This is the third in a series of blogs for the #bloggingabroad challenge. I wish it was easy to say how a day in my life here looks, but it is not. This is due to not having a real schedule and days never looking even remotely the same. Unlike an ed volunteer I kind of just wing it, as the saying goes. It did briefly touch on a typical Saturday for life in Jamaica here! (click that lil link and read about that topic!) So lets break this down a bit.
My days typically start out at 5:30am (man that is so early not even the rooster has crowed yet!) I start off with making coffee and a light snack and a sun salutation yoga series. Yes I do this almost daily. I then get dressed in my workout clothes and head out the door, do not forget the bug spray! I meet up with a few local women and we walk about 2.5 miles give or take. I have gotten used to my routine and even away from home have adopted to doing it. I typically get back around 7:45 and have coffee and start thinking about my day’s activities. It could be a school project or a visit to the community or even a trip to Ochi. It all really depends on the day and what needs to get done.
Some days are spent focused on getting some paperwork done and communications out in emails, other days are spent at the local schools with the kids (these are my favorite days!) I am hoping that soon the farmers will want to work on a project again, but I am not pushing that agenda. I spend time daily corresponding with my supervisor and going with him as he does deliveries and what not. We have long conversations about how to address different issues in the community. These conversations often direct how I approach the next day to address an issue brought up. Monday and Thursday nights are spent working on adult literacy. I really enjoy this project and hope that it builds more momentum. More and more people are joining as either student or as mentors. The more the community gets involved the more I see myself stepping back to allow for the community to grow the project themselves.
Other evenings are spent at home cooking dinner and corresponding back home. I spend a lot of time sharing my life online. I think it helps not only myself and my family but others to understand much of the cultures here, my own culture and my struggles. I think I excel at Peace Corps Goal 3! (This is the goal to share my host country culture with those back home.) I am currently trying to find people in my community that want to share their stories, either how they live or more interesting how they grew up. I find these stories to be the best and most culturally diverse. So some of my time is spent in gathering the stories. Some of the time I tell my stories and share my culture. Being that Jamaica is so close to the US and that the tourist come here often breaking stereo types is my biggest challenge.
When I tell community members that I have not owned a car in the states since 2004 they look shocked and confused. I explain that the cost of owning a car outweighed the benefit of having it. Explaining how public transit is different is also somewhat shocking to them. The idea of one person in a taxi is so strange to them, unless it is a chartered taxi. These cost much more. For a trip directly to my door from Ochi it costs me $250 JD, a chartered taxi cost me $700 JD to my door from the exact same location. So I obviously just “small-up” and ride along with the local people, I am frugal like that!
Some days I get the opportunity to go to the beach or to the river, but these days are not as common as days spent seemingly lazy around my community. I tend to facilitate and direct projects rather than actually do them. I find people learn a concept more when it is hands on and they do it themselves, plus once they start the project they might see another way to do it. This my friends is when you know you have made a difference, this is showing ownership in the project and I encourage it. I do not want people here to remember me and my projects, I want them to remember that they built up their community and created greater relationships in the process.
So what does a typical day for me look like? I have no idea because no day is ever typical and no two days are ever the same! Some days I might challenge the men who cock fight that those chickens have feelings and they should be ashamed of themselves to which I get blank stares and whispers that the white girl might be crazy, until I wink at them and smile. I love to tell them that there are no pants chickens in their yaard and they might need to get some pants for their chickens, again to whispers that the white girl might be crazy! In the end my days run together and look much like building a home, but with relationships and not blocks. The mortar is the human experience which binds all of our interactions and relationships together.