Archive | April, 2011

No Sweat

29 Apr

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24 Apr

Happy Belated Earth Day, everyone!

Also, somehow, I missed Passover??
Elijahs never seen, so we’ll just go with that…
I found myself explaining what Jews eat on this celebration (no concept of matza), a hard-boiled egg, parsley, something with a bone? Really? That’s all I could remember? Boy would the Rabbis cheeks be red.

In other news, power went out for a solid 8 hours a few days ago.
After the daylight went I made good use of my time. / Studied for the GRE by candlelight…


When it was once again daytime I went to the market and stocked up on copious amounts of fruits and veggies, yum. In fact, for breakfast this morning I cooked with beets! It turned the whole dish red (duh) but experimenting is fun! Plus mangoes are just coming back into season!!! They are slightly expensive because they are so novel — 12 for approximately $1.20 US –- I know, I know. But seriously, during the height of the season you can’t give them away fast enough. One tree in my yard produced over 200 mangos a day for weeks on end. If the fruit bearing tree were graphed, it would most likely a bell curve. (*nude nudge* proof of my GRE studies, eh??)

Since it’s Spring Time where you all are (oh how glorious!) I took this picture of the cherries blooming! – just so I could get into the spirit.


When I was in Santa Cruz, as a special treat, I bought two movies. Yes, they are bootlegs. Yes, they are poor quality. And sure, they are overall terrible. However, indulgences must be made ($.80 a pop…); and entertainment will be seized whenever the opportunity: Red Riding Hood (do NOT watch, terrible) and Just Go With It (Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler and Brooklyn Decker with a wonderful/unexpected cameo by Andy Roddick!)

On a completely unrelated note, 4/20 came and went. Happy belated, everyone.

So, I have this issue…I can’t bring myself to crush cockroaches. I know they carry diseases. And people hate them. And my friends have no problem killing them (thanks, Andy, Angie, Julene). However, yesterday I did mange to capture one in a box. Yupers. Last night I seized my opportunity — It was ENORMOUS. I’ve been trying for several days to nab this one — and last night I triumphed!! There was no time for negotiations with this roach as its proximity to my bed was a deal breaker.

On the work front I’ve been super busy!
My walking group has met three times.
I went and taught at the Basic School (3-5 year olds) twice this week. See top picture on this website for visual reference. They call me Aunty Sam.

I wrote an articulate Executive Summary for the Agricultural High School and, no, I didn’t know what that was before hand (I looked it up online). Just like you’d expect, it was boring. However, it has lead to much more interesting projects:

I am booked in May!
-I will be holding teacher-trainer courses on Resume building, writing a cover letter, ect.
-I am designing and teaching Values &; Attitudes class for 83 high-school sophomores (divided into three day intervals)
-An 8 hour Empowerment course for 77 high-school students (outrageous)
-Ethics classes pertaining to Leadership, Stress Management, Communication. I am most excited by this one. Eight prefects – twice a week – three months.

In Peace Corps news, I have a milestone conference coming up (May 2-7) – There are three total: Early, Mid, and End of Service Conference. A week from Monday we have our Mid!!!!!

In friend news, I had a couchsurfer from Belgium/Trinidad come and stay with me for 23 hours! Yupers, I decided to activate my humble ‘couch’ (I’ve been an avid participate for years. So has my mom :)). And wouldn’t you know it, people are interested in visiting rural St. Elizabeth! Yay! Julene was my first guest; a beautiful, strong 22 year-old who is traveling by herself! More (couchsurfers) to come…!

In family news, several people have moved into Mamas house. Cousin Wayne [a rasta man who is a self-professed ‘lover’ – I had to talk with mamma (who in turn talked with Wayne) about the specific ‘amount’ of said lovin’.] But that is now sorted 🙂

Makalya has also moved into Mamas for the next two weeks. She is 6 and LOVES me. Which is nice, because she plays with my hair and snuggles me and not nice because she is always hanging all over me while it’s so hot and sticky.

And, I have some new additions to my abode, 2 teeny, sniveling, whimpering puppies. Less than 4 weeks old. They drink from a bottle. Adorably helpless. Although, it must be said, puppies are a handful! After the first few days with these runts I have been re-thinking my ability to be a dog-owner even going so far as to question parenthood, ha!

