Friday, December 30, 2005
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Since we had a visitor we had the fortune of receiving many things that wouldn't be as easy to send in a box. Shane's Mom brought us a duffel bag stuffed full of treats, more than we ever imagined we would be getting. The highlight was a queen size air mattress so now we can have guests and they won't have to sleep on the lawn furniture. We are hoping this will increase our popularity among the Peace Corps crowd, especially since Portmore isn't a popular destination spot on the island. No ThermaRest pads needed at our house; we offer superior comfort and only need 8 hours notice to charge up the pump! The rest of the duffel was crammed full of Clif Bars, Mike & Ikes, and Fruit Leather, oh my! As luck would have it Costco carries these things in bulk so we now have an ample supply. No more Clif Bar rationing - yippie! Our other treats were candles and incense (now we can combat the burning trash smell); magnets; licorice; lotion, soap, and body spray for Kaelyn; 2 huge bottles of hand sanitizer; and the card game Phase 10 (which Kaelyn kicked Shane's butt at yesterday). It was a truly overwhelming experience and we are well set with treats to send us into the new year! Plus Shane's Mom brought some super yummy homemade cookies from his brother's family and a cute snowman ornament made by our niece.
We also got a Christmas package on Friday from Shane's Dad which was filled with lots of festive treats, including: cocoa and Christmas chocolates, holiday scented candles, clothes, and Christmas kitchen towels. Also in the box was a wall decoration which reads Welcome to the McCalls and has a different hanging piece for each holiday and season. Right now we have a cute snowflake hanging from it. It really transforms our apartment and makes it feel homey! So while we may have been a bit lacking in the Christmas spirit before it definitely found us before it was too late. We realized that with a few touches from home we could still feel connected to the Christmas Past that we had been longing for. And it isn't over yet, we must have been extra good this year because there are a few more Christmas treats in transit!
A very special thanks to our wonderful family and friends who through their emails, cards, phone calls, and treats have helped us to be far away yet still feel connected!
- Kaelyn and Shane
- The Treasure Beach hotel is pretty nice. It has a different feel than many of the other lodgings down here: stately rather than funky. However, it is owned by a Jamaican and many Jamaicans stay there. Their breakfast is also quite good, although the rest of the meal offerings seem way overpriced (e.g. US$45 for lobster?). The grounds are really beautiful and it's a good place to chill out and has easy access to the beach.
- Jack Sprats restaurant is really good. Try the conch soup and pizza. (We can give you the conch soup recomendation on good authority now because we have just begun eating seafood after a 5 year hiatus.) There is also a nice stretch of beach here. The atmosphere is casual and the prices are very reasonable.
- Floyd's Pelican Bar is a must-see. It is a bar built on stilts on a sandbar a half-mile out from the coast. You can get a boat ride from Treasure Beach. The drinks are cold, the water is clear and warm, and there are sea creatures to look at underneath the bar.
We also shared Christmas with a group of volunteers at another PCV's house, which was a lot more fun than eating at a hotel buffet. There was stuffed chicken, gungo pea stirfry, roast yams, and homemade carrot cake, among other things. We opened some crackers which had 8 whistles inside. Each of the whistles had a number that corresponded to a note in the C scale. The set came with songs; each person blew the whistle when the conductor pointed, and you could recognize the Christmas Carols. You haven't been moved by "Silent Night" until you have heard it done by eight kazoo-whistles blown by people who are laughing so hard they sometimes get confused about when they are supposed to blow.
Definitely check out Treasure Beach if you are looking for a relaxing place to spend a few days and unwind.
-Shane and Kaelyn
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Well it has been a busy couple of months here Jamaica. Thanks to the end of the rainy season we have been able to get out and about much more often and have been enjoying seeing more of the island.
In mid- November we attended our Early Service Conference (ESC) in Runaway Bay, St. Ann which is on the North Coast. Although the purpose of the event was to go over more Peace Corps policies and forms for us it was more about catching up with our friends and indulging in all the hotel had to offer. We had a really busy Thanksgiving weekend. For Thanksgiving Day, we prepared a lovely meal for the two of us, using our oven for the first time for roast vegetables and apple crisp. On Friday, we went to a Staff Appreciation BBQ at the Peace Corps Office (complete with jerk turkey). The next day we traveled to Mandeville (in Manchester Parish) to visit some friends, enjoy the cooler climate there, and see Harry Potter 4. The theatre in Portmore is now closed, so we have to go elsewhere for our movie fix.
One exciting part of being with the Portmore Municipal Council is the commemorative events. For Christmas, there was a tree lighting in front of the Portmore Mall, complete with a holiday choir of public bus drivers (Feliz Navidad was their big hit) and a 30 foot tree. There was also a Christmas office party held at the fancy Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston. We dressed up in our best clothes, sent down from the States, which was appropriate because everyone else was very dressed up too, "Cinderella Ball" style. It started out tame with dinner, awards, and oldies Reggae music, but the dancing got really crazy at the end, so we chose to watch and not partake.
December has brought the end of the Hurricane season and also the Christmas Breezes which have cooled things down considerably. Although it is still too hot to sleep without the fan here in deserty Portmore. We have also enjoyed some of the Jamaican Christmas Traditions, especially Christmas Drink (made from Sorrel) and Fruit Cake. And last weekend we visited the Devon House Craft Fair in Kingston where there was lots of local fare and goods. This was a great place for us to pick out our Christmas gifts!
