Travelling, it’s the little things…..


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This blog is part of a series for the Blogging Abroad Blog Challenge. This blog is going to focus on details. Since my last blog was on money and I focused on travel I am going to stick with the theme of travel.

In Jamaica there are many modes of transit:
• Walking
• Biking
• Route Taxi
• Personal vehicle
• Commercial vehicle
• Hackey or Charter Taxi
• Robot or White Plate Taxi
• Route Buses
• JUTC Buses
• Tourist Buses
• Fishing Vessels
• Pleasure Vessels
• Donkey Carts
• Horses
• School Buses
• Coasters and mini buses
The list is long and I am going to describe some of these forms of travel. By far my favorite is walking or biking for short distances. I refuse to pay a small fee for travel I walk or bike to. In the larger cities there are JUTC buses and these are much like city buses world-wide. They are large, they have comfortable seating and they usually have AC on. These buses cost between $100-$150 JD (Jamaican Dollar is equal to ~$119 USD) depending on the distance you plan to travel. These buses run on a route and are typically on a schedule. This is the only form of transit I have found to be on a schedule.

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My bike lives in my dining room.

The tourist buses can cost steep money. I have heard a bus from Falmouth to Ochi is about $80 USD. I have never used these because the cost is prohibitive when I can get to the same distance for $500 JD. Richard learned the benefit of local travel this last month. I do want to mention one other form of travel here, the Nutsford Express. This is also a route bus on a schedule that cost between $2000-$3500 JD. These buses run all across the island and they have comfortable seats with AC and free WIFI. These buses are used by persons trying to get to a flight on time without staying overnight at a hotel. Again I have not ridden these, but I hear they are nice.

Route Taxis are a set fare and you ride packed in. For me a route taxi will cost $130 JD to get to my community $250 to drop at my doorstep. Route taxis will deviate from the route for extra money. This is convenient when you have much to carry. I do want to note that most grocery stores will send a young man with a cart to the taxi park to carry excessive groceries for you. A tip is generally expected but there is no extra charge for this. If you get to a taxi that has room for one more you consider yourself lucky to not have to wait for the taxi to fill up. You see a taxi driver does not want to carry less than 5 persons up the hill to make it worth his time. Yesterday I was first to get to the taxi and I was lucky to get the front seat. My driver took off about 5 minutes after I got in, there were no other passengers and I began to worry that he thought it was a charter. My worries ended when at the hill bottom he picked up a single woman and a man with a baby. We rode up and dropped them off and I realized this man was getting a charter of goods to carry up in the community and that is why he left when he did. The three passengers were just a bonus for him. A normal taxi ride consists of 4 persons smashed into the back seat, if there are kids there are more since the kids here do not count as fare or a person. If they know there is not police check-point they will put 2 persons in the front seat. The idea of a seat-belt is silly at this point. I once watched the driver of a coaster bus put on and take off his seat-belt 6 times in the span on 20 minutes due to police check-points. I found this oddly amusing. Technically seat-belts are required for children under 18 but I have never seen a taxi with children buckled up. If you see a woman with a child you do not offer her the front seat. This is the one safety precaution they do take, no children in the front seat unsecured. I do believe this would give them a huge fine.

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This often how a large group will travel.

A route bus can either be a coaster or a mini-bus. A mini-bus is a van with 4 rows of seats in the back. I read the maximum capacity on my bus yesterday was 12, we had 20 in that bus! The back seats have a 2 person seat with an aisle and a single person seat. They will put a board or a hand fashioned seat in the aisle and put 5 across if they can. I felt lucky yesterday we only had 4 across. The front seat will have at least 2 facing the front and sometimes they have a 3rd person facing the rear. As dangerous as this sounds once the bus gets going you all pretty much settle in and it is packed enough that no one is being thrown forward much.

 

A coaster bus is a lot bigger. It has a higher capacity and most seats have a jump-seat attached to it. These are often put down on a support to strengthen it and they put 5-6 across depending upon size of people. The hardest part of travel is that people often set themselves in the back and want off early in the ride. This requires those in the front to get out to let them out and readjust ourselves. It is like playing tetris with people!

