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The Farmer in the Dell

27 Nov

Dearest Americans,

As a patriot living abroad I have come to realize that people who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving [every single other country in the entire world. Except Canada. But whatever, they’re wannabes. (kidding! Omg)] get frustrated when you ethnocentrically assume that they are attuned with this American holiday (which, duh, of course they totally should be). By simply asking, “Where the heck can I get some pumpkin pie around here? It’s Thanksgiving for gosh sakes!”, or innocently querying, “What??! Why aren’t you spending today with your family??”, you provoke varied responses ranging from the patient, “we don’t celebrate that here”, to full-on attitude, “that’s an American holiday”.

Casually, I took this a step farther.
Amusing myself this past week (who’s going to know Thanksgiving is *only* one day?) with a game of make-believe-it’s-Thanksgiving-in-Jamaica-and-it’s-all-anyone-is-talking-about, anytime an unknown man called to me I made a very specific reference to Turkey Day: “Nope, we haven’t broken our wishbone, yet!”, I would banter; or ask excitedly, “Does you’re mom leave the giblets inside by accident every year, too??”; perhaps I might refute them politely stating, “Actually, we go around the table individually saying grace out loud”, before I quickly move on.

This particular game has taken many forms (depending on the holiday) and is, as I’m sure you’ve surmised, endlessly entertaining. I highly recommend it. However, even with this limitless hilarity I have discovered that Americans (well, this American) who are abroad during a harvest celebration feel lonely, envious, and invariably hungry.

You all know I try not to dwell and, apparently, I like to trivialize.
Here’s a joke that came to me whilst sitting on the phone waiting for my dear mother to pick up: If a turkey had a telephone, what sound what it make?
“Wing! Wing!”

At this point, if I’ve even elicited a sympathy smile from you…I’ll take it.
Clearly, my creative juices could use some (turkey) basting.

Moving on.

When I was young, like other American children, I wanted to be a veterinarian.
I loved animals. Petting them, caring for them. Their smallness. Softness. Cuteness. Snugglyness. Silliness. All around awesomeness.

Most of these adjectives don’t really apply to Jamaican dogs.
Well, smallness does.

Small things are cute

The average lifespan of a dog in Jamaica is several months.
And I’m probably being generous.

“Why?”, you might gasp, “How do they die??”
Well, brace yourselves, Westerners.
Sometimes, litters are scooped up, placed in a bag, and drowned.
Other times, dogs are tied to a tree in the “miggle uh de bush” and left to starve.
These options are arguably better than being hit by a car, taken by ants, or devoured by flies (all of which are possible).
Surviving pups do not have it easy (there always being a dearth of food); Breaking necks to put them out of their misery might be kind (?)

I know, I know.
But let me give some perspective.
In Jamaica, dogs have a history of being tireless informants (think slavery). Specific breeds were carried over here on ships from England and used by plantation owners for an assortment of purposes; some respectable and others deplorable. I imagine that most Africans interactions with dogs were not pleasant. It is this violent past (I am assuming) that has bred a well-deserved fear of canines into Jamaican heritage.

Also, to be fair, dogs in Jamaica can be really, really scary.
Vicious, biting, guard-with-their-life, maul-things-to-shreds, scary dogs.

I know children (more than I can count on one hand) that have received dog bites so severe they had to be kept out of school, women who have gone to hospital from feral attacks, and a Peace Corps volunteer who was targeted while swimming in the water! (The dogs bit her and tried to drag her under.)

That being said, people are afraid.
There are accepted defense mechanisms — Rock throwing is common. It seems to be the proper way of dissuading these ‘loaded pistols’ from a full-fledged attack. In fact, most dogs in Jamaica are so accustomed to getting pelted from a flung stone that all one has to do is bend over in mere simulation of picking up a pebble and the dog will scamper away.
When I go out walking (daily) most yards I pass have dogs who launch into war mode when they see me; lunging, barring their teeth, growling, barking; the works. For the most part, my ‘faux’ stone flinging works out well in deterring these angry beasts. However, I have been in some downright chilling situations (those teeth are sharp, that saliva is real, and an aggressive dog stance is not to be taken lightly) where some very fierce and highly accurate, legitimate rock throwing was the only way that I was able to save myself.

