Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Pictures

I have added pictures to my Flickr account of our Blue Mountain hike and some photos of my project in Beeston Spring

Monday, April 28, 2008

Blue Mountain Peak 2, Back To The Peak

On Sunday, April 20 we made our second attempt at Blue Mountain Peak. For our first attempt, see our previous post from January. The second attempt was both better and worse than the first. We did learn somethings from the first time and we were much more prepared. We knew that we needed to leave as early as possible and to bring flashlights so we could hike back in the dark if we needed too. As a result we left at 6 am and brought flashlights. It was a good thing too because we needed all the time we could get and we still came home in the dark.

We left Mavis Bank at 6:15 hiking toward peak. We're not sure exactly how far it is, but we are guessing between 12 and 13 miles. We like to say 13 so we can claim to have walked a marathon. Either way it is a plenty long hike. We kept a nice relaxed but constant pace and made it to the top almost exactly 6 hours later. We were tired but not in too bad of shape. The last time we made a couple desperate pushes to try to make the top and the result was cramping muscles and overall exhaustion. This trip we were relaxed and feeling good at the top. We sat there for an hour eating lunch and relaxing before heading down.

Heading down we made a mistake. The three of us (Carrie, JJ, and I) felt that the reason we hurt so bad last time was our big push to reach the top, which we didn't make. Not so it turns out. It was 11 miles of walking downhill. We reached the river crossing at the bottom around 7 and the sun had set. We were slowed down slightly by some tasty yellow raspberry like berries (little yellow crack berries as we called them) that were highly addictive. They were the first berries I have had in Jamaica. In reality they were more forced rests than anything else. By the time we were done my knees, ankles, calves, hamstrings, and every other muscle and joint in my legs was in agony. Just to say we did it we walked the last two miles on the road back up to JJ's. The only reason I think we were able to do that was because we had been in so much pain that now our legs were mostly numb. We finished 6.5 hrs after leaving the peak.

I am glad we did it and I am never doing it from Mavis Bank in one shot again. The top was clouded in so we didn't get very good views, but it was beautiful up there and hiking in the clouds is really neat. I would still like to do a sunrise hike from the hostels 7 miles from the peak.

We also found out that the last time we tried for peak we came up about 1/4 mile short. It took us 10 minutes to get from where we turned around to the top. If we had known we would have gone all the way up the last time, but we made the right decision for that day as we weren't sure how far we had to go, we started an hour and a half later than we should have, and we didn't have any flashlights for night hiking.

I have lots of pictures and hopefully one day this week I will have time to upload them.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Random Mumblings

I have had a cold for the past week. I am now going to blame that for one of the more disturbing things that has happened to me in a while. Last night I wanted a blanket. I was satiated with our blanket that is about as thick as a sheet, but I really felt like the second layer was nice. When I checked the temperature in the morning the low was 73 degrees. Six months ago I was praying for 73 so I wouldn’t wake up soaked in sweat. It is going to be hard going back to seasons. Another interesting thing happened. I completely lost my sense of smell, and so the same to my sense of taste. This was a bad time as we got a couple packages with tasty treats in them. Carrie didn’t appreciate that my comment on the gummy worms was, “Yes these are good. They taste like chewy.”

Here is an odd comment on the mail that we have been getting. Paul has the most interesting stamps. No one else has sent us Jury Duty stamps. We also like the stickers.

Construction has started on my project in Beeston Spring. Things are moving very fast there. Hopefully construction will go fast as the community has a stand pipe but the tank needs to be done during the rainy season.


Our hobbies outside of work are coming along nicely. Our garden has beans and tomatoes growing well. My pumpkins that I planted in the yard over a month ago are starting to bloom, but I don’t know that they are being pollinated. We planted some summer squash that I am a bit surprised to see bloom even though they are a foot tall or less. I’m not sure exactly what they will do. We also have six cucumber plants ready for transplant. My wine experiment is also going well. I racked the pineapple wine into the secondary container on Monday. The color is beautiful. After I had taken out the good wine and left the sediment in the primary I poured a little bit out of the primary and tasted it. It tasted like alcohol and old yeast. At least we have succeeded in the alcohol part.

Pineapple and Orange Wine

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A translation of sorts

I find that I try hard to be constantly optimistic in my work here. That can be a definite asset in so many ways...often situations are difficult for reasons beyond the control of those involved and there is no need to get upset or frustrated. Those emotions really can just get in the way of figuring out what is the real problem. Of course those emotions don't just affect those of us from Foreign, but locals as well. So, I try to stay upbeat and detached to help myself and others move on.

That being said, I find that I could be falling a bit too much into this habit. Scott and I helped to facilitate an event today that was, to say the least, haphazard and stressful for all involved. After it was over, I said, "That went well." I meant to give the team involved a lift and to encourage them not to walk away with a downcast feeling. But I guess the more accurate translation of my sentiment would be, "Well, that wasn't the absolute disaster that it could have been, I think one or two people learned something, and we all handled the situation with relative grace." What kind of message am I really sending?

On another, genuinely positive note, I want to send out a big up to our literacy class students. The rainy season has officially started (complete with heavy downpours every afternoon) and we still had almost 10 people in class today. Big up, unu! (Translation- "Well done, y'all!")

Peace and good night.