February, 2000
Nevisian Paradise
Garrick's Pasture,
Nevis, West Indies

Greetings from Paradise
"Learning the Ropes"

Hi Friend,

A belated happy millennium to you. I know that you said that you were going to spend it quietly. Life

here continues to be the most remarkable experience that I have had. Emotionally and spiritually I have never been happier. Physically, I am just beginning to allow my body to recover from my past fifty-nine years and especially 1999. My heart appears fine, my dizzy spells gone, but my body just crashed two days after the new year; I guess it was tired. I could barely move from room-to-room and I felt bad because that was the week that I had wanted to hike, swim and enjoy Greg, Karen and Rebecca's company.

I am gaining insights into life here that is so wonderfully enlightening as I learn from the "locals" and they learn from me. At church, one of the young children who comes to the house, introduced me to his Mother. Lee and I had met her before as she was a waitress but I didn't know that she was also Junior's Mother. She came by last Friday just as I was going out with a girl's limin'(having fun) group that I have started. Two years ago, she had come by all dressed up with her family an hour later than expected at a time that we were meeting with our builder. I apologized and told her that I couldn't spend time with her now as we were in a meeting. People in the village who I met before or introduced myself to or anyone we know "drop in" anytime. (Just now someone that Lee knows stopped by.!!!!) That is a local custom and I have learned that unless I am working on the internet, I must at least invite them in, offer them a drink and show them the house. Then I can explain to them politely that I work at home via the internet and that it would be best if they called before they drop in. People are also disappointed when they come without calling and do not find us home. If they will use the phone, I don't know, but I sure hope so that way, nobody is disappointed.

As the women come, share and confide, I learn again and again that many of life's challenges that we face are universal and only manifest themselves in different ways depending on the culture. Our response is strongly influenced by the local culture-lessons of do's and don't which people have learned-and our feeling of self-worth and confidence. The interesting and poignant lesson that I learn from the Nevisians whom I know is how quickly they move to the solution. They either learn to live with the problem, fix the problem, find the cause and move away from blame. Accentuate the positive is the way of life. When I chat with someone who isn't as positive, I find that they are from another island. Nevis continues to hold a special magic for me. Hope that it lasts the rest of my life! But, I am grateful for each day and the experiences that so enrich my life. Right now we still don't have TV but wouldn't have time to watch if I did.

I got a kick out of your email that I may find you at the doorstep one day. Right now, until I gain my strength and feel good for a long period of time--everyone's invitation except the children and hiking group who had already purchased their tickets--is on hold. Life is good here, but not easy. Tasks take two or three times as long to complete and one moves half the pace in a tropical climate. Garbage needs to be taken out daily to the village pickup spot. Phone calls automatically get a busy signal during peak early and afternoon hours and internet connections are disrupted three to four times more than we are used to in the States. Grocery shopping or any shopping entails numerous trips to the stores to find which store has what you want. So I have learned to buy things that I will need when I see them because they might not have them when I want them. Even though the power doesn't go off as frequently as it did before the hurricane, it still goes off a lot. So I have become flexible--not one of my former strong points. Want to go on the treadmill, have to wait until the power goes on. I have also become far more resourceful, looking to see what I have that I can use in the ways that I need.

The people and the beauty of the land continue to be the greatest source of daily joy and I can't go anywhere where I don't hear a "Hi Ruth," or feel a reaching hand of friendship either from past friends or now more recently members of my village, young and old and the workers who see me when I go into town under my big straw hat and behind my dark shades. When there aren't any folk around--as Lee is currently in Los Angeles and I have only one close neighbors as yet--God's gifts of the mountain, clouds, sea, stars, wind and all the little insects keep me company. So that is life here, the builders are still here but that should end soon. Please email me and let me know how life is treating you socially and professionally and how your heart and soul are feeling. Take care.

Love and later,
Ruth