When I first moved to Jamaica threatening (much less following through) to throw a stone at a dog was unimaginable.
You can see, this has changed.
There is still a residual Westerness in me that hesitates, doesn’t want to accept these creatures as malicious…but then I see that brutal face picking up speed, about to pounce, my heart is racing, and it comes down to survival; I pick up a rock and pelt the dog.

“Why do they harass people like that??”, I anticipate you asking.
Perhaps they are hungry? (Likely)
Perhaps it’s how they are grown? (Lacking love is an understatement)

It is a dog eat dog world here…sometimes literally. Ew.
Most puppies have bellies enlarged with worms, cuts that are infected, and are often missing large tufts of matted fur to mange and other diseases.
Soft, mushy feelings for the animal world are not fostered among Jamaicans.
From a very young age children are taught not to let dogs approach (never mind touch!) as they are dirty and likely to bite. Any physical interactions that do occur between human and beast are likely to involve torture; I have seen children amuse themselves (amidst laughter from moms) flinging a tiny kitten or puppy around by its tail and beating it as it cries.
Animals are viewed as competition; one more mouth to feed.

Humane Society instincts

While it’s easy to feel aghast at these puppy-faces, it’s important to remember that they actually do turn into daunting, adult dogs who can terrify humans. To be morbid and frank, it’s more manageable to deal with these animals when they are young.

“Why are there so many? They should get their dogs ‘fixed’!”
Valid point, imaginary person, but this costs money. Money is something that is severely lacking here in Elim, Jamaica. The nearest Vet is 15 miles away and deals primarily in farm animals. (There used to be one closer, at the Agricultural High School, but that’s a sad story involving rape, a broken jaw, and intensive care. I’ll spare you the details.)
Excluding transportation costs, it is approximately $65US to ‘fix’ one dog.

So, in keeping with childhood veterinary dreams…I’m saving some animals.
Throughout my two years in Jamaica I have rescued several pitiful pups. Bad things still befall some ‘rescued’ dogs (a tragic but inevitable truth in a country where poison is often a first resort) but I’m doing my best and currently have two scrappy, well-fed, well-loved mongrels.

Here’s a picture:

Tyger & Goose

These darlings are my best friends here in Jamaica.
They have American accents.
They bravely accompany me on morning walks.
Jamaicans think this is hilarious and pointless often stating “yuh treat dogs dem bettern wi treat pickni”. (This is true. Case in point, I actually put money aside each week so that my ‘pickni’ will have food.) For my dogs, old habits (like the desire to eat) are hard to break. Plus, I don’t think they want to break them.

Because of a dogs reputation in Jamaica my own pups are feared by most people. This is good news as, combined with their best friend status, I employ them as full-time security guards. Mama and her family (all 20+ of them) help spread the word that I have ferocious protectors. “Dem bite ‘ard!” and “mind dem bite oonu!” they yell as people pass.

Now, least you think that this entire month has been filled with doggy musings…
Here is some work news:
We held a fund raiser dinner for our *new* Basic School on Friday!
This month I have been busy with preparations, meetings, and ticket sales.
On Black Friday (check out my American reference) things reached a fervor: serving food, taking orders from exquisitely particular Jamaicans, and doing my best to stay on my coworkers good side (not so easy when there is not enough food, demanding customers, and bossy personalities that often resort to hitting other staff members in order to make a point. I got smacked only once for forgetting to replace the lid on our stewed pork. I’m proud to report that, while tears obviously welled in my eyes, none spilled down my face. Winning.)
Glad that’s over.

