Hi friends. Last weekend, we made yet another move (our third residence since moving to Jamaica) and we are now living in St. Thomas parish, on the eastern side of the island. Life here so far has been lovely, while subtly different from our last home in Hellshire, St. Catherine parish.
We are slowly moving more rural…or so we are told! We’re certainly more in the country now. The houses are on larger lots, I routinely see goats running down the road, trailing ropes behind them like escaped convicts; I awake to the sound of roosters crowing at the wee hours of the morning. And the Patwa (the local creole language) is heavy!
On our first day of training, I had a few extra minutes before I had to head out for lessons, so I sat on my host family’s veranda taking in the morning breeze. Mi ‘ost madda lef di radio jammin’, and one of my favorite Bob Marley songs, “Smile Jamaica,” started blaring. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, an over-crowded taxi drove by, I am indeed “in Jamaica” and Bob was urging that I get it together and smile, so I couldn’t help it; I smiled so big.
Training has been a mixed bag. We’re learning more specifically about education now (the other half of Group 85 are in another town, about 45 minutes away from us doing their Environment Sector-specific training), and while I’m so happy to be digging into the meat of our training, the days are long and I find myself going home feeling fatigued. It’s like being back in school, which is not so bad, but it certainly has its challenges.
Sometimes, the reality that we represent the US government dangles itself in front of our faces. We have to learn to live with a lot of rules. It’s my birthday today, and because it would be considered culturally unacceptable, we can’t go to a bar to celebrate. Generally speaking, a lot of bars in Jamaica are strictly for drinking and they are often associated with strippers and other various tomfoolery. Since we are “on the job” 24/7, the way we are perceived by our communities is huge.
During training, because we move so frequently, trainees are not allowed to receive mail. I must admit, and I feel totally childish and bratty saying this, I’m pretty sad that I couldn’t receive any birthday cards in the mail. I must reassure myself with the thought that I will probably enjoy receiving these things a whole lot more when I’m at my site and on my own, away from the comfort in being near other Americans.
I’ve got to give a huge shout out to my fellow trainees. I received a lovely handmade card with well wishes, and lots of kind words and thoughts in text message, Facebook post, and face-to-face format. It’s so wonderful being surrounded by a group of folks who feel similarly homesick, similarly over-stimulated at the end of the day. Mi ‘ost madda also gave me a bottle of Green Ginger wine, which I’m really excited to try!
Until next time!