Saturday, July 28, 2007

Baseball and Other Things American

Everyone has their little things that get them through the day. In my case, it has been the days. We have been at our sites for two weeks now, and it is taking time to get used to the new setting and the pace of life. We all need those little things to make us feel comfortable and relaxed. For most of the last two weeks for me it was books. I have read three and my supplies are dwindling. That is when I discovered the satellite dish. Carrie has been less than enthusiastic unless I am watching some movie she may be interested in. I have been using this as a means of teaching our host family baseball. They seem to enjoy my switching to a game to check the score during the commercial break on their shows.

We are back in Kingston for another week of training here. It is nice to get together and swap stories with other trainees. Our situation seems to be pretty good.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The fruit, the fruit!

Our host family has a wonderful selection of fruit trees in their yard. We took a tour of them the other day and would like to share it with you all. Just keep in mind that while you get to learn about them, we enjoy fresh fruit at least twice a day. Huzzah!

Ackee: This fruit is poisonous unless allowed to open on the tree. The fruits are yellow in color and quite creamy when cooked. They are not sweet and I don't really agree with the scrambled egg comparison that they often get. But when cooked with saltfish, onions, and spices for breakfast they are quite tasty. The Jamaicans knew what they were doing when choosing their national dish.

June Plum: Next to gneps (there are no gnep trees in the yard), I think June Plums are our favorite new fruit. Tasty both when ripe and when slightly green. Gneps are wonderful, by the way, and remind me of eating a peeled green grape.
Sweet Sop: There is also a sour sop, but we did not show the picture here. Almost everyone who tries this at first taste does not like it, but after a few morsels I think it grows on you. The fruit comes apart in small sections that you can see from the outside of the fruit- those little nubs. Each section has a black pit that must be spit out.
Pimento (aka Allspice): A wonderful tree! The crushed leaves and the berries smell of allspice. The ones in the picture are close to being ripe. When ripened they are harvested, dried and used whole to season a number of Jamaican dishes.
Guava: There are no fruits on this guava tree, but I know some of you will appreciate this kind of guava instead of the one you are most accustomed to working with.
Breadfruit: Our first encounter with breadfruit was not remarkable, but it is often served roasted at our host home. This gives the starchy flesh a nice smokey flavor with some incorporated sweetness and a light, spongy texture. I really like it. It can also be served steamed, boiled or fried.
In addition to learning about the fruit trees in our yards, we are meeting our communities and traveling to some other areas. We went to Negril for a PC meeting last Saturday and part of the meeting was conducted while we were treading water off the coast of the west-end cliffs. Wonderful! But really, we are working and enjoying getting to know the area that we will call home for the next two years.

Monday, July 16, 2007

We're headed to...

...Westmoreland parish! We will be in the far west of the island, near the town of Savanna la Mar which is about an hour from both Negril and Montego Bay. We don't know a lot more about it right now, but we head there tomorrow to continue our training.

Hot dog!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Out of Kingston

After almost 10 days we were finally able to travel outside of Kingston, and it was wonderful. All the trainees from the Health Sector went an hour and a half out of Kingston and helped a local community center pave the area in front of the center. It was hard work, but 20 people can get a lot of work done in just a couple hours. The process was different from any cement work I had seen before. It started by moving enough fist sized rocks to cover the area and provide a base. The rocks were found by looking around the building and were all moved in buckets and laid by hand. Then several hundred pounds of sand and gravel were piled up and mixed by hand with four bags of cement. I had never done it all by hand before. It was good to see and help with the process.

We finished up the day by going into Morant Bay and visiting one of the current Volunteers who is stationed there. He is a sanitation engineer and showed us a couple projects he has done. It felt so good to get off campus.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Daimon's Wedding

Today is my brother's wedding. It was a disappointment to have to miss the wedding to be here in Jamaica and we really wish we were there. We are thinking of everyone who is there.

Today was our first trip off the campus we are staying on into Kingston. We were divided into groups and given a guide to show us around. Our first attempt at public transportation and the markets. An eye opening experience.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cell Phones

We did get cell phones our first day in Jamaica. They are all pay as you go here. Also of interest, you can dial the US by simply dialing 1-area code-number. It is the same to dial Jamaica. It is charged as an international call though. If you are interested in my phone number, send me an email.


First days in-country

This afternoon was our first significant free time since we arrived in Jamaica. There was a nice breeze, a cricket match on the pitch, and there was time to enjoy the day and relish in the fact that we are actually here. Our location right now is beautiful and mountains surround the campus. During the long days of training it's important to remember to take in the view while we are bustling around.

There is promise of a trip or two off campus this weekend, which will be the next step in our acclimation. PC is doing a pretty impressive and subtle job of introducing us to the culture, food, and environment. Each meal seems to get a little more spicy. All the food is wonderful, especially callaloo, which is kind of a cross between collard greens, spinach and celery and is served up spicy for breakfast. We had a sampling of various Jamaican fruits and goodies the other day. It's amazing what a tasty treat fresh tropical fruit makes on a hot afternoon. The bananas just taste a little more like bananas, the pineapple is so sweet and good, and the mangoes are unbelievable.

The weather has been good. The highs are 92-94 with humidity, but there is always a nice breeze, and sometimes a good wind, to cool everything down. The lows are in the mid 80's, but it feels cooler than that which makes sleeping comfortable.

Many other PCTs have blogs and we will try to set up links to those pages soon. A lot of people here have been taking pictures already and have posted them. We haven't got around to that just yet.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Miami Pre Service Training

We are now in Miami at pre-service training. We arrived late last night and started this afternoon at 1. Not bad so far. Training was interactive, which helps and we have met some pretty neat people. Lots of interesting backgrounds. We are both excited about the next two years. Tomorrow is our last full day in the states, then Tuesday we check out at 5:30 am to fly to Jamaica. Posts should be more interesting once we get there. It is starting to be more final as we have less than 36 hours left in the states.