It’s been a hot minute. The Internet situation here is a little tricky, so I haven’t really been able to get online to post anything until now. I’ve been at site for over a week now and I’m still trying to get adjusted.
- No running water: That’s right, folks. I live about 30 minutes away from Falmouth, which had running water before New York City. But I do not have running water. Basically, my community’s water supply is shared, so at my house we are supposed to have running water for 3 days out of the week. The reality of that is that only our hose (which connects to the community’s main pipeline) works, and usually only for a couple of hours once per week. I have a drum of water (giant blue barrel) in my bathroom. I’ve been drinking bottled water, and also boiling my water. I take bucket baths. I use a bucket to flush the toilet. Did someone say posh corps? At least I don’t have to haul it on my head like my friend Amanda in PC Malawi!
- Broken Refrigerator: Yup. My fridge has been broken for the majority of the time I’ve been at site. Yes, I live with a host family who shares said fridge. They’re adapting totally well to this issue, but me…not so much. If it weren’t for the hot lunches I get at school, think I might be dead by now. After this, I’m not sure I’ll ever want to look at a peanut butter sandwich again.
- Rats: My home is in a “bushy” area. Rats come into the house through windows, doors, any way they can. Last night, my host mom had to help me chase one out of my room (I had forgotten to block the door crack with a sheet). I was instantly happy that I don’t live alone.
- Taxis to School: Unfortunately, there was no PC-approved housing in my school community, so I live outside of it. Unless I want to risk ending up a roadside pancake, I have to take a taxi to and from school each day. It’s about a ten-minute ride each way, minus waiting times. Probably the most difficult thing about this is the fact that it puts me way over the “local transportation” stipend we receive, so I have to pull from other parts of my limited budget. I’m sure I’ll manage though!
- Limited Internet Options: I feel like a baby for whining about this one. It’s tough because Jamaica is so small, but internet accessibility ranges very widely. Fifteen minutes away from my site, there are a few other volunteers who have crystal clear internet. My only real option is to unlock my smart phone and hook it up with a sweet 2g connection, then turn it into a hot spot and try to connect my computer. Luckily, my school has wifi, but it’s spotty at best, and we have to turn it off once our daily thunderstorms begin.
Ok, that was a lot of complaining. But we wouldn’t know the good without the bad!
- My Principal: To give you some insight into our relationship after knowing each other for a few short weeks, I’ll tell you that I just had an hour-long phone conversation with my principal. And it was an awesome little chat! She is quite protective of me and really wants to ensure that I’m comfortable here. Wherever my site may fall short is entirely expunged by my work environment.
- My school: It’s small—about 140 students—and because of that, I already know many of the students by name. The airy atmosphere helps to keep stuffiness to a minimum. We had a Mini-Miss Pageant last Friday, and it was quite the social event. It feels like one big family.
- Free lunch: I can hear my old Economics professors screaming, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch!!” All thoughts of the true cost aside, these free hot meals are really helping me get by. I’m convinced that Miss Marcia, our school cook, makes the BEST fried chicken on the whole island!
- My proximity to other PCVs: I’m able to meet up with other volunteers for weekend market trips; if we want to plan a beach day, it doesn’t take much planning; if I’m having a bad day, I can make dinner with a friend to boost my mood. I feel zero percent bad about bragging here.
- My central location: I’m positioned near the center-north of the country. I’m close to the major resort towns. I’m able to get to other parts of the island with ease. And I’m close to the Montego Bay airport, which is magically cheaper to fly into…just sayin’ people!
- X-Bars: I’ve discovered the knockoff Snickers bar. This should perhaps be in the challenges section because I’ve eaten a lot of them already…like, a lot. My metabolism can only hold out for so much longer.
I’ve started doing yoga in the mornings and I’ve been going on evening walks with my host sister. She’s 20 years old, so it’s nice to have a young person in my surroundings. She’s got an adorable 7mo daughter who lives with us (this wasn’t supposed to be the case, but whatever. She stops crying when I’m around so I guess we’re cool), so I’m sure that the walks are a nice break for her as well.
I’m doing my best to meet as many new people as possible. I’ve started befriending taxi drivers, which is helpful in that I’ve got people looking out for me.
Working for the US Government can be a really convenient excuse. This weekend, I had two different taxi drivers ask me for my number so that they could give me a “private tour” (of what, I’m not sure…), but they settled for writing down their numbers on a piece of paper (which I’ve conveniently lost already) when I explained that I have a government phone for work only. It’s kind of hilarious; the conversations usually go “Hi, what’s your name? You’re so beautiful. Are you married or single? I saw you and I prayed that you could be mine.” Sorry buddy, you don’t have any teeth and not even Jesus can help you here.
My friend Jade (PCV-Mozambique) shared with me another PCV’s description of service: same song, different instrument. While life may seem quite different and confusing to me now, as I learn to play this new instrument, I’m starting to recognize the song. The day-in-day-out has followed me here. I am still me; my problems and talents have followed me too.
Well, I’ve got to dash. Time to chase a frog out of my room before bed!
Walk gud, mamas n bredren!
*Note: this post was written last night