Right now we are busy preparing for our first guest! Shane's Mom will be getting flying into Kingston on Thursday evening to spend Christmas with us. We are planning to spend most of her visit on the beach, what better way to celebrate Christmas in Jamaica? Then we are meeting up with 2 other couples from our group and will be ringing in the New Year in a bamboo hut. We will post pictures of these two trips on our Flickr site! We are very excited about checking out some new places on the island and about getting to celebrate the holidays with family and friends!
Some other exciting news is that we are planning 2 trips home for next year one in March and one in December. As much fun as Jamaica is we are definitely elated to be coming back to visit our favorite places and favorite people!
We wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season!
Kaelyn and Shane
Sunday, December 18, 2005
We got into the room about 2:30 PM. It had hot water, and cable, and internet. Hey, that was just what we were looking for. That worked out well for us. Plus the big bonus was that the room was carpeted. The last time we saw carpeting was at the hotel in Miami. It was almost too much for our barefoot feet to handle. It was so great not to have to wear flip-flops (Jamaicans call them slippers) while inside plus it felt so soft and clean. We spent the afternoon watching TV, showering, and using the internet. All at the same time. Well almost. At one point Shane was checking his email, watching the KC Chiefs game, while switching back and forth between "Sean of the Dead", which is a funny movie by the way. Kaelyn took two hot showers, to make up for all the cold ones in our apartment.
We went down to the party/banquet around 8 PM. The food was ok. We think it might have been a little funny because it had been sitting on the buffet line for a while. (We started at 8:30 rather than 7:00, typical Jamaican event) We both got a vegetable plate, and it was really good, with about 12 kinds of vegetables (corn, potato, cabbage, tomato, mushrooms etc. ). After the food, members of staff wowed us with their musical talents. The City Engineer sang some smooth R & B. The accounting staff did a skit and a dance routine. Our boss, the planning director, is a bit of a comedian and did a little standup. We were so proud.
After the performances, the DJ's went through some 70's funk and pop (e.g. Jackson 5), then into oldies reggae and dance hall. We danced a bit, but bowed out when it got a little too hot and heavy for us. Jamaican dancing can sometimes make grinding from back home seem quite tame. It was a fun night, and then we had the next morning to chat online and take more hot showers. Afterwards we went to a Christmas craft fair at Devon House and went out to eat at the Thai restaurant.
All in all, a very nice holiday weekend.
-Shane and Kae
While teaching them how to play tennis, I was continuously reminding them that, if this had been a real tennis match, their shots would have to go over the net. Then I would point to a spot in the air (approximately 36 inches off the ground) and say, "See that shot, that was a little bit too low, so that would not have gone over the net in a real game." I think they got the point of the whole net thing, but it's kind of hard to practice while trying to visualize the net.
So, last Friday, I finally unveiled my big plan for showing them -- kind of -- what a net would be like. I took two volleyball poles that the school had and tied a length of clothesline between them. I measured the height at the middle so it would be 36" and a little bit higher at each end, as a real tennis net would be. Even though it was the last day of school before the Christmas vacation, I still got 5 kids to come out and practice. Success: the net thing worked, in my opinion. I said, "See, you have to hit it over the net", as I introduced a new concept into my tennis pedagogy. For the most part, they remembered to hit it over the clothesline instead of under.
Then I took the clothesline home so that I could still use it to hang clothes in my apartment. Beautiful. My hopes are that we can have a net donated by Jamaica Tennis Assocation or another source sometime in the spring school semester. Then, in the next school year, we could play competitions against other high schools.
One other thing we need is tennis balls. Right now I only have two that I bought in Kingston. It was a can of three, but we lost one in the tall grass. Now the two we have left are turning brown from dirt and have quite a few burrs (macka is the Jamaican word I learned for burrs) stuck in them. So if anyone out there has any old (or new) tennis balls they would like to send down, feel free to ship them down in with another package or as a separate box.
The address is:
United States Peace Corps
c/o Suchet Loois, Peace Corps Country Director
8 Worthington Avenue
Kingston 5, Jamaica, West Indies
Thanks for your help.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Just in case you happen to get your hands on some sorrel here is the classic Jamaican recipe. Cheers!
RECIPE - SORREL DRINK
1 pound sorrel
2-4 oz. ginger
2 quarts water
8-12 pimento grains
1. Wash sorrel thoroughly, using the fingers to lift it from the water.
2. Put into a stainless steel container.
3. Scrape and wash ginger. Grate and add to the sorrel. Add pimento grains.
4. Boil water and pour over sorrel.
5. Allow to stand four to six hours. Strain.
6. Sweeten to taste and add rum to taste.
7. Add optional wine.
8. Serve with ice cubes.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Likkle more (little more) - see or talk to you later
"Okay, likkle more." (At the end of a phone call or conversation.)
Come - used when you want someone to follow or bring you something
"Bring the book come."
Lick - to hit or beat
"Him lick me sir." (What Shane's students tell him constantly at school.)
Hush - be quiet or stop teasing (A nice replacement for shut up.)
Whagwan or Whampum - what's going on or what's happening?
Lattah (later) - goodbye
Mawnin and Eveling - Good Morning and Good Evening (Said to everyone you pass.)
Beg ya - Can I have some money?
"Beg ya $20"
Mi soff (me soft) - The answer to beg ya meaning you don't have any money.
Pickney - children
"Da pickney dem chat too much." (The kids talk too much.)
Ya so or deh so - over here or over there
"Mi live deh so."
One stop or bus stop - please stop the taxi here
Nuff - a lot or enough
"Mi ave nuff pumpkin." (I have a whole bunch of pumpkin.) ~ This happens sometimes in our fridge when we don't cook it fast enough.