Right, so this morning I cleaned the porch really thoroughly (because all the dogs have kind of taken over and I wanted it back.) Anyway, we went and played outside (Goose makes three) in the grass for an hour. We were barking, running, chirping, and laughing. Fun times for all! But then, it started to drizzle so I brought them on the porch (considerate of me, no?). I went inside and I was cheerfully cooking/listening to a book on tape (The Time Travelers Wife) when I happen to look out the window *just in time* to watch BOTH puppies pee on the veranda floor!!! I was ENRAGED, we JUST got back from playing in the grass… I had to count to ten to react properly.

*deep breath*
But that’s puppies for you.

So after this rude behavior of peeing on my veranda I decided that they are not yet guests fit for my veranda so I returned them to the yard, under the protection of the awning.

Here are pictures of the little scamps:



That’s all for today!
More to come.
Thanks for reading!

Love love LOVE,


17 Apr

Happy Sunday, ya’ll!

I’ve been in Jamaica for over a year now (I think I just like sayin’ that) and I’ve learned…well, something.
Here are some Pearls of Wisdom:

-Fruit is always in season and it’s delicious!

-Roosters do not crow only at dawn (although I wish they did).

-It’s routine – regardless if you know their name– to call people by:
1) Skin color or Ethnicity
2) Occupation or Current activity
3) Unique feature or Body part
Eg; Black man, Mr. Chin, Driver, Tall man, Big woman, Brown girl, Red shirt, One eye

-The louder the music, the bigger your cock.

-The ‘load basic html’ buttons were designed for developing countries.

-A letter/package with your name on it makes you the most loved person in the world!!

-Chicken tastes better when you saw it running around the day before you eat it. I can’t tell you why.

-No matter how many people are on a bus/taxi/coaster they can (and will) fit more.

-Stuffed animals are dirty, hard, decorative, and not to be snuggled.

-In patwa, three and tree are pronounced exactly the same. This gets confusing during a rousing game of word association.

-Everywhere – market, taxi park, a full bus – can turn into a place of worship with the addition of a preacher. Or a vocal man who thinks he is a preacher.

-A ‘salad’ is not green but rather, pale. It consists of a spoonful of shredded cabbage, grated carrot, plus a pinch of sugar.

-I can bathe with one gallon of water.

-It is normal for black, ‘fluffy’ women to wear skintight shirts with white pop-starlets screened on them. (what?!). Yes, Jessica Simpson, Shakira, Ashley Tisdale (who?) all s t r e t c h e d until they are barely recognizable. – I won’t pretend like I haven’t worn shirts like this at points in my life (I am a Britney fan) – but the contrast of big black womens bosoms distorting young blond airheads is pretty incredible. This being true, I’d like all of you to rest assured that when you see a shirt for sale that has a picture of someone really trivial/obscure pasted onto it (most likely because it was misread how popular said pop-star was going to be), it will be worn somewhere in the world and it will make a person who understands the absurdity of the situation laugh.

-If asked, say you’re “de pon da Gully side”.

-It is NEVER a good idea to be too lazy to refill the water bottles and put them in the fridge (see primero blog-o when I drank the last of the cold water). You never know when the water is going to cut out.

-Underwear can be worn inside-out for added longevity before washing.

-Popcorn is a cheap, fun vegetable.

-There is no way not to stand out if you’re a white person. This means nothing can be done under the radar ie, nonchalantly; nod head to music, scratch an itch in your nose, fix a wedgie.

-Wearing a ring and saying you’re married does not deter persistent Jamaican men. Wearing two rings also does not work.

-Laundry is best washed early in the morning so that 1) You don’t die of heat exhaustion and 2) It has ample time to dry before afternoon rain. Mold is terrible to get rid of. And stinks like death.

-If you have a dog she is going to try and eat poop; act accordingly.

-Don’t give your number out to women you’ve just met on a bus, they might text it to their son/brother/cousin or obsessively call you.

-Given the choice between spilling copious amounts of salt ALL over the floor or *catching it just in time* and sacrificing only a teeny amount of sugar in what seems to be one spot — spill the salt.
-In a very related ‘pearl’, ants are sugar FIENDS.

-If the right side of the road has too many potholes, drive on the wrong side.

-Mosquitoes are not, as I previously thought, a “dusk” bug…as in they only come out in the evening. I’ve been bitten by 8:30 AM, 1PM and Midnight.

