomy for good grades. Their life mainly consists of flashcards, lectures, and tests. But there are days, the best days, when they have a free afternoon.

This is one of those days. As we usually do when Ben and Matt have a break, we wax down our surfboards and get ready to ride the waves.

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We’re rolling down the road with the Caribbean trade winds tousling our hair. Matt’s new (make that old– really, really old) jeep is topless, and I’m amazed to realize how much more I notice without walls and windows to restrict my view of the sights around me. I’m feeling a little squished in the back seat with the surfboards taking up most of the space, but there’s no way to feel claustrophobic in this open jeep. I cling to the side for dear life and lean out of the car a little, enjoying the breeze and the floral scents around me. I jump back a little as a motorcyclist, breaking the world record for the longest wheelie ever held, goes zipping by us on the center line.

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I look behind me, where the wall of foaming water is raging toward me. I feel a little vulnerable way out here in the middle of the water on my board, but my nervousness turns to adrenaline as I face front and paddle like a maniac. I feel the foam first, hear the roar of energized water, and then I’m shooting forward like a rocket. I gather my wits and push myself up to my feet. I balance myself and smile. The reef below me seems to rush below my board. The wave slows suddenly, and the board drops away beneath my feet. I’m plunged into the warm tropical waters below, and I come up coughing and gasping and ready for more.

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I’m in the back seat of the jeep again. It’s a terrifying yet exhilarating experience, sitting in this little island car with no seat belt and barely any seat, for that matter. But I love it. Up the road we go– people, houses, and animals seem to fly by. Ben and Matt joke that driving here is like a video game; you have to dodge the pedestrians, potholes, cars and animals that jump out in front of you at every turn. I watch as the scenery around us changes. We go through the hills, where the goats and cows chew lazily, watching the flurry of human activity on the road. We go past little houses, painted powder blue and pink with neat, white trim. We zip through Grand Case, where women in bright dresses and men with dreads chat in French on the porches of stores and cafes. We crawl through the traffic of Marigot, inching past quaint 19th-century storefronts. Ahead, we’ll pass the oceanfront neighborhoods of the rich and famous.

I bite into the heavenly sweetness of a peach brioche. Stopping at Seraphina’s, our favorite French patisserie, is a surf day tradition for the three of us. Ben and Matt opted for chocolate twists, their usual favorite. We watch the boats on Marigot’s docks bob up and down in the water. In the distance, Anguilla’s long coastline hides the horizon, where the sun will soon set on our afternoon of freedom.

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Buccaneers!

 

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In Sint Maarten, there a lot of airy little restaurants on the water. Today’s destination for the American University of the Caribbean spouse’s crew was Buccaneer Beach Bar. Despite its name, this is actually a great place to take kids. It’s right on the beach, and the water is shallow. It’s also a calm area, even on days when other areas of the island have big waves.

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They also have a delicious assortment of non-alcoholic drinks in addition to their bar menu, and classic beachy food.

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If you make it to SXM, make sure you visit one of our on-the-beach restaurants! Who doesn’t want to lounge on a beach chair with a plate of fries and a glass of something cool and sweet?

 

 

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We saw this tiny stingray lazily drift around the bay

Foodie Tuesdays: Bahamian Johnny Cake

Hi friends! Usually of Foodie Tuesdays, I tweak an international recipe and share it here on 3rd Culture Wife.

Today, I have glorious amounts of leftovers and absolutely refuse to cook.

We have ribs and pizza, so I doubt Ben will argue with that sentiment.

Instead of the usual, I decided to share with you my favorite Word Press baking post of the day. Incidentally, it fits in with my Caribbean theme. If you’ve ever visited the Caribbean, odds are you’ve enjoyed a nice, warm johnny cake. If you haven’t, now’s a great time to try it for yourself!

Click on the link below to visit Mandy G’s blog and learn how to make this classic Caribbean staple.

Bahamian Johnny Cake

Indigo

One thing that I love about the ocean is the line of indigo at the horizon. This is my favorite part of painting ocean scenes. I love the way that turquoise becomes aquamarine becomes indigo. On sunny days in Dutch Sint Maarten, the indigo line stands out sharply against the clear blue sky, creating the perfect picture of paradise. Indigo Bay is aptly named for its lovely view of this deep blue phenomenon.

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If you look at a map of Sint Maarten, you won’t find Indigo Bay on it. If you drive the entire circumference, you’ll never catch sight of it. Indigo Bay is actually the name of a luxury housing development located on Cay Bay. To find this area and the beach that belongs to it, you have to find the billboard advertising Indigo, turn right, and follow a terrifying road down to the water. The road is actually not as terrifying as it looks, once you start driving. In fact, as you go, you’ll be amazed at the gorgeous landscaping and layout that is invisible from the road above.

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This morning, some of the other med school spouses, kids, and I visited Indigo for the first time. It’s a great place for both kids and puppies. The waves are soft here, even when the rest of the island is dragging out their surfboards to ride big breakers. Here, it is calm and peaceful. Little boys splashed in the gentle surf while little girls ran through the sand to fill little buckets with perfect little shells. My puppy, Kito, contented herself with digging deep holes in the sand and biting any ankles who entered the circumference of her anchored leash.

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I usually am the first to grab a board or snorkel mask and jump into the sea. Today, though, it was a morning for relaxing and chatting. There will be many more days of beachgoing for us in the next 15 months, and more than enough time to dive into the sparkling waters.  Twelve beaches down, 25 to go!