High School is in full gear, students are preparing to take exams, and I have been offering extra homework help and study time for the prefects I work with. I am so lucky to work with the smartest, most respectful kids in the entire school!

On the card-making front — for those of you who don’t know I work with a womens group making greeting cards out of recycled paper; It’s all very ecological and quaint with 100% of the proceeds going to the women themselves, the aim being to uplift and empower their lives. — Hundreds of card orders have come in for the Christmas season! Yippie!

If YOU are interested in supporting this lovely womens group and feel like ordering cards — $35US or $3,000J for 12 delicate, environmentally friendly, handmade beauties — contact me. We have no orders in January which translates to ample time to work on CARDS for YOU!
*end of shameless plug* 😉

In my Social Life, relationships are being built. Here are some details:
Almost every time Ms. Valda sees me she fills my backpack with fresh fruit — whatever she has available; ohti iti apples, peanuts, breadfruit, sorrel. She loves to hug me up and constantly asks me to bring a white “ooman” for her adorable Rasta grandson (He’s in his late 20’s and seems pretty cool. Anyone interested?)

Sister Verona knows exactly how I like my cook-shop dinner (no saltfish, extra veggies). I enjoy relaxing and chatting with her as I eat.

Then there’s the children. Oh, the children!! When they see me they rush out of their yards with choruses of “Aunty Sam!!! Aunty SAM!” Amidst hugs and grins I wonder what I did to deserve such adoration. Sometimes we play games. Everyone wants to be on my team in sports (shocking, I know).
Also, my body doubles as a jungle gym.

In girl power news:
My parents raised me to be a strong — girls can do anything! — woman. In the past, the phrase “I’m a girl” fueled my determination to get things done.
One of those crazy middle school feminists. You know the type.

But then I came to Jamaica.
Here I learned all about race roles (constantly referring to people based on skin color) and gender differences. As a woman, for example, I absolutely should not bicycle, run, or travel alone. Nor should I wield a machete. Or pay for my own drinks. Or go into the bush. Or fix a piece of zinc that needs replacing.
“Here, this is heavy. You’re a man. Carry this.”, is more than tolerated, it’s expected. Being an established grown-up woman (and not fully Jamaican) I cipher through these Do’s and Don’ts, picking the ones I like while discarding the ones I deem inapplicable.

Feminine rules I ignore:
-Don’t wield a machete.
-Don’t fix anything.

Recent truisms (courtesy of Jamaica) that have entered my life:
-Don’t carry heavy things.
-Don’t go out alone at night.

Laying a rattrap, finding the culprit deceased, and then subsequently throwing a dead rat out of doors falls under the category of “don’t do this if you’re a girl”. The grownup woman in me has evaluated this scenario and agrees. ‘I’m a girl, and I’m not going to do that’.

Thus, I have a problem.

At around 8 o’clock each night I see him out of the corner of my eye.
This rat (really he’s cuter than that; henceforth I will refer to him as a mouse) scurries from around the corner, past my shoes, across my yoga mat, skirts my med kit, and pauses for shelter underneath my spice-rack (a clever, 3 cement block structure, stacked and covered with a pink curtain – thank you, Molly :))
At this point, the mouse has my full attention.
I stare at the affected area for several unmoving minutes until he emerges, quickly (gosh is he fast!), darts behind the cooking gas cylinder, under my sink, and behind my fridge. His ultimate destination is less than a foot away; my pantry (this is a more elaborate spice-rack set-up with 9 blocks instead of 3 and 2 curtains instead of 1; fancy!).

Several minutes later I hear nibbling which, I can be sure, is the adorable mouse eating my popcorn (the bag now resembles a leaky watering can). I’m not mad because I can sympathize; I love popcorn, too, little guy. And I also wasn’t planning on doing anything about this midget thief; I like to share.
But Mama had a conniption when I told her. She insists I get a cat.
I’m hesitant, but soon I may have an addition to my American Embassy.

