DAY 17
Work (This is starting to sound like a broken record, I know….)

DAY 18
I woke up with every intention of working, but was feeling a little cabin feverish so decided to see if I could find SOMETHING to do. The only part of the island I hadn’t explored yet was Northern Basse Terre, so decided to do that. Looked up what to do and….you guessed it. Beach, beach, beach, oh! And there was a beach. 😕 But the Cousteau (yes, THAT Cousteau) reserve was over there, and they had 2 hour/3 stop snorkeling trips for 35 euros. Booked with Caraibe Kayak. Well, tried to book online with them, but my card kept getting declined over and over. Facebooked them and told them to put me on the list, I’d be there at 2 for the 2:30 trip! It was about a 1.5 hour drive from Port Louis, and I wanted to treat myself to lunch out, so I left at 10 to give myself extra time for a) unexpected traffic jams  b) unexpected sightseeing c) expected super long wait to get the bill after lunch! I researched restaurants ahead of time and decided on Le Reflet at Plage Caraibe. Popped it into google maps and headed out.

Along the way I saw a sign for a view point so I pulled over. Did a little hike down to the beach, only one family down there and this was a Saturday.
Back on the road and headed to La Reflet. Cute little restaurant right on the beach. It’s always super awkward for me to eat alone, and add the language barrier in and…..well, it’s a miracle I decided to go at all! I sat at a table and the waitress came over. She didn’t speak English, so we were trying to communicate the best we could. A woman at the next table spoke up and asked if I needed help. YES! The lady helped me get everything ordered (a mixed fruit juice and grilled fish plate), and sat back down at her table. She was with a man, but she and I continued to talk across the tables for a while. Come to find out, they are from Luxembourg. Hey, I’ve been there! I told her how much Brian and I love it and we want to go back when we have more time to explore. That we’d only driven through on a whim as we were traveling from Lille to Reims because I was filming for my French History class. Come to find out, we’re both history teachers!! WHAT?! And we both LOVE French History!! Double what?!! And I love Reims where the kings were crowned! And SHE loves Reims where the kings were crowned! And I asked her if she’d been to St. Denis Cathedral (my favorite place in Paris- where all the kings were buried) and she SQUEALED!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!! I DON’T KNOW ANYONE OTHER THAN ME THAT SQUEALS ABOUT FRENCH KINGS!!!!!!!!! And then, she asked me the question that almost made me just propose marriage to her on the spot….Who’s your favorite king?! Seriously, people, you do NOT understand. I have 3 favorite kings. It is a BIG DEAL. (Ask Brian, he’ll tell you.). When I said Henry IV, she squealed again!!!! OMG! I have never met another human being who knows Reims, St. Denis, AND the importance of Henry IV!!!!!! Let me tell you, I was in Heaven!!!!! The poor guy she was with probably thought we were both crazy…. We immediately became facebook friends, and she said that when we get back to Luxembourg to give her a shout out and she’d show us a bunch of history!!!!! With that, my food came. Delicious food, great conversation….I was a happy girl!

Short drive to the snorkel place, but oh my god it was PACKED! There was seriously no parking anywhere. I got there a little before 2, trip was supposed to leave at 2:30. I drove around for TWENTY MINUTES freaking out thinking I was just going to have to turn around and drive back home. Finally a family started walking out and I just slowly car stalked them and then sat there until they pulled out. I seriously would have cut someone if they had tried to take that place…. People at the booth spoke English, which was super helpful! Got a life jacket and headed to the boat with the family of 4 that was going along as well. First stop, Japanese Gardens. And it was only like 5 minutes from the dock!! Woo-hoo!! We had 25 minutes. I saw a cool black trigger and a super colorful filefish (Cantherhines macrocerus) that I fell in love with. Other than that, it wasn’t all that great. Got back in the boat for the next stop- Pigeon Islands. Another quick 5 minute boat ride. Now THIS was snorkeling!! Gorgeous corals, tons of fish, a lot of variety- plus the water was a lot clearer than it had been at the last stop, so I was more comfortable. I could have stayed there longer and explored! But 25 minutes flew by and it was time for the next stop. This was a sea grass bed for turtles. I got out, found 2 turtles and a huge starfish within like the first 15 minutes, and came back to the boat early. There was nothing else but seagrass, and I’ve seen plenty of turtles this trip. Pictures are all taken through my phone dry bag thing. Seriously, I’m pretty damn pleased with that thing!

