Thursday, September 27, 2007

Assessing Weight Loss And A Comment I Have Never Heard Before

Before I joined the Peace Corps, anytime I wanted to know what I weighed I stepped on a scale. To get a sense of actual weight loss I would weigh myself at the same time everyday wearing the same clothes. I have found this not to be the case in Jamaica.

We don't have a scale so weighing myself at home is out of the question. This makes it a little bit hard because I used to weigh myself first thing in the morning. There are weights a the health center where I work. Again, a little difficult because I used to weigh myself with nothing on. I feel if I tried that I would no longer be in the Peace Corps. Also, the scales at the health center tell me I weigh somewhere between 150 and 225 pounds depending on which one I step on.

Okay, now I don't know what I weigh. I feel like my clothes are loser though. Oh yes. When you don't own a dryer none of your clothes shrink. In addition, when washing by hand you wring everything out, which stretches the clothes. All of my undershirts look like they are two sizes too big for me (which they now are). I am pretty sure I have lost about 10 pounds since I have been in Jamaica. I gather this by looking at approximate weights on the health center scales. I am pretty sure it was more, but then I came Hurricane Dean and the week of buffet meals and no exercise. During the hurricane I was told that I looked emaciated, which is something I have never heard before when referring to me. I think the closest to that previously was, "If you didn't eat so much some of the emaciated people could get a little bit."


Happy Birthday, Scott!

Wednesday was Scott's 28th birthday. Happy day to him! It was a mostly uneventful day as far as celebration is concerned because we had a community peer councilor all-day session scheduled that we were helping to facilitate. But our host mother put together a very nice dinner for him and we enjoyed a long, comfortable dinner complete with wine and banana cake with ice cream for dessert. We celebrated a little bit last weekend in MoBay with a few other volunteers with the other half of the banana cake and a wonderful lasagna dinner (thanks, A'Nova!).

Funny how so much of the celebration revolves around food. How wonderful!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Think That Dog Really Likes You

Dogs in Jamaica have a different function than dogs in the states. They are used primarily as guard dogs and are very rarely considered pets. As a result most just sit in the yard and wait for someone to walk by so they can bark at them. To fill the time they breed. None of the dogs here are fixed, which led me to have the odd observation that I have never seen teets on a dog before I came here. There are a few dogs that will approach and not mind human contact. Most dogs keep their distance and try to avoid being kicked. The dogs that do approach will occasionally enjoy a little scratch behind the ears. If the dog is male he usually gets very "excited" and is "tickled pink". It takes about 2 seconds before he is trying to hump your leg. You have to be careful about what dogs you pet around here.

Things are progressing slowly. Last week was a busy week for me. I had something going on every night and spent most days preparing for meetings and presentations. There was only one day I spent trying to fill the time. I also kicked off my project with meetings on Wednesday morning and Friday night. The rest of the week was spent helping with a HIV/STI peer councilor training. This week is slow again. I was hoping to have a meeting today for my project that would hopefully lead to more community water quality education, but that meeting has been put off until next Wednesday. I don't think my project will really get going for a couple months yet. I am trying to fill my time by asking other people in the department if I can tag along on meat inspections and such and that is giving me some stuff to do. In the next month I will also hopefully start helping out the three parishes near the one where my primary projects are. "Soon Come" as they say in Jamaica. Some days I envy the teachers who have a class show up every day and they have something to teach. On the other hand I appreciate my freedom to look for other things to work on. It is just taking me a while to get to know the department and see how I can help outside of my project.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

A sparkly new button

The Jamaican public transportation system is quite effective. A lot of people don't have cars, so public rides are the way to get from place to place. It's also quite easy-- we just walk down our road to the main highway in the area and wait. When the bus comes that we want, it stops right there for us. There are an infinite number of bus stops in Jamaica.
The taxis and buses are heavily used vehicles. I caught a glimpse of one of the odometers for a taxi- ~500,000 km- and it was one of the newer looking taxis, though that was perhaps due to the flashy paint job and high decibel sound system. The buses, a modified 15-passenger van of sorts, are run every day of the week and take a beating from the number of passengers and the constant back and forth on the roads. I did notice one button in the bus I took the other day that was in pristine condition. It was next to the heavily used sun visors and driver/passenger reading lights, which were now bare bulbs. The button read, "moon roof" and obviously had never been touched. This made sense given that there was clearly no moon roof in this bus.