Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Heroes Day Hurricane

September and October is the rainy season in Jamaica, so it has been raining almost every day for a long time. However, this weekend was something entirely new. It started raining around 1 PM on Friday and is projected to continue through Thursday. All of this is the result of the "squall bands" (as the Weather Channel anchor put it) coming off of tropical storm, now hurricane, Wilma. The Gleaner headline was "Wilma Wallops Island", and this is how it felt to us. We did not get the worst of the flooding or landslides where we are. But neighborhoods and streets all around Portmore and Spanish Town are flooded, even the causeway that connects Portmore and Kingston has water covering part of it.

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!)

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