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Med School Block Week

Well, it’s here again.

Block week is the week before blocks, which are a set of important tests that happen four times per semester at American University of the Caribbean. It’s the time when many pizzas are consumed, many blank stares are met with, and many Netflix shows are ignored.

I am always glad to not be a student during block week, but I admit that it’s a little rough on the spouses, too, especially the first time around. I last semester, when we were experiencing our very first block week ever, I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. I can’t go to sleep unless Ben is there, so I stayed up late every night waiting for him to get home. There was a night he never came back from the study rooms, and I finally fell asleep at 2:00 AM. Those of you who know me well will understand what a struggle it was to go to bed that late! Now, I’m more used to it and it’s a lot less stressful to Ben. It’s just a part of life.

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But block week isn’t all bad– at least for us spouses! One thing we all look forward to is bake sale. During the weekend before block, the AUC spouses organization holds a bake sale in the main building of campus to feed hungry students and spend time with each other. We sell nachos, drinks, and desserts to make money for our group activities. Last semester, we made enough for us to go to the zoo, do craft nights, and spend a day at an all-inclusive resort.

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Bake sale is great because we get to meet and encourage hundreds of students. I love talking to them as they pass through the line. Another great thing about bake sale is eating the dregs of the chocolate frosting out of the container with a spatula and not being judged. And of course, getting free nachos is always awesome. But the best part is spending time with friends and making new ones!

Foodie Tuesdays: Amish Baked Oatmeal

Ben’s favorite breakfast is baked oatmeal. I usually make him something quicker, like toast or eggs, but once in a while I get up early to make this treat. It’s soft, chewey and sweet. It’s also filling and staves off the snacking.

I adapted this recipe to make ours.

Gather your ingredients:

-3 Cups Oatmeal

-1 Cup Brown Sugar

-Tablespoon cinnamon

-2 teaspoons baking powder

-1 teaspoon salt

-1 Cup Milk or Almond Milk

-2 Beaten Eggs

-1/4 Cup Melted Margerine

-4 Tablespoons Plain Yogurt

-2 teaspoons Vanilla or White Vanilla Extract

-1/2 Cup Raisins 

Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 C

  
Mix together dry and wet ingredients separately.

Stir wet and dry mixtures together.

Coat a glass pan with margerine.

Pour mixture into pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. 

Yum!

  

I Look to a Day When….

Few people have had as much impact on the racial element of American culture as Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember the first time I listened to his speech… not heard, but really listened. It sent shivers up and down my spine. Joy rose in my heart as I recognized the steps we’ve taken as a nation and longing tugged at my heart as I realized what a long way we still have to go.

If I’ve learned anything about race and culture, it is that valuing differences in culture and skin color is key to ethnic harmony. We sometimes try to pretend that there’s no differences among us. But that is not a solution, and it does nothing to facilitate relationships and understanding.

We’re different. Everybody, every culture, every color.

It’s beautiful.

Let’s start appreciating.

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Culture is the most beautiful and fascinating thing I have encountered in my life. It’s amazing to see the diversity among humankind. So many different faces, so many different foods, so many different ways to do life.

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I love what the Bible says about ethnic diversity. Historically, we know that many people have shamefully used the scriptures as an excuse for racism. Those people obviously never read the book. My favorite passage of the Bible is the the 21st and 22nd chapter of Revelation. In it, the author describes what the world will be like after the end of the world as we know it and the beginning of the new order. The Bible teaches that eventually, God will remake the earth and remove all the bad from it. Then, he will come and live on earth with us in a beautiful city. Here and elsewhere in the Bible, “nations” is a translation of the Greek word “ethne,” meaning people groups of ethnic groups.

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“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the Lamb [the Lamb is a name for Jesus]… and and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’…They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:9-17

“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb . By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into in and its gates will never be shut by day– and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:22-27

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This is good news for all of us. First it tells us that God is a big fan of our diversity. Why would he have created it otherwise? Secondly, it tells us that our diversity will remain in Heaven and beyond. Third, it comforts us with the promise that all of God’s children who ever been abandoned, hurt, abused, or shunned based on race will be accepted, healed, cared for, and loved by God. What a promise; what a future to look forward to.

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“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I may not live to see a day when this is true for our world. But I hold to the promise that I will see that day in Heaven.

 

 

Carousel

Some of the best places in the world are the little tucked-away gems that you’d never expect to find. Carousel is like that. This gelato shop in Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten is not your average ice cream stop. 

  
My friend Stacey suggested a spontaneous trip to Carousel this afternoon. I’d never been, and I was more than happy to make an ice cream run on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
  
 The theme of the shop is, of course, carousels. The building is round, and so it the counter. We entered through the revolving glass door and viewed our options.

  
 We bypassed the cotton candy bar– tempting as it was– for the ice cream. There were so many flavors! I’m slightly lactose intolerant, so I was happy to see a dozen sorbet flavors. I chose kiwi. Yum.
  
Stacey showed me around– inside are monochromatic murals of carousels, and outside are famous historic photos of people eating ice cream– everyone from U.S presidents to British actors to iraqi school children. Iced treats are a universal delight!

  
The best part of all was the giant, real-life carousel in the back, just waiting to be ridden by children!

  
Even the gift shop was adorable. Stacey said that when she has a daughter, she’ll give her a ballerina music box like the ones in the shop. I liked the porceline carousels best.

  
 We took our ice cream outside and watched the boats in the lagoon. I can’t think of a better way to spend a warm, slow Sunday afternoon in the tropics.