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Walkabout tomorrow

As Americans, I think we’ve come to analyze everything little thing in life.  This is on my mind on our 2nd day (first full day) of PCT here in Jamaica, as many of us have already discussed a common thread.  I’ve read from the very beginning about volunteers having ups and downs throughout the 2 year period.  However, I had no idea that we would all be on this emotional rollercoaster multiple times during each day…granted, they are longer days than we are accustomed to.

The fact is that very few of you reading this blog have come for a history or culture lesson on Jamaica.  Most of you are fans of Josh and/or Jesse and you come to stay connected with us…to encourage us or to share in the journey.  We appreciate it so much that you would visit and take the time to digest our perception of this Peace Corps experience.

We’ve only been on island for 2 days and I can tell you now that the Peace Corps is a fine organization.  These trainers and administrators seem to care very much for our individual well-being and safety, and they care a great deal about PC-Jamaica.  Training looks to be quite a challenge, really from every angle.  We are living in dorm-style housing that is clean and well kept.  We have everything we need and, if we didn’t, I feel confident that someone would help us acquire it.  Having said this, it’s a big change!  Our windows, for example, have no screens and enable a decent breeze to cool the place (no A/C).  This also allows bugs to wander in, though, and I’m pretty impressed that we haven’t had more intruders so far.  As I went to shower this morning (chilly, but refreshing), I noticed a little spider in one of the corners.  As I remember doing so regularly in Benin, I made sure to keep an eye on him while showering and we had no problems.  Also, these 8 weeks of training are totally chalked full of lectures and activity, such that I’m unsure of when I’ll get a chance to do laundry or anything extracurricular (except maybe on the weekends).  We are constantly going from one session to lunch, from lunch to the next session, then language study, then medical session, etc.  It’s as if we are under the authority of 20 parents here, and they operate by that “idle hands” idiom.  They are so enthusiastic and full of knowledge…and they require a good amount from us.  The staff gave us our health kits and mosquito nets today, but we won’t set any of that up until we feel the need.  Things are working out pretty well on the whole.  It just isn’t home, if that makes sense.  That’s okay, isn’t it?  At least not yet. ;)  Which leads me to another challenge that’s under the radar—my social inadequacy.
Even the most individualistic of us would love nothing better than to join a group of strangers and make great friendships instantly with one or two folks.  So that’s a challenge too.  I’m trying to just be patient and take things as they come.  But I’m a little concerned that I should be trying harder…concerned that trying harder could come off as desperate…concerned that I probably shouldn’t be concerned.  Any thoughts?
I haven’t seen or experienced much of Jamaica yet.  I know that the hillside of Kingston lights up at night, with houses dotting like Christmas.   I’ve tried callaloo, saltfish, and an interesting and delightful array of Jamaican fruits (I’m sure I’ll put up an outline of those sometime).  Did I say that I’m going “vegetarian” as much as possible here?  I must try the jerk chicken.  That is worth an exception.  We are fed very well during training (breakfast, dinner and we are able to purchase snacks for lunch), and the food is tasty.  Rice & peas, pasta salads, potatoes, fruit and cabbage salad is usually what’s on the menu.  We are trying to stay hydrated and look awake and alert at the lectures.  It’s not them, it’s definitely us…hoping our bodies adjust to this new environment.

Last night, we attended a dinner and welcome program in honor of our group—79.  It was really nice to meet some 1 year and 2 year old volunteers, including some whose faces and literary techniques we already know.  Some offered wise advice and encouraged and others were encouraging by their presence.  They’ve gone before us and prove to us that we can survive and succeed.
Oh what else…we miss our cats, our friends and family.  We miss Mazatlan and Wendy’s (already).  Thanks for your well-wishings!

A quick note—anyone planning to send packages or envelopes should (a) write the contents on the outside of the package and (b) figure on it taking over a week from the time you send it.  Mail coming to the base is secure, but they go to pick it up 1-2 times a week from the post office.

I’m about to go in and read through the vast expanse of our PC binder…Happy 4th of July, right?  We’ll be ready for the next holiday, I bet.
Happy 4th of July, guys. ☺

16 Responses

  1. Hello travelers. Thanks for the update. Now that I’ve visited, I will be sharing with Noah and Beej as close to daily as possible. Did Josh wind up bringing his camera + gear? Will we get to see some pics later? Praying for you often. Excited for you always. Love, Dad.

  2. Love you girl and TOTALLY feeling your pain with the “social inadequacy” thing even 2 years into the CS experience. Advice…. Jesus loves you :)

  3. So glad to hear you got there alright. I hadn’t expected a phone call or immediate email, but then after hearing you’d notify us, I went in to weird protective mom mode and started checking my phone even before the time your plane was to land!

    It’s funny how much you miss people when you know they’re not immediately available to you.

    Jess, i know you struggle with new people, especially in mass. I think i’d struggle a bit, too. I’d imagine there are so many interesting, intelligent, passionate people, which is difficult, because they seem so cool and unlikely to reciprocate in finding you cool. But at the same time, don’t you want to be friends with people who you know already share common ground, at least as far as our world and environment is concerned? I’d say don’t worry about it. I know that’s easier said than done, but really, you have years to share and “do life” together. You’re going to know them whether you put effort forth or not. I bet everyone feels a bit awkward at this point.