Ole eap (whole heap) - plenty or too many
"Ole eap of violence in Spanish Town."
Mash up - damage or destroy (can be a verb or a noun)
"Wilma mash up da road." or "Da road mash up."
Mi cyaan boder (me can't bother) - I can't deal with that
Faarin (foreign) - the States
Ya'unerstan (do you understand) - you know? (This follows pretty much every other statement.)
- Kae and Shane
Monday, December 05, 2005
There were a few exciting things there that I could not find anywhere else. Corona, tequila, and tortillas, will make for a wonderful Mexican night. I also picked up some pretzels and a scented lemongrass citronella mosquito-repellent candle made in Jamaica. You really cannot find these things at most supermarkets. So it is a treat when I found them and, of course, I had to pick some up because I have only been out to Mega Mart three times in six months. I had a fun time wondering the aisles, almost imagining I was back in the states. Shopping is one thing that the states does very efficiently, I must admit, and there is a definite difference down here. On the plus side in Jamaica is that there are little shops all over the residential areas that sell a limited amount of goods like non-perishable foods and a few vegetables and toiletries. I just can't imagine the suburban neighborhoods in the US where every third house is either a shop, barber, bar, or restaurant. Hello zoning, goodbye next door neighbor with bar and gambling games or other neighbor cutting hair in garage.
In other interesting weekend news: Shane was presented with a customer appreciation gift basket at our grocery store - we aren't exactly sure why but it made us feel very cool. We found out that our landlady plans on getting a tank so that we can have running water during the daytime - which means no more waking up super early just so that you can have a decent shower. We bought a portable closet and rearranged the apartment to accommodate this new piece of furniture. And Shane made a really yummy vegan chocolate cake from a recipe in our Peace Corps Jamaica Cookbook.
But the most exciting thing of all were the treats Shane brought back from MegaMart! Coronas and Tequila! Isn't he just the awesomest husband ever! He also got some tortillas so now we can have Mexican Night Part 2. I can't wait!
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I don't know if I've really stressed the point of what a treat Clif Bars are. I was explaining this to my sister on the phone last night who could not understand why I was so excited about receiving them in my recent package. See, to those back in the states you might just think - Clif Bars - oh those are yummy, I eat them when I go hiking, or whatever. But to us a Clif Bar is this special taste of home that can't be replicated by anything you can find here. When we get some from farrin (foreign) in a package they immediately go into a special ziploc bag that we keep in the fridge so that no pesky bugs or ants can get to them. Then we have an almost impenetrable rationing system. You must argue your case before the tribunal and then there is a vote on whether it is an eligible and deserving situation. Only then does one of those precious bars leave its sacred storage space. Now you might be wondering what sort of situations are deserving of this honor. Well usually it must entail some degree of struggle and pain on the part of the recipient. Perhaps a 2 hour long bus ride at 6:00am followed by a day full of meetings and no chance to eat until late afternoon. Or after a trip across the island when you haven't eaten or drank anything at all because there are no bathroom stops and you are drugged up on Dramamine. Because we never know when we will be blessed by the arrival of these wonderful treats as our supply runs down we get even more stingy in our approvals. But for now we are blessed because we have quite a stock at the moment and I was even able to sneak by with pretty sub-par reasoning Saturday to indulge in my favorite little treat.
Monday, November 28, 2005
We should start with our Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday night. It turned out quite successful and we were even able to leave work an hour early so that we could get everything cooked and still eat at a reasonable hour. Everything turned out delicious and we ate to candlelight and the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack. We ended up having way too much food even after we had both stuffed ourselves. The leftover Apple Crisp with Cranberry Sauce and the Garlic Mashed Potatoes were contributed to the BBQ the next day. And the stuffing and vegetables were kept for us to eat on Sunday. Unfortunately the veggies weren't so good the second time around, especially because we had mixed them with the leftover gravy. In the future, we are not going to use the "Golden Gravy" recipe with nutritional yeast that we found online; it was gritty and odd. The highlight of the evening was when Shane's sister called - the holiday just isn't the same without family! The only downside to the event was that we were both too full and tired to do the dishes.
Friday we headed to Kingston to the Peace Corps office with our BBQ contributions in tow. We had a nice surprise we when arrived - 2 packages! The first was the Halloween package from Shane's mom in Alaska which had a bag of Reese's peanut butter cups, a bag of carmels, lots of carmel apple suckers and some Halloween books. Even though Halloween has passed this was still a great package and we don't mind celebrating Halloween all year if it means more candy! Our friends who we shared our candy with were very appreciative too! The second package was a total surprise send from Kaelyn's grandparents. It was full of Nutri-Grain bars and Cliff bars and was the envy of the other volunteers in the office. I think Cliff bars are the number one requested item of volunteers.
Then Shane headed upstairs to the kitchen to work on preparing food for the BBQ. He cooked up some yummy sauteed potatoes and onions, baked potatoes, and sauteed squash! The BBQ turned out to be a really fun event. The Peace Corps staff all brought side dishes to go along with the sides brought by a few of the volunteers and the burgers and veggie burgers. There was a wonderful veggie chili, jerked turkey, festival, mac & cheese, brownies, black forest cake, rice krispie treats, and tons of other yummy things. While everyone was eating there was a fashion show put on by the Peace Corps staff which was really funny. Then there was lots of music to keep up the festive atmosphere.
