Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Away from Home

What to do when you are a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving and you need some stuffing/pumpkin pie/turkey love? Answer -- have your own Thanksgiving! This is what thousands of volunteers were doing all around the world last weekend, because Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in any Peace Corps countries (No, our neighbor to the north is not a Peace Corps country).


There was a small Thanksgiving dinner at our house on Wednesday, with three of our fellow Volunteers. On Thursday at the Peace Corps Office, we cooked 6 pumpkin pies, 1 large apple crisp, and prepared a huge pan of stuffing. Thanksgiving was held for all the volunteers on Friday. It rained all afternoon, but finally let up so we could have the feast. There was a huge amount of food, but every bit of dessert was eaten. The only leftovers were savory items. Sneakily, I had saved some pumpkin pie at our apartment so I was able to have some sweet leftovers.

Happy Hour Girl Talk

After the feast, there was the traditional happy hour at the Four Seasons Hotel. Luckily, they haven't run out of German or Czech (Budweiser) beer. It was such a tiring weekend, and a rainy one, that we stayed home for the rest of it and recuperated.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hot New Dance

We were riding in the taxi on the way to work today, when I noticed the driver had a bobble head dog sitting on his dashboard. After a second of inspection, I complimented him on having a nice dog. This, for some reason, led to a fairly long conversation, at least compared to my usual taxi cab rides. The taxi driver said the doll was doing the dutty wine, a hugely popular dance for females. It has been criticized because it comes from the devil, and it can lead to horrendous neck injuries and even death. So I said I thought it was time for a new dance, because the dutty wine has been going on for months.

Lo and behold, the driver busted out the new dance, the Hot Wuk. He pantomimed shaking your fingers as if they had just been burnt in a fire. Then he even played the track for me. He promised me it would take over the dutty wine in no time. Once again, this dance is only for the ladies, though.


PS - Apparently, I am behind the times because this has been going since at least September, as YardFlex will tell you, but it is still the biggest dance now. If you want the know the more controversial real meaning of the song, click here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Hold me, like you did by the lake on Naboo"

Do you recognize the line above? If so, you are one of the many people who have seen the new trilogy of Star Wars movies. It is one of the worst and most annoying lines from those movies, but the movies on a whole are quite good, even in comparison to the classic trilogy. The two trilogies are especially good if you watch them back to back. The new ones aren’t all bad dialogue, and the old ones’ special effects still hold up.

We were able to watch the Jedi and Sith over the past weekend because Cinemax showed all six Star Wars movies in a loop from Friday to Monday. We watched three of them on Saturday, and three of them on Sunday. Any more would have been overdoing it. For those of you haven’t read an earlier post about Jamaican cable, it is one of the perks of living in a developing country. Since piracy laws are either nonexistent or not enforced, Jamaican cable is outrageously cheap compared to the US (J$800 a month, or US$12). Plus, you get all of the premium cable channels such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime etc. They are pirated signals from satellite feeds coming from the US. So you may get channels from all over the US, ranging from Denver to NYC, and the reception comes in and out frequently as channels are blocked and unblocked.

I never would have thought of low price cable as being something I would get in the Peace Corps, but it’s here and I might as well take advantage of it.


Monday, November 13, 2006

If You Don't Like Cats, Stop Reading

One of my PCV friends who lives nearby has a real passion for animals. So at least once a week, sometimes more, she volunteers at the Kingston SPCA. The facility there has about 20 cages for cats, 20 cages for dogs, a clinic, and space to let the dogs get some exercise. It is in a small renovated house, so it's really pretty cramped. Cats and dogs are not treated very well in many parts of Jamaica, although there are exceptions. Large guard dogs are usually fed very well, and many cats have good homes. But the large amount of stray, hungry, and dirty dogs shows that there is a great need for something like the SPCA in Jamaica.

Since the SPCA has so much work to do, and there is only one office in Kingston, it needs a lot of help. So me and a couple of other volunteers went to the SPCA last Saturday to clean up the cattery. My job was thoroughly cleaning out the cages, while others cleaned the walls behind the cages. Aside from a dirty cage looking bad for prospective adopters, cat waste can carry diseases that make others cats sick. So, with a bleach solution, I cleaned out every possible surface on the cages as best I could. In order to do that, though, the cats had to be transferred out of their current cage into a holding cage, in an exercise that closely resembled one of those puzzles with the little colored squares that must be pushed around to form a specific pattern. It was bad because we misplaced a few cats and they got put back in the wrong cages. But luckily one of the staff there was able to put them back in the right place.

So, if you don't like cats, or are allergic to them, this would not have been a fun experience. But seeing so many little kittens all at the same time was kind of fun, even if some of them did have severe diarrhea. I think I had my fill of cats over the weekend, so I don't need to adopt one to replace old Duodinho, wherever he is.