Back in the car, with every intention of hitting up Monoprix on the way home to get Dr. Pepper. The problem is that the Monoprix by the airport is not listed in google maps, so I have to remember the exit. Well, I passed it, got off at the next exit, had no idea how to get back around to Monoprix, so ended up going to Carrefour inside of a HUGE mall in my still damp swim shorts. This Carrefour was MASSIVE!!!! Like holy hell, as big as the massive one in Paris!! No Dr. Pepper (although, in Lille, France it was in the “International” aisle, not the soda aisle, but this store was too damn big for me to try to find the international section.) Prices were good so I grabbed some more grub for the next few days. Headed home and got in right before dark.

DAYS 19 & 20
Work and work. Honestly, I’m as caught up as I can be at this point, but there just isn’t enough stuff to do on this island to warrant me getting out more often! However, there was a post on one of the house sitting facebook groups I’m on about something and I posted that I was in Guadeloupe. Well, another sitter responded that she is too! Back over on the other side of the island- north Basse Terre. We have a play date. 😀

DAY 21
Play date today with fellow house sitter, Juliet! We decided to meet at the Deshaies Botanical Garden– about 1.5 hours from me and in the same town where Juliet is sitting. I don’t mind driving, as much as I stay cooped up it’s a welcome escape to have SOMEWHERE to go! And speaking English is just icing on the day trip cake! We met at 10am at the gardens, and immediately starting walking and talking! The gardens are lovely- like way better than I expected- and I really enjoyed talking to Julie about her house sitting experiences.
As we were leaving, a rather large and lethargic Cane Toad (Rhinella marina) was on the sidewalk. I wanted to help him get off the sidewalk, but I knew he was toxic, so I didn’t. Well, I didn’t notice until I looked at the pictures that he had white secretions on his body- THAT’S THE BUFOTOXIN!! They usually do that when they are stressed. He was gone when we walked back by, so I hope he was ok.

After the garden, we decided to go to town and find some lunch. Practically everything was closed (it was 11:20). We finally found one place and sat down. One look at the menu and we got back up. $25+ for lunch? Yeah, no thanks. Found a little cafe and got a sandwich for like $5. Much better! 🙂 After that, we walked out on to the pier to get a better view of the cove. It’s a really beautiful one, for sure! The water was clear and there were a lot of fish! Managed to get a selfie, too!

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As we looked across the cove, I noticed a cemetery. It was all the way on the other side of town where we had just come from, but we thought it would be interesting to check it out. Walked all the way over there and it was locked. A bummer, because I really wanted to look around. The cemeteries here have an unusual design.
And that was it! We said our goodbyes and I drove back to the house, stopping along the way at Monoprix which had stocked up on Dr. Pepper since I was last there. Got 3 bottles to get me through the end of the trip.

DAY 22 
Was up early and started working. A little after 6, the bed kind of shook hard. I thought it must be the cat jumping on the bed, then I realized a) There’s no cat in here and b) The cat is NOT that big! Looked to my right and the desk chair on wheels was bouncing around. Earthquake!! I started hitting refresh like crazy on the USGS live earthquake site (“live” means about 15 minutes after it happens!). Sure enough, a 4.7 southeast of here in the ocean. So that’s one earthquake in El Salvador and one in Guadeloupe. I feel like I need some kind of “Earthquake passport” that I can stamp with the country and magnitude! That was the entirety of my excitement for the day…

DAY 23
Seriously considered doing the walk to Anse Bertrand. Talked myself out of it and spent the day being lazy and watching my new favorite YouTube channel- the Lion Whisperer!

DAY 24
D-Day! As in DEPARTURE!! Got up, cleaned, did laundry, packed, and headed out the door at 11am. Easy breezy returning the car, easy breezy through security. Flight to Miami was on a smaller plane with no screens, so I amused myself by watching our progress on google maps on my phone, and taking pictures of the different islands! And because I was flying American, and that’s just like America, they had…..DIET DR PEPPER!!!!!!!! We skirted a major thunderstorm coming into Miami- it was gorgeous!