Unfortunately, Kaelyn missed most of the BBQ because the Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO) sent her to the doctor since her sore throat and ear ache hadn't gone away in a week. The doctor visit wasn't too traumatic but she was put on 4 types of medication to treat her ears, throat, and sinuses. The worst part was trying to find the way back to the Peace Corps office which resulted in a bad blister on each heel and giving up and chartering a taxi. Luckily there was still lots of food left at the BBQ and Shane cooked her up a yummy veggie burger to make her feel better.
After the BBQ was over and cleaned up there were the quarterly meetings for the various volunteer groups: IT, Literacy, Small Business, and Gender and Development. Most meetings were short this time since everyone was in the BBQ spirit and not much was really accomplished at either of the meetings we attended. Then it was off to the various Happy Hours around New Kingston to socialize with everyone. We went to Christopher's first which is a piano bar and has a very nice atmosphere. There was quite a crowd of volunteers and we all pulled chairs together and enjoyed the Rum and Cokes that were 2 for 1. Then Shane headed to the German Happy Hour but Kaelyn stayed at the first place with some other people because they had a very appetizing menu and she really wanted to try the Mediterranean salad - which was delicious! Shane finally got to sample the German beers that he had been thinking about since the last time we were there for quarterly meetings when they ran out. Then we met back up and headed home with 3 of our friends who were opting to crash at our place rather than get a hotel in Kingston.
Unfortunately, we don't have the greatest accommodations for people wanting to stay at our place but we made do with having them sleep on the coach, 2 armchairs pushed together, and the lounge chair from our balcony covered with a sleeping bag. In the morning Kaelyn and one of our guests had to head to Kingston early for a meeting but Shane fixed up omelets and coffee for the others. When they got to Kingston they went to the Coffee Mill which is a coffee shop close to the Peace Corps office that is frequented by volunteers. It appears to be the only US-style coffee house on the island. After Kaelyn's meeting we met up again in the office and 4 of us headed out to Mandeville which is in Manchester for the rest of the weekend.
To get to Mandeville we caught a bus at the country bus park in downtown Kingston (our first trip there). It was an hour wait for the bus to fill up and then a two hour ride there. We headed to the volunteers' house who we were staying with which is a really big neat old house split up into smaller apartments and has lots of balconies with great views of the city. We also appreciated the cool air that everyone living in Mandeville brags about. The main purpose of our trip there was to see the new Harry Potter movie with our friends (unfortunately the Portmore movie theatre is closed indefinitely). So we headed out to the show and met up with 2 of our host's co-workers. The movie theatre there was really nice and we got there early so we had good seats. We thought the movie was good but not as good as the last one. It seemed to jump around a lot and there was lots of stuff missing compared to the book. After the movie we all went out to eat at a really good Chinese restaurant which we will definitely be making trips back to Mandeville to eat at again. The next morning it was back to Kingston for us, this time it took a bit longer for the bus to fill up since it was a Sunday but we were still back home by noon.
The rest of Sunday was spent eating our leftovers and recuperating from all the socializing. We were both exhausted! I'm sure that we will be playing catch up from our weekend away for a few days especially in trying to survive without having done laundry in over a week. But all in all an overflowing laundry basket seems worth it for all the fun we had with our friends!
-Kaelyn and Shane
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Although we have to work today we are still going to have a little celebration when we get home tonight. We did some of the prep work and cooking yesterday so that we could eat at a decent hour tonight. It was a bit of a challenge to find some ingredients and a bit pricey for a few things but we mostly worked with what we could get and it is looking like it is going to turn out to be quite a feast. We even had a special holiday breakfast of oatmeal with walnuts and raisins. Too bad there was no parade to watch. We plan to continue the holiday festivities at a Peace Corps BBQ tomorrow. Then on Saturday we are going out for Chinese food and to see Harry Potter 4 with some of our friends. We have definitely found many things to be thankful for this year, most especially the love and support of our family and friends. It is a bit sad to be celebrating the holiday so far away from those we love and we are very thankful to have each other and the new friends we have made here.
Jamaican Thanksgiving Menu
Roasted Vegetables - pumpkin, sweet potato, onion, garlic, carrot, turnip, cho-cho, corn, string beans, and hot pepper
Stuffing - with celery and walnuts
Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Jellied Cranberry Sauce
I AM THANKFUL FOR . . .
My wonderful partner in adventure who keep things fun; e-mail, packages, and phone calls from my friends and family; and jellied cranberries which we unexpectedly found and will give us a little taste of home.
I AM THANKFUL FOR . . .
My family who came with me to Jamaica, family back home, new friends and old, toast.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
-Shane and Kaelyn
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
First, the food. We got to eat about five times a day. For breakfast, there was always porridge, muffins, coffee, johnny cakes, eggs, and some sort of meat and vegetable. The porridges included banana and hominy. There was sauteed cabbage most days that was very good. This was served at 7:30 AM. Then, around 10 AM, we had more coffee, fruit (pineapple, papaya, cantaloupe), and pastries. At 12:30, we had lunch, which included a soup, dessert, starch, vegetable or two, and two kinds of meat entree. There was always enough for vegetarians. The second coffee break was at 2:30 PM, with more coffee, juice, fruit, and this time cookies and banana bread. Then dinner at 6:30 or 7 PM, with a different dessert, soup, vegetables etc. Desserts included white cake, fruitcake, sweet potato pie, coconut cream pie, apple pie, cheesecake, and pineapple moose. Needless to stay, most everyone was stuffed.