Other than that, the 10k I’ve been training for is coming up.
One we(eeeek!)
For the first part of November I was doing really well.
So well, in fact, that you’ll notice I didn’t have time to write: I was an exercise machine! (not literally. Although, I really wish I had one. They always come inside of an air-conditioned gym, right?)
My mom once told me that, on average, people are able to stick to a diet for two weeks at a time. Since I consider myself ‘most people’ staying on my intense regime for two weeks was exactly what I did. Consequently, this week has been lamesauce in regards to diet and exercise. Bad news since I was planning on a breakthrough for December 3rd (raceday) where it would be discovered that I am now the fastest woman in the world. I haven’t given up hope, but I did readjust my goal: Run faster than my organic mascara so as to look good in all the photos. Holla!

On that ridiculous note, I’m going to go do my makeup and practice running.
Or, feed the animals.
Or, you know, feed my face.

Regardless, my pets and I are signing off!
Hug the ones you like and kiss the ones you love.
Always and always,

Burgers & Yinz

26 Oct

I picked this title because A) It sounds like food (and I ate lots of food) B) Yinz is a word used in Pittsburgh by “‘burgers” and C) The first and last thing I ate (in the airport) was a Vegetarian Black Bean Burger.

Also, it turns out I list things in A) B) C) formats during regular conversations.

So, here’s my World Cuisine Tour from the surprisingly ethnic, Pennsylvania:
Japanese (sushi and hibachi), Thai, Chinese, Indian, Italian, The Ocean (shrimp and scallops), Mexican ($1 Taco Tuesday), Late Night Food (coleslaw sandwiches and Terra chips), Beer-on-tap, American (pizza delivered to North Park!), Vegetarian Buffet, Gardens (extravagant salads), Dessert (thanks dad!), and Home Cookin’ (thanks mom!)

Needless to say, I was practically starved during my entire trip.
Maybe next time my family will feed me.


Other highlights:

– An urban bicycle ride with Mom, Dad, and Nick
– Game night(s) — including trivial pursuit, survival, and charades
– Hilarious comedy at Friday Night Improv
– A double date with the gorgeous Angela & Aaron 🙂
– Thrift store shopping
– Chatting with my pops and mumzy
– A fabulous yoga class to work on my “Female Physique”
– Running, stretching, tennis, and tickling with my True Love
– Occuping Pittsburgh

This is how lucky I am:

– I only turned on the stove once — and it was to boil water for tea
– Nick washed and folded my laundry. If he hadn’t my mom offered to (!)
– Upon arrival, my Mom and Dad stayed up until 1am to pick me up from the airport 🙂
– For departure, Nick, Mom, and Dad woke up at 3:45am to drive me to my flight
– Angela found a ring on the floor, gave it to me, & now I have brass knuckles
– Nick loves my dogs so much he’s encouraging me to bring them home!!!!!
– My dad had half a dozen chocolate bars waiting for me in the cupboard
– And Nick brought chocolate back from Germany which he saved for me

So much LOVE

Wait a minute…which country is this??
– On Wednesday, in Pennsylvania, I awoke up to rain and immediately turned over to go back to sleep; in my haze, and because it was raining, I assumed that everything I had to do for the day was canceled
– Whenever I was on the phone I said everything as quickly as possible trying to hang up because I kept thinking, “mi credit soon finish”
– When I entered a vehicle I surreptitiously noticed which side of the car passengers were getting in on because, in Jamaica, the opposite is true

Things that haven’t changed — in America:
– My bed in Pittsburgh is the fluffiest, most inviting place in the world
– The Internet is fast; I watched YouTube and tagged past blog posts
– Even ‘gross’ bar bathrooms have A) running water and B) toilet paper
– Showers are amazing; Hot water is like a deity.