– “It was raining” is an acceptable excuse as to why you didn’t do something/go out (as long as it did really rain for a few minutes on the day in question).

-Bring your own toilet paper.

-Sometimes your text messages don’t really send…sometimes they send x100…sometimes only half is sent; coming off like a jerk, psychopath or having ADD is to be expected.

-Always charge your phone/ipod/computer when the battery is low. You never know when you might be without power for an extended period of time.

-Oh, and don’t bother to quickly dry your soapy hands and then excitedly rush to the phone when you get a new text message – it’s probably just Digicel…again.

-Saying, “I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer” doesn’t get much street credit (I know, I’m surprised, too). Not only do Jamaicans not know what Peace Corps is, they are often not familiar with the verb ‘volunteer’.

-Don’t pet the dogs. Better yet, avoid dogs.

Sure, it’s a work in progress. But all this after a year?!
Try not to let your head explode.

Until next time:

Make good choices, play word association, eat your salad, don’t buy ridiculous pop t-shirts, and fill your water bottles.


I’m Married!!

16 Apr

….okay, okay. I’m not married. I’m not even engaged. Put the phone down, Dad. Mom, don’t worry, I’d never let you miss it. Calm down, Nico (we just talked about tying the knot in Niagara Falls – we didn’t actually do it).

I’m off to market today but before I go I wanted to write a quick post detailing previous encounters I’ve had in Santa Cruz— in this way we’ll be going to market together! Gear up, this entry pertains to being a ‘single’ woman (no visible man living with me) in Jamaica. As a result I have to — put politely -– perpetually field questions about my love life.

Here goes:
“pssst, white gyal. You look sexy.” A common compliment from Jamaican males across the island.

“mhm” I sometimes mumble as I try to quickly walk by (best to minimally acknowledge)

“Mi like ya, ya hear?”, as they step into your path so conversation can not be avoided…

“yeah, I hear.” I say unenthusiastically, while avoiding eye contact and continuing to try to move past them.

Sometimes they step right up next to you (umm, personal space?!) and look at you with such intensity and lust and sexuality that you can’t help but cringe. When this happens I squeeze my left hand between the tight space he has formed with out bodies and place it in front of his face while emphatically wiggling my left ring finger (which, un-coincidentally, has on it a pink ‘diamond’ ring that I bought from Claires, like, 8 years ago).

“I’m married.”, I pointedly say, “occupied.”

“Where your husband de? ‘im foreign? Yuh need a black man.” They so needlessly assert. Perhaps they will say something like “Yuh need two men. One man kyaan please yuh”. Or maybe they will charmingly quip, “yeah? Mi married, too. Nuttin nah wrong.”

I roll my eyes.

“Mi huzzy do a fine job. Now, excuse”, and I (try to) walk away.

“Just a minute, please”, they’ll say. “White man kyaaan please you. Black man strong-like bamboo. You waan fi ride my bamboo?”, clearly niceness stopped when they insulted my husband and his bamboo.

“Rude!”, I usually exclaim, outraged, and continue with major attitude, “Ya naaaa know me an ya naaa know mi huzzy, ‘im. Who teach you fi chat like suh? Mi never tink your wife (or mother) wan fi ‘ere ya say dem naasty tings. Ya out of order.”

I wish I could proudly tell you that at this point they back away and respect me, thinking, “wow, yes, that smart girl has a point: I don’t know her husband and she seems confident that she does not need another boyfriend. I think I’ll stand out of her way, give her space, and let her pass.”

Unfortunately, what usually happens is I have to push past them with shouts of “Mi kyan get your number?? Mi waan ur number. Mi like ya, ya ‘ear? Alright den, next time” echoing in my ears.

As I walk quickly, regain my composure, and try to reinstate my guard, the next man (almost immediately) comes over to me and says “pssst. Sexy. Mi waan ya…”

…And the beat of the Jamaican jungle goes on.

In the Peace Corps training they drilled into us “maintain a sense of humor”. Sure. That’s all well and good the first five times. But after 20 minutes and 10 different men, you just want to walk down the street!! So, in an attempt to keep things interesting for myself, I sometimes alternate tactics: Like, I’ll try and change the subject saying things like “Isn’t this really nice weather we’ve been having?” or “Do you like dogs, too?” in the hopes that I’ll stun them for a few precious seconds while I escape.

