Tuesday, 9 December 2008
It's one of those things........some people say that if dogs and children like you, you are a good person. Been there, done that - got that t-shirt. Some of you have watched the DVD and most of you have heard the story about me being raped by a leopard shark (one of my favourite if somewhat unfullfilling sexual escapades), actually I'm pretty sure you have all heard it at least 4 times ;))
BUT what does it mean when lizards love you?? Even Google and Wikipedia cannot answer that one :0
Saba has an endemic Anole: Anolis Sabanus. Beautiful, cute little creatures who kindly try to decimate the mosquito and bug populations of Saba. I have previously mentioned (at least I think I have) that we have a couple of pet anoles in our home: most astonishing is a sweet young female who likes to follow me around the house and who takes great pleasure in watching Jan taking a shower.
Now, the bravest (that's my interpretation anyway - they're all females) have found the anole version of an all-you-can-eat buffet: they jump onto my foot or leg, waiting for the bugs who get attracted by my various cuts and scrapes (no, not from domestic violence - just domestic work). A perfectly symbiotic relationship and very cute on top of that. Unfortunately, I have not trained them to pose for the camera yet; but I am certainly working on it. In the meantime, they just provide valuable and seemingly endless entertainment to Jan and myself. Fascinating :D
Phototechnical evidence will follow asap - in the meantime, any and all theories as to the importance and meaning of being loved by lizards are very welcome.....
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Oh, happy people, who would have thought that I remembered to take pictures this weekend? They aren't really good - probably cause I was focusing more on my muscle ache than on the motives ;)) When it comes to pictures I don't have any professional pride though, so here they are.....
This was before my time.....In the background are the islands Statia (St. Eustatius), St. Kitts and Nevis...
Yes, there's still some work to do....
Berti laying the first tile...
The view isn't all that bad...
Friday, 14 November 2008
The Saba Soap continues, not much has changed. The longer I stay here, the more difficult it is, not to become cynical: I heard myself saying (and believing) yesterday: there is no fairness, nobody wants to hear the truth and nobody cares - people will hear what they want to hear. Does that sound like me?? I don't want to turn into a bitter, negative person!
Also, the longer I'm here, the more impressed I am with Marianne, who's been living on a tiny island more than 25 years now! And it's not even warm where she lives ;)
Jan and I obviously chose the hard way by going from not really knowing each other to living together in a very confined space. I had to leave my friends and diving in Thailand behind and of course Saba is a very, very small island - in so many ways. With Jan's history on the island, I will always be "his new woman" and there will always be speculations, as to whether I was the cause of his divorce. With the additional external stress and hostility of the last couple of months, it feels a bit like living through an emotional category 2-3 hurricane (like Omar) - except most hurricanes pass in a couple of hours and this one is permanent.
At least we can see that it's true that there is nothing like outside pressure to strengthen the ties of a relationship and besides, once we make it through this tough beginning together, the rest of our lives should be a walk in the park :DGood news: project new house is starting to move after hibernating half a year :D If the forces (and Berti, they tile-laying guy) are with us, the floors will be tiled tomorrow. The electrics guy (not sure he's an electrician, but he does drive the bus for Child Focus) will come as well to see if the lights and fans we've picked out are ok. It should take 3-4 weeks to get them here.
We haven't been to St. Maarten yet - I've had to be in the office every day and work full-time the last weeks and for another while yet until my new colleague star. We are planning to go for 3 days in two weeks. We'll order the kitchen cabinets, get a solar-powered hot water system and then we'll of course do some re-fueling of positive energy and romance. It'll be sooooo good to get off the rock.
Looks like things are finally happening! This time I am not going to include a time frame though ;) But at least I've charged the batteries for my camera, so that I can take a couple of pictures of the house for you....Just have to remember bringing it.....And posting them.....
My 10 boxes of winter clothes and diplomas should be in Willemstad (Curacao) by now, ready to be shipped to Saba next time a cargo ship comes this way. It's about time as well: it's getting colder here - often below 25 degr. celcius, so my long wool coat and winter boots will come in handy ;))) It's quite exciting though: it'll be like Christmas opening up the boxes after a year with a wardrobe weighing 3 kg and consisting almost entirely of bikinis, shorts and tank tops.
