Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween!

We recently spent the weekend at our friends Caitlin and Khaled's house. It was the site for a spooky and fun Halloween party. Most people don't celebrate Halloween in Jamaica, but I have noticed it advertised on a few party fliers because the promoters always have to come up with some new reason to throw a party. Last year we didn't get to go to a Halloween party because our roof was leaking after so much rain from Hurricane Wilma. But this year there were no hurricanes to stop us.

In a perfect prelude to Halloween, the power went out the night before the Halloween party. We were staying at Caitlin and Khaled's in order to help them get ready for the party. Since the power didn't come on until about 10 PM, we weren't able to do much preparation. But we did spend a spooky time eating dinner and talking with only candlelight to see by.

Candy Making

The first thing we did to start off the Halloween fesitivities on Saturday was to eat ghostly pancakes. Then we formed candy out of a mixture that Khaled cooked up, mainly consisting of sugar, butter, and food coloring. It felt like silly putty. As you can see in the picture above, we rolled the shapes with our fingers and then put little designs on them with a knife. I also bushed a portion of the yard to make way for a fire circle for the bonfire later in the day.

Fire A Catch

After all the buildup, it was time to start the festivities. As you can see in the picture, there was a bonfire outside, complete with s'mores, burnt tongues from the roasted marshmallows, and acoustic guitar. Inside, there was a dance party and a card table. The card game of the night was golf. It's a great game and gets better as the party progresses and the players' memory gets a little slower. Everyone brought a little something to snack on: hummus, guacamole, trail mix, deviled eggs, popcorn. The homemade tortilla chips and margaritas really went well together. Plus there was pumpkin soup for everyone.


Kaelyn and I both had a costume. She was a kitty, with the ears and tail left over from another volunteer from last year's Halloween festivities. I was a crab in a hat loaned by our friend Lauren, who brought bits of costumes for other people to wear. The other costumes that made an impression at the party were a nerd, a housewife, a freak of nature, and a radiohead. I think we did a good job of bringing Halloween to Jamaica.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Canasta Craziness

On Saturday night we had an evening of cool air, good music, and nuff card playing! Our friend Brian bravely hosted the first annual Peace Corps Jamaica Canasta Tournament at his house in Christiana, Manchester. Twelve of us battled it out all night long for the grand prize of $1,200 - Jamaican $ of course! Most exciting of all was the fact that Kaelyn won!
Canasta became a Peace Corps craze with our training group and we were happy to have 4 of the new volunteers join us so we could spread the love. In addition to canasta the evening also featured lots of snacking, eating out of cups, hair stylings by the neighbor girls, and a slumber party on the floor. There was even a hammock and cable TV!
It was pretty fabulous and now we can spend all the winnings on supplies for next weekends Halloween Party!

- Shane and Kae

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Phrase of the Day: "Blouse and Skirt"

This is a mild cuss word to be used when you don't want to say anything too offensive, but still want to show that you are upset. Often used by pickney and Christians. A lesser used alternative is "pants and shirt."


Word of the Day: Bandulu

Bandulu (noun): Fraud or corruption.

"Keep dat bandulu business out of government"

This is a word we learned from our coworker.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Volleyball and the Beach


Kaelyn and I went to Trelawney and Montego Bay over the past weekend. On Saturday, we went to the parish of Trelawney for the third annual Burwood Beach Volleyball Tournament. It is a fundraiser for STEA (Southern Trelawney Environmental Association), an organization for which many Peace Corps Volunteers have worked. There were ample beverages, but the only food we ate was tortilla chips and yam salsa. The yam salsa was so good we bought some to eat at home. The yam pizza, on the other hand, was a dissapointment. It sounded like a good idea in theory, but when I went up to look at the result, there was a liberal sprinkling of sliced hot dog as a topping. These are the "Jamaican Reds", those red hot dogs with the artifical red dye number 5. Not too appetizing.


Burwood Beach, where the tourney was held, has warm, crystal clear water. Unfortunately it is only about two feet deep, so you have to squat on the sand in order to actually be in the water. The other problem with the site is that it had the most disgusting bathrooms. There were flush toilets, but none of them flushed, they just filled up and then overflowed. It would have been better had there been latrines. And the nearby trees weren't very good for bathrooms because they were mangroves and quite swampy (mosquitoes and toilets do not mix). There was an abundance of Red Face Rum, a cheap Trelawney white rum that was sponsoring the tournament. It is no Appleton's Special, let me tell you.

After the volleyball tournament we spent the night in Montego Bay, which is near to the beach where the volleyball tournament was held. I had never been to Montego Bay before because it is a fairly long bus ride from Portmore. On Sunday, we ate lunch at Margaritaville, marking our third trip to the restaurant that we have now visited in all three locations in Jamaica: Ochi, MoBay, Negril in order of preference. This is called the Margaritaville Triumvirate and we can facilitate guests who would like to complete this taxing journey (especially if they pay).

We then went swimming at Doctor's Cave Beach. It is a famous beach in the area and Peace Corps get in free. We got to do some snorkeling and saw sea cucumbers, sting rays, snappers, and many small fish -- much more than in Negril. Sea cucumbers kind of look like turds that lie on the bottom of the ocean and eat sand. Two cool things, though, they can spit out their insides when agitated, and they conform to the shape of your hand as you hold them.

Sunday night was devoted to NFL football. Sometimes it's nice to just sit around and watch it. Not much thought is required. We left on Monday morning, and the bus ride took about 4 hours to get home. It's not bad as long as it is a three day weekend. We definitely want to go back and spend some more time in Jamaica's Second City.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bucket O' Fish

Monday evening we were on our way from Portmore to Kingston to have dinner with a friend and since we didn't feel like waiting we decided to take the first bus that came along. It was an executive class bus which is a $30 premium over the regular city buses. These exec buses are nice coaster buses with AC and tend to be faster than the other buses because they can weave in and out of traffic easily. To me these are a step above the rest and usually the rides are pretty uneventful without the colorful characters you might find on other types of buses. That all changed when I had to sit next to a bucket of fish.

The man with the fish got on 2 stops after we did and promptly sat next to Shane in the back row of the bus. I was sitting in front of Shane which meant that when the man put his bucket in the aisle the fish were sitting right next to me. Usually someone would have to sit in the aisle on the jump seat but not a soul would dare because that would mean their seat would have to rest upon the bucket. So I alone got the lovely pleasure of enjoying the bucket and it's fabulous aroma. But the joy of the bus ride did not end there because the fish man also felt it necessary to sing the entire way.

It was unforgettable - nuff said.

- Kaelyn