Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Caught in the Rain

Yesterday something happened to us that hasn't happened in a long time, we got drenched by the rain. True it has been the dry season but I have to think back much further to remember the last time I ended up looking like a drowned rat as I ran for cover. In fact the times that come to mind were all during training way back in July and August 2005 when we first arrived in Jamaica. And I really don't think it has been pure luck that has kept us dry for so long. I think it is more the adoption of the Jamaican attitude that getting wet by the rain is really, really bad (cause it will make you sick and crush up your clothes) and you should avoid it at all costs. To do this you either don't go outside when its raining or you think it might rain and you carry an umbrella with you everywhere you go.

Now I'm not sure what happened yesterday that caused me to drop the ball and end up soaking wet. I think it was the fact that we left work about an hour later than we normally do because we were trying to finish up a project with an upcoming deadline. So while we are usually home in advance of the occassional eveling (evening) shower that hits Portmore, yesterday we were not. Now of course we should have been carrying an umbrella but in our normal workday routine we don't often need one, shame on us. And in fact we thought we were mostly in the clear becuase as we were walking to get a taxi home it was only spitting and we were pretty sure that it wouldn't really start raining until we had made it home. But as we got closer and closer to our house the raindrops seemed to get bigger and harder on the taxi windshield. And when we finally reached our stop it was a full on downpour. There was really nothing else to do but laugh as we walked to our house getting drenched to the bone. And of course we didn't see another soul outside becuase what sensible Jamaican would dare get caught in the rain like that.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Peanut Butter

For those who don't know, I am a very big consumer of peanut butter. My favorite kind is crunchy natural peanut butter, with no added oil or sugar, just salt. I first tried the stuff at a friend's house in Portland, OR over 6 years ago, and I have been hooked ever since. Although it has its detractors, who will tell you that natural peanut butter separates, or gets hard in the fridge, I believe it is the best kind. For one, you don't have to worry about sugar content or hydrogenated vegetable oil, because it doesn't have any. The best thing about natural peanut butter, though, is the way it melts into a liquid when you put it on a hot piece of toast or bagel. When I went back to the US over Christmas, I made sure to bring back a jar of the good PB. Sadly, it is now gone. Back to the regular stuff for me.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New Passport Rules

For all of you people itching to come visit us:

The new passport rules governing air passengers into Jamaica and other Caribbean and Latin American nations went into effect today. Basically, you have to have a passport if you want to come to Jamaica by air. If you come on a cruise line, you don't need a passport until next January. This may influence some potential visitors not to come, but it shouldn't discourage you. Just start applying for your passport early (like today).

-Shane and Kaelyn

Thursday, January 18, 2007

From One Extreme to the Other

So I think it is worth mentioning some of the details of our journey from the US to Jamaica. On the day we left Kansas City we had to wake up at 3am so that we could be at the airport by 4:15 when the ticket counter opened so that we could fulfill the requirement of checking in 2 hours early for an international flight. This meant that we were leaving our hotel before the airport shuttle began running. Side note: the whole reason we chose to stay in a hotel by the airport was so we could take the shuttle, that didn't really work out now did it. So we asked the person at the front desk to call us a cab. We ended up getting a fancy, schmancy Lincoln Town Car. It had warmed seats and everything, which was a really good thing since it was 27 degrees outside and we had shed all our sweatshirts and coats the day before so we wouldn't have to carry them back to Jamaica where they would just get moldy. So our last impression of the US was luxury and the bitter cold. Many hours and airports later we landed in Jamaica. Another side note: The pizza place in Concourse D near gate 50 of the Miami Airport is most fabulous. El lugar de la pizza en el Concourse D cerca de la puerta 50 del aeropuerto de Miami es lo fabuloso. As always we had encountered a few delays but luckily all our bags made it and we sailed through customs with ease. Then we had to do a little bit of convincing to get an airport taxi driver to take us all the way to our house without charging us an exorbitant fee in American dollars. Luckily we found a nice guy who only charged us J$300 (US$5) over the regular price. He did try to get us to pay the toll too but we weren't falling for that nonsense. As we were driving through Kingston in his beat-up "deportee" station wagon with the windows rolled down I breathed in the familiar scent of burning trash. We finally reached our final destination at 9pm and of course in true Portmore fashion our apartment felt like a sauna, even though it was only 82 degrees outside. After 17 hours (we lost an hour due to time change) and a temperature difference of 55 degrees we were definitely feeling the changes of being back in Jamaica.

- Kaelyn

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rebel Salute 2K7

After returning to Jamaica from a four week vacation in the US, our only option was to go back to work and then have some relaxation at the end of the week to ease our way back in to the Jamaican lifestyle. So last weekend, we went to our first stage show in Jamaica, called Rebel Salute. Rebel Salute is a big Rastafarian reggae and dancehall concert that is attended by Jamaicans and people even come in from other countries. We had been to other concerts in Jamaica, but none of them had any famous artists or live music, just a big soundsystem with selectors (DJ's) talking over the music. The picture above shows the view of the stage. We got to the show around midnight and stayed until 8 AM, but the music was still going then and we missed an appearance by Beanie Man, one of the top artists in Jamaica today.

Here we are as the sun comes up at Rebel Salute. It got cold enough during the night that we needed long sleeve shirts. It's disorienting to go to a concert all night, because then you have to sleep all the next day. But that is how most concerts work in Jamaica. The big artists, which in the case of Rebel Salute was Buju Banton, don't come on until 3 AM.

There was a good turnout of Peace Corps volunteers at Rebel Salute. Here is Kaelyn with Reina, Sarah, and Lauren.

To read more, there are some newspaper reviews of the event below:
Conscious Lyrics - Jamaica Gleaner (Tuesday, January 16th)
Thumbs Up for Rebel Salute - Jamaica Observer (Tuesday, January 16th)
Buju a class act at Rebel Salute - Jamaica Gleaner (Monday, January 15th)

-Shane and Kaelyn