Monday, July 17, 2006

Disaster Training, Current Gone, and Pirates

Those three topics pretty much encompass our weekend.

First Shane worked really hard on the Disaster Shelter Managers Training that the Council hosted on Saturday. It was great to see people in the communities who were willing to sacrifice their time and comfort during a disaster in order to serve as shelter managers. Many of them also related interesting stories about past hurricanes in Jamaica. One such story was from a man who moved all of his belongings to the second story of his house because it was about to be inundated with water. Unfortunately, the roof blew off, so it all got wet anyway. The representatives from the national disaster agency and Red Cross were knowledgable and well spoken. Key points: 1) treat all people equally well , 2) don't bring your pets to a Jamaican shelter. It was a very fulfilling training as he not only helped prepare Portmore for a disaster, he also met a lot of persons who are movers and shakers within their communities in Portmore.

Speaking of meeting people, we have been doing that a lot more lately. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the fact that right now 20 of the Group 77 Trainees are living in our neighborhood and so everyone is being super friendly to all the white people they see. Or maybe after seeing us walk around for almost a year people have decided we aren't just passing through and they might as well get to know us. Whatever the reason, we just now found out about our neighborhood's citizen's association that meets monthly and we attended their meeting last Thursday. And on Saturday we hung out with some kids and young adults who live on our street. We learned the basics of cricket and played some card games with them.

Some of the friendliness extended by the persons on our street may have also been linked to the island-wide power outage that happened over the weekend. (In fact most of the weekend we were without water, current, or both - which did make us feel pretty sorry for all those new trainees in the neighborhood who aren't used to it yet.) Since it was of course very hot and getting dim, everyone was gathered outside thier houses to wait out the blackout. Once it got totally dark and we couldn't play cards any more we sat under the stars and talked until we felt we could take on the battle of the mosquitos and heat that would meet us when we went to bed.

Then on Sunday we went to see the new Pirates of the Carribbean movie. Note: we saw Pirates of the Carribbean in the Carribbean at a theatre called Carib 5 and located a few kilometeres away from Port Royal. How cool is that? We went with our co-worker Randy, which was awesome because he drove us and we didn't have to worry about the bus or chartering a taxi or anything. Plus we could go to the better theatre that is located in a worse part of Town. It had surround sound - which of course made the movie even better. We loved the movie and we loved the ac, popcorn, soda, candy, setting, everything. It was a great time!

- Kaelyn and Shane

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Welcome Group 77

The new group of Peace Corps Jamaica trainees (future volunteers) arrived on the island Saturday. We had a fun weekend greeting them at the airport, attending the welcome dinner, and participating in panels. We also just hung out and answered questions, which us seasoned volunteers now know all the answers to (well at least we pretend to).

This means we are no longer the newbies on the island and we have officially been in Jamaica one whole year! Yeah!

- Kaelyn

Sunday, July 09, 2006


I step off the bus onto Knutsford Boulevard, the heart of Uptown Kingston. Sunday mornings are usually a little slow, but this is unreal. I feel like Jim in 28 Days Later, waking up after a coma (somewhat similar to the hot and sleepy bus environment) to find that no one is around.

A man follows me, shouting something. Why is he coming after me? Oh, he wants to tell me that the grocery is up this side, and I am going the wrong way. "Thanks," I say, "But I don't need anything." He turns away, his job completed.

Is there something going on today? Did I miss the news?

Finally, it dawns on me . . . World Cup Fever. I need to find a TV, and quick.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

As American As ...

So, I wanted to bring something to work to celebrate U.S. Independence Day, which by the way celebrates independence from the same country as Jamaican Independence Day (August 6th). I settled on making that most wonderful of pie varieties - apple. Apples do cost $32 a piece down here, but I figured this was a small price to pay to represent my country. I slyly built up the excitement for July 4th, revealing to influential first adopters in the office that I would be bringing pie to work. This seemed to work.

Then, on Monday night, I began the process of baking the pie. I had never actually made one, but my experiences gained during the production of such dishes as apple crisp, apple crumble, and baked apples would serve me well. Lacking a pie pan, I used a large rectangular tin pan, like those used for sheet cakes or lasagna. I sliced eight Granny Smith apples, peeling them with the large chef's knife because I had neither a peeler nor a paring knife (Stocking Stuffer Alert). The apples were mixed with a sugar syrup and placed into a simple pastry crust. For the top, I tried my hand at a lattice crust, with delicious results!

It was finished at 2 AM. I carried the pie, shielded with foil and wrapped in a scandal bag, onto the taxi to go to work, where I kept it in the fridge until the end of the day, to keep up the suspense. Then, the unveiling. It was a big hit. 16 out of 20 pieces were eaten (80 %, for those scoring at home), and I had to cut off the disbursement in order to save some to eat at home.

Not only did I represent my country tastefully, but I learned a little something about myself in the process. I can make pie.