Monday, May 28, 2007
Jamaican Labour Day was last Wednesday, May 23rd. This is a national holiday in Jamaica. On this day, many Jamaicans, given a day off from work, elect to use their free time on a community project. These projects usually take the form of cleaning up, bushing, or refurbishing a building, park, school, or church. The Portmore Municipal Council's official Labour Day project was to build a small park with a monument showing the historical importance of Passage Fort, a district in Portmore. If you would drive around Jamaica on Labour Day, you would see small groups of people hunched over, painting, picking up trash, or weeding in their straw hats.
That it the type of sight we saw as we traveled to our destination, a school in St. Andrew where our friend Brooke works. When we got there, we saw that Brooke and her students had been hard at work collecting rocks and starting to dig a terrace into the small hill in front of their school. Their goal was to spell out the name of the school using the rocks. Shane helped out by grabbing the pickaxe and extending the terrace over about 10 feet, with the help of the students. At that time, it began to rain and didn't let up for about three hours. Since we couldn't work outside, we went inside and talked with the students and staff at the school. They were very nice and kept us amused while we waited out the rain.
By the time it stopped raining, all we had time to do was clean up the work site a little bit. The rest of the project would have to wait for another day. Afterwards, we took a little tour of the town and got to see where Brooke lives and the view she has from her apartment.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
That's the name for star fruit in Jamaica. It can be hard to find in the super market, but I found some for only J$20 per fruit up in Point Hill, St. Catherine. It was tart and sweet, so I think it would have been better mixed with another fruit. It's really pretty, though.
Monday, May 21, 2007
This past Saturday, we spent the day with orphans from group homes around Jamaica to celebrate a fun day at Fun Citi, a private beach and club in Portmore. The Fun Day is sponsored by Food for the Poor, a US based charity that supports 12 group homes in Jamaica, among their other activities. The kids got to go to Fun Citi as a reward for their good behavior. Shane also attended the Fun Day last year, and this year was even better.
Fun Citi has a lot of different things for the kids to do, including a beach, beach soccer, volleyball, basketball, skating rink, and a basketball court. Besides these, there was also tug of war, a dance and singing competition, arts and crafts, refreshments, popcorn machines, and snow cones. Our job was to help watch out for the kids and make sure they all played safe, and to keep things organized. Kaelyn helped out a lot in the refreshment area, and Shane was assigned to the Mt. Olivet home for boys to be a general helper.
The day was packed with activities. Shane was a life guard for the beach area. He also made sure all of the boys from Mt. Olivet didn't miss any of the scheduled events. Kaelyn was also involved in handing out the gifts that all the kids got as they left the club. You can see more pictures of our exciting and rewarding day here.
-Shane and Kaelyn
Monday, May 14, 2007
So it has been a while since our last post and quite a bit has been going on. We were judges for the National 4-H Achievement Day which was very similar to the St. Elizabeth Achievement Day which we judged in March except this time it was the top entry from each parish. We both judged the creative portion of the Environmental Challenge competition, Kaelyn for the younger kids and Shane for the older kids. It was either a song or skit (or sometimes both) about disaster management and some of them were very creative and included costumes and dances. The kids were very cute and this was a pretty fun entry to judge. We also got to walk around and check out the displays they were setting up in the parish booths - our favorite display was the 4-H shamrock made out of peppers. And while we were at the Denbigh 4-H grounds in Clarendon we got to check out our fellow PCV's biodisel project that he is working on there. He has been turning rotisserie chicken drippings into tractor fuel - a very interesting project for Jamaica considering all the fried chicken consumed on a daily basis.
Then Shane had to take an unexpected trip to the US for 9 days to attend the funeral of his grandmother in St. Paul, Minnesota which was very unfortunate. While he was gone I was in Negril at the Close of Service (COS) Conference for our group of volunteers. You can see most of the "surviving" members Group 76 in the picture above. Out of the 62 volunteers that flew to Jamaica with us in July 2005, only 38 have made it this far. We are definitely proud of ourselves for being among those who have stuck it out! It was really great to see all the other volunteers at the Conference, some people I hadn't seen since our last group conference in November 2005. And it started to put some closure on this whole experience; things are really starting to wind down now!
Shane returned last Tuesday with some very lovely surprises from the US - mini bottles of diet Coke, dark chocolate M&Ms and natural peanut butter! Since then we have been working on a Microsoft Access Workshop that we are going to be doing for our coworkers. We checked out the new (and only) Mexican restaurant in Kingston for dinner Friday night and we were pleasantly surprised with how fabulous it was. They had chips & salsa, guacamole, and Corona's with lime! I predict we shall be visiting often. Other than that our weekend was pretty typical - our apartment was unbearably hot and we had little to no water. All the more reason to spend as many weekends as possible traveling before we leave!