My big brother Jake finally made it down to visit! It was a bit of a last min decision as he had been waiting for a good deal of the flight for a couple of months. We hit the ground running with his trip, the first day we woke up at 6:45am to play football. A group of friends and coworkers have been playing and when I am around (and can drag myself out of bed that early) I join them for a rousing pick up game. My friend Brandon came over from Kingston to join us and we got to it. Jake got bloodied up a bit after he took a knock on the crapy turf but it just made a cool battle wound. We treated it the way I treat every malady, fresh Aloe. It cures all.
Rehydrating with fresh coconut water and jelly after football.
Here are some of the hight lights from his trip:
Little Ochi for yummy lunch and Pigeon Island for beautiful views and fresh lobster.
Then Jake came with me to meet my cowokers and work with my little students.
Reading with Kerisha like a pro. Our Mama would be proud.
I also took him to explore my site and we went into the market to get dinner fixings and Jake tried a Jamaica Patty for the first time. He was a bit nonplused.
We also worked together to cook a YUMMY Filipino dinner for some of my Jamaican family. It was a big hit and everyone went back for seconds, the ultimate complement.
All in all it was a quick but action packed and I really feel like he got to experience my Jamaican life and that was very special to me. Love you Jaker.
The biggest event that I help plan as part of the Clarendon Crime Prevention Committee is the Christmas Treat. It is a huge endeavor with several thousand children fed, entertained and given a toy. The events go on across Clarendon Parish over the weekend at all of the parish Police Stations. The goal is to increase social and positive interactions between police officers and the members of the public. With the high levels of crime in the parish, there is rampant distrust between the groups and the Crime Prevention Committee aims to repair that relationship. There was a whole heap of food, games, bounce-abouts, and delightful dance contests.
Here was the highlight for the event for me:
I was crouched down taking pictures of the dancers and she comes over, climbs up on my lap, then grabs my face, kisses my cheek and says “I love you aunty.” It was so sweet and unexpected. She spent the rest of the day as my assistant, it was great. Jamaica is so random sometimes, I’ve learned just to shrug and go with it.
GRAND MARKET PEACE CORPS CHRISTMAS
I had such a great time last year at Grand Market with a group of PCVs (which you can relive HERE) that we decided to do it again. My friend Brandy has a home that can accommodate us, sleeping on the couches, floor and in hammocks, and it is self contained so we can cook and be loud without bothering a host family. I had so much fun cookings and spending time with the other PCVs. We don’t often get a chance to congregate in large groups so I really enjoyed catching up with friends and getting to spend time with the Group 84 Volunteers who are relatively new to island. We did a white elephant gift exchange and even watched some classic Christmas movies like Frosty the Snowman. I didn’t enjoy the Grand Market as much this year because it was raining a bit and things just didn’t click like they did last year.
It never quite feels like the holidays without my family and snow but as PCVs we do our best to enjoy each other and what Jamaica has to offer.
Happy Holidays Y’ll. (Two months late but still)
It feels disingenuous for me to brag about completing the Reggae Marathon. I did not run a marathon let me make that abundantly clear. As I stated HERE, I am very new to the strange world of running for fun but running in the Reggae Marathon was on my Jamaica Bucket list (which you can see HERE) so it was going to have to happen. I will say that my experiences with running outside at my site have been less than stelar. May Pen is pretty urban and my house is on a busy main road so my options are really to run on the main road which has been perceived as an invitation for harassment and unwanted attention or to run on side road which has it’s own security risk. So needless to say, training was a bit of a challenge. I did join the ‘gym’ (read: sweaty room with weights) and I have enjoyed the body pump classes, so that was most of my training.
Reggae Marathon is a bit of a Peace Corps Jamaica tradition and the last several years, we always have a at least one Volunteer place. We had about 20 Volunteers running the 10K/half-marathon/marathon and another 10 who volunteered to hand out water along the corse.
THE BEST PART: my sister and brother-in-law were vacationing in Negril to celebrate their one year anniversary so I was able to spend time with both of them. Joe said he would run with me but as I suspected, in about 3 min he was bored and ran ahead. Damn Marines. Here are Lex and Joe getting some of the great road side hydration.
Most of the Peace Corps Volunteers stayed at this cool Yoga Hostel in Negril that was along the race corse. The race started at 5:15am so we were up at 3:30 to get ready and catch a bus to the starting line. The race went well. Claire and I met our goal of keeping a steady pace and not walking at all. I must admit, the last mile as my feel ached, ankles creaked and knees shook, I pledged to look into this whole Barefoot Running thing. I may not be drinking the running koolaid but I do recognize the fun and encouraging atmosphere that surround runs.
After the 10K crew finished we tried to make it back to cheer on the Half Marathon runners and then the All-Stars who ran the Full Marathon. We even got to cheer on the Peace Corps Jamaica Staff who participated.