On Thursday night, there was a hotel band with bass, guitar, and drums. The drummer let me sit on a few songs and he switched to guitar. While other volunteers sang, I played drums to reggae favorites including Bob Marley and Jah Cure. I had to practice my reggae stylings, which had not seen much use back in the states. We also played "Sweet Home Chicago" and (oddly) "The Piano Man" by Bill Joel. I think the piano player wanted to play that one. It was really fun
and the night ended around 1 AM.
All in all, a very satisfying and enjoyable week that got us recharged at least until the holidays, when we will have another break.
Monday, November 21, 2005
-Kae and Shane
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
We hope to have something more exciting to write about soon. Stay tuned.
-Shane and Kaelyn
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
At least, enchiladas were in our plans when a package containing a mysterious item arrived for us in Jamaica. Because the box was too large to carry, Kaelyn opened it and placed the contents our canvas tote bag. This is a bag I had received as a gift from the Lawrence Waste Reduction and Recycling Division when I worked there as an intern. It said “Local, Perennial, Indigenous” on the side and had pictures of native wildflowers that Lawrencians should plant in their gardens. But what did this tote hold?
Well, when Kaelyn got home, I was just finishing up teaching a tennis lesson for the students at the local high school. I hurried home and met Kaelyn at our apartment. We decided to go to the store and get some supplies for the weekend, and we left so quickly that I did not have a chance to really look in the bag. All I noticed at the top was some Zeiss lens cleaners. “Well, those are useful,” I thought to myself as we walked to the store. But really, I had been expecting something more exciting, since we had received lens cleaners in our last package. While at the store, Kaelyn let it slip that there were tortillas in the bag.
***In case you didn’t catch that, Kaelyn's mom had sent some very exciting tortillas! ***
That was a big surprise. It’s amazing how the little things like burritos can instantly remind you of home. Kaelyn let me in on the secret so that we could pick up supplies to make Mexican food. So we got some chili powder and canned tomatoes. We already had black beans, tomatoes, and hot pepper at home.
On Saturday, I set the beans to soak while we went to the beach. When we came home, I rinsed the beans in a colander. I cooked rice and set it aside. Meanwhile, I chopped onion and garlic and sautéed them in the pan with a couple tablespoons of chili powder. Then I added the black beans, hot pepper, can of tomatoes with juice, and some water. I let that cook for an hour and a half, adding a little water. It thickened up into a nice sauce, quite like enchilada sauce. Cubed avocado and corn rounded out the meal. The star was the tortillas; they were soft and luxurious. We filled them with the beans, rice, avocado, corn, and some Caribbean hot pepper sauce. We put our Halloween pumpkin light on the table and ate off of our Halloween plates and napkins that also came in the package. It was our Halloween feast, as you can see in the picture.
On Sunday, we added another onion, garlic, another can of tomatoes, chili powder, and veggie mince. We mixed it all together and heated it up. Instead of avocado, there was guacamole. It was very good. Then, to finish off the mixture on Tuesday morning, I refried it and had it with an egg, Costa Rican style. A very fun Halloween celebration, which should continue next week when we get my Mom’s package with some more candy.
So now onto our review of The Legend of Zorro which we managed through without the AC. Luckily we got a seat right under the fan, the only downside to that was being in the second row. So our necks hurt a bit but we didn't sweat as much. We also indulged on cool drink and popcorn during the intermission even though we had treated ourselves to Veggie Burger combos at Burger King before the movie.
The movie itself was better than some we have seen here but not one we would recommend others rush out to see.
Kaelyn: *** (out of 5) Good, clean fun. A nice family film.
Shane: ** (out of 5) The little kid was annoying, but I liked the wacky plot involving nitroglycerine hidden in soap smuggled into California. I felt that CZJ and the two Pinkertons should have gotten more screen time as they were more interesting than Antonio and his fear of being cuckolded. A mindless diversion that should have been more diverting.
-Kaelyn and Shane
Friday, November 04, 2005
For your information the package included:
A Halloween paper lantern - with batteries
Halloween paper plates and napkins
A ghost wind-up toy
Candy - including Halloween Peeps (my fav)
Vegetarian Times magazine
The program from Winfield - now I'm really jealous I didn't get to go
Tortillas - this was awesome and totally unexpected, I think I'm going to try and make black bean enchiladas with them
Bob Dylan's Chronicles Volume One
Two CDs: Audioslave - Out of Exile and String Cheese Incident - One Step Closer
Plus a card that I have yet to open - I have to save something for Shane
It was a very exciting package indeed. But unfortunately the one Shane's mom sent for Halloween has yet to make it here yet. It is coming all the way from Alaska though. Maybe next week.
p.s. Our friends got something really neat in their package - a XL Pack Towel, its ultralite and extra compact. The ones they got were msr brand and they think they came from REI. They dry really quick and are easy to hand wash! Just in case anyone wanted to send us some too.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Friends and Family,
It's been a while since our last group email because we have decided to do about one per month so as not to fill up everyone's inboxes too much, and so we can amass some interesting anecdotes to relate. Remember also that we usually update our blog (http://shaneandkae.blogspot.com/) at least a couple of times a week, if you want more information. Note the subscription form on the right-hand side of the blog page, if you are interested in receiving our updates through email.
As the subject of this email suggests, October has been marked by rain, water, and dampness. October is always the wettest month in Jamaica, with an average of 7.0 inches, versus 4.0 inches for the next highest month, May. This October was record breaking with all the storms that have come through the Atlantic and Caribbean. December through April are the months with the lowest average rainfall, averaging 1 inch or less. December through April is also tourist season, because who wants their vacation interrupted by rain. This means this past month we spent most of our time when we were not at work staying inside reading books. Then, when the sun would come out, we rushed to do laundry and dry everything out so it would not mildew.
