Tag Archives: Chocolate

Solidly Unstable

6 Nov

I’m sure you’ve all heard what must be huge national news — Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has resigned! Andrew Holness has succeeded him.

Casually changing the subject to something more personally relevant, I watched a movie called Stop-Loss that had me crying my eyes out.
Ya gotta feel for Ryan Phillipe in an army uniform.

So it’s finally November.
Windy, November.
There is a marked change in seasons. It’s in the air. I can be out of my house after 8am and not feel like butter spread over too much bread. It’s wonderful! And a good thing too, because that 10k I signed up for is looming. – Less than a month away; I’ve been trying to train.
Regrettably, I fell off the proverbial wagon late last month and have been huffing and puffing like a TB patient most mornings since. Today was no exception; 1 hours and 10 minutes of pure effort.

I’m still getting nasty blisters on my feet that Jamaicans give me advice on — Ex:
“What color socks do you wear?”
Me: “Uh, black”
Jamaican: “No sah! Yuh haffi wer white. Yuh mus wer white”
Welp, I’m sorry to all of you who sent me black socks in packages; we’ve figured out the problem.

A few weekends ago there was an epic All-Volunteer conference that I had the pleasure of attending in the capital city, Kingston. Towards the end I met some visiting staff members from Washington (kind of a big deal) who said they wanted my opinion on this boring application that we volunteers commonly refer to as the “oh-crap,-when-is-that-due?” Turns out, the staff in Washington call it by its proper name — “The VRF”. I was flattered that they asked for my input, adapted to calling it “The VRF”, and recklessly, I agreed to give my opinion…accidentally landing myself in a professional meeting. Oops.
It’s hard to feign intelligence in conversation. It’s harder when that conversation lasts 3 hours. While I busied myself on paper (appearing to take notes but in actuality inventing axioms that satisfied their never ending string of acronyms) the other meeting-goers engaged in professional jargon and, what I can only assume to be, lofty ideas. Clearly my tactic here was going to be ‘keep your mouth shut, samm’. Better to look like a dunce than remove all doubt, nay? My cheeks flushed and my heart raced whenever the attention was directed at me; I deflected, said something witty such as “hmm, interesting point”, or “I wonder what Anika thinks”, and smiled.
Those Washington DCers gave me conciliatory chocolate afterwords though and, since time and chocolate heal all of my wounds, I have decided that the humiliation of attending a long meeting that I have absolutely no business attending was worth it and I would readily do it again for another Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup.

When I returned home, my cockroach situation had gotten seriously out of hand. These buggers were everywhere; they took over! On my yoga mat, coming out of my drain, crawling inside my refrigerator…They rushed across my table (okay, I don’t have a table, my cutting board) and asked “really, are you going to eat that?” My stomach lurches at the memory and I, in a stroke of brilliance, decided to outsource:
Who knows how to clean really, really well?
Jamaican women.
I hired Mama in what turned out to be one of the top four best decisions of my life. She came and spent six hours scrubbing, scouring, wiping, sweeping, mopping, beating, spraying, and killing while I spent those same six hours organizing, eliminating, guiding, washing, dusting, and staying out of the way. My house is now wonderful! I invite all of you to come over. The cockroach situation has abated and I feel inspired to cook.

On that positive sentiment I am going to go and do just that.
Vegetables, fruit (cutting it counts as cooking), and lemon grass tea.

Bon appetit mon cheri(s),

Total Package

14 Aug

Happy Weekend, Dear Ones!

August has been magical (owing, in part, to Harry Potter which I had been trying for weeks to locate, finally found in the form of a bootleg copy sold by a shady street-corner-man in downtown Kingston, hurried home (faster!), shoved the not-very-legitimate-looking-DVD into my computer and…abracadabra…it worked!!! More, part I and part II are on this tiny disc! A charmed life :))

And that party was awesome, thanks for asking.
You remember, right? That one that didn’t start until ‘the next day’.
Well, yours truly went and stayed until 6am!!!
I think I’m really integrating.
Memories from that night:
-Walking a mile to get there in the dark. With potholes. I used my headlamp.
-Cows ‘Moooo’ing as we passed.
-Arriving, the party was in the middle of a field, completely outside.
-Thus, the party was dark; lights came from parked cars pointed in the “party direction”.
-Music was loud. Really, really loud.
-Drinks were, of course, sold at double the price and water was triple! I, personally, walked to a nearby shop (my friends) and was sold drinks at regular prices plus given water for free 🙂
-Weed was sold for $2.50 US by the stick (about 2 feet).
-People ruined their shoes because of the wet grass turned to mud. (Yours truly wore crocs!)
-Dancing!!! Grooving!!!
-Walking home I didn’t need my headlamp because the sun was already shining!

