Haggard and realized, I finished my third semester at SUSOM April 17, 2014. Microbiology, immunology, neuroscience, and psychology learned, I enjoyed a travel-heavy break. From Saba to home, home to NY, NY to Toronto, and back.
Getting back home
It was an ordeal getting from Saba to St. Martin. I was obligated to take the ferry due to scheduling conflicts. I had somehow convinced myself that it would be a plain boat ride; this was quickly disproven as the crew, 5 minutes into the ride, handed out vomit bags. The anti-emetics I had taken did their job, however, but the consistent advice I had been given will now be passed on by me: I took the ferry once, and never again. To describe it simply, it’s sort of like riding a roller coaster ride, which can be fun for up to 5 minutes. However, stretch that agony to 2.5 hours, and you can imagine what the ride might entail. There is no reprieve, no emergency stop, no sympathy. The only companion you have is the visceral feeling of your stomach going up and down sporadically.
Upon reaching St. Martin, I, accompanied by a few friends, including Zelas (whose wedding I went to later in the break), took a taxi to the airport, SXM. There, we waited and eventually were told that our flight was cancelled. We stayed in a hotel for a night. I had the particular misfortune of being on a flight that was booked the next day fairly late. Lightning then decided to strike twice and my rebooked flight had some “weight imbalance” issues and was grounded in San Juan for another night. The next day I eventually made it home on even another delayed flight. In essence, 2 days of my life were lost in transit, unplanned. I got back on Easter Sunday, all stores and venues closed.
It was lovely to see my parents after such a long delay. They love me dearly, and they mean the world to me. We drove about town together, seeing some of my relatives and catching up on life.
The only sort of daunting prospect (and it wasn’t THAT daunting) of my break was meeting my girlfriend’s parents. On my last break, she came to meet my family, and it was my opportunity to meet hers. They were gracious and generous hosts, and we enjoyed several meals together.
Amanda and I went hiking at Breakneck Ridge nearby, which was a relaxing and challenging day. The first third of the day was spent scrambling up boulders to an elevation of 1200 ft. I noticed that without safety ropes in place I am much less confident and much more hesitant when bouldering than her. The elevation was nice, and there was a rustic, tawny feel to the whole day, as the new green had not yet returned.
On our itinerary was to attend my close friend Zelas’ wedding ceremony and reception. Amanda and I drove a few fair bit, crossed the US-Canadian border, and made our way into Toronto and its surrounding cities. The bride and groom were stunning and graceful, and the whole day was elegant and pleasurable.
Zelas’ family were welcoming and invited us to a lunch gathering in between the ceremony and reception; we met his family and spoke with his dad for a long time. All the things we had talked about during the semester, his dad’s struggles, his love for his family, I heard and could see while I was there. The reception was some fun, and there we met some of my classmates and danced.
After the wedding we headed to Niagara (the Canadian side) where we enjoyed: wine tasting and learning how to (seemingly) savor wine, a dinner at a Brasa (which, in both my and Amanda’s opinion, proved to be too fancy for our liking), the Bodies Revealed exhibit (which was a bit bland to me as a medical student and raised a lot of questions like what purpose did the exhibit serve), and a stroll around the falls.
We took pictures, got a souvenir for my niece, and soaked in the ambience of the town.
The drive back was fairly long, and we made it back in the evening in time for dinner. The following day we ran a few errands, and I was treated to Mediterranean food by Amanda’s brother (which was my favorite food I had on the trip, I think). That evening, Amanda’s parents took us to a particularly upscale restaurant in NY City, and dinner there was pleasurable.
The following day was my flight back to BR; the day included watching Inside Llewyn Davis, getting stuck in traffic, and having the best pizza I’ve ever had (eggplant, of all things). A final hug and kiss and I took my (heavily delayed) flight to BR; there, I packed and spent time with my parents. One friend was in town, and we met at my house and caught up and later watched the latest superhero movie. And, just before I left, Amar (my close cousin, more my brother than anything) made his way all the way down to my house to see me, though I missed Lauren, his wife, and my niece.
And with that, a flash and a bang, I was back to Saba.