Oh, and before I forget: Now that I know what wrong quotes can lead to, I'll make sure to give credit where credit is due: so thanks to Lars & Jacob for their quotes (above) - even if they may not be their own inventions. Any translation mistakes are entirely mine ;)
Hi-ho, hi-ho and off to work I go........have a wonderful weekend, I'll be back very soon :D
Friday, 17 October 2008
- that used to be a pier
- I am trying to imagine the force necessary to move those boulder up into the harbour and then across to the diveshop
- the harbour office survived, but the road was burried under boulders and rocks
- this is the road to the dump; guess those things have to end up there now anyway
Fortunately, the Marine Park office was ok, so after a bit of chatting, we made our way back up to Windwardside, where we decadently decided to go out for breakfast. Yummi. And quite necessary, facing the task of taking some of the shutters down and cleaning up the garden....it took us 3 hours to clear it reasonably. By then, we both felt about 16 years older - all muscles aching after two days of pretty hard workout.
- too bad we don't have any before pictures :(
Today, our lives are pretty much back to normal. We're going to have a weekend of doing as little as possible. Must take care of that huge pile of still soaking wet clothes though ;)
Anyway, that was my week ;) Take care lovely people, I'll now walk home through the rain, taking comfort in the knowledge that it won't be as bad as Wednesday
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Or maybe it's just a sign that nothing is happening; it's been a long time since the last really dramatic development in my life.
In the meantime I'm a year older (and of course much wiser) and have gotten into a certain routine with job etc. After working on the Caribbean Explorer (see last post) for a week, I am now being invited for fundive + dinner every week, when they pass Saba. GREAT. First of all, fundiving is of course one of my favourite activities. Secondly, the food is excellent. Thirdly - and most important - the crew on the boat is awesome, we have lots of fun together. Oh, and of course it's good to get off the rock once in a while, even if it's just for a couple of hours.
They would like me to work for them more often, but unfortunately I cannot combine it with my current job. Working fulltime for them is no option because I don't have the 1500 USD for a safety course I'd have to do - and more importantly, because it would mean being on the boat 24/7 for months. Not the best recipe for a happy relationship obviously ;)
In an unpleasant way I have also experienced what it can be like to live on a tiny island, where even a non-existing feather can turn into a chicken farm in no time. And there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. Hrmpf. This has led to a new personal record for me: I am now on my 12th day of migraine - and yes, it's driving me mad and pretty much draining me.
A spot of light at the end of the tunnel: Jan and I are planning to go to St. Maarten for a couple of days. He needs to go there for work and then we'll combine it with shopping, getting things for the new house and of course a romantic dinner in a place where nobody interrupts our time together; simply because nobody knows us.
All in all it's fair to say that my life is less than ideal or super-happy these days; but even if I didn't have the wonderful friends I do, the struggle would still be worth it as long as it enables me to be with Jan. He's intelligent, handsome, sexy, wonderful and I love him to bits!
Rather than posting pictures, there are a couple of links to my Facebook albums here:
And for all you people, who are still not on Facebook: tsk, tsk, shame on you. It's easy, it's free and it's a great way of staying up-to-date with friends all over the world.
Here's one for those of you, who call me the QoW: did you know that Saba is called "the unspoiled Queen"? How very (in)appropriate I should say - in soooo many ways *lol*
Well, enough for now. Hopefully I'll have a more optimistic and positive update next time - but still, don't worry..........I'll be fine and everything will be O K ;))
Lotsa love and hugs
Saturday, 2 August 2008
My dream of going to Denmark on holiday did not come true, but at least I have a job now: assistant project leader for www.childfocussaba.org - it's obviously an office job, and it's only part time. My contract starts 18th August, in July I've been volunteering for the summer programme of the foundation.
Next week I'll be doing my "old job": the only live-aboard operating this area has problems with staff on sick leave, so I'm doing a week of divemaster work on it. It'll be tough to be without Jan for a whole week - especially on his birthday - but I really look forward to being back in the water. I have volunteered for the marine park a couple of times, but it's more difficult now that I actually have a job.
