TCI and Taking Things for Granted

My introduction to the South Caicos community has been full of new experiences, adjustments, and challenges. Even though every week involves SCUBA diving lessons, snorkeling with stingrays, and exploring the nearest beaches, everyday habits and routines required more demanding alterations.  I’ve noticed a few obvious things that forced me to reflect on what I took for granted at home.

1. Laundry and Line Drying

I definitely did not enjoy doing laundry at Holy Cross. Either the dryer left your clothes damp, no machines were available, or the walk up and down the stairs was just too painful after a long week. On our lovely little island, we don’t have washing machines, dryers, or even real soap. My first experience with laundry here did not go as well as I had hoped. Laundry is done in two black buckets, one with biodegradable (fake) soap and salt water and the other with freshwater for rinsing. I sat in the blistering sun and “cleaned” my clothes with a long stick and my hands. I went to line dry everything, and with my luck, half of the clothes were left with castile soap residue, it rained, and white clothes fell in the dirt. This process of doing one load of laundry ended up taking me three days.

Salt water and Dr. Bronner’s soap to the left and fresh water on the right. Can’t complain about the view!
Where all of my clothes were meant to dry but got soaked and dirty all over again… for everyone to see.

2. Saltwater Showers Sunday-Saturday

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to swim in crystal clear, blue waters each day, but after a long day of sunscreen and saltwater, I can only take an extremely unsatisfying saltwater rinse. Using the same soap I used for that traumatizing laundry, I usually shower in one of the outdoor showers (one with walls, one without). I end up feeling equally as dirty and sticky as when I started, but at least I smell very minty and like the essential oils I’ve found here. We get one freshwater shower a week that only turns on when you pull a metal string to avoid wasting the freshwater that is entirely caught from rain. I usually take one on Saturday after volunteering!

That’s the shower! (Peep the tiny shower head on the top left.) Also, that view is of Long Cay (right), which is a perfect spot for whale watching!
Snorkeling! Something that I’ll do for an hour or two a day that would normally demand a freshwater shower after.

3. WiFi Withdrawals

Whether you’re downloading a document, sending emails, using your GPS, or texting a message, I was so used to the immediate, easy, helpful results of using my phone and WiFi at Holy Cross. If my Dinand desktop took more than 2 minutes to log-in, I readily abandoned it. If I forgot how to get to Nu Café, I could hop in my car, check the traffic, and map it. Here, the WiFi is slow and phone functioning is minimal. Though frustrating at times, I’ve come to appreciate the “unplugged” attitude. Every morning I sit on a rock wall looking over the ocean to journal instead of looking at my phone. I read before bed and play cards after dinner. Even though I could really use better WiFi here to conduct research or call home, I’ve started to establish new self-care and social routines I value and hope to bring back to Worcester.

My morning journal view!
A rainbow by our boats and dock, where we get ready for our dives and snorkels.
… and of course, the group of amazing people that I’m so excited to be living with!