Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rum and Water

Rum and water, the quintessential rum bar drink in Jamaica. But the phrase also describes our recent experiences in St. Elizabeth over the past weekend. There was plenty of both as it rained every day and we visited the Appleton Rum Distillery.


On Thursday, the St. Elizabeth 4H put on their annual achievement day. This is a chance for all of the 4H students in the area to be recognized with awards in such areas as environmental challenge, agricultural production, public speaking, and trash to cash competition. A few of the events were held that day, but most of them had been judged earlier. The main part of the day was to hand out the awards and let the kids have a good time. So there was a carnival air, complete with a Michael Jackson impersonator, sound system, cotton candy, popcorn, and an emcee. The only bad thing was that it rained almost the whole day, so people had to stay underneath the tents in order to stay dry. Big Up to the St. Elizabeth 4H for all its hard work.

HELP! It's Raining

On Friday, we went on the Appleton Rum Tour in the very scenic Nassau Valley of St. Elizabeth. The bad parts of the tour were that it was raining and there was a large crowd of drunk Cubans. This meant that the tour guide rushed through the talk and didn't give us very much information. Luckily, we found another guy who later filled us in on all the stuff we missed. There is also a sampling portion to the tour where about 15 Appleton products are laid out and you get to drink whichever ones you want. The Sangster's Original rum cream, coconut rum cream, and the Rumona (a honey liqueur) were our favorites.

Caitlin and Khaled, our St. Bess hosts, also put out some really tasty food, including a Middle Eastern mezze platter with hummus, rice, and sauted beans. Interestingly for us, the beans they used were fresh gungo peas and fresh broad beans. In Portmore, it's very rare to see any fresh beans or peas being sold, so I didn't even know you could get fresh broad beans. There was also an Italian meal with pasta and garlic butter bammy. It was also Caitlin's birthday on Monday so Khaled made a tasty carrot cake decorated with special fast melting Jamaican candles and we sang Happy Birthday. Thanks guys.

-Shane and Kaelyn

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

World Cup Cricket Match

Pakistan Fields

On March 17th, we attended the World Cup Cricket match between Ireland and Pakistan. Since it was St. Patrick's Day, we expected that the luck of the Irish would prevail, despite the facts that this was the first time Ireland has ever competed in the World Cup, that cricket is the 29th most popular sport in Ireland, and that Pakistan is a traditional cricket powerhouse and was ranked 4th in the world coming into the match. Well, the Irish won, meaning Pakistan could not advance to the second round of the tournament.

Shane and Kae Under Banner

There was much fun to be had at Sabina Park. First, we actually figured out how the sport of cricket was played. Having to sit through every bowl, over, wicket, maiden, and six, plus a few rain delays, gave us plenty of time to absorb the nuances of the sport. And there were smart cricket watchers nearby to help us if something was mysterious, like the DLPar (Basically a formula that determines how many runs a team would be awarded if day light ran out). Our seats were right on the field, too. There were drunk Irish fans, a Jamaican marching band sponsored by Pepsi, and a guy running on the field (that might have been a drunk Irish fan as well, on second thought). They bring Red Stripe right to your seat, and there was Guinness on tap, supposedly delivered straight from Ireland. We also planned ahead and brought in lots of snacks like trail mix, peanut butter and jelly, juice boxes, and cookies. That way we could spend all our money on beers and souvenirs (the hat Shane is wearing in the picture).

Cricket is kind of like baseball, in that there are long periods when nothing much is happening, and the games last a long time. However, baseball has more exciting things and is much shorter compared to a game of cricket. The games start around 9 AM and last until 5 PM. But this gives you plenty of time to talk, drink, and hang out, which are the most fun parts of a baseball game as well. Maybe it could have an audience in the US?