The biggest weather event was Tropical Storm, later Hurricane, Wilma, which dropped many inches of rain all over Jamaica by parking near the island and raining heavily for nearly a week straight. The rains started on Friday, October 14th, around noon and did not let up until Wednesday, six days in all. Monday was the national holiday, Hero's Day but most of the celebrations were canceled or rescheduled. On this day, Jamaicans celebrate their heritage through civic ceremonies and raucous parties. The heroes in question are seven great Jamaicans who contributed to the evolution of the country. The rain damaged many roads, including the main roads out of Portmore, and flooded a few communities around Jamaica. Some volunteers were stranded in certain parts of the island because the roads to return were blocked.
On Halloween weekend we were going to go to a party hosted by some volunteers in Mandeville. However, all reports, and even the Peace Corps office, indicated that there was going to be severe rain and flooding that weekend. So we chose to stay home and not risk getting stranded in Mandeville or returning to find our home flooded.
There were some other non-water related noteworthy events in October. Shane went to a hazard mitigation workshop in Ochi hosted by ODPEM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management), during which he was treated to a nice vegetarian meal at the hotel where the event was hosted.
We have both settled into projects at our job. Kaelyn has been working to create a Microsoft Access database to track the building applications that come through the Municipal Council. In the process she has also done an audit of the previously collected information in an attempt to make the database as accurate as possible. This has involved comparing the paper files, the building application book, and the minutes from the planning meetings. Shane began a project focused on the history of Portmore. Often schools call into the office requesting this information but it has never been put into a collective format. He will be utilizing his research skills and compiling a story that starts with the Tainos and ends up with the formation of the first municipality in Jamaica.
On Fridays we work on community projects outside of the Municipal Council office. Shane is working at a local high school doing literacy tutoring during the school day and tennis lessons after school. He has teamed up with his brother, Zach, a teacher in Kansas City to participate in the World Wide Schools program. He has his literacy students practice their writing by communicating with Zach's class and through this they share information about the culture of Jamaica. The tennis lessons have been infrequent due to the rain. There is also the issue that while the school has 10 tennis racquets and a court, it lacks tennis balls and a net which can make forming a serious team a bit difficult. So far they have been making due with just learning the basics and using the 3 balls that Shane was able to buy in Kingston. Kaelyn spends her Fridays in Kingston at the Peace Corps office working with the SPA (Small Project Assistance) program. This is a fund from USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) through which Peace Corps volunteers apply for grant assistance of approximately US$2,000 for their projects.
Needless to say, October hasn't been our favorite month on the island with all this rain. We definitely wouldn't recommend anyone plan their vacation here during the high point of rainy season. So "Welcome November, we hope you brought sunshine!"
Hope this gives you an idea what our life is like here in Jamaica. If anyone has any specific questions we would love to hear them; it is hard for us to know what people want to know about. Plus we love to get email!
Love you all,
Kaelyn and Shane
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
We have sent a bit of Jamaica to Lawrence so if you are in the neighborhood you should definitely check out this show! You can pretend like you are in "Jamrock" with us.
DAMIAN "JR. GONG" MARLEY
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 25TH
GRANADA THEATER - 1020 Mass. St. Lawrence, KS
DOORS AT 8:00PM ~ ALL AGES SHOW!
Visit www.lawrencereggae.com for your chance to win FREE TICKETS to this show!
Monday, October 31, 2005
10. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
9. Carving pumpkins
8. Eating roasted pumpkin seeds
7. Scary movies
6. The Time Warp
5. Candy apple suckers
4. Getting dressed up
3. Trick or Treaters
2. Putting up scary (and corny) decorations
1. Candy and more candy
Hope you see something that makes you say - Oooh Scary!
Trick or Treat -
Kae and Shane
Friday, October 28, 2005
A: Leave the kitchen faucet running while you go to work and when you come home the entire place will be flooded prompting you to clean and dry everything you own.
Sounds funny doesn't it? But it is the sad but true story of what did indeed happen to us on Wednesday. When we left for work in the morning we had no water. In fact we hadn't had much water at all in the past few days. We thought we had turned all the faucets tightly in the off position. Unfortunately the kitchen faucet got turned the wrong way. When the water came back it filled up the sink and since the pipe isn't very big it wasn't able to just keep running and draining. By the time we got home the water was covering the entire floor and running underneath the back door in our bedroom and draining through the balcony. It was a mess!
At first we just stood there frozen not really knowing what to do. Shane was speechless and stood there looking around in shock. I turned the faucet off and started surveying the damage. Then we started moving furniture out of the way. We tried calling our boss and landlady for extra supplies but they didn't have any. Then I started crying, had a mini breakdown and called my mom. After I was calmed down it was time to get to work. Shane went to the store and bought an extra mop and a squeegee. We moved everything out of the bedroom and living room so we could squeegee the water out the back door. Then we figured since the water was everywhere why not make sure the floor gets clean so we used bleach and water to mop the floors. After the floors were dry we put all the furniture back in place and took all the wet stuff out to the front balcony. The only furniture that was wet was the couch and chairs in the living room so we used the fan to dry them out.
Then we dealt with the wet stuff. We spread the mosquito net out to dry. The other damp things including our luggage that we stored under the bed was left outside to be put in the sun in the morning. Since our laundry basket had gotten soaked all our dirty clothes were now wet so we filled buckets with soap and water so they could be washed in the morning. Around 10:00 we were able to sit down, have dinner, do the dishes and shower. Then since we had water and weren't sure if we would in the morning we filled up all our water containers. Finally around midnight we were able to go to sleep.