Saba is in the middle of the week-long annual carnival, but we have not participated - we'll go to the parade tomorrow though.
Jan's house building project has moved veeeery slowly the past two months. I've been painting the walls, and the tiles will be put in soon. We need to be out of our current appartment by mid-September, but realistically the new house will not be ready before October.
Oh, and do remind me to post some pictures....
Saturday, 14 June 2008
Jan was sweet and picked me up on St Maarten, so that we could take the boat (the "vomit comet") back to Saba together. How strange that was; I really believed that I'd never come back to this place. Never say never, hey?
I've been here a week now and the jetlag has finally left me alone, 11 hours time difference will take its toll on even the most experienced traveller, I guess.
So, what have I done the past week? - Well, first of all there's been a bit (yeah sure, just a tiny bit) of partying going on; people here have been amazing in making me feel welcome. I'm trying to find work - which will probably not be within diving. Apart from the financial worries, I guess I'm not very good at being without a job ;)
I've also started as a volunteer for the Marine Park, which allowed me to try out my brand-new custom-made 7 mm wetsuit yesterday. Cozy and warm, I'm loving it :D It was a different experience to dive for a real reason (moving mooring blocks), but it didn't stop me from noticing several Southern Stingrays and a group of 3 squids out of the corner of my eye - whilst still completely focused on and dedicated to the task at hand naturally ;))
It was difficult to leave Asia and the friends I have there; I miss them, but thanks to the internet we can at least still stay in touch. As summer approaches I also miss my family more and more. I am still hoping for a miracle, so that I'll be able to go to Denmark in July - but tickets are just too expensive at the moment. It feels wrong not to be in my sisters "hacienda" in the summer. And it feels wrong to miss out on my "little" niece's wedding and my brother's 50th birthday. Guess that's the downside of having chosen to live in the warm countries.
Apart from missing family, friends and the work I like, I am ridiculously happy :D I am sure coming back to Saba was the right decision.........I feel very very lucky and thoroughly enjoy spending time with Jan. He's - almost - too good to be real ;)
Hopefully my next post will follow quickly, and hopefully it will tell you that I have a job - and stumbled over a ticket to Denmark walking down the hill ;)))
Take care lovely people
Saturday, 17 May 2008
- "my" boat went out for the last dive trip this season. And since Khao Lak was practically empty anyway, I left the office to a colleague and spent a day doing what I love doing: tourleading the boat and guiding experienced fundivers.
Nothing like a day in the other office.....it charged my batteries just enough to get me through the end of season. By then I had worked 135 days in a row.
We dived Koh Bida Nok & Nai at Phi Phi one day, but conditions were not good and the day after, weather turned really bad, so diving was no longer possible.
Now comes the chemistry part........thing is: Jan and I got along ok on Saba, but weren't exactly best friends. After I came to Thailand we stayed in touch with at first sporadic and then frequent emails and MSN conversations (don't you just love the internet?). And then in Thailand, spending time together, we realised that we actually like each other. Quite a bit.
Monday, 31 March 2008
Temperatures are around 36 (yes, celsius) and I believe the device still remains to be invented that can actually measure this level of humidity. All good.
Apart from the thunderstorm last night, which was the loudest and longest-lasting I have ever experienced. Following the storm, the surge was so bad today that our diveboat (and all other speedboats) had to turn around after 10 minutes and go back to the harbour. The guests were not exstatic - but would have been less so, if they'd been stuck on a 26 ft speedboat for three hours in 2 meter waves. Trust me on that one too.
Easter was peak season here and again business went far better than expected for us. Which meant another three weeks without a day off. Supposedly it's really quiet this week, but we still have full boats both for diving and snorkeling. Maybe next week.
The plan is to close the operation here end of next week. My first action will be going to Phuket for two days of shopping with one of my friends. Khao Lak has absolutely nothing in terms of shopping - unless you're looking for a tailor or an optician. After that, I'll be going on a liveaboard or two for some diving. NOT working, just diving. I can go practically for free, so it's not as decadent as it sounds.
Then I'll be packing all the equipment and office stuff here and get it to our office on Phuket.