A charter taxi is a taxi that you pay a steeper price for and you are the only one in the taxi. It is not picking up random people along the way. The best example are the airport taxis. You pay $20-30 USD to get to and from the taxi. Then later I discovered that the JUTC bus goes right there, if only my flights had not be too early or too late for the buses I could have save so much money.

A robot taxi or a white plate is an individual who is simply offering rides. The rates of the ride varies since they are not approved by the transit authority. I only use these late at night or when there are no red plates available. At night when the bus park is closed it is hard to find a taxi and after an hour of waiting you take whatever is going in your direction.

Most of the time there will be 2-3 different music playing on the bus. The driver has his own station or cd and then someone might have their cell phone on without headphones. For some reason this is accepted and no one ever tells them to turn it off. Often times people will be singing along and I have been tormented with hours and hours of Kenny Rogers on repeat. I miss my iPod! One thing you will learn here is that a DJ never plays a song all the way through and they always talk over the song. They love to play a section of a song on repeat over and over again and again. I tend to only listen when in transit. At home I listen to my very large and very diverse selection of music. Thank you Richard for gifting me your old iPhone so I can at least have some of my own music with me. It is greatly appreciated.

Transportation in Liberia and in Cuba is much like this as well. You pile as many into the vehicle as possible to ensure you make a profit over the gas. Instead of raising prices you raise the load. To us Americans this might seem crazy but to much of the rest of the world it is just a fact of life.

Money, MOney, MONey


This blog is part of the Blogging Abroad Blog Challenge. It will focus on money in my host country.

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The exchange rate here is $1 USD (United States Dollar) to between $115-$119 JD (Jamaican Dollar).

Since Richard is visiting me I am going to focus on the one thing we have spent an enormous amount of money on, travel! From my community to Ocho Rios, my shopping town, it is $130 JD, if I want a ride to my front door with my groceries it is $250 JD. If I want to go from Ochi to Kingston it is $400-$450 JD depending on if they take the new toll road, which cuts over an hour off the trip. For me to get to the beach I either have to go to one in Ochi, and if the cruise ships are in it is chaotic, or I have to catch a different taxi to either Rio Neuva or Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary, or as the locals say, the fisherman’s beach. This incurs a totally different cost. For a trip from my community to the main highway (North Coast Highway) it is $90 JD. Then I wait to catch a taxi or bus headed in the opposite direction from Ochi. This typically costs about $150 JD. To catch a ride home I must catch the bus or taxi to Ochi for $160 JD and then catch a taxi to Three Hills for $130. I could get out at the bottom of the hill except that the taxi from Ochi is always packed and I can never catch a ride up. For this reason I just pay the extra fare and go all the way into the bus park.

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After awhile all this little travel adds up and unlike back home there is no monthly pass to purchase to get unlimited rides. So I tend to limit my trips to when I really need to go and combine them so I can save some money. Like a shopping trip will also include a short beach trip just to keep my travel spending to a minimum.

 

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A typical Jamaican dinner, about $400JD for each plate.

Now let’s focus on the main expenditure in my budget: food! As a vegetarian I can get by on a smaller budget but I am also a picky eater so that ups my budget. Today I spent less than $500 JD and I got a small head of cabbage, some scallion (a lot actually!), thyme, some red peppers and two small heads of lettuce. This will make at least 3 meals for me and Richard. I have learned that buying from the farm stands is typically cheaper and has way less waste. In the grocery stores they tend to pre-weigh things and then put them on styrofoam trays and wrap the crap out of them with saran wrap. They even pre-weigh cabbage and individually wrap each one to price it! I try to avoid buying produce at the grocery for this reason, although kale and mushrooms are my one major vice. Both are quite spendy! Shittake mushrooms are around $900 a pound. The ones I can get here typically look a little haggard since they are imported. I tend to buy small quantities and use them sparingly unless they need to be used immediately then I make a mushroom broth out of them.

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My food haul! About $7000 JD because I got it at the grocery store.

