This is the final challenge for #bloggingabroad and I have really been trying to think this one though. So my new normal is seeing men and boys running around in their boxers. It is a cultural phenomenon here. In the mornings during the non-rainy season I see my host dad brushing his teeth in the drive with nothing more than a towel on. Both my younger host brothers, and sometimes even the older one will run around in their skivvies. Often at the beach you will see men and boys swim in their skivvies. Women will too, to some extent. Lucky for me I have not witnessed a full fledged bath in the river out in the open as of yet. (Fingers crossed that never happens!)
There are so many cultural nuances that I could choose, but this one is the most mind boggling to me. I suppose in a culture mired in sensuality this should not surprise me. Modesty is not a huge thing in the younger crowd, unless you are a devout church family and then traditional modesty is most certainly prevalent. There are many things here that I never thought would be my new normal or that I would be doing or seeing. Things like suddenly getting 10-20 marriage proposals daily. I suddenly feel like the hottest girl around, but I also know these are not meaningful proposals and they are simply a means to an end. Another thing I never thought would happen is for me to avoid local bars and clubs. I simply am not going to put myself in that position here. In America I am certainly not afraid to walk alone in the dark, but here I have decided not to take the chance. The fact that most of the time the clubs and bars are only full of men is a huge problem as well. I do not need to get a reputation like that.
During regular days when I go out I mitigate some unwanted attention, but for the most part I navigate fairly smoothly within my community. The biggest issue for me is that I live in the scheme and getting home after dark requires a walk up a dark gully and a decently long walk along a fairly darkened road. I do not often see local people walking along these roads at night, therefore I am inclined to follow suit.
Jamaica is heavily influenced by the tourism industry and sometimes it is hard to remember that I am not in America and the laws and gender standards are not the same. I live near a tourist destination and I can get almost anything I want here, ie: mushrooms and feta cheese and decent wine! This sucks me into this feeling of how home is, but then I ride the taxi home and I remember that I am most certainly not in America. Every place has its ups and downs, here the ups far outweigh the downs for me. I have the ocean, which I can see from my home, the river, also visible from my home, decent food selection and fairly consistent transportation. I am grateful for the opportunity to see life outside of myself and my perceptions, just because it looks a bit like home does not mean it is like home!