Things I learned while abroad:

– My Dad knows A) What the Dougie is and B) How to do it
– “The Rock Game” is similar to “The Silent Game”
– Howdy Doody has a twin brother named Double Doody
– You are allowed to sample pastries (!) at the Giant Eagle Bakery

The Ugly:
– Nick had scabies and was quarantined for 3 of the 8 nights I was home. WTF?! I know. Isn’t that, like, a third world problem?? I thought so, too. I was shocked. Gross. Did he have scabs all over his body?? — Turns out, it’s not quite that visually extreme. But it is incredibly contagious. Scabies (mites) are invisible and called body lice. So it wasn’t obvious if you looked at him but it was still necessary, due to the high infection probability, that we spend most of those first few days apart: Nick wasn’t able to pick me up from the airport. For my first 79 hours in America, he was barred from being at my house, hugging me, holding my hand, driving with me, or do anything at all that would cause us to touch in any way. Super sad. — Mercifully, on day 4, the fear of contamination mitigated and we were reunited
– I watched Virgin Suicides and it was terrible
– The restaurant Patron douses their vegetables in vinegar; yucky
– At The Middle Road Inn I had an uncomfortable, mini, high school reunion
– Because I was cold I didn’t drink enough water and became slightly dehydrated
– A car accident at my neighbors; thankfully no one was seriously injured

The people I saw:
– I gave two Peace Corps talks at CMU and Pitt and I met Michael, a gem of a man who will be part of Group 83, Jamaica — joining us on island March 2012!
– Joel & Debbie left amazing books in my room that I can not wait to read!
– I spoke with Aunt Betsy (sorry Joan, don’t be mad…she called us)
– Spent enjoyable time at the Wexford Shop with Mom and Dar
– The girls at our gym are some of the most amazing women ever: Erika, Patty, Diane, Angela, and the rest of the crew are so, so special. My interactions with them were exceptionally warm and invigorating! Thank you all so much for being such bright spirits; I loved your hugs and contagious energy!
– My relationship with Nick — my incredible, perfect boyfriend — is stronger than ever. We reconnected (post scabies), laughed, snuggled, and re-solidified our partnership with talks about our future that were full of hope and positivity. I am so grateful for the time we shared. I love you.
– My parents were extremely generous with me; exotic dinners, ample family time, drives around the city, special outings, sensitivity to my wants, and constant TLC. It was humbling and I feel grateful for how much attention and care you both paid to me. Thank you so much!!!!

Since I’ve landed, Things that haven’t changed — in Jamaica:
– Immigration has 25 times more tourists in line than Host Country Nationals
– When I turned on my phone, Digicel had sent more text messages than anyone else in my entire phonebook combined
– That bus ride from Montego Bay to Santa Cruz is nauseating every. single. time.
– Food cooked on a wood fire tastes smoky and delicious
– It is unarguable that Jamaicans cook chicken really, really well

And now, mi day-ah. I am here, back in Elim, recounting my tales of adventure.
I love you all so much.
Thanks for your support making this vacation personal and memorable!
I feel extremely blessed and full of good food 🙂
It was amazing!!!!!
I’ll write again, soon.

Yours ’til the chocolate chips,

Flying High

10 Jul

Greetings all of you fun-seeking, generous, kind people!
I just got back from the loving United States of America.
(Yes, again.)

This time it was for 20 days!



I celebrated my birthday (24!), Nicks birthday (27!), America’s birthday (235!), Fathers Day (shout out, Deekerson!), attended two breathtaking weddings, spent time in Pittsburgh, Alaska, Ithaca, and Boonville (it’s a real place), plus earned $300 in US Airway money due to an overbooked flight.
!!!!!!! It was the best 20 days of my life 🙂

The worst bit, though, is that I didn’t even warn you that I was going.
In this, my father has already expressed his disappointment.

Honestly, I have a plethora of great excuses.
Well, okay, two. But they’re good ones.

In your interest, dear reader, I am dividing these excuses into two blog posts.
Your welcome.

