Hello from the Land of Wood and Water!


So this week has been a spectacular week.  Started off on Sunday with a ladies day of getting pampered!  I went with my host mom and one other lady from our group and we got our hair dyed and cut.  For $1300 JD, about 12.75 US we were pampered and colored and styled to our hearts content.  Some days you just have to spoil yourself.  Remember this ladies, there is nothing wrong with a full treatment at a salon!  Later that night I spent the evening with the one couple in our group looking at language homework.  We got some help from a very nice young man who lives next door!

On Monday we had a farm field day.  This tested our ability to be resilient and flexible.  Some of us are not quite there yet.  As in other non-westernized countries, Jamaicans tend to be late.  Not because it doesn’t matter or that they cannot tell time, simply because there are things that come up.  Things like transportation issues, impromptu meetings and things that in America would appear rude.  It was the same in Liberia, and I think we as Americans need to let go of our strict schedules and just wing it once in a while!  By the time the leaders of our session arrived it was nearly lunch time.  We decided to wait until after lunch, which was a bit rough for us.  Not only have we been waiting, we are hungry and after lunch is when it really gets hot and most farmers are not working the fields at this time.   We somehow managed to make it work and we all learned a few things along the way.  The day may have been stressful, but as long as someone learned something it can be counted as a success.

Monday was also the day that I realized, I cannot eat fish twice a day and not have some evil results.  I woke up and had runny belly.  If you have to ask, you have never been outside the states!  I told my host mom no more fish for a few weeks to allow my stomach to recover. Sadly I forgot to mention sailfish as well.  The next day I had salt fish and callalou.  It is similar to collard greens but I asked her to stop putting sailfish in my food as well.  She has since been very gracious and makes my food separately.

Tuesday and Wednesday were used to prepare for our Eco-camp.  We hosted a half-day eco-camp at the local school on Thursday and Friday.  We planned and organized and even baked cakes for the camp.  My issue is getting my motivation up for this in the later half of the day.  By lunchtime I am pretty much out to lunch and the rest of the day is just a blur.  I wish I could change it, but the heat and the sitting for hours has made it most difficult to get excited about much.

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Eco-camp was a blast.  We each took turns with lessons and monitoring children.  It is difficult to get older girls specifically to get excited about farming, but we managed a bit.  The first day was more learning and less fun.  We heard that they liked the running the best.  My group did two sessions on Thursday, so I was a bit surprised that we had another session on Friday!  I guess this happened when I was busy doing nothing in general.  Thankfully it was just a relay to fill in some time! For school kids apparently relays are the best!

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We got half a day off on both Thursday and Friday and it was glorious.  On Thursday I spent time with my host mom.  It is difficult to live in someone’s home and not get to spend much time with them.  It feels rude and disrespectful, so I try to spend as much time at home as possible.  In the past two weeks I have been doing yoga before I go home, so I get home a bit later than normal.  It is a little frustrating that dinner is not a family affair.  It seems that in most Jamaican homes you are given your food separately.  The family does not eat together. This makes interactions even more challenging.  I like to eat and have conversations.

On Friday many of us went to the beach and enjoyed ourselves.  Sadly something kept stinging me while I was in the water.  Whatever it might have been left a pretty nasty welt on my leg.  Not sure what it was exactly, it could have been the tail of  stingray or a sea wasp, which is a type of sea jelly.  Either way the experience was unpleasant.  However,  the beach is my favorite place no matter what!

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On Saturday we had a great day planned.  We chartered a bus and all but two of us were whisked away up to a place called Reach Falls.  We got a guided tour through he waterfalls and into caves up through multiple pools to the beginning of the falls.  It was an amazing adventure, sadly my camera is not waterproof so no pictures in the cave unless I snag them from some other trainees.  The water was cold and clear and amazing.  The first time I have been cool since getting here.  I will definitely go back.  At the end of the falls we slid down a hole into a cave.  We had to go underwater to get out of the cave through a waterfall.  We had to go under a cave through the water to finally get out.  It was challenging but amazing.  Our reward for this was the ability to jump off the falls into the pool at the bottom.  I am a coward and I am not ashamed.  If I had a few shots or beers I would have done it.

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We left Reach Falls after many hours and many jumps, which I actually did jump from a lower level around 1 in the afternoon.  We headed to Boston Beach.  Here we ate lunch.  Many had a variety of Jerk products, but I had Itol food.  This is what some refer to as Rasta food.  It is typically cooked “clean” and mostly vegetarian.  No salt, no oil, no processed anything!  But absolutely the best tasting food around in my humble opinion.

After lunch we found our way to the most gorgeous beach.  White sand, and an abundance of sea life.  I was pretty certain a few of the “rocks” I kept running into were not rocks at all.  I finally convinced someone to go down and scoop up said rock.  It was indeed a creature!  I was stepping on a sea urchin.  We managed to re-home it under a large rock where no one would step on it.  The magic of the sea is that even when  the water is crystal clear there is still an abundance of life!  I was sad to see the day end, but I was happy to get home and shower.  No matter what part of Jamaica I end up in, I am certain there will be these most glorious pockets of paradise!  After all it is the “Land of Wood and Water!”

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Sunday for me is the day of work.  My family is 7th day Adventist so no work on Saturday!  And yes as promised I did go to church.  Today I did more than just my laundry, which is typically my work.  I have a washer here so the only hand washing is my underwear and a couple of stained items that I had to rewash.  Thankfully my host family in Liberia trained me well on hand washing.  I finished my laundry and had breakfast and coffee, then I proceeded to clean my room.  Sadly I am a slob, but can only take the clutter for so long.  If I had a laundry basket it would be a bit easier for me.  This is the first item I will purchase when placed at my site!  I cleaned my room and even swept and beat the rug out!  Later in the day I had a coconut jelly, which for those who speak English is coconut water, right out of the coconut!  All in all, life is amazing and simple!

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