We got up with the sun the next morning and got to work on the laundry. Luckily the water was running and kept up all day. We did about 5 buckets of laundry and had to hang more clotheslines in the front so we could dry all the clothes. We called our boss and told him we wouldn't be coming in to work because we needed to deal with our apartment situation. We were worried that if we put everything out to dry and left then we wouldn't be there to bring it in when it started raining, which we knew it would inevitably do - that was just our luck. We spread all the damp stuff along the front balcony. One of our luggage bags was being used to store clothes that didn't fit in our dresser and while they weren't wet they were damp so we spread those clothes out in the living room so they could air out. As predicted around 1:00 it started to rain. We moved everything in under shelter and put clotheslines up inside so the clothes could finish drying.
It continued to rain all afternoon and will probably keep up through the weekend. As I write this clothes are still strewn about the living room and hung up through the house. Our hope is that everything will be dry and ready to be put away this evening. We are a bit worried about the storms moving around out there. Jamaica is once again under a flash flood warning. Tropical Storm Beta is out there along with a vigorous tropical wave. We are worried the rain could cause the same effects it did last week when Wilma came through. We put the tarp back over our bed just as a precaution. Unfortunately, this has really dampened our plans to travel to Mandaville for a Halloween Party this weekend. Not only will it not be fun to travel in the rain but the road conditions that were already bad will just be worsening. There is also the chance that roads will flood preventing us from being able to make it home. Plus we won't be home to keep everything high and dry and I think we have dealt with enough wet stuff for this week.
I never knew water could cause so many problems - sometimes there isn't enough, sometimes there is too much, and sometimes it is all over your stuff! What an adventure!
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
OK. So it wasn't that bad. I decided that, rather than let the barber try to do a longer hairstyle, I would just get it all cut off Jamaican-style. It took about an hour. I also splurged for a warm-water shampoo after the trim. Needless to say, everyone at the office was surprised when I came into work the next day. I like it, though. It's easy to clean and style. My head is cooler. It dries much faster in the morning. Plus, as Kaelyn knows, it will grow back in time. So she does not have to be in curl-deprivation for too long.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
2 5-gallon solar showers (no more bucket baths!)
CDs - Damian Jr. Gong Marley's Welcome to Jamrock and Samantha's Square One
A bag of Fruit Snacks and Laffy Taffy
Bead supplies for making jewelry
A Donald Duck figurine from a McDonald's Happy Meal
Plus some photocopied news articles
Thanks Mom and Dad - it was a very exciting package indeed! Plus we have 3 more on the way - stay tuned for what exciting things those bring!
2 bananas (cut into chunks)
Â½ cup vanilla soymilk (or other flavor: malt, chocolate, cappuccino)
1 cup soyscream (almond, chocolate, coconut, etc.)
6 ice cubes
2 shots rum
Mix all ingredients in blender until ice is smooth.
Other additions: mango, ginger, papaya, pineapple, passion fruit, cocoa, or instant coffee.
Omit soymilk and soyscream to make like a juice rather than a shake.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Wilma is the 21st named storm and the 12th hurricane of the 6-month hurricane season, this ties the record for the number of storms (1969) and hurricanes (1933). Considering it is only mid-October and the season lasts until November 30th it seems highly probably that both records will be broken. There are only 21 names on the yearly list so the next storm will have to be named from the letters of the Greek alphabet. Be on the lookout for Alpha!
The main deleterious effect of the rains for us has been a steadily increasing leak over our bed. There is no crack in the ceiling, just droplets of water forming as the water seeps through the concrete. At first it was small, so we put a towel over the bed to absorb the moisture. Then we ironed the sheet to dry it out. Now we have put a tarpaulin (as they call them) over our bed. It is attached to the hooks in the wall and draped over our mosquito net. We have angled it so that (hopefully) the water will run off to the side and into a waiting bucket. Just in case the tarp fails, we have moved our pillows and sleeping bags away from any dripping water so that we could sleep on them if our bed became inundated.
So what did we do this fine Heroes weekend since we were cooped up inside? Kaelyn spent Friday night in Sligoville after helping out a fellow volunteer and came back Saturday. Shane did laundry Friday and Saturday. Needless to say this was difficult because it was raining the whole time. So he had to hang the clothes up inside with the fans blowing on them, and then iron them to finish off the last bits of moisture still remaining. Then, we cleaned up the house a bit. Saturday and Sunday night was Asian noodle soup with okra, while Monday night was some really good split pea soup that we modeled off of a Vegetarian Times recipe. In between we read and played solitaire. Kaelyn even got out the crayons and made some artwork to decorate our fridge and walls.
Monday we were off work for the Heroes Day Holiday. Normally, there are celebrations all over the island in honor of the seven heroes of Jamaica - leaders and important historical figures who have contributed greatly to Jamaican culture. Most of them were cancelled because of the inclement weather. CVM, one of the two TV stations in Jamaica, did its patriotic part by broadcasting Jamaican related movies and programming throughout the day. In the morning, they were supposed to show live footage of a ceremony in Kingston. However, the rain interfered with the signal so we got to watch Club Paradise, a 1986 gem with Robin Williams and Jimmy Cliff about a low budget resort in a fictional island that is very similar to Jamaica. Later that day was the very illuminating Cool Runnings, which gets at the heart of the complex Jamaican society (more or less). By Tuesday, after being cooped up inside all weekend, we were ready to get back to work. However, due to the storm and flooded roads all over the island all the schools are cancelled and public transportation is slow. There seems to be only about a 10% turnout at work today. We don't mind though since it is a nice opportunity to feed our Internet addiction.
