Monday, October 27, 2008

Verbal Wranglings

It was a holiday this past weekend. Yes, yet another, and no Imelda, the Queen is not cutting her toenails. But don’t ask me what the holiday was about. They have plenty of those here- don’t get me wrong- I am certainly not complaining.

I have been itching to write all weekend, but I left the power cord for my laptop in my office. In the meantime, I wrote a million words in my head.

A loving plea to my youngest sibling who is struggling with self-esteem issues; a blog about my new pastime; and another about something else that I can’t remember. I guess that is why I write: my memory too often fails me.

This job has become, for all intent and purposes, a job on which I do all my personal writing. There is much little else to do, so the artist in me has to find alternate ways to release the bottled up creative energy.

There is still no electricity or running water in my apartment, almost two months flush from Hurricane Ike. I am still “cotching” with a friend in his one bedroom apartment. Luckily for me, chilvalry isn’t dead, especially among Jamaican men.

I managed to groom my locks over the weekend, and now, for the first time in weeks, I look properly cared after… at least my hair does.

I have stopped wearing makeup because the water is making my eczema more pronounced than it has ever been. My face is extremely blotchy, and my neck and shoulders look as if I have some mild skin disease. I used to be complimented on my skin… once upon a time in the west.

I have a theory that the water is above and beyond safe pollution. Apart from the fact that the catchment area is DIRECTLY beside the cemetery, I just don’t trust that these people, who are renowned for their inefficiency, have actually treated it properly. On top of it, many landlords have the contaminated city water routed to even more contaminated concrete cisterns which almost never get cleaned. It is known that it should not be ingested, but I don’t think it is even good enough for human use. Fact is, the skin is the largest organ of the body and whatever you put on it enters your bloodstream. Go figure.

Do you see why I may be inclined to leave this country earlier than expected?

Since the hurricane, weekly grocery shopping has become a tumble for fresh produce. “Fresh” here is a euphemism for produce that has been sitting on the dock in Florida from the previous Thursday, and arrives in the island on Monday. Often times, boxes of rotting fruit and vegetables are displayed among those that may have faired better. The fridge is never cleaned and I have become an expert on the different stages of mold development, having encountered the progression in the fridge of that store for over a month. I think there may be enough penicillin to treat every patient in the clinic-cum-hospital. This is no joke.

Nevertheless, I press on to greater things, like Paul encourages in the New Testament. I am not despondent. I am not yet weary. For even in the midst of chaos, there is some order, and in bad, good.

This is a cash-only country. Well, cash, cheques, and the proverbial “signing for” note of credit. The last option is removed from expatriates, which I don’t mind, because I would rather starve than sign for milk. Cheques are as good as cash, because if I don’t have the money, I don’t write the cheque. And then there is the mighty dollar.

The truth is that the only thing to buy here is food. There is nobody here to attract or impress, so buying clothes is definitely not an option. I have not even bought a panty since I have been here!

My expenses are pretty much limited to food and utilities.

Using cash only essentially means that I am not mounting debt while I am here. In fact, what has happened is that my credit cards and student loans are being paid off. I can’t charge the credit cards in the process so the debt is going down. In fact, I should be able to pay off every red cent of those loans by January. I am over my projected repayment plan by a month because I have had unexpected expenses over the last three months.

I am actually going to take out a small loan so that I can avoid further 30 and 50% interest payments by paying off all loans in full and repay that loan by January at a rate of 14% annualised.

I am also going to pay off my outstanding insurance and pension payments and pay ahead for the next year. I will then settle the utility bills that were left behind back home. During this time, I will fast track a savings plan to cover fixed expenses for a period of one year.

The best thing about coming here, is that in a few months, I have developed some much-needed fiscal maturity, a critical step to reaching long term goals and avoiding a lifetime of abject poverty.


K. Andrew said...

..I think you can help Audley Shaw...

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