Posted tagged ‘Dominica’

頭にくる 6 – Liat Airlines

May 13, 2009

Despite having flown in to Dominica on Saturday, I only just received my luggage yesterday afternoon. My bag made it from JFK to ANU (with a layover at MIA) just fine but when I checked it at the Liat counter at the V. C. Bird International Airport, it disappeared into a black hole (maybe the Bermuda Triangle) and resurfaced on Sunday. It then sat at Melville Hall for 2 days, wishing it could answer the phone at the Liat Luggage Counter (since no one else was answering) to tell me it was okay and to ask me to pick it up and bring it home before the ants got in it. Alas, ants got in it anyway.

This is not the first time that Liat has failed to send my bag along with me – over Christmas break, my luggage somehow missed the flight (even though it had been checked in 4 hours prior to takeoff) from DOM to ANU and I didn’t get it back until a few days before my flight back to the island. Nor was I the only person to suffer this mishap – scores of people were lined up on Saturday when my flight got in to file lost baggage claims and dozens waited at RUH on Sunday and Monday, hoping that our bags had been sent. When I lamented to my pals, quite a few of them, while not unsympathetic, asked “What did you expect? It’s Liat.”

There are two airlines that fly to Melville Hall, Liat and American Airlines. Unfortunately, American Airlines makes only only flight a day to Dominica and that flight usually fill up pretty quickly. Often, Liat is the only option for hundreds of students trying to travel to and from the island between semesters. They don’t have to provide good customer service or assure people that their luggage will arrive on the same plane they do because most of us haven’t got any choice other than to fly Liat. All they have to do is make sure none of the planes crash. That other stuff is just frills.

The  worst (or best?!) thing about Liat is that all their fares are non-refundable. So even if I called them up to curse them out and cancel my return flight (provided they answered the phone, which they seldom do), I couldn’t get my money back. And what would they care, they’ve already got my money. Sigh. I’m seriously considering canceling it anyway.

Holiday Treats

December 21, 2008

Here’s something for the students coming in January – some pictures from around campus!

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Vacation

December 21, 2008

Having survived the Fortnight of Hell (but not quite done – final grades are sent sometime next week), I have been taking advantage of the lovely warm weather and relaxing until my flight leaves for New York. Ah, glorious sunshine!

My fingers are still crossed for Neuroscience, the subject that I sacrificed on Mini III to ensure success in Physiology, but unless the MPS is high and I completely failed the Neuro shelf, I should be moving on to my second year of medical school in January. I’m afraid to be too confident because I felt awful about the shelf but I’m just going to hope that everything works out…

頭にくる 4 – Traveling

September 8, 2008

It is the first day of classes and I am in San Juan, stuck until tomorrow because my flight from JFK to SJU was delayed for a very stupid reason and American Airlines only has one flight a day to St. Maarten (where my connection was). American Airlines also only offers one flight to Dominica (it was full) and all the flights to Antigua (where I was to make my second connection) were sold out, not only on American, but on every carrier flying out of Puerto Rico.

Oh, how I hate traveling to and from Dominica!

Melville Hall, the airport closest to Portsmouth, is only open from sunup to sundown. It is only serviced by two carriers, American Airlines and Liat. There are only a certain number of arrivals and departures per day and the planes they use are the little propeller-driven prop planes that fit maybe 30 or so people. Is it any wonder that flights are sold out during the beginning and end of terms weeks, sometimes even months, in advance? You’d think the school, knowing the situation, might be a bit sympathetic.

But noooooooooooooo.

Ross charges a $100 US/day late registration fee if you do not arrive by the first day of classes. But what if you’ve already registered online? They charge a $100 US/day fee for late check-in if you do not check in by the first day of classes.

There is only one day of check-in. It is the day before the first day of classes.

So, even though American Airlines has put me up in a lovely hotel, given me meal vouchers and booked me on tomorrow’s (one and only) flight to St. Maarten, I had to book another flight on Liat in order to get to Dominica. And I will have to pay $300 US for late check-in when I get to Ross.

I’m so angry, I can’t even enjoy my view of the beach. 😦

終わりの始まり第2 – The End and the Beginning

August 28, 2008

Perhaps I’m a bit over-dramatic.

Dear readers, I have survived my first semester of med school and will be returning to Ross in September as a second semester student. The good news is that I actually managed bring histology up high enough to offset the disaster that was Mini III. The bad news is that I only managed to pull one A. Because of this, I may not be able to take the SGA position (Student Health Rep) I was elected to. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, it won’t be the end of the world. It’s far better than the fate I feared, having to repeat the entire semester.

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Running

July 28, 2008

Sitting in the section of the library known as the fishbowl with bilateral sore quadriceps (rectus femoris, vastus medialis, intermedius and lateralis) – it’s delayed muscle ache from the Salybia 5K charity run I completed yesterday. Although it was more like a charity half-n-half (about 50% running and 50% walking) for me, I’m actually quite impressed with myself, not only for doing it in the first place but for finishing in 34 minutes [official time: 33:30.5]. Not bad for a former asthmatic who didn’t take up running until last year. The run, from the gates of campus through Portsmouth to Cabrits National Park wasn’t exactly easy but I was able to appreciate some of the beauty of the island as the path took me along the coastline. Sun-dappled asphalt snaked along to separate vast blue ocean and lush green jungle, natural splendor on either side.