Monserrat

St Kitts & Nevis

Puerto Rico

#home

This shot of Bermuda is my favorite! You can’t tell where the water ends and the sky begins!

Hey! The ocean looks just like my thighs! #stretchmarks

Mega storm over Miami

Landed in Miami and had a 5 hour layover. I used Mobile Passport, but apparently everyone has caught on to it now, so the line was just as long as the regular one for passport control. Sigh. Then the lines for reentry to connecting flights were just STUPID. From the time we landed until the time I actually got into the terminal for my connection was 2 hours! Insanity! That left me with 3 hours, and I was going to spend that time eating! Found a burger joint (The Counter) and had the nicest waitress ever. Killed some time talking to Brian and blogging. At 8:30pm, I took 2 Zzzquils so I would sleep on the plane (I had a middle seat. Kill me.). That gave me one hour until the flight left at 9:30. Boarded and sat. And sat. And sat. My zzzquil was kicking in and I literally could not keep my eyes open! Last I knew it was 10pm and the pilot was saying something about the bags from the last flight hadn’t been removed yet, then they had to load ours (theirs, I don’t check bags). After that, I zonked out. Apparently, we sat there for over an hour!! Which meant we got to LAX after 1am. I felt so bad for poor Brian. And my poor tailbone. It hated sitting for that long…. But all’s well that ends well, and I made it back home.

LOOSE ENDS
This summer was all about experimenting with Workaway. So, what are the results? Would I do it again? The short answer is FUCK NO.

The workaway in Puerto Rico that I had lined up for the last leg of my trip flaked. Strike one.

The Antigua leg was not a good experience due to it being completely disorganized, there was too much unnecessary drama, and I couldn’t trust anything she said. Which is a damn shame because this should have been an amazing and productive effort for both of us. I didn’t detail all of the instances of it in the blog because I was there while I was blogging. Now that I’m not there anymore, I can be more candid. Let’s break down the fouls.
Completely disorganized: From day 1, after she picked me up and I realized she had no clue who I was and that I was the volunteer who was a marine biologist and educator, my alarms went off. Both of those things are major assets to her organization and don’t come around often (if ever). How the hell does that detail just slip your mind? It was a foreshadowing of just how disorganized she is… That was followed up with her not having ANYTHING prepared for me to do. I literally spent the first week pulling weeds and raking. Great if you’re doing workaway just to get free lodging. Not so great if you are there to share your skills and actually do what you agreed to do when you signed up… Once she did get around to being ready to work on her website, again she had nothing ready. No content, but not even access! It took DAYS just to be able to get the access information from the 14 year old girl who had done her previous “work”. Frustration doesn’t even begin to cover it. Once we had access, she had zero content ready. Instead of me being able to just come in, do some design work and drop in the content, I was starting literally from scratch. I worked my ASS OFF to try to get the site at least ready enough to go live with a good start of content before I left. She didn’t want to go live until the whole thing was done. It’s just ridiculous. Especially because that meant “you can just finish it after you leave”. Um, no. This is workaway, not workfromhome. I already have a job at home, thank you very much. She even offered to pay. No thanks.

Unnecessary drama: She put me in someone else’s house, and I don’t think she had the proper permission (she manages their property). They saw my blog, and she called me to tell me they were upset because I was staying there for free. Um, first of all, THAT’S THE WHOLE REASON I’M HERE. I work in exchange for FREE lodging. Seriously, when she told me that, I started crying. I was already fed up with the antics, and this was a breaking point. I felt so uncomfortable being somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be. Then she starts reassuring me its fine and she’ll handle it. How about you handle YOUR messy business on your end in the first place and leave me the fuck out of it??
There were lots of other little things like that. But when she told me she got worms from Annie PEEING on the floor… Oh for fucks sake that’s not even POSSIBLE. Do you even science, lady? She insisted that she read it, but couldn’t send me the link. Uh, huh. Drama.