I’m going to start with my favorite topic and my first justification; The Motherland: Clearly I didn’t write on my blog while I was in America (aka the land of the free) because I was busy moving in slow motion, mouth agape, with the…
…Choices! (Even the ‘smallest’ gas station is brimming!)
…Variety! (Restaurants! Menus! Wegmans!)
…*Stimulation! (Driving on the road I was cautious and leisurely.)

*(About this last one, Nick got antsy and insisted on sitting in the drivers seat citing a desire to “not spend double the amount of time in the car”. I was happy to be a passenger enjoying the ride!)

Some things never change:
Yes, I still stare at strangers (people watching is my favorite activity), experience social anxiety when interacting with others (did I mention two weddings??), and I am perpetually fascinated with white people (letting your dog lick off of your ice cream cone, really?)

A brief synopsis:
In Pittsburgh: I hugged my parents, touched every object in my room (for the first time in 16 months!!), played games, went shopping (I love sales!), enjoyed North Park, and ate out at restaurants of my choice (anything but Caribbean).

In Alaska: I went on amazing hikes, jumped on a trampoline at the top of a mountain (see photo), relished in the vistas, spent time with Nicks family!, visited an old friend (Gabi), purchased a souvenir mug (which is with me in Jamaica), got my nails painted (glitter!), and Brandi & James got hitched!!!!!!

In Ithaca: I saw best friends (Colleen, Simone, Catherine – missed Laura), went swimming (in waterfalls and ponds), pined for avocados (called pears & ‘tis the season!), talked books, played with children, won a doubles tennis match, ate homegrown organic lettuce and basil that Nick raised (so proud, so proud!).

In Booneville: I went for a bike ride (with two hotties), attended a beautiful wedding, ate cake (twice!) met more of Nicks cool family (Olga, Hedi, Bonnie, love!), spent time with Kirks (so awesome!), enjoyed camp, got the daylights scared out of me by a bottle-rocket-firework-extravaganza, then got snuggled.

Jumping on top of a mountain in Alaska

Wow-y Wowza did I have an amazing time.
I’ve turned a shade of red, white, and blue.
I loved loved loved it there.
Happy Birthday, girl.

But she can’t get all the credit for my happiness.
No siree!
It’s you guys that made my trip.
ALL of you guys; my incredible family and friends (old and new). — You make my life so special and so so worth living. Not to mention hilarious. I love spending time with you and I look forward to every single hug that we share.

Most of you didn’t know I was coming to the US until I arrived and thus I didn’t get to see all of you (some people still don’t know that I came and left!) And to those loved ones, I owe a very hearty apology. I am genuinely remorseful that we didn’t spend time together and I am so sorry if you feel slighted that I didn’t call/e-mail/blog before I came to America.
Please know that I love composing, divulging, and sharing my world with you.
And I love your energy. Your conversations. Your input.

There is one more reason I did not write before my trip. — a second justification.
I’ll give you a clue in picture form followed by hints (disguised as observations):


A. Small bed (specifically designed for one person) with white, generic sheets
B. Needle in arm with IV taped at an uncomfortable angle
C. Hands holding belly coupled with a pained expression
D. Harsh lighting that is making a real tan look spray-on

In my next post you’ll see more of these highly unflattering photos but for now…
Your challenge is to deduce:
Where. is. Sammi??

dun dun dun.

Thus ends this segment of explanations and apologies in reference to my lack of communication re: my upcoming (and now past) visit to the Motherland. For the duration July (have I mentioned how realistic 24-years-old has made me?!), I am working on providing timely updates. So, we can all look forward to that.

*The next post will, of course, explain the picture above.*

One more thing!
I forgot to tell you, on my flight back to Jamaica (the 4th of July), after spending those glorious 20 days in America, US Airways (because of overbooking) upgraded my airplane tickets to first class resulting in free snacks, drinks, and a new sense of unrivaled patriotism.

Thank you, US Airways.
And thank you for reading.

As much as I love America, I love YOU even more.

Stars and stripes forever,

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!