Tuesday, June 26, 2007
After all the excitement and hard work of the Creative Thinking Contest, we decided we deserved a treat. We had heard lots of good reviews about Strawberry Hill, a resort and restaurant in Irish Town, St. Andrew. And although it is a bit pricey for the Peace Corps Volunteer budget we decided to splurge and venture up into the hills of the Blue Mountains for Sunday brunch. We were joined by our friends Caitlin, Khaled, and Brooke and we spent most of the day at Strawberry Hill enjoying good conversation, wonderful food, and spectacular views.
The Sunday brunch features dozens of salads, seafood, Jamaican cooked food, and fabulous desserts. Our favorite items on the spread were the smoked marlin and the cold garlic shrimp salad. Strawberry Hill's beautiful restaurant and villas are nestled in the Blue Mountains overlooking Kingston. The grounds are breathtaking, with paths and nooks circling through rich vegetation, flowers, and historic buildings. It was truly a delightful day!
You can view the rest of our pictures of Strawberry Hill here.
Monday, June 25, 2007
On June 16th, the Creative Thinking Contest (CTC) Fun Day was held at the Peace Corps Office. The CTC is an event put on by the Gender and Development (GAD) Committee of the US Peace Corps in Jamaica, a group which tries to understand more about how gender and development intersect in Jamaica. The goal of this contest was to get Jamaican school children thinking about how gender is an important part of playing games, and see if they could think of a game that was interesting and fun for both boys and girls. Two of my fellow Volunteers, Brooke Dumain and Khaled Alquaddoomi, organized the event, and I helped them out.
The planning for this event started over a year ago, when GAD started fundraising and deciding on the theme for the event. We thought that making a game would be a fun way for kids to think about gender issues, as opposed to writing an essay or other creative work. Then, students were contacted in parishes across the island, often with the help of volunteers who worked at the schools. Teams from the schools were judged and ten finalists were chosen from 5 schools to participate in the final round of judging.
The Fun Day and final round of judging went off very well. The heart of the day was all of the finalists demonstrating their game for all of the judges (who were high school students) and allowing all those in attendance to play the games. There was also a DJ bus from Digicel, a popcorn and snowcone machine, dancing, and lots of food and gifts for the participants. Shane ran the popcorn machine for much of the day, and Kaelyn was in charge of the prize drawings. The winner was Tivoli Gardens High School, from Kingston. You can read more about the Fun Day from the Gleaner here and see more of our pictures here.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Kaelyn's family came down to Jamaica to visit us from June 3 -7. We thought that Negril would be the best place to go, because it has the beach, the cliffs, many local and international style restaurants, and is easy to get to from the airport. It turned out to be a good choice.
During the trip, we ate many fabulous meals, hung out on the cliffs and the beach, and enjoyed the relaxed vibe in Negril. One of the best restaurants was Just Natural, it was right down the road from the hotel, Samsara, which is on the West End (cliff side as opposed to beach side) of Negril. Just Natural features tasty fresh fruit and breakfast as well as vegetarian and seafood entrees, and the tables are outdoors in a garden setting. The fruit juices and blended drinks are especially delicious. We also went to Rick's (the famous Negril spot for cliff jumping and sunset cocktails), Margaritaville, LTU, and Three Dives Jerk. Everyone (including Kaelyn's teenage sisters) was adventurous and tried new things like curry goat, curry conch, jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish, and Jamaican style patties (beef in a pastry shell).
Besides eating, we did a few other activities. There was snorkeling off the cliffs at Samsara. And although most of the coral reefs around Jamaica are dead we did spot some pockets of color and saw several schools of fish. We even spotted some dolphins, which we hadn't seen anywhere else in Jamaica. We spent an interesting and tiring day at the Negril craft market and found some nice pieces to buy. They got to experience exhilarating route taxi rides and smalling up going back and forth from the hotel. And most importantly the weather was sunny the whole trip, so there was plenty of time to lay in the sun, tan, read, and relax. All in all a fantastic family vacation!
You can see more pictures here.
- Kaelyn and Shane
Saturday, June 02, 2007
We have been getting a lot of rain recently, and I think this has increased the population of lizards in the ackee tree behind the apartment. I saw four of them in the tree one day. There appeared to be some sort of mating/killing ritual going on between two of them. The big lizard that you see in the picture was doing something to the little lizard. But the cool thing you see in the picture is that the lizard was inflating its throat like a balloon. Neat. Just like Animal Planet.