Monday, September 25, 2006

Moldy Shoes and Bees

Two slightly strange things happened over the weekend. The first was the discovery of mold growing in the soles of my absolute favorite shoes in the whole wide world - my Jerry Garcia Birkenstocks. Boo! Thankfully these aren't my original limited edition pair but only a substitute. The originals are badly in need of resoleing and the new pair might be too if I'm not careful. I guess I need to be better about wearing them more often - now that I've bleached and sunned them that is. I find it slightly strange that a pair of sandals would be suffering from lack of use in Jamaica of all places. But that's what happens when business casual dress is required at all times!

The second strange event was the visit some bees paid us inside our apartment yesterday afternoon. At first there was one and that was a bit strange but not too alarming. We tried to usher it back outside the window but it seemed a bit confused. Then there were three flying around and coming a bit too close for comfort so we decided we had better take action and Shane went after them with our oldest Newsweek (good thing we got two new ones on Friday). But unfortunately it didn't end there and at least 10 perished throughout the afternoon and evening. We ended up having to close all the windows and doors when we realized there were lots more of them flying around our veranda and balcony. That of course made things very hot and uncomfortable. Thankfully by the end of the night they had moved on and it was safe to once again venture outside.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Everything Irie


Including the toilet paper!!! This was just too good to resist - both buying and posting about. How cliche! Love it!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mario Mastered

Yes, both Kaelyn and I finally saved the Princess from Bowser, an occasion we deemed momentous enough to garner a blog post.

We got a Nintendo DS Lite from our friend Willy for Kaelyn's birthday, and he also sent the "New Super Mario Bros." game. It took about two months to beat the last castle, but now we can go back and explore all the levels we rushed through to beat the game.


Church on the Bus

Jamaica has the most churches per capita of any country in the world. Pretty much on every street you will find a church (and interestingly enough a rum bar). And it is very important in Jamaica to be a Christian, although much less important to act like a Christian (as evidencied by the commonality of sex outside of marriage, corporal punishment, etc). And since so many Jamaicans associate themselves with Christianity it is also important to infuse daily activities with spiritual elements. For instance all schools start the morning with devotions, every meeting begins with a prayer, and every advisory board of the government has a member of clergy appointed to it. At first I found these things to be very striking because in the US seperation of church and state is so important and these types of activities would never fly there. And even though I went to Catholic school for 13 years and was used to prayer in schools I was not prepared for it in the office. I also wasn't ready to be walking down the street and be yelled at from the person preaching on the corner. Not to mention all the persons offering to save me.

One of the more interesting elements of spirituality in everyday life is church on the bus. This isn't any sort of formal event but it just so happens that 50% of the time you are on the bus there is someone preaching in the aisle. Mostly this occurs on the big city buses but it has been known to happen on country buses too. It usually begins with a song or two, followed by some scripture and then a sermon that usually lasts until the person preaching reaches their stop. Most of the time it is pretty low key and usually the other persons on the bus sing along or offer Amens and Yeses when they hear something they like. Sometimes it gets a bit fiery and the person preaching goes a bit overboard but thankfully that doesn't happen too often. While I still find it a bit awkward to be sitting on the bus and being preached to I have to say that it does make the bus ride much less boring. I'm even starting to learn some of the more popular hymns. Plus it makes me feel less guilty for not going to Church on Sunday.

- Kaelyn

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Baby Names

Several Jamaicans have approached us with the fantastic idea that Shane and I should name our child Shaelyn. Now don't get the wrong idea we aren't expecting a baby nor do we plan to be anytime soon. But we are still asked to promise that when we do have a baby we will name it Shaelyn. Because of course Shaelyn is what you get when you combine Shane and Kaelyn. Now personally I think it is a bit ridiculous and would probably be incredibly embarrassing and dorky for the child. And I really hadn't considered that the people recommending this were serious, I thought they were just being funny. That was until I realized that this is a common practice in Jamaica, just like having 2 or 3 different names and the strange ways of spelling names. What clued us in was when our friend's baby was born earlier this week and it was named T'Andre. Of course it was because the parents names are T'sha and Andre. I guess now I'll have to stop laughing when people talk about Shaelyn. But it's still pretty unlikely we'll make use of that name, and the same goes for Kane.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Drums and Space

Over the weekend, we went on a trip to visit our friend Frances in the St. Catherine hills and traveled to Ochi to visit the craft markets. We left early Saturday morning to meet up with Frances around 9 AM, because she had chartered a local taxi man for the day. We didn't take public transportation because then it is not possible to stop and linger at the different craft areas, since some of them are not located by the bus stops.

Frances' New Hat

We had visited the craft markets last summer, but didn't really have enough time to look around. This time, we were interested in finding some crafts to give as presents. The first part of the trip was the almost obligatory delay on Mt. Rosser. One trailer had stopped working, and it took about an hour to get it cleared off the road. Tons of tractor-trailers travel on this very narrow, windy, and busy road, because it is the main link between the north and south of Jamiaca. This is also a good road to travel on if you are into the whole motion sickness thing.

The first stop was Fern Gully, which has a number of craft shops. It is a paved over river basin that used to have an arch of vegetation over it blocking out the light, but air pollution has killed off some of the plants and now more sunlight get in. There are a number of craft shops with mostly wood items, but it seems like every shop has the same things. Carved fish, turtles, coasters, etc. Plus there are the carved men with the very large penises. I am not sure who buys them, but maybe they could be used in place of yard gnomes.

The main craft market in Ochi was the next stop, and it had good prices as compared to the shops outside the main market. There was no cruise ship in town, so the vendors were willing to go pretty low on their prices because there were so few buyers. Our big purchase was a conga drum that one of the vendors makes. It sounds really good and is carved from coconut tree. We also bought some assorted percussion instruments in order to complete the drum circle.

The views from France's area are incredible. You can see Kingston, Portmore, Spanish Town, and the surrounding plains. The night pictures did not turn out because I do not have a good enough camera or I don't know how to use it, but the daytime ones look pretty nice.

View of Portmore

Frances also lives in a place with a very large and well-manicured yard. It is like being at a botanical garden, but with more dogs running around. There are two puppies named Napoleon and Josephine, plus another dog who frequently comes by, one cat, and a donkey on the premises.


We took a walk to see the local Great House where the British lord of the manor had lived. There is a large construction project going on up there. The Chinese have elected to build a large sporting complex. It is to be used by football teams to train in a cooler climate. It is taking up a huge chunk of land. After the enjoyable hike, we returned to sea level and the Jamaican coastal heat.

Sports Complex Construction

-Shane and Kaelyn