Things like cheese, yogurt and other amazing imports are a hefty price. I have bought a large tub of Greek Yogurt for $780 which feels super expensive when you have a Peace Corps budget. I typically spend my own US money almost every month on phone and internet. Living outside of Ochi increases the costs of most things. I pay the price, the import fees and then they up the price for tourists. This is partially why I like to limit my travel and I purchase in the outdoor markets to avoid those charges. Bonus points if you wait until later in the day, sometimes people are trying to get rid of as much as possible and will cut you a major deal. The price is almost never the real price! This includes clothes, shoes, toiletries, and general items. Basically anything that does not require refigeration you can find in the market. The major downfall is that people haggle you to buy things. Richard told me that I was quite rude to people in the market, but after a year of the hassle you just gotta be or they wear your soul down. I would buy from the craft market more often if I did not feel like walking through it was entering Dante’s 7 rings of hell.

My internet was $3000 a month but that just ended. My $9000 modem broke and is not repairable and they have no more modems. They never have modems, I just got lucky one day. Today I bought a new sim card for my iPad to tether to my laptop and it was around $560. A 3K plan was $2650 a month. I am now focusing on limiting my data usage just to get an idea of how much I use exactly. So at this very moment I am typing this blog up off line to post tomorrow. Frugal is something I used to be very good at. This month I have spent a lot of money but that is because Richard is visiting and I wanted to show him not only my island home but we took a lovely trip to Cuba. (Yes this was a legal visit and that blog will soon post!) If I was more responsible I would try to keep better track of my spending, but life just seems to happen!

Community member profile, Austin Mighty


This is part of the #Bloggingabroad blog challenge.

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Yup that truly is his name!  You know every once in awhile you find someone you realize is truly connected to the Earth, this is one such man.  He farms, not for money but for the love of the land.  These are the people who have found peace and happiness in their lives.  I am super excited that in just the last month he is finally hooked up to the water system and has access to water direct from the pipe.  (This is courtesy of the hard work of the Three Hills Farmers’ Association)

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Mr. Mighty was born and grown to age 14 in Golden Grove, St. Catherine.  His family was a farm family.  He has many fond memories of never having an empty belly due to the family farm.  In his young years many of the local people had cows and dairy milk was always around.  They all carried their milk to one location to fill the truck when it came.  Each family was compensated for the amount of milk they contributed.  This is a very cooperative way of doing things and he sees this ideology lost in the farmers in this area.  Sometimes the truck would not come so instead of wasting off the milk the community had installed a butter churn and everyone dumps their milk into the churn and the children worked to churn the milk into butter.  Mr. Mighty loved those days as it meant they would have yummy butter to put on their bread, a common meal and fond memory.  Sometimes they would have butter and bread with a nice slice of tomato.  (You know you have hit a fond memory by the look in a person’s eyes as they tell the story.  They look sharp and shiny but unfocused as though they are seeing something you cannot. These are the moments a storyteller seeks!)

He went to school but that did not last long as he got licked (hit) in the head with a rock at a young age.  It caused issues with school attendance.  At the age of 14 the family moved to Linstead, St. Catherine.  He grew to be a man there and found a trade in masonry.  He was what they call a practical mason.  He worked with much knowledge and a little theory.  He got to a point where he could read a plan as well.

At age 20 he moved to town to work.  He married and became a family man at this point as well.  He stayed in town until 1975 when violence was rising and he had 4 children to care for.  From 1970 on there was more and more violence and less and less love and neighborly feelings.  This was the time that political uprisings were becoming more and more common.  As he said, “The love around us started to disappear.”  In 1975 he moved back to Linstead because he could not take the violence any longer.  They rented and kept the family as close as possible.  In 1978 his last child was born, and they decided they needed their own place.  He looked to farming to help feed the family.  They found a little land and built a home.  Sometime later his wife got diabetes and fell very ill.  Life was hard and it was a struggle to send the kids to school.  There was also a decrease in work available in town.  In 1980 there was a revolution in town and guns were prevalent and many people were dead.  This conflict caused struggles throughout the island.

He managed to get all the kids through school and in 1995 his wife passed on.  He left for the North Coast after the wife died as all the kids were grown now.  He found a little work on the North Coast.  He eventually remarried.  At some point he found that the contractors that hired him paid unfairly.  They often do not pay the right amount and when you hire a sub-contractor or labor you are responsible to pay them first.  This caused more money issues.

