Monday, February 25, 2008

New Pictures

I have uploaded new photos to my Flickr site. These include photos from Gabe's visit and the Negril Donkey Races.

Donkeys Are Funny WhenThey Race Too

Two weekends ago we had a great time in Negril at the donkey races. It was fantastic. The rotary club puts on donkey races each year with small carnival rides and games as a fund raiser. As Peace Corps volunteers we are asked if we would like to assist with projects like these and we usually say yes because we tend to get food and/or a t-shirt. Well worth it. The donkey races are as funny as you think they would be. First they dress the donkeys and riders (Jamaican donkey jockeys) up as a theme. We saw pirates, lifeguards, and other similar costumes. Then the riders race the donkeys three at a time so there are plenty of heats to spread the day out. The donkeys do not care to be ridden so there are donkeys running under bamboo rails to knock the rider off or bucking the rider off or just not moving at all. A fantastic day.

I found out this week that my community has been approved for the grant to complete my project. We will have 2 plus million (Jamaican) to rebuild the storage tank and put in a wash house at Beeston Spring. This should make me ecstatic. Just by getting the grant I have made my Peace Corps experience a success. But I have been apathetic towards it so far, which makes Carrie also wonder what is wrong with me. I am pretty sure I just need a vacation. This month has wore me out and I feel like a couple days away would be good. Carrie’s parents are coming down in a couple weeks and we are going to spend some time at Treasure Beach. Hopefully that will give me a recharge.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"You are looking tumultuous today!"

I had an interesting incident of harassment today. I was walking through a schoolyard and a kid chirped at me and called out, "You're looking tumultuous today!" I kept walking, as I usually do in this kind of circumstance, and then I stopped almost laughing out loud as it registered what he actually said. I went back to the kid and asked if he knew what that word meant. He said no. I told him to look it up before he used it. I walked past again a bit later and he asked if it meant having multiple personalities. I said no, and that he should try to find a dictionary. What a strange interaction.

I wish this would happen more often. I have never had an easier time bantering back and forth than in this case. And with each back and forth, everyone in the surrounding area laughed. This is generally my ultimate goal in bantering with people on the street. And I managed it this time with vocabulary knowledge? How bizarre.

Monday, February 11, 2008

How would you feel if this happened to you?

During the first several months of service, I found myself often longing for home (or at least the familiar) and wondering if I made the right choice. Last week I experienced something that helped to affirm my decision to join the Peace Corps. After hearing about the violence following the December elections in Kenya, I thought about those volunteers often and wondered where they were and if any were still at their sites, half expecting to hear the news of a program suspension any day. Even though I was anticipating such an announcement, hearing the news that the Kenya Peace Corps program has actually been suspended broke my heart. My eyes filled with tears when I read that email and imagined leaving my communities tomorrow and unexpectedly not being able to go back for the foreseeable future. Even given the challenges that arise, the frustrations of working in an unfamiliar culture, and the uncertainty of what impact we are actually able to make in the lives of the people we work with, I am invested in and enamored with this experience. This is a good place for me to be and I cannot imagine leaving it tomorrow or the next day.

So, my thoughts are with all the former Kenya PCVs and their supervisors, counterparts, host-families, friends and co-workers.

I’m going to go out and enjoy my community today.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

You Sure They Don't Have Lyme Disease in Jamaica?

On interesting item from Gabe's visit. We woke up one morning and Carrie found a tick on her foot. That of course leads to everyone checking themselves. I had Gabe check my back and everyone said that was it. Then about ten minutes later Carrie found another tick only this one was much smaller than the first. This was followed by a much more careful check. This time Gabe found 18 ticks on my back. In the end Gabe had about 5, Carrie had 18-20, and I had 37. What an interesting morning.

Ash Wednesday is a public holiday here. I'm still never really sure what days we have off until a day or two before. We were also excited because several months ago we heard that Carnival was really big in Jamaica. We never heard more about it and were surprised when all of a sudden we learned that it was Ash Wednesday and there weren't any big parties planned. Then we learned that Carnival was a traveling carnival (i.e. circus) that travels around the island over the summer. I am still looking forward to Carnival, but I do miss the king cake.

The US election is starting to become a talking point in Jamaica. I have people at work ask me about it almost everyday. I would like to say that I am informed because I get and read Newsweek free from the Peace Corps, but that would be a lie because I get and read Newsweek a month late. Right now I am just reading the January 7 issue. I also don't spend as much time as I would like online reading about them. In the end I know how the delegate count stands but I don't really know much of the differences between the candidates. I'm not voting in the primaries because I haven't figured out the absentee ballot from Jamaica yet, but I will be voting in the general election in November. I will just have to find time to read more about the issues before then.