Monday, March 12, 2007

Problems with Power

The first problem with our power is that we didn't have any for about four hours yesterday. I know what you're thinking, "four hours, that's nothing, the ice is still frozen in the freezer after four hours. " Well, let me tell you something, that ice was only halfway frozen. The real issue, though, was that the four non-electrical (or old school) hours happened to encompass the two hours when KU was battling Texas. This was the game we had waited all weekend for, as it was the only game of the Big XII Championship we would be able to watch - since all the others were on some ESPN channel besides ESPN. But then a mere 10 minutes before tip-off and poof no ESPN, no lights, no nothing. So close, yet so far away. Thankfully, our Moms love us and called with the news of the nail biting overtime finish that saw the Jayhawks as the champions and their securing of a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

The other pressing issue when the electricity stops is that the fans stop running. Then it gets really hot and and you start sticking to the furniture. Not cool. OK. So finally the power comes back on, so we think that the fan will kick in and cool us off. No dice, the fan (one of two we have) would not come on. Upon smelling it, Shane diagnosed a burnt out motor. This is now the second fan that has died on us in less than two years. Such are the perils of having to run your fan so often.

-Shane & Kaelyn

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Manual Labor

It's been a while since we have done any physical labor outside of our own house cleaning activities such as sweeping, doing dishes, and scrubbing laundry. So it was a breath of fresh air (not literally, of course, due to the stink) to be able to go out to Hellshire beach yesterday and pick up trash. The impetus for this trash removal exercise (T.R.E.) was the upcoming Cricket World Cup, which is motivating many people down here to spruce up their part of the island. The Cup runs from March 13-April 28, and the opening ceremonies and many matches will be in Jamaica.

Hellshire beach is one of the closest beaches to Kingston, and it has tons of fish restaurants. But it is also the home of an informal settlement, so there is not a lot of regularly scheduled cleanups. We picked up trash from the entrance area and the beach, while other people repainted the roundabout and the trees. We picked up lots of plastic bags, food containers, and hundreds of little plastic forks. The beach side was mainly abandoned clothes. The best part was seeing the trash truck come and actually pick up the waste, so we could be assured it didn't get left behind. Plus, the people organizing the cleanup gave us a free fish lunch for helping out.

Big up to the Half Moon Bay Fisherman's Co-Op. You should check out Hellshire Beach if you come to the Kingston area.

-Shane and Kaelyn

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


It has been really windy in Portmore and Kingston for the last month. On the one hand, this means that there is a nice cool breeze so that it doesn't get too hot and stuffy. On the other hand, the breeze blows enormous amounts of dust everywhere. The dust gets on your clothes and body, and into the house, so it makes everything a bit more messy.

But the most interesting thing about this windy weather is the large amount of kite fliers that have come out of the woodwork in Portmore. Who knew that almost every block had a little group of youths who were into kite flying? Some of these kites get so high that you can't even tell where the string is originating from; it could be hundreds of yards away. Plus the sound they make carries for miles. One day, I kept thinking that it was someone was weed whacking somewhere near by. But it went on for a long time and I finally realized it was the sound of the kite and string flapping in the wind. So I am thankful for the wind, because it brings the kites, and the kites manage to give me a nice feeling about life. Something to do with the fact that kite flying is one of those activities that seems to be done just because it is fun, not for some greater good.

Of course, there is some glory to be won by being an excellent kiter. That would be the honor of showing off your kite at the Kite Festival in Ocho Rios to be held Easter Monday.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Celebrate Peace Corps Day

In honor of Peace Corps Day we thought it would be appropriate to share some information and statistics about Peace Corps. If you want more information check out www.peacecorps.gov.

The Mission and Goals of the Peace Corps
1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Peace Corps officially established: March 1, 1961
Total number of Volunteers and trainees to date: 187,000
Total number of countries served: 139

Current Volunteers
Volunteers and trainees: 7,749
Gender: 59% female, 41% male
Marital status: 93% single, 7% married
Minorities: 16% of Volunteers
Age: Average–27 years old
Median–25 years old
Volunteers over 50: 5% of Volunteers
(oldest Volunteer is 79)
Education: 93% have at least an undergraduate degree
12% have graduate studies or degrees

Countries and Sectors
Current number of countries served: 73
Current number of posts: 67

Fiscal year 2006: $318.8 million