Occasionally I’ll pretend I heard them say something other than what they actually said: “Nope, it’s not yet 3:00.” Or “Yeah, I did see the new Harry Potter and I thought it was awesome. K, bye!”

I’ve also put together some lame combination of excuses about “not talking to strangers” or “I don’t chat patwa on the weekends, weekends are for resting” (yeah, I’ve said that).

To be sure, it would be awesome if all of this attention was because I’ve got a stellar personality, killer sense of humor, and am really really pretty… It seems a bit more likely that it’s because I’m white, American, and female. You’ll understand, though, if I still cling to the stellar personality bit 🙂

Had I made up that my boyfriend and I were married (and started wearing a ring to ‘prove’ it) while I was living in the US I feel like my friends would’ve been, well, concerned. But here? I shared my lie with several volunteers and was met with nothing but support and reinforcing examples of why it’s a good idea to lie to people about the status of your a significant other.

Dear dear.

Maybe today at market will be different…??
I’m gunna try and wear TWO rings!

Love and vegetables,

I almost. just ate a bug.

15 Apr

Did I ever tell you about my Jamaican mama??
I teach her grandchildren (Mookot, Tyra, ‘milya, ‘mya, Sean, Tugs, Hulky, and Candy) — which is how we met. She lives on my lane. 3.5 houses away (depending on what, exactly, you count as a house) and she is a phenomenal cook by Jamaican standards. Everyone in the community loves her food; Root vegetables, Chicken feet, Soup, Rice and peas, Ackee and saltfish, and on and on.

It should be said, Jamaicans don’t have a varied pallet — but that might be a discussion for another post.

Right, so, of the 10 (or so) very common Jamaican meals, my ‘mama’ is dynamite. Take my word for it. She can make a wicked boiled banana, a tender cut of pumpkin, a perfectly shaped dumpling, and supple piece of chicken. I get to go there for dinner every night of the week. I pay her a minimal amount (she’s already cooking for so many!) and just hop in line to be ‘shared out’ with the rest of ‘my family’.

I have wonderful stories about all of them, Dicky, Mas Punus (sp?), Charmaine, Thaddeus, Q, — my ‘brothers and sisters’. These crazy people (specifically Charmaine, seriously, whoa.) compose my beautiful Jamaican family and make it so I’m a little less lonely on this ever-so-isolating island. I am sure you will be hearing of them in later posts.

*And from now on the words, mama, brother, sister, family, ect will no longer be put into quotations.
***Note to my real mother, Joey: You’re still my favorite!! 🙂

So, where was I?
Ah yes, Mamas cooking…
Here’s a quick snapshot of her in the kitchen.

This is where the magic happens.

Okay, so last night it was raining (you might remember) and it was dinner time. So, before I walked to mamas, I donned appropriate gear [aka a shirt that wouldn’t turn see through and my crocs that are so worn down they have ducktape on the soles (thanks, Molly!)].

On a related/interesting note, Jamaicans have this thing where they don’t go out in the rain. And everything that was going to happen gets canceled if it’s raining. Did I say everything? I mean everything; school, meetings, work, concerts, ect.

Well, not I! I have resolved to get outside and walk in the sun/play in the rain every single day. It’s part of the new, happier, ‘mi. Rain will not stop me from having dinner, ha!

My Jamaican family thinks I’m crazy for walking in the rain: That I most certainly am going to get sick (hello, it’s warm rain) and get dirty (well, this at least is true).

So, I got to mamas and I could just feel their disapproving stares. Moving on, look what’s cooking!

Now, seriously, doesn't that look amazing?

My guess is soup.


Mama made Green Pepper Pot soup last night. I’ve never had that before. She served me up and I carefully walked my dish (covered so the rain wouldn’t get in) and my dog (Goose was a muddy mess) home where we could sit down and eat.

I put my spoon into the green soup and pull out….a moth.
The following picture was not taken yesterday but IS from mamas kitchen.

Perhaps THIS is the point where the bug slipped in?

In fairness to mama I have never *noticed* a bug in her soups before.

I almost posted a picture of the moth but then I thought ‘meh. I ate it anyway’ (the meal, not the moth).
No big deal.

