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

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