saturday, oct.11

Do you normally smell your underwear before putting it on after a shower?  I do now.  It’s important to do because the washer machine may not have actually cleaned them.  I just smelled tonight’s pair and I’m thrilled to report they’re “tops,” in fact they’re the cleanest smelling undies in a long while.  It’s probably because I went the extra mile—hand-washed thoroughly, then ran em through the rinse & spin cycles on the machine and hung to dry in a fool-proof spot.  Sometimes the effort really pays off, people!

 

Tonight, I feel like sharing with you some good things about our life here, some happy aspects of Jamaica. What, you  might wonder, could inspire such delight.

  • Arriving home after a night away (in a very shady guest house) to clean sheets on our bed.  Can’t explain it, but it was so comforting!
  • Realizing (after a conver-text-ion) that I really am making friends here, that some people make friends quicker than others, and that it’s fine.
  • Taking a shower and smelling those luxuriously clean and thoroughly-rinsed undies of mine. 
  • Scarfing a black bean burger made by my talented husband. If anyone wants to know how easy & delicious they can be, I’ll share the recipe.  Friends, he even put up our groceries while I showered.  He gets an A++ for the night.

 

Nice stuff about living in Jamaica (part 1)

1. Fresh foods that I’d never have in Nashville.  Lots of these are seasonal, but when they are in season, it is such a treat.  In no certain order: breadfruit, jackfruit, starfruit, sour sop, june plum, sweet sop, guava, pine(best I’ve ever had), several varieties of mango, tamarinds, guineps, ackee(national fruit), “cho-cho,” callaloo, dasheen, jerk seasonings on anything you want.

2. The option to be a tourist once in a while.  Let’s face it—we live in friggin Jamaica, the liveliest island in the Caribbean.  Not only are the beaches and sunsets amazing, but Jamaica is home to many natural wonders on the inside of the island as well (eco/edu/adventure-tourism).  Not to mention world-renown coffee, rum and cooking seasonings.  Most of the time, we try to convince locals that we’re one of them.  But every now and then, it’s imperative that we take advantage of the card we’ve been dealt—it’s Jamaica, mon. Don’t worry, be happy (naa wari, bi api).

3. Life is simpler here and that’s part of why we came in the first place.  For example, I’m feeling less and less pressure to look ‘my best,’ if it means wearing makeup, heels or clothes without (bleach) stains.  Jamaicans take a lot of pride in looking good, but they also know when it’s wasteful to do so.  It’s very nice for us that our communities are lax about dress and sophistication, unless it’s a big, fancy event.  What takes priority is your attire matching the occasion. If I’m hiking 8 miles into the bush and back, I’d better wear pants, sneakers and a hat.  Makeup just mixes with sweat and drips away, so better save it for some special occasion where there’s a/c.  My beauty regiment has been stripped down to contacts, deoderant, spf 30 on face & shoulders, and the occasional eyebrow shaping.  I also try to shave once a week.  Josh and I share one room and bathroom and we occupy the save with little to spare.  As we learn to live with less…convenience, personal freedom(s), variety of things to buy, space, money, we are realizing how attached to those things we’ve become.  If you’d like to learn more about your weaknesses and shortcomings, join the Peace Corps.  It’s painful, but it’s part of that valuable refining process.

4. No country code necessary when you call the U.S.  Quite unexpectedly, calling home (and vice versa) is way simple!  If you want to call us, it’s just (1-876)368-6685 for josh or (1-876)368-6579 for jess.  Also these pay-as-you-go phone plans are very easy to use!  I’ve been impressed with Digicel’s coverage on-island and their affordable international minutes.  When it feels like we’re so far from home, being able to call and hear someone’s voice is very important.  I hear that BMobile is also good.

5. The north east coast tends to get mostly European and other non-American visitors, so that’s who we see and meet on beaches and in town~folks from places we’ve never been before.  This is pretty neat.  Plus, Jamaicans frequently greet us in Spanish, British English or with some English phrase like, “You German?” or “hello Russian girl!”  It’s nice to live in an area that isn’t too acquainted with American tourists.  That’s all I’m going to say about it.

6. This site assignment and the socio-cultural issues involved in this place…Let’s just say that I’ve feel cosmicly groomed for this.  I can think to events in my life, esp. since high school, and see that my experiences and training have led me here, and that this present season of life is important, meaningful.  I still feel like I’m stumbling through every bit of it, but I trust that this chapter is going to fit into my future present perfectly.  I’ve never felt so intensely clutched by the mercy and grace of God as now.

 

Okay, that’s it for now.  Just so you know, life here is nothing like you think it is.  Jamaicans are creoled to the max (for you anthropology majors, I’m using that term very loosely), from African ancestry to Spanish rule, then British, then straight up Caribbean.  The result is this colorful, lively, truly conflicted persona of what it is to be Jamaican.  The country is an island, but it is mountains, hills, valleys, plains and swamps as well.  It’s part volcano and part limestone—pretty incredible.  Yeah, it’s a vacation paradise, but it’s also a young nation that’s struggling to decipher the world from the inside out…and that makes us being here (and local opinions of our being here) bloody complicated.

 

I’m gonna sleep like a happy baby tonight. Hope you do too!

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2 Responses

  1. Good to hear you are being stretched and doing well through the refining process.

    I think I like the idea of your fellow coworkers feeling uneasy about learning about your clean underoo habits.

  2. So nice to see/hear that you are actually learning a few thing about yourself as well as about the culture you have been immersed in…..btw, that was me that texted you the other day…..just showing some love for my cousin 8-)

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