He remember back to his roots and that his belly always full when his father farmed.  He decided he wanted to return “back to the good old days”.  He had a plot of land near St. Ann’s Bay.  The problem with this was the difficulty of getting the produce off the land to the market.  He heard about the Emancipation Land Program, a political mandate to release lands to the people for farming and homesteading.  The idea was to create some stability for the people already captured on the land.  Making the homesteads legitimate would hopefully create a  stability to the people here.  (This is how I understand the idea, from what I was told.  This program is why the Farm Association here was formed. Click the link up there to learn more about how this program works)  He found a plot and wanted to focus on home and family and avoid dishonest contractors.  Sadly his wife wanted no part of going back to the land.  She stayed in Steer Town, St. Ann.  Mr. Mighty put it this way, “Love start to disappear cause money short!”

He has lived in a little board house with no running water for a few years now.  He is registered with the Three Hills Farmers’ Association, RADA and JAS.  He is still hopeful that he will one day get legal tenure of the land but he is a legal tenant and now has water. He is currently beginning construction on a block home as he feels more confident in his status on the land now.  He does miss the idea of cooperation where farmers would help each other out instead of compete against each other.  In his childhood he remembers excess harvest given to the infirm and the widows to help out.  Sharing and cooperation are missing in the modern world, but to give is to receive blessings.

He has been sick for the last 6 years with arthritis in his foot and glaucoma in his eye.  He says “the pressure is on, but I am determined to fight until the end of my time”.  He has many small plots of land even though his health is a struggle he grows what he eats and eats what he grows, as it should be.

30 Things I learned in Jamaica that I never knew I needed to know!


This post is part of the #BloggingAbroad blog challenge.

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You come to a foreign country and hopefully you have researched some about the language and culture and even the food that are consumed there.  But this is never enough to get to the root of the culture.  There are so many things no books can tell you and you will just have to experience them for yourself.  Here is my list of things I never knew I needed to know in Jamaica!

 

  1. There is more than one type of Banana
  2. There is more than one type of mango
  3. There is more than one type of avacado and they call them pear here and other parts of the world
  4. There is more than one type of pineapple, known as pine here, also pineapple does not grow on trees
  5. An apple is not always round
  6. You must always have clothes for the road and clothes for the yaad
  7. Your shoes must be clean when going on the road
  8. A taxi can hold 6-7 people legally
  9. No matter how you show friendship it never looks like it does at home
  10. How long it takes for a dead dog to decay and the smell associated with it
  11. The multitude of ways to utilize cabbage in meals
  12. Bok choy (pok chow) is a breakfast food as is okra and fish
  13. A man asking you to marry him is not likely serious.
  14. A man asking you to marry him at first sight might actually be serious
  15. A mongrel dog is not a stray even when it appears to have no owners, it has owners somewhere
  16. Fighting chickens have their lower pants feathers shaved off
  17. I might be crazy for thinking chickens or dogs have feelings
  18. Church is an all day affair most times
  19. Cricket is as long and as uninteresting as baseball, to me
  20. Tea can be chocolate, coffee or any hot beverage in a cup and most jamaicans will ask if they can have some of your tea and not really want it, just want you to offer to share
  21. Rum and beer are good at 6 am
  22. What breadfruit is and that it is real
  23. A stranger will beg a dolla from you and have more money in their pocket than you do
  24. Styrofoam and plastics make good cooking fires! (Yuck)
  25. To actually be Jerk, the food must be cooked in a jerk pan. It is about the smoke not the sauce
  26. There are reindeer in Portland Jamaica, I cannot prove or disprove this
  27. The burial of a loved one costs more money than it did when they were alive
  28. A thief will break into a place an sometimes only steal the food
  29. Children are never protected, no car seat, no seatbelt no supervision
  30. Everyday someone gets beat down at school, every single day!
  31. Bonus: Akee must open on its own and the flower parts removed or it is poisonous!

 

These are not unique to Jamaica but I have learned them here.

#22 BTW breadfruit is the most amazing and simple food for the future there ever was.

Breadfruit

#10 Dead animals can decay anywhere from 3-5 days depending on heat and if the vultures find it.