Beginning May I'm likely to go to Koh Tao to visit Debbie and Beto. One of our friends from Saba comes to Thailand on holiday, so it would be nice to catch up and do some diving together.
After Koh Tao it's decision time........what am I going to do this green season, what am I going to do next high season (why is it not called brown season?). I have several options....Right now I'm extremely tired of working these ridiculous hours in the office. Sick & tired & frustrated actually. Which is why I am not making any important decisions right now - not the right state of mind. Right now I'd go for any job that involves diving.
Even life in Paradise is not always perfect ;)
The friend and Goddess who named me "qow" asked me whether people in general know, what the origin of that is. I'm sure some of you do. For all the rest of you, I'll give the explanation in my next blog update (now THAT's a cliffhanger).....
Take care lovely people
xxx from the QoW
Monday, 10 March 2008
Apart from that, the issues are the same: trying to get customers to sign and then making and keeping them happy, trying to motivate colleagues, trying not to throw the desktop out of the window, when it's painfully slow, trying to cope with the fact that the day only has 24 hours. And in between all of that it's a matter of being flexible and improvising as we go along.
Today, I've finally managed to take a day off. Well, obviously not an entire day - but 3-4 hours of time for myself. Went to the gym and then decided that it's about time I update you.
My life these days consists mainly of work, no fun. I do go out from time to time, but it's a bit tricky, cause I'm the office every day from 9:00-21:00 (just decided that we're closing at 21 "already"). That doesn't leave much time for social activities - especially since restaurants here close at 22. But yeah, we do manage to create a bit of a want-to-be-vortex feeling on a weekly basis ;))
In the meantime, Beto (former colleague from Saba and Debs' boyfriend) has arrived in Khaolak - and has had work pretty much every day since. Sarah has left for Malaysia, where she's working for the company I was supposed to work for. She does not sound overwhelmingly happy, but suggests that I go there as well in low season.
That's not the plan though: I'm supposed to work for Scandinavian Divers in Patong (Phuket). My job description there seems to have changed a bit though - from being on the boats every day (which I really want) to being part-time office as well. We'll see about that...
Last Monday I actually went diving! First time in about 5 weeks. And it was almost perfect: gentle current, fantastic visibility, ok divers. The "almost" bit refers to the only underwater creature I actually hate: Titan Triggerfish! Nondivers among you will not appreciate how horrible they are. First of all, nesting season has obviously started and secondly I obviously must have come a bit too close to a nest..........so this huge, mean-looking trigger decided to attack me, coming up from behind and biting my upper arm! Interestingly enough, the (quite painful) bite didn't go through my wetsuit (another reason not to wear shorties), but I now have a very impressive purple-yellow-black bruise. The bastard continued his attempts to kill me - but was unsuccessful as you may have guessed. My fins show the scars including a 3 cm long hole, where he managed to bite all the way through. Damn, I hate Titan Trigger!
Enough for now, I'll go back to enjoying my day off (still have an hour until I have to work)
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
And of course there is a beach in Khao Lak too:
Business is going better than expected - or even hoped, but it's taking blood, sweat, tears and a lot of time. Luckily some of my staff members are really great - Debbie is one of them, she didn't go to Malaysia after all :D
I wasn't too impressed with Khao Lak when I first got here, but I am actually starting to like this place a lot - it is not at all like Phuket.
We're closing down end April and I am planning to take the entire month of May off - travel a bit around Thailand.
Hopefully I'll find the time to write a bit more soon-ish - but at least you got some of the requested pictures
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Today I'm writing from Penang, Malaysia. Wasn't Karin supposed to be in Thailand, you ask? Well, I had to go out of the country to find a Thai embassy, so that I can get a 3-month non-immigrant B visa, which I need to get my work permit. I can't get the visa unless I've applied for a work permit though. Theoretically, with the 3-month visa in my passport I can get my 1-year work permit with which I can then get a 1-year visa. Let's see about that...
Everything was actually planned rather nicely: Saturday evening, the owner of "my" company had a big house-warming party on Phuket, so I combined business with pleasure: went to the party and stayed in Kata, where I met up with Debs on Sunday for a great day of catching up. Sunday evening I flew to Penang, where my visa would be fixed within a day in time for me to return to Khao Lak Monday evening together with the Debs, before she's off to the Perhentians Thursday.