In case you’re wondering, the soup was delicious.

Until tomorrow,
‘mi 🙂

Welcome Home

14 Apr

Hello World!

If you’re reading this you probably already know that I decided to start a blog. Yup: Share. Chat. Work on writing/general English skills. Update you on what I’m currently doing (err, typing and sitting in front of the fan — it’s hot here). Recount events and anecdotes. (Try to) put things in perspective. Give virtual hugs. And much more.

You also might know that I just got back from my first trip to America in over a year.
I stayed for 12 days. — and got back two days ago.
It was a gust of welcome, fresh air.

And I know, I know, most people start a blog for the duration of their Peace Corps experience. That is, at the beginning.
I’m a bit late. — 13 months late, to be exact. The customs official told me (when I re-entered the country on Tuesday) that I have 405 days left on this often sunny island [I swear, I didn’t do the math!! (this time…!) ]

So since I’m breaking traditions I don’t plan on stopping.
Imma start with an excerpt from my journal of how I felt BEFORE I left for America. Not all the sad, misery, woe-is-me details I admit I’ve been experiencing while in Jamaica, but rather the sense of excitement and anticipation of entering a culture I felt fluent in 13 months ago but now am slightly intimidated by, yet still admire and adore:

I kept flitting back and fourth between thinking the transition to being in the US was going to be invigorating for me and then conversely worrying that I would be overwhelmed and pushed to a nervous breakdown from pretending that I have any idea about what’s going on. Like someone would start to make a pop culture reference (Charlie Sheen?), mention a social must-know (tsunami), or anything about politics (Um, the government almost shut down?! seriously?) and I was just gunna nod my head noncommittally and look like a real poser.

I kept wondering, ‘is there a way you can pretend to know what’s going on and just *listen* without coming off like a total jerk? What if there’s only one other person involved in the conversation?? Or am I more of a weirdo if I say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about, can we go get something cool to eat?”

*Sigh* it’s just so much easier to think about the weather in Jamaica.

Speaking of the weather in Jamaica- it was really hot before I left. 92 degrees at 8am. — in MARCH! Now that I’m back though, things seemed to have cooled down a bit. 88 degrees with scattered, welcomed, showers.

Back on track, k. If you haven’t read my e-mail update (ask and I’ll send it your way), I’m sure you are breathless — what was it actually like when I went back to the land of ‘milk-and-honey’ earlier this month???

Emotional break-down in Panera Bread? Check
The best Thai/Sushi/Tofu I’ve ever had? Check
LOADS of clean, washing-machined clothes? Check
Hugs, love, snuggles from friends and family? Check
No mention of Charlie Sheen? Check

The trip was powerful.
I feel much better.
And now I’m back. 🙂

Exciting Things:

–Started a womens walking group. We will be meeting 3 times a week. Met this morning for the first time! Walked for over an hour with 3 women. Huge success. Saturday is our next walk.

–I’m bicycling into Santa Cruz/market for the first time tomorrow!!!

–A mentioning in the Green Initiative sector bulletin.

–A few calls from fellow PCVs (Raz), welcoming me back to island.

— My supervisors wife telling me “we missed you while you were gone”.

–It just started raining!!! (the gorgeous sound of pitter pitter pitter on my tin roof). It’s gunna be a great night.

— I brought ‘stuff’ to The States with me and now my home in Jamaica is less cluttered! It’s awesome. I still haven’t unpacked or anything (ha!) but there’s time…

–The Agricultural High School where I teach might be merging with the local college of the West Indies (super exciting, in my opinion). There are intense feelings on both sides (for and against). The high school has contacted me and asked that I help them write a business plan and budget proposal.

–I made popcorn over the stove, to coincide with the sound of raindrops 🙂 Plus I am drinking cold water from the fridge (It’s the last cold water bottle, but I’m motivated to work on my blog and am not filling the empties up right now… Ah, well.)

–Earth Day is coming up! (April 22nd)

–Easter weekend (read: extra long holiday for PCVs, and the Basic School – not to mention Patricks birthday)!

–Mid Service Conference is in the first week of May!! (and Ms. P is not coming with me this time :))

That’s all for my first post.

Hope this finds you happy and well.
And that everyone around you ignores Charlie Sheen.

Love and sunshine,

PS. A huge thanks to Taylor for the blog layout!