Thursday, July 28, 2005

Greetings from Jamaica

Training is going well in Ewarton, St. Catherine. We have been living with a host family and they have a very nice house for the area with hot water and a big screen TV (although the channels are all fuzzy). We live across the street from the Ewarton High School, which is where our training takes place. This makes some of the group who live further away envious.

The foods have been exciting at first although sometimes they get abit monotonous. We have had ackee, which is poisonous if picked before it ripens. It kind of tastes like eggs after it cooks and is quite good. The fruits include mango, ginnip, passion fruit juice, sweetsop, pineapple, oranges, watermelon, and coconut. Mainly we eat rice and peas along with veggie protein called veggie chunks or stewballs (look like they sound). These are served with calaloo (like greens), and "food," which is the catchall word for some combinationof starches such as pumpkin, breadfruit, dumpling, yam, sweet potato and irish potato. Our favorite dinner was corn soup. The corn is harder and less sweet here, and the soup had okra as well.

We took a number of trips this week. On Sunday was a trip toHollywell, which is part of the Blue and John Crow Mountain Park. The roads were very rough up the mountain, with parts of them washed out.We took a nature hike at the top for about 30 minutes. On the way home we went to Devon House in Kingston and had a vegetable patty and I Scream. Devon House is an old great house that now has lots of shops. On Monday we went back to Kingston and visited the HopeBotanical Gardens, which recently got turned over to an NGO, but had become rundown in the hands of the government. On Wednesday we went to Ocho Rios, our first trip to the ocean. In the morning we split up and talked to various agencies around the city (for example chamber of commerce), but in the afternoon we got to climb Dunn's River Falls and swim at the beach there. This weekend we go to Cockpit Country on an overnight camping trip that includes hiking and caving and a live reggae band. Sunday night is the famous Ewarton Jerk Festival andMonday is the Denbeigh agricultural fair. Monday is also a Jamaican Holiday - Emancipation Day, to commemorate when slaves were freed. As you can see, we have been very busy lately.

We get our site placements Thursday, so we will tell you all where we will be for the next two years and what we will be doing there. Keep in touch. We like getting text messages because we do not have reliable internet access, but the limit is 160 characters.

Shane and Kaelyn

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Jamaica Arrival

Hello all!

We just wanted to assure you that we made it Jamaica safe and sound although Hurricane Dennis tried to keep us away. We were able to stick to our original itinerary and we flew into Kingston on Friday at 2:00 pm. We have been staying at the University of the West Indies since Friday and tomorrow we depart for our home-stay families at our sector training sites. We were both assigned to the same sector, Environment and we will be working on the Green Initiative Project - Kaelyn as a Small Business Advisor and Shane as an Environmental Promoter. We will have this training in Ewarton which is in the St. Catherine parish - which is pretty much right in the center of Jamaica. There are 21 volunteers in our sector group out of the 62 total volunteers in Group 76. We will be staying with the same host family but we won't know any specifics about our families until tomorrow. We will be with our host families until August 26th when we are sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers (right now we are just Trainees). After that we move out to our specific site assignment where will start our two years of service - but right now we have zero information about what or where those assignments are. They had all the volunteers get cell phones, which are very prevalent on the island and needed for easy contact and safety purposes.

There was some confusion when we got here about our address for sending letters and packages (padded envelopes or boxes) and we thought we should clarify. If things are sent to the below address through regular mail (US Post Office and not UPS or FedEx) we will receive them duty free and without any hassle.

Kaelyn and Shane McCall
c/o Suchet Loois, Peace Corps Country Director
U.S. Peace Corps
8 Worthington Avenue,
Kingston 5
Jamaica, W.I.

While we are in training we may or may not have regular email access but we will definitely have cell phone service and be receiving mail. Once we move out to our permanent sites we are going to sign up for internet service through the cell phone company so we will have regular email access. We haven't seen any postcards for sale yet but will send some when we find them. We have been enjoying lots of new and exciting fresh fruits, making some new friends, and learning to play Jamaican dominoes.

Love you all,
Kaelyn and Shane

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Staging Day 1

Hello from Miami,

Things are like the first day of school and we are just trying to remember everyone's name and where they are from plus filling out forms and listening to instructions. I think everything will be more fun when we move in with our host family which will happen on July 13th. We aren't sure if we will have the same host family or not but it will only be for 6 weeks and then we start our service on August 27th at our permanent assignment (we will definitely be together then). More info later (because this is all we know for now).

- Kaelyn

Shane and Kaelyn's Peace Corps Info

We are getting ready to embark on our Peace Corps adventure in Jamaica. We will fly there on Friday, July 8th from Miami. We will be in training until August 27th, when we get placed in our actual assignment where we will work for the next two years. We are not sure how reliable our internet access will be down there,but we should be able to check it at least once a week, so feel free to email us at We will also be getting a cell phone, but we won't know the number for a couple of days. Our mailing address will be:

Kaelyn (and/or) Shane McCall
U.S. Peace Corps
8 Worthington Avenue
Kingston 5, Jamaica, West Indies

It is safer to mail things in padded envelopes rather than boxes. Let us know if you want to come and visit, although we can't have visitors in the first three or the last three months.

Thanks and keep in touch,
Shane and Kaelyn McCall

Saturday, July 02, 2005

We are starting to organize in preparation for starting to pack

We have put little piles of clothes, toiletries, and other items on the floor. Mine and Kaelyn's are separated. We want to make sure that we did not forget anything. We leave in less than three days! We aren't freaking out ... yet. But we are a little sad. I think we will start packing tomorrow. How exciting. Then we can see what stuff won't fit and has to stay in Kansas.