Believe it or not: things were going just fine and according to plan, until a Thai citizen got arrested for murder and the ambassador had to leave immediately - before my visa was done...
Luckily I've booked a visa run package. First of all it saves me going to the embassy and stand in line 2-3 hours. Secondly, the visa run operator has good connections, so they actually delayed the plane for me. Unfortunately, the ambassador still didn't make it back in time, so I'm now stuck in Penang, while Debs is in Khao Lak :( Which brings us to the third reason, it was a lucky decision to book a package: they are paying for the new flight and two nights in a nice hotel.
Now, I'm sitting here instead of drinking Vodka&Tonic in the Happy Snapper with Debs :(
Work-wise it's a good test of the things I've done in the office: we'll see if the system works without my presence - which has been my goal anyway. And who said you can't manage a company through MSN and hotmail??
Not much I can do about it except go out and buy some new clothes and finally unwrap my Thai language course ;)
Thursday, 17 January 2008
I know, I know......I promised to update the blog a bit more frequently than every two months.....
Better late than never - and now I'm here. Thanks for your patience ;)
Soooooo, I left Saba on the 6th December after a fantastic last night in the true Vortex spirit :D Ken left same time as I (pure coincidence), so we took the ferry to St. Maarten and met up with Bruno and Juliska there. It was an amazing feeling of relief to see Saba disappearing, the water was flat, the weather nice and we were both quite happy to be off the rock. At the same time, I was sad though: I met some really nice and quite a few fantastic people on that little island; people I'll hopefully meet somewhere someday.
46 hours later I arrived in Khao Lak (Thailand, north of Phuket) trying to convince my body to ignore the 11-hour time difference.
My new boss, Heinz, was nice enough to let me relax 19 hours before starting work and I moved into my new home. Well, "home": an empty room with a bathroom. Brand new, but no furniture and no warm water - and it's about a kilometer up a very dark unpaved mountain road. It's quiet though - except all the jungle noises ;)
I worked 14 hours per day on average, mainly teaching courses, so I earned quite good money in December. I was also very, very tired all the time. Finally, there was light at the end of the tunnel: I had a day off on 1st January. Party-time till 5 am. Yah mahn :D
The atmosphere in the company has been really, really bad. People leaving every day. Yep, actually worse than my last employer. I only stayed because I knew it was for a limited period of time, having a job waiting for me in Malaysia.
And then things changed rapidly this week.....Heinz was fired and I was offerered the position as operations manager. Earlier in my diving career than I'd expected, but I've been doing the majority of office work here the past two weeks anyway, so I'm pretty sure I've got it covered. The employees/freelancers who refused to work for us last week are all back again and everyone is happy. At least he's not such a tough act to follow ;)
So yeah, no Malaysia for me this time. I'd really been looking forward to a chilled year down there and to work together with the Debs again, but I felt that this opportunity was too good to let go.
I'll be in Khao Lak until the end of season (mid-April) and then I'll spend low season on Phuket, instructing and guiding. Mid-October I'm going back to Khao Lak to start up for the next season. Next week I'm going on a visa run to KL to get the work permit sorted.
All of this is the plan anyway. But as you all know (by now), my plans do occassionally change ;))
Apart from work, I haven't done much here. I've met some nice people, but haven't gotten into that Vortex feeling (yet)
I've invited the staff out for dinner etc on Friday night though - and told the office manager she has to fill in for me till noon on Saturday; it's good to be the boss *lol*
Another good thing about this job is that I'll be spending a lot of time in the office, which should (!) give me more time to update the blog and possibly even post a couple of pix ;)
Debbie is coming to Thailand next week on her way to the Perhentians, that's something I really, really look forward to. Quite a few things we need to talk about, quite a bit of vodka we need to dispose of.....
Oh, and I'm going to move to a place with furniture and (gee such luxury) warm water. And a fridge. Which means I can keep the tonic for the vodka cold ;)
Enough for now, must work a bit again - just had to take care of my bad conscience first