Saturday, July 25, 2009

Monthly Post

Looking at the blog for the first time in a while, I see it is time for the monthly post. This one, however, will be a bit different. We have now completed our Peace Corps assignment and are back in the US. July 24 was our last day. We were working very hard up until July 22, even working weekends, to finish up a project, so we didn't have much time to really reflect on our service until now.

It is different thinking about it from the states rather than in Jamaica. I am glad that I did it and if I had the opportunity I would definitely have made the same choice, although I will admit that I would hope for a different country. Jamaica isn't really any one's first choice for a country. It is a tourist country which makes it hard for people to understand our life there, which was much different. It is also difficult to travel around to other countries (almost all flights go to America, London, or Canada with a few others to Grand Caymans, Bahamas, and Cuba) which is one of the reasons we joined Peace Corps. Since Jamaica is so close to the US it feels a little bit like cheating too. You can duck out and head home if you want to at any time. Some volunteers went back 4-5 times. When you are living on the other side of the world you can't take a quick 5 day trip home.

I feel that I got a lot out of the experience and grew immensely as an individual. Jamaica can be a hard place. It can be dirty, hot, difficult and at the same time it can be beautiful and wonderful. I would not say our time was wonderful, but it was good. We worked hard and I know that we made a difference for a lot of people. The victories were peppered with failures and disappointment, but that is what helped me to grow as a person and to learn so much. Hopefully they will keep up the work now that we are gone. The want and the need is there, they just need a little motivation and assistance.

We now have a little bit of travel and visiting friends and relatives before starting our new jobs.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer in Jamaica

I don't know how many people are still following the blog as we only post about once every month, but we are still here. Summer has hit Jamaica with a bang in the past couple of weeks. This is in contrast to the winter when summer is here, but it is a milder form of summer. It has finally stopped cooling off at night. A couple of nights ago it was 87 when we went to bed at 10:30 and 83 when we woke up at 6 the next day. This morning it was 85 at 7 AM. When we leave, we are moving to a place where the July lows average 48. I think Carrie will invest in some sweaters.

We are nearing the end so are starting to think about the past two years. People are asking what we think of Jamaica and the Peace Corps. There were very difficult times and very good times. Overall it was definitely worth it and the experience was great. Another common question is would you recommend this for other people. I would say that I would recommend this for some people. It just isn't right for everyone. All in all, it has been a very good experience and hopefully we can take some of our remaining time here to spend quality time with the friends we have made.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


We recently returned from our first real vacation on the island. Daimon and Kirsten came down for a week and we had a great time showing them around. we spent the last night in Montego Bay with them and once they flew out early in the morning, we took off on our own vacation. 10 days traveling along the north coast. We spent 3 days in St. Anns Bay with Kelly and had a great time cooking, walking, and we did successfully spend most of a day at the beach. This is a greater accomplishment than you might think because we can't sit still and I don't really like sand. We then traveled to Portland where we spent 4 days with Josh and Jesse in their amazing site. Hiking, playing in waterfalls, swimming in the river, and catching up on The Office on their wall (their projector is awesome!). We spent the last couple of days staying at Great Huts in Boston Bay enjoying jerk pork and reading books. We actually spent a whole day reading books. I don't know if that has ever happened before. Then home.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Several weeks ago we went for a 4 mile run and when we were finished we were walking along the beach to cool down. Every morning between six and seven there is a large group of older Jamaicans who come down to walk and swim and they are very friendly. This morning they were all focused on looking out at the water and they didn't say much. Then I saw a fin break the surface. There were two dolphins a couple hundred yards out. They just swam along with their fins and tails breaking the surface every once in a while. We slowed our walk and watched them for about 10 minutes. It was the first time we had seen dolphins, but we had heard that they were in the area. It made for a special morning.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Milestones being reached...

As of next week, I can proudly say that I will have completed my secondary project. My adult literacy program will be officially turned over to the community center for continuation. I will spend the rest of my time at the center working to organize my materials and create a few more easy-to-read adult literacy booklets. I will also continue to tutor my students on a more informal basis. It has been such a pleasure to work with all of them and so rewarding to be witness to their progress.

It's clear to us that the season is shifting into full summer. Yesterday was the first day that an afternoon rain shower caught us without umbrellas. This usually only happens once or twice before we get back in the habit of carrying umbrellas every day for rainy season. This will be our third and final Jamaican summer!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Massive Post of Everything-ness

It is incredible hard to believe that we have approximately six months of service left. Our of 26 total months, a measly six remain. Crazy.

We spent the holidays in America with our own families, though we had several festivities we had to decline in Jamaica to accommodate our trip. Of the 28 days we were in the US, we only saw 1.5 days of bare ground. We wished for snow and we got it. We loved all of it, from walking to skiing to hiking to driving. The time with family, friends, and familiar comforts was rejuvenating. Also, our cat still remembered me and slept at my feet every night. Just wonderful.

Returning to the island was also very heart-warming. Within an hour of landing we both received several phone calls from friends and coworkers. It was good to come back to our home and our community. This place has become comfortable now. The true test of that is to go away and come back.

That being said, we are full-fledged back in working mode now. With this comes the true realization of the continued existence of the frustrating and disheartening parts of this experience. It also brings with it the prospect for continued success and reaching out to just one more person.

We have already had some good fun since we came back as well. We went to our first Jamaican all night stage show, Rebel Salute. The music was good and the overall vibe of the concert was positive. We saw some big name artists (such as Queen Ifrika, Taurus Riley, Beenie Man/Ras Moses) and felt just a little more Jamaican for having had this experience. Though most of our good Jamaican friends that came with us wanted very little to do with the comfortable tarps and blankets we brought. They were up front dancing all night long! The all night long part was hard enough for me.

We were also able to watch the inauguration live on CNN, which was a treat for us. We happened to be at a Peace Corps conference and they altered the schedule to let all the participants watch the coverage. Huzzah!

Remember, I said this was a massive post of everything-ness, so get ready. Upon leaving my job in the US, I figured that I would miss working in the laboratory after so many years. I do miss it, but not in the way that I expected. I still get the same sense of challenge and accomplishment through the development work we do here. Thers is a real-time feedback mechanism in social work (the other person or people) that adds another dimension to the experience of challenge, inquiry, execution and analysis. The highs of success seem higher and the lows of failure seem easier to endure as there is a human on the other end driving you to try again. I do miss the precision, accuracy and ability to investigate single variables at a time...

And finally, I would like to say how much I love banana pancakes. They are delicious. And there is a very good song by Jack Johnson that should be played while making them.