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Not Without My Water

June 23, 2008

It’s rainy season on Dominica and I finally understand why some people might consider the island a third-world country. On Friday my first-world brain had a double-dose of reality. First, we had a patient presentation in biochem lecture. Continuing the blood week theme, our professors had arranged for us to meet a young man who was one of two hemophiliacs in his family, possibly one of the only two hemophiliacs on the island. The poor guy and his younger cousin sat at the front of the lecture hall as he told us about how he’d basically lost the use of his lower right leg and foot because he’d tripped while running and internal bleeding had destroyed the muscles. The professor told us about the treatment options available for those with blood disorders on the island; apparently there are four treatments that have been developed but only the two least expensive ones are available at Princess Margaret Hospital, the most advanced medical center on Dominica. The young man, only 18, mentioned how his constant medical issues had prevented him from regularly attending school and how more than anything, he’d like to have a computer since all he can do now is sit at home. How horrible it must have been to be in a room with over a hundred computers (every student owns a laptop). I couldn’t help but feel my privilege like a keen jab in the ribs while I typed my notes.

It had been storming all Thursday night and intermittently throughout the morning and though the electricity flickered a few times, I was used to being without power. The campus generators were functional so all was well, or so I thought. We received an email informing us that the campus water supply had been shut off and at first, I thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until I got back to the campus proper that I realized what it meant to have no water supply – no faucets. No drinking fountains. Going from bathroom to bathroom, I kept wondering why every single toilet was full of waste -ladies’ rooms aren’t usually that gross- then it dawned on me – there’s no water to flush them. Rather than stay on campus, I went back home to my apartment, only to discover that I didn’t have running water either. Luckily, there was enough left in my toilet for one flush. And that was it for 20 hours.

I can only think of one other time when I actually was concerned about not having an adequate water supply and even then, it was because our boiler was broken so we didn’t have hot water. We could still brush our teeth, take showers (albeit cold ones) and use the bathroom. Apparently, nasty storms knock out the power and water supply several times during the rainy season. Regular people don’t have the luxury of generators or utilities coordinators. They just have to go home and wait. It really makes a person think about how much they take for granted…

Second Week at Ross – First Week of Classes

May 12, 2008

I guess I spoiled you guys last week – there’s no way I’ll be able to have three updates a week regularly, especially now that the real work has begun. I’m currently in the library and though I’m supposed to be reviewing today’s lectures, I’m updating my blog, so we can see how diligent I am.

Goals for Tomorrow

1. Be more diligent

Today we had an introductory lecture from the coordinator of each department as well as our first full anatomy and biochem lectures. The anatomy lecture was especially fascinating, and even though I had a bit of difficulty tuning my ear to the professor’s accent, he was funny and engaging. There’s this awesome software he demonstrated, the visual human dissector (VHD), which is amazing, but only available for use in the anatomy lab. I heard that med schools in the states give this software to all their students – can anyone confirm this? Also sweet: six years of Latin coming back into play. Mr. Minden, Homer and Catullus would be proud.

The biochem lecture was actually mostly review for me: an overview of biochemical molecules, bond types and energies and the beginning of the stereochemistry lecture, which will be continued tomorrow. One thing that irked me – I learned the esterification to create Acetyl CoA from Acetic acid and Coenzyme A in Orgo but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember how to push the arrows…

Although we have dry lab this week, I can’t wait for next week’s anatomy lab when we get to “meet” our cadavers. Hopefully I’ll have learned everything there is to know about the superficial and deep back by then…

Here are the pictures from Saturday’s Island Tour:

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First Week at Ross, Part 3

May 9, 2008

Today was the final day of orientation. After a few more words of wisdom from the directors of Student Affairs and an exercise in poetry, we walked from The Annex back to the main campus and went from department to department, collecting reading packets like trick-or-treaters on Halloween. The “marathon” has already started, so after this entry, I’m going to try to digest a chunk of the biochem reading assigned for the week ahead.

Throughout the week, we’d been given prompts during our orientation activities to write about seemingly random things: our favorite foods, childhood memories, sayings and in-jokes among our families. We were then asked to create a poem using what we’d written. I’ll admit it – part of the reason why I volunteered to recite mine for the student body was sheer vanity – I know I’m not the most brilliant scientist here but I wanted to show my peers that there is an area in which I am quite gifted. In any case, here’s the poem, full of in-jokes and references only people in my family would get:

The Breaks

Set off from grandma’s house up Dunkirk and down Linden,
dodging cars on Merrick
and chasing twilight to Lynbrook.
It’s warm and breezy and pedaling’s easy on a balmy night
in mid-July.
Sign says ‘Park Closes at Dusk’ but they leave it open for us –
We make rings around the lake, chasing flocks of geese away with
songs and raucous laughter
And after we’ve circled miles and miles on trusty bikes with tired tires,
there’s French fries and fried dough and if Auntie Sharon is home,
she’ll take us all to Bennigan’s – but we’ll have to listen to
K-Joy on the way. Oh well. You know what they say.
These are the breaks.


© C. Bass, 2008

Tomorrow, there’s a free island tour for first semesters, a final spot of fun before the start of classes. We’ll be hiking up to Trafalgar Falls and then we’ll head down to Scott’s Head Bay for a dip in the ocean. Even though my mom bought me the world’s unsexiest tankini, it’s sufficiently modest and it will have to do.