Trust: You may remember the dog gauntlet I had to walk through to get anywhere. I only crossed it once, and knew that one brown dog was one false move away from biting me. Before I went, I messaged her about the dogs. Was she sure they were OK with me walking by? Of course, she says! I messaged her when I got back from almost being bit. She informed me that yes, that brown one has bitten TWO PEOPLE! You crazy ass bitch… You purposefully kept that from me. I could have gotten really hurt. I was alone with no transportation and no cell signal. That pisses me off so much. Zero care for my welfare. She did the same damn thing with the PIT BULL at the other house that I had to walk by to get anywhere. It was really aggressive toward her dog. It was behind a fence and I asked if it was ever out. Oh, no! She’s never seen it out! Literally every other time we drove by, that dog was loose, even attacking her dog once! Again, what the hell! You can’t endanger people like that! I was literally trapped at both houses because of aggressive dogs. This was never disclosed to me before I came.

Basically, everything was an unorganized, unprepared, massive waste of my time and resources. Only good thing that came out of it was going boating with Nick who is super passionate about marine life, and fostering my little Annie girl. Antigua workaway, strike two.

Last but not least, Guadeloupe workaway. This was a housesit, but on the workaway platform so it counts. The people were lovely, the cats were cool, but the house was a cluttered mess and kind of dirty. It was an multiplex house, and the neighbors literally sounded like they were in the room with you. And then, the landlady came over and bitched at me one day for having the air conditioner on. Of course, she speaks ZERO English and couldn’t even use hand signals to communicate- just increasing volumes of French- so I had no idea what she was even saying. She went and got the Italian lady who speaks a little Spanish and a little English and between that I was able to figure out that I needed to turn the air off. Christ almighty. Strike three.

So I guess I should never say never. Might there be a circumstance where I would do workaway again? Possibly. But it would have to be EXTREMELY clearly defined before I ever even left home. Part of my aggravation is that overall, I’m just not a fan of the Caribbean. I don’t like islands. Too confining. There’s no terrestrial wildlife. I’m not the “go to the beach with a book” every day girl. And I’m sure all of that played a role in how I felt while I was there as well. I think this sign in Guadeloupe says it all- I should have had more of this going in to the summer!!


Now, to the good stuff….ANNIE!! Look, a LOT went on with this little pup, and I’m not going to get into all of the nitty gritty details. Just hit the highlights. She was flown to New York on July 12. She went to the Bidawee shelter in Manhattan. I was beside myself, because I had not wanted her to go into a cage. But I had zero control over any of it. She did get to fly in the passenger cabin with a lovely family who volunteered to take her. Then she rode in the car to the shelter. There was a video of her with her head out the window barking like crazy. She saw a CHALK DRAWING on a wall of a dog, and was determined to make friends!! LOL  However, that video was lost in a required “drama purge” of correspondence. The levels of crazy this entire thing went to- well, you wouldn’t believe it if I wrote it. Hell, I was living it and could barely even believe it…
Anyway, a celebrity had the honor of meeting my little star!! Bidawee was doing an adoption promo, and Kelly Clarkson was there. Here’s Annie on the left of Kelly. I had another picture of Annie playing with the dog Kelly was holding, again, lost in the purge.
So all of this was going on while I was in Guadeloupe. Brian was calling Bidawee to stay updated on her status. Because if she didn’t get adopted, I was going to fly and get her. The thought of her in a cage was just too heartbreaking. The Saturday I was to fly home, I was willing to change my ticket and fly to New York from Miami instead of going to LA. But the shelter said they had a big adoption event that day and she’d probably get adopted. I got home, we called Sunday- still there. So at that point I had to start making plans. Spoke to the shelter and decided to give her one more week. If she wasn’t adopted over the next weekend, then I would fly over and get her. They were kind enough to agree to put a hold on her as soon as I got a plane ticket. Every morning and every evening I would check the website. Her little picture was still there. The uncertainty and confusion in her eyes was killing me.
Then, on July 30, I check the website. Her picture was there in the morning, but GONE in the afternoon!! I called on July 31, and sure enough, Annie has a home!!! A woman in Westchester (a suburb area north of NYC) adopted her. Annie is going into training to be a service dog! I couldn’t be more excited for her and her new life. That little pup stole my heart. I have shed countless tears over her- from fear, heartbreak, and now joy! I’ll never see her again, but I know I gave her the best of me that I could, and I gave her the gift of love and trust. She’ll carry that with her always, and I’ll always carry the memory of my little Annie girl- she was the best thing to come out of this entire trip, and those 2 weeks I spent with her were worth all the subsequent aggravation!

 

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