    You’re cool… beautiful, smart, interesting. You have opinions that are valid, matter, and are well-founded, an above average sense of humor, and you’re a good friend. People will see that, but it’s been three days now. You can’t expect it all instantly.

    It’ll come. In the meantime, just sticking together with Josh might be good while you’re getting “settled”.

    And there will always be those people who seem to have unending energy and enthusiasm. They’re the ones no one likes anyway. :)

    Love you sister. DEFINITELY miss you already.

  4. i am so happy for you guys!

    but you should not fret about being socially awkward… i know we have discussed it before because i have had (and sometimes still have) the similar issues in the past. what i’ve come to realise is that the more you worry about it, the worse it truly becomes. it has taken me years to deal with this shit, but once you gain confidence and realise what a lovely person you are and how much you have to offer (and you certainly are and do), there really will be nothing to worry about. though it seems like everyone else may be assimilating so easily and comfortably, it is likely that they are experiencing the same worries as you are and just express it differently. putting yourself out there is one of the hardest things you learn how to do, but asking yourself “what’s the worst that can possibly happen?” when throwing yourself into a social situation can provide some amount of comfort. i’ve realised that the worst that really can happen is that i look stupid, and once you have confidence, allowing yourself to look silly really ain’t that bad, G. your faith in god will guide you through it. forget the “what ifs” and decide what WILL happen:

    Jamaica will become your home these next two years, and you will learn to be happy there.

    got any other worries? email my way, baby, ’cause i got nothing better to do here in thailand. just remember, give yourself time and don’t live by anyone else’s standards. much love.

  5. Hi Jess, Hi Josh!
    Neither of you have ever been “socially inadequate”. Don’t judge others too quickly nor yourselves. It’a a whole new world out there…give yourselves a break. You’ll adapt before you know it. Love you both bunches! Keep the updates coming. Mom XXX OOO XXX

  6. Well its allbeen said by everyone else…I love you guys just the way you are and for being “socially inadequae” you sure do have a following and large fan base.
    How was your first Sunday? Did you go to a Jamacian Church? Any Christians that you’ve met yet?
    Ohh studies say it takes 18 months for a place to feel like home. Also, remember your life was crazy before you left and your body has gone into recovery mode. Rest and get refreshed as much as you can.
    Love you guys and God Bless…do good!

  7. Thinking about you this a.m.

    “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.”

    Psalm 31:7-8

    Love you Jess.

  8. Sounds like you guys are having a great time so far! Praying for you and hoping the rest of your time is an adventure!!

  9. Thanks for all the comments (and for reading our blog!). The “walkabout” went fine yesterday and today-Sunday-has been a pretty restful time. We did a little laundry, got some supplies and slept in late. We switch off with our roomates for use of the fan every other night and tonight’s our night! yahoo! Love you all~

  10. It is good to hear that the PC is taking care of you.

    I hope this time is used to refine and grow you. You will come out brightly shining, I have no doubt of that.

    You are dearly loved by so many & by me too. :)

  11. Thinking about you both, as always. What’s the time difference between us? Does the fan make a huge difference? Can another fan be purchased so both parties can have their own…something to think about. Love you two!

  12. i gotta be honest- i’ve had maeby for almost a week and i’ve only seen her a couple times- that cat hides like her very life depends on it… i mean the way she jumps down my entire flight of stairs and through these narrow bars with reckless abandon, it’s so crazy… there have been 2 fights with Lizzy- one where Liz was already in the cat-tower and mab jumped in hissing and they both went at it– i stuck my hand in there to split them up and got a really bad cat-bite from one of them- it’s healing ok now… the other time mab. was already IN the back of the couch (which i have now sealed upon her most recent exit) and lizzy jumped IN there and they hissed and banged around inside the couch… that was pretty insane… they both seem un-injured… i guess it’s just gonna take a good while for them to adjust… i did notice that today while i was at work a good chunk of the cat food is gone and there’s extra stuff in the litter box- guess she made her rounds and is back hiding somewhere again- I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find anything- she managed to get out of her collar, so I’m sans-jingle to aid me… which makes it pretty stinkin’ hard… sorry I can’t give you a more upbeat cat-report… them’s just the facts- I’ll keep scooping and putting in food and I think she’ll eventually be less afraid?

  13. Glad everything is going swell for you guys over there. Look out for Jamaican Bigfoots and, if you get the chance, let me know what their Guiness tastes like. Best wishes and prayers. Also, I’ve added a few things to my flickr account and I’ve been updating my blog. Check out the photos. Any constructive criticism from you would be greatly appreciated.

  14. glad you both arrived safe. I think watching Josh sweat is also funny… I hear eating spicy food on a regular basis helps your body dissipate the heat. maybe he just needs some new batty riders.

  15. One last dead horse to beat in the ground. I wonder if it is more about insecurities, rather than inadequacies. We all have our insecurities & inadequacies, but that is what makes us human. The key is to remember where your security lies: the approval of pc’ers or Christ. Which way are you leaning? It helps me to remember that everyone else is as self conscious and insecure as I am, sometimes if not more. You have an advantage friend. :)

  16. A fan every other night? Get yourselves a cheap Schwinn Airdyne and just pedal your way to a cool groin whenever you’re too warm.

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