#24 People often do cook over burning rubbish and it smells disgusting.

#19 Cricket is long drawn out and if I liked baseball it might be fun but I do not and I find it boring and sitting in the sun is not my favorite sport.

#16 Cock fights are real and they do shave the bottom portion of the chicken, quite weird.

 

#25 A jerk pan is a kind of bbq and the secret is more the type of wood to make the coal and fire.

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#4  Pineapple actually grows from a bush and if you cut the top of a pine off and leave some fruit flesh attached you can put it into the soil and it will grow again!

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#3 so many varieties of avocado that one would never know if they never go outside the grocery store!

pears

Some of these items seem crass and downright horrific, but in reality they are just part of the culture and these are just s few of the things I have learned.

Beyond growing up is growing whole


This is a personal conflict of mine.  It is a battle I have been fighting from the time I was young.  It is a battle I am tired of fighting.  It is the pain that still pierces my heart.

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I am going to share first the pain I lived through growing up.  If you read my blog you know that I lived with sexual harassment and assault daily in high school.  I have so much trauma over it that as soon as I finally had found someone to marry, who was more of an escape than a partner, I allowed myself to gain a massive amount of weight.  I went from 120 lbs to 230 lbs over a 3 year period.  Until recently I have never really thought about my weight gain, mostly just about my weight loss and my healthier lifestyle.  I used to blame it on beer and pizza but in reality, I can finally say, it was about making myself less desirable.  It was about avoiding unwanted attention and making myself unattractive.  Even before I was married I suffered sexual harassment at work.  Men would try to stick their hands up my uniform skirt, they would say rude sexual things, they would touch me inappropriately and I did nothing to defend myself physically.  I never understood that I was the victim of the worst type of abuse and no matter who dished it out, I just took it.  I felt weak and alone.  I felt ugly and picked on.

This abuse built up over time.  When I was in second grade, about age 8, my family moved to a new school district.  It was hard enough to move in the middle of the school year but it was even worse that my mother dressed me like Raggedy Ann with bloomers and frilly dresses with pinafores (read aprons).  Some of my clothes even had bonnets like Holly Hobby.  To top it off my mother insisted that I have my hair permed in the biggest wooliest fro ever.  So she sent me to school as a target, literally.  The first day of class a boy named Richard Duran pulled the chair out from under me just before I sat down and I nearly broke my tailbone, I may actually have.  I will never know because my parents never took us to the doctor unless someone demanded it.  Later on that year I was the VIP for the week.  We all got one week to be VIP (Very Important Person) and we had a corner with a bulletin board to put up pictures and display our favorite things for the week.  As a child I collected Breyers horses and my mom would only allow me to take one.  I took the first one I was ever given. That Friday for some reason we went across the street to the high school and watched the boys basketball team play.  That same boy grabbed my horse out of my box and since he was a row ahead of me I could not reach it as he put it down on the gym floor and the basketball hit it and broke off all the legs.  I cried for hours, maybe days.  Actually I still cry.  This boy tormented me for years.  I hated him. I hated him so bad that about 10 years ago I heard he committed suicide and I was inwardly happy he was dead.  Is that not sick?  Is that not a sign there is something desperately wrong?  No that is a sign that a bully finally got what they may have deserved.  It is hard to mourn your tormentors, like a child suffering abuse when their abusive parent is arrested, they do not really feel regret, just relief.

This abuse in my younger years likely bruised my ego enough to leave me open to the abuse in high school.  If only someone would have stepped up and defended me? I still hate most of the people I grew up with.  Not because they all tormented me but because no one ever stood up for me or picked me up.  I came home from school everyday and cried.  Every new school year I made a list of goals for the year.  Number one on my list every year until my senior year was to be popular and to not cry everyday.  To this day I never cry in public, I rarely cry in private, it is a sign of weakness to me.  I  have a really hard time with crying.  It makes me feel vulnerable and weak and I refuse to be weak around anyone.