-Shane and Kaelyn (trying to stay dry!)
Thursday, October 13, 2005
- Portabello Parmesan Sandwich from Free State Brewery. These are really good, and have even been written up in cookbooks. It's hard to find mushrooms, other than canned and dried, in the supermarket here. Let alone a restaurant that serves portabelloes.
- Beer. OK, this is a large category, but there are so many microbrews available in the US that it's hard to transition to the few that they have here (Red Stripe, Red Stripe Light, Heineken, Guinness Extra Foreign Stout, Dragon Stout; not even Budweiser). My favorites back home would be Free State Beers (especially Jon Brown Ale and Oatmeal Stout), New Belgium Fat Tire, Sam Adams Boston Lager, Boulevard Wheat, Boulevard Pale Ale.
- Margaritas. Tequila is very expensive here, and there are few Mexican restaurants. You have to go to Margaritaville on the coast to get one. I miss the ones at La Parilla, El Mezcal frozen, and my homemade special.
- Dunkin' Donuts. The french cruller, chocolate glazed, medium coffee combo is so choice. They have very good coffee there, I assure you.
- Wheatfields. The best cinnamon rolls ever (excluding home made of course). And their coffee is even better than Dunkin' Donuts, and it's organic to boot. I used to get the cinnamon roll and coffee and read Marx and Nietzsche in grad school. Makes the social theory go down smooth.
- La Parrilla. I already metnioned their magaritas, but I have to give a shout out to the veggie rice bowl, chips and salsa, guacamole, fried plantains with black bean sauce.
- Chips and Salsa. Deserves its own listing. Nuff love.
- Homemade Rice and Bean Enchiladas. The tortillas are very expensive and only found in Kingston. Plus, we try not to turn on the oven too often so it is doesn't heat up the place.
- Indian Food. We have found some good places in Ochi and New Kingston, but we don't go there as often as we would like.
- Good Breads. Whole wheat hearth fired bread, scones, focaccia, and ciabatta are all hard to find.
- Waldo Pizza with Soycheese. They make a great soycheese pizza there with a basil and tomato sauce. Check it out if you are in KC. Their regular pizzas are also really good.
- Sub Sandwiches. From Yello Sub to Subway to Quizno's, always a good vegetarian option.
- Middle Eastern Food. Pita, falafel, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, lentil soup.
That's all for now, but I may think of some more later.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Monday, October 10, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
Our apartment is an upstairs flat with an external staircase leading up to a nice big veranda. Hopefully sometime soon we will get clotheslines hung out here as there is much more room than on the back balcony. The part of the veranda leading into our apartment is enclosed by grills (bars; our landlady told us she would “burglar our windows” too) and we have some beach chairs and a plant there. When it is nice and breezy outside this is a good place to sit and read a book. Then, as you can see from the pictures, you enter the front door into the living room/kitchen area. Off of that is the bathroom and our bedroom. From our bedroom is a door leading onto our back balcony where there is a wash sink and clotheslines as well as another set of external stairs leading into our landlady’s house.
We have also posted some pictures of the yummy food we have been eating. Although we try to add new dishes into our repertoire we have gotten into a bit of a routine. Things mostly vary on the weekend when we have more time to shop and prepare. Our typical menu is as follows:
Breakfast: Caribbean Crunch Cereal (oats with dried coconut and bananas) with Wheat Germ, and Soy Milk; on the weekends we mix it up with Banana Pancakes, Fruit Salad, or Jamaican style Callaloo and Fried Plantains
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Guava Jelly Sandwiches, Plantain Chips, and Coconut Cookies; for non-work days we make a Pear (Avocado) Salad or Popcorn with Sea Salt and Brewer’s Yeast
Dinner: Pasta with Sautéed Vegetables, Beans and Rice (or Jamaican style Rice and Peas), or many varieties of Soups (Egg Drop, Lentil, Vegetables in Broth)
Treats: Soy Scream (Coconut and Pistachio are the best flavors) and Peanut M&Ms
Drinks: Coke Lite, Fruit Juice (sugar free), Red Stripe and Dragon Stout; we also drink a “whole heap” of water which amuses the people at work
-Kaelyn and Shane
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Monday, October 03, 2005
Top 7 Things My Dad Would Like About Jamaica
7. Devon Stout Ice Cream
6. The Peace Corps Office in the former location of Island Records
5. Chicken Foot Soup and Mannish Water
4. Bob Marley Museum
3. Irie FM Radio Station
2. Dragon Stout and Red Stripe at its ultimate freshness
1. Hellshire Beach and its ample offerings of fresh fish
Hope you have an Irie Birthday!
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Kaelyn: **** (out of 5). This movie was laugh-out-loud, almost pee in your pants a little bit funny.
Shane: ***** (out of 5). The great thing about this movie was the balance of gross sexual humor and nerdy humor, with the struggle for humans to love each other and share their lives (including their sexuality) with each other.
You should definitely go out and see it.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Kaelyn: ** Because of Mark Wahlberg's presence. But he was not as entertaining as he was in I Heart Huckabees.
Shane: ** Because I miss the snow, Wahlberg was ok, and it was fun if you didn't take the violence too seriously.
We now choose our two movies a month based on if they are not awful, rather than if we think they will be worthy. We wouldn't want to miss our monthly allotment by having too high of standards. And they have HPS-4000 sound (for those who don't know, that is High Performance Stereo; that's right, stereo).