A few days later…
I went to church (I’m dynamic like that) and struck up a conversation with a community member who did not attend the party.
“Sam!”, she said, “I heard you was at the party!”
“Yup” I started cautiously, worried where this might go. This was, after all, my first all-night party and, being a teacher in this small village I do not want anything to slander my good name. Could I go and have a fabulous time yet still be conservative and maintain my reputation even in church???
“I heard that you danced but didn’t wine ’cause your hubby don’t want you to” she continued.
I beamed
“Yes, this is true.” I said as a smile crept across my face.
“And”, she winked, “I heard you can really boogie”

I went to a party!!!
Stayed all night!!!!!
Avoided nasty rumors!!!!!!!!!!
Life is goooooood!!!!

And then, icing on my party cake, I went into Kingston and picked up MAIL!!!
I received THREE awesome packages from four incredible people!
(Tears happened when I read my birthday card messages because I miss you all so much — Luckily there was chocolate in the package so I was able to drown my sorrows right then and there).

Colleen and Brennan:
That granola, those cookies, toaster pastries (only a few ants had gotten into them), luna bars, chocolate nut mix…MmmmmM!!!!!!!! Thank you so so much! It was an incredibly well thought out package 🙂 I loved the polar bear card (I think it’s working! I feel colder.) and the gorgeous notebook (especially the sentiments inside!). I really appreciate the healthy, hearty rice (I’m cooking it with peanuts, Oh, peanuts.), and the delicious smelling deodorant (perfect timing! tmi?)
It was so thoughtful of you to organize and send this full-of-love present filled with good cheer!
I have been relishing the change of scenery this box has brought into my home (I put the card up on my wall and it is a PLEASURE to open my fridge and see all these new, exciting, foreign contents!!).
As you can probably imagine, I picked through the nut mix and ate out all of the chocolate already but am still holding out hope that I missed some pieces… Sick, I know.

Your package full of gardening supplies finally made it here!!
There was so much cool stuff in this box (the items just kept ‘one-upping’ each other, ha!).
A Gardeners Handbook, Soil testing, fruit, flower, veggie seeds, and then a letter with a bit of a monetary treat!!!!!!! Eeek!!!! Yay!!!!! Thank you so much!!!!! I have plans to use that money very wisely (on a couple of slices of pizza in a very expensive part of the island.) I know of one place (Paradise Patty) to buy pizza less than one hour from me and they use ketchup instead of tomato sauce (gross) and cheese that doesn’t melt (is it plastic??). But THIS money is going towards a real, honest-to-goodness, piece of tourist pizza!!!!! Wahoo!!!!!! I’m going to travel hours to go and get it. 🙂
Thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!

The camera USB worked! Yes!!!! Thank you for brainstorming ways to get me out of that miserable funk. That was so frustrating! Thank you for sending the USB and camera card (just in case). You sent them so promptly and I really appreciate having them! Ironic (let’s laugh about it) that there are no pictures on this blog post. Sorry about that. *whistles nonchalantly* Soon come! And, at least I have the option!! You’re very good at showering me with acts of service. (next time write a note, ha!) I love you, goofball 🙂

And, for those of you who have sent me packages in my past, that is, before I started a blog, I really appreciate those gifts as well [and hope I conveyed that to you in a very lengthy (if not public) and appreciative e-mail!].

I hope that your month is going as well as mine.

Tied with a Bow.
Sealed with a Kiss.


Excess vs. Not-quite-enough

28 Jul

Aloha loyal readers!

I got good rest last night [with delicious (albeit interrupted) dreams!] and I am feeling fortified enough to risk savage bites on my flesh in order to type this blog post.

Can you feel my love?

These ants are small but feisty.
And their is a never-ending parade of them around my house!; my sink, my bed, and worse – invading my ice-cream-dreams.
They bite hard and steal food 😦

What else do I have plenty of?!
They still haven’t abated. In fact, they’ve worsened.
To combat this I am always moving limbs in order that they don’t land on me. This activity creates more exertion than necessary in this sweltering heat and I feel it is incredibly inconsiderate.