Church was no better for me.  I suffered abuse from the pastor’s wife.  I tried to be a good Christian but just never measured up.  I failed at everything.  I was in low math and English classes for years.  At some point, maybe 4th grade I got bumped to the upper English class.  They even put me in the Title 1 class for awhile.  Title 1 is the special needs but not super special needs class.  I cannot even remember how long I was there.  By 6th grade I made it to the top portion of the math class.  I worked my ass off to get there too. I made honor roll every quarter after that.  It was my one thing of pride in all my school years.  I was finally recognized for something good.  In all my grade school years I avoided recess any time I could.  I made excuses and I helped teachers make bulletin boards or worked in the library.  Any reason to not have to spend recess with the other kids.  I hated recess and would rather not play, maybe because it was so lonely or maybe because it was not lonely enough and kids made fun of me.

I think the turning point for me was being in the one physically abusive relationship I was in.  Learning to trust myself and trust other people to understand me was certainly difficult.  I think chat rooms helped me by giving me some distance from those who were interacting with me.  I became pretty aggressive and thick skinned over the barrage of verbal abuse.  I learned how to defend myself with words.  I also learned how to defend myself physically.  After the abusive relationship ended, I had a support group to lean on and learn from.  I also had made one of the greatest friends of my life.

I believe that relationships begin and end for a reason.  I believe that people enter and leave our lives at just the right times.  I believe that nothing is just a random point of fate. I believe we can either build ourselves up or we can allow ourselves to be torn down, but everyone needs to know how to do this.  I think I am strong but I can easily be broken down.  I put on a tough exterior and the tattoos and piercings are part of that.  It is my armor, my protection.  If I can be just weird enough only persons who understand me will stick around long enough to get close enough to get inside.

I have a long way to go to really become whole again.  I have grown up and I have found peace and joy in my life, but all of that buries the pain of my past deep in my head.  One day I will have to face it all.  One day I will have to forgive and move on. To this day I get a great deal of anxiety thinking about going to my hometown.  I refuse to even put any information about where I am from in any of my online backgrounds.  I have less than 5 people from my past on my Facebook or online accounts.

So the question I have for you, how do I move forward, how do I face that pain and focus on forgiving people I hate?  How do I accept this and move forward to becoming whole?  It is a question that has been on my mind lately and I need some answers?

One Year Later In Jamaica: Cha Cha’s Hugelkultur Beds, Literacy Club, and Thoughts on Success


Check out my friend Mel’s blog. She is currently doing a series of guest posts, this is mine!

Adventures of a Honeybee

In order to celebrate making the one-year mark, as well as a way to give readers a glimpse into what other volunteers do on the island, I present the “One Year Later” series. This series celebrates my fellow volunteers as they share what it feels like to make it to the one-year mark as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica. This is the second addition of the series, read the first “One Year Later” here.

Here are Cha Cha’s words on reaching the one-year mark:


school garden building Cha Cha helping to build a school garden

I am assigned to the environment sector in Three Hills, St. Mary. I live about 20 minutes from Ocho Rios on the St. Mary side of the White River. My initial assignment was with the Three Hills Farmer Association. This has been a struggle since the people up here are not really farmers and many do not…

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On the road, danger and freedom.


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In Jamaica most people have “road” clothes and non-road clothes. Road clothes are clean and tidy, pressed and nice. Clothes that are stained and tattered are not clothes you will typically see a Jamaican “on the road” in. On the road refers to either leaving your community or going out into the community to shop or attend church or various other activities. It really means leaving your yaard (yard) or your home area. Jamaicans take pride in their appearance, right down to their shoes. Once a week families will wash all their shoes and everyone is running around in slippers or barefoot. For my host family this occurs on Saturday and the shoes are then put out in the sun for all day, sometimes even put out again on Sunday to ensure the shoes are dry.

pon di road

Going on the road means to walk along the road where there are no sidewalks and the cars drive under a guise of rules which are more like suggestions. The speed limit is merely a suggestion unless there is a traffic stop then it is the law. You will often sees cars passing from opposite directions and the driver will put their hand out and “push” down the air indicating to lower speed for the traffic stops. This is when the “driva” (driver) will ensure the front passenger is seat-belted and they themselves apply their seat belt, which immediately is disengaged once the traffic stop is passed. Once I had a driva put his seatbelt on 6 times in the span of less than 5 miles due to traffic stops, I found it humorous that he would not just leave it on. Another law that is merely a suggestion is the side of the road to drive on. In rural areas road maintenance is not regular. This leaves large potholes in the roads, so drivers know the route well enough that they drive to avoid the pot holes. This often leads to near collisions. The roads are also much narrower than should be for two cars to pass side by side.