The rest of the day was spent, rehydrating and napping. Then we went to Ricks restaurant to watch the beautiful sunset.
Understandably we the ride home looked a lot like this:
Sorry again Brandon! haha
I made a trip back to the United States in the late Summer to visit my family, attend two beautiful weddings and eat yummy food. I flew straight back to Boise to spend time with my parents and pups. It was really lovely. Boise is beautiful in the late summer/early fall time. I must admit, it is a strange sensation to go from being the ‘whitest’ person in a community to being one of the ‘brownest.’ I am always surprised when I get called ‘whitey’ or ‘white lady’ on the street, as opposed to the usual ‘brownin’ or ‘Miss Chin’ that I expect. I usually roll my eyes and say something like ‘you should see my dad.’ Perspective is a funny thing. Anyway trip was amazing as usual. My head exploded at Whole Foods and I ate sushi, foccicia bread and kombucha juice at 9:00am, it felt right.
Please enjoy these adorable photobooth pictures with
my mom and brother from the wedding.
Right?! So cute.
But the extra cutest award goes to the pictures from the Western Idaho Fair with my godsons Judah and Jax. It is hard to feel so far from the boys, especially because they change and grow so quickly. But it was nice to play and laugh for the brief time that I was in Boise. They are growing into such fun personalities and I hope they remember my face when I see them again.
No trip stateside is complete without a visit to my adopted home. I shuffled between a few of my friends houses and thank you again Lizzie, Liz and Fyfy and Viet. You were wonderful hosts and incredibly thoughtful. Everyday was filled with fun activities like rafting, going to shows, a beautiful wedding, eating out and my personal favorite the magical activity that is Happy Hour.
It was strange, having people ask me “Is it everything you hoped it would be?” or saying “Eight months, you’ll be home in no time.” They had such a finality about them and for me it feels like something I am very much still in the midst of. It was comforting to know I still love Seattle and have a life waiting there for me when I get back but also it reaffirmed that I am not ready for it yet and I have so much to do and look forward to in Jamaica. So in the end, I was ready to get home. May Pen home.
Once again, the Peace Corps Jamaica participated in the Denbigh Agricultural Show that is held at a large fairgrounds about 10 min from my house. If you want to read more about what went down last year, you can do that HERE. As good fortune would have it, there were no impending hurricane warnings to keep the other PCVs from joining in the fun. We had about 18 volunteers staying at my Jamaican Family’s House. It was crazy but SO much fun.
We had a few different activities at out booth.
It was so amazing to see all of the different sectors (Environment, Youth and Education) all out doing different activities related to protecting the environment. We have a pretty talented and very resourceful group. They have a saying “Some people say a glass of water is half full or half empty, a Peace Corps Volunteer says I can bathe in that.” It was so cool to see how creative everyone is making games a activities for the kids. I was in awe.
In case you were on the edge of your seat from last year, Clarendon won the best Parish Pavilion again this year. No big deal. *brushes dirt off of shoulder*
My favorite memory from the weekend was after we closed down the booth on the last day. Claire, Chantal, Abby and I walked around to look at all the different booths. Denbigh is a great place to buy crafts and yummy Jamaican Products. We somehow ended up starting a dance party in a gully. I don’t think our dance moves were particularly earth shattering but it was more the novelty of four white girls dancing that drew the crowd. We got some help from a few Jamaicans and as you can see below, the amazing sense of rhythm starts at a very young age.
Apologies for the bad video quality, it was just too cute not to share. I would also like to award Miss Chantal 100pts for her Weekend at Bernie’s dance moves.
We even got out picture in the Jamaica Observer Newspaper the next weekend with the very official and personal title of “Tourists.” Looks like we didn’t get the local kids street cred this time. Oh well, still made the paper :)
I am not a runner. I run. I run after soccer balls, basketballs, lacrosse balls, nieces, nephews and to the dance floor when I hear my jam. But simply running just to run has never been my cup of tea. That blissful runners high that I hear so much about is a myth in my life.
That’s about right. That being said, I have made a few friends who are annoyingly fit (Cindy, I am talking about you and all your Boot Camp buddies) and they used peer pressure to get me to sign up for a 5K run. This particular run was sponsored by Digicel and it took place through downtown Kingston at night. I figured it was one of the only times I would get to see some of the area because it is not usually the safest.
We had to get plenty of approval and had safety and security restrictions. Claire, Chantal, Cindy and I got to travel with the US Embassy Team who were all very welcoming to the scrubby Peace Corps Volunteers.
We all finished! Yayyyyyy! Chantal is a killer runner and she did great. Claire and I are less runners but had a great time dance running our way through. I didn’t reach a zen like bliss but I did begrudgingly have fun. I let these kooks talk me into signing up for the Reggae Marathon 10K. I have no doubt my smile will be much more strained after that one.