I also have had a spike in cockroaches.
I spied one on my bathroom door, marked it for dead, swatted really hard at it, missed, and effectively catapulted it directly towards me. This yielded hysterical movement resembling some really cool dance steps…I hope.
Also, I found a cockroach in my wardrobe, hanging-out in the cup of one of my bras. This was rude and awfully fresh behavior. And has resulted in me distrusting every article of clothing in my possession. I have since adopted a ceremonious shake-out of all of my clothes before putting them on…hours of my life will be wasted on this action…

On a (possibly) related note I cannot stop itching myself all over my body.

And, in a circuitous bug story: It’s intense guava season right now (short but emphatically prolific). I am currently on mission-guava-juice. I hate to see anything waste and am outside everyday collecting, washing, juicing. Still, pounds drop from the trees in seeming mockery of my efforts. I’ve gotten a few nasty scratches from my new-found hunter/gatherer instincts. I don’t mind the scratches (they make me look tough), it’s the gnats, covering every millimeter of my open wounds, that freak me out. They follow me around causing an uncanny resemblance to one of those starving African children in need of a sponsor.

I'll get you my pretties!

All of these things (bugs and guavas) I have in excess.
There are, however, some things that I am lacking. Or, at least, there is a noticeable absence of (water, electricity, and chocolate – off the top of my head).

More information:
Since I have returned from America the electricity here has been inconsistent (at best), the water scarce, and chocolate, well, it’s just missing.

Anticipating this, Peace Corps has thoughtfully provided a lantern and blue water canister, which really do help. But owing to sheer amounts of time-without-power I have hours to sit in the dark and ponder this lack of basic amenities.

Before I moved to Jamaica I was both always eating chocolate and never considering the topic of infrastructure. If someone had asked me where does drinking water come from I would probably have said ‘from the tap’, of course. The providence of electricity was equally mysterious. It seemed to somehow involve lightning, a kite, a key, and power inside walls.

This is all changing as I notice, with alarm, that current gets cut off daily, good chocolate does not reside in every country, and water is no longer streaming from the tap. I have resolved to reformat my life without chocolate (I mean, I did join the Peace Corps) but the other essentials?
Reflection has made me strangely poetic. Here is a limerick addressing the heat and water-shortage:

It’s my hottest summer on record by chance
So warm I opt only to take corpse-pose stance
No clouds are showing
Nor is the water flowing
Does anyone know a rain-dance?

Don’t worry yourselves, though. Because, while I am not exaggerating I am managing. There is a river out back for a quick bath, and water does occasionally fall from the sky.
This experience is simply giving me a few, er, ‘age-old’ questions to ponder.

In Peace Corps news, the new batch, group 82 (a high number, I know), arrived on our ant riddled island a few weeks ago. Through feedback from us (currently serving volunteers) our staff organized a Volunteer Shadow Day where the newbies were paired with ‘seasoned volunteers’ and saw “A Day in the Life”. I (being an aforementioned ‘seasoned volunteer’) was sent a trainee named Virginia; a flexible, adaptable, girl who is going to make a stupendous Peace Corps Volunteer. It was super fun imparting wisdom (slip on shoes are essential), scheduling meetings (that got canceled, just so she’d get the ‘real’ experience), picking guavas, making juice, shelling peanuts, liaison-ing at the high school, and visiting community members. Can’t wait to spend time with the rest of that bunch 🙂

And here’s a picture of my favorite farmer, Ledah.
Topics covered included: Where in the world is Jamaica??? And the specific countries that eat dogs. Ledah was shocked by this unknown fact but quickly recovered and informed me of some islands that he had heard about near Jamaica that actually eat cats. While I could neither confirm nor deny this we located said islands and imagined what dogs and cats might taste like. (Goose and Tyger looked up at us pitifully).
It was all great fun as the world is such a fascinating place.

“Dis a whole ting a school!”, he said in awe.

In upcoming events I have a party to go to on Saturday!!!!!
I’m so excited! It’s all my community has been talking about for months!
Dancing (well, kind of) and loud music.
I told Dita I’d be arriving at about 9pm.
“NO!”, she said. (Apparently that’s too early)
“Must be about 2am I’m going” she told me.

If everyone feels the way she does I’ll be the only one there for a few hours and then long gone/asleep by the time anyone else has arrived.
I’ll keep you posted.
Should be good.

Things you can’t have too much of:
Peace, Chocolate, Love & uncomfortable too-long hugs,
‘mi 🙂