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I once asked why persons pulled over for the police, who stand on the roadside and point out cars to pull over. There is often no police vehicle and I was curious why drivers would stop. I mean really what will the police do? I was informed that the police will shoot out your tires if you do not stop. I have not actually heard of this happening so it may just be a belief that keeps persons honest. Either way it is probably best to stop for the police. In one bus I was in a police stop occurred. The police made all passengers in the back of the bus get out and they checked all the bags for “criminal substances”. All bags that is but mine and the guy that was in the front with me. I am not exactly sure why they did not look in our bags but we were not even asked to get out of the vehicle. This was the first and only time I have ever had the entire bus searched. *notes that this occurred right around Christmas time.)

Going on the road might entail walking or biking or even catching a taxi. It really means you have business to attend to. You will see persons on the road that look like they are doing nothing or have no reason to be on the road, and that is accurate. Those persons do not consider themselves to be going on the road. They are simply occupying space and time. You will know this by their manner of dress. Ragged clothes slippers and unkempt appearances mean this person is not ‘pon de road fi bidnez’.

Catching a taxi is an exercise in patience and courage. There is one taxi that most person’s in my area try not to use. He drives fast and it feels careless. I suspect he is just trying to get to and from fast so he can make more money, but dying is not on my agenda and I would be really upset if I died from fear and nothing more. When I see this taxi I find other business to attend to if I can. Unless I have been waiting for a long while, or it is a holiday and taxi are scarce, I try to avoid his car. Once there was almost a head on collision with him and the vehicle I was in as he came flying around the corner on the wrong side of the road. I have no idea how he did not hit us. To this day he must have very busy angels following him around because I have not heard of any accident with him.

kingston buspark

Catching a taxi out of the community is much different than catching one home. A taxi out of the community may be barely full, or it may have 4 in the back seat and 2 in the front if someone is getting left off at the main road. A taxi home will sit in the taxi park and you wait until there are 5 people in a regular car and 7-8 in the big ones that have two back seats. They will not leave until enough people are in the taxi. At night and on Sundays are the most difficult days to travel. Less taxis come and the taxi park is not open. The taxi stand to be used at night never has taxi to my community because people will walk up to avoid the traffic jams. The taxi turn around and load up the road from the taxi park, unless you know this you could be standing there for hours. Sometimes persons walk even further up and this creates difficulties on top of difficult situations. Also the taxis are not route taxis anymore, it can be a taxi that says Great Pond, a white plate (robot) or it can be a regular taxi. It is harder to determine which taxi I need at night. I am so grateful when a neighbor sees me and assists me in finding my taxi. I know the day drivers but at night it is so difficult to tell.

coaster time

On the road you will see many variety of vehicles. Motorcyles, cars and I even saw a brand new Corvette the other day. There are delivery trucks, mini bus and coaster bus on this side of the island. You will see yellow plated vehicles, these are government vehicles. You will see red plated vehicles, these are authorized passenger vehicles. You will see green plated vehicles, these are used for business, mostly trucks, vans and delivery trucks. You will see white plated vehicles, these are personal vehicles. There might be all variety of plate colors but these are the most common.

donkey and dog

Other things you might see ‘pon di road are animals of all types, goats, chickens, cows, donkeys, horses and of course dogs. You will also see dead animals rotting and bloating which will attract the John Crows, or vultures. If you hit a man’s goat you must pay for the goat, at least that is what I have heard. Do not make curry goat stew of him, that will get you in trouble! Most drivers try to avoid hitting animals as it damages the cars and mess them right up. This brings up my final thought on being on the road! People will wash their cars quite often. It is about appearance and people will judge if your car is dirty from more than just a day or so of road dust. So keep up your appearances ‘pon the road, because the local people will notice and feel disrespected if you don’t!

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Di man tell mi him  cow a follow me.  The cow was following me most definitely!