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Missouri Loves Company (a back-post)

That’s what I’d put on a shirt if I were designing one. I’ve yet to see one saying that…have you? Unbelievable.
(Here is my blog, actually written 5-18-09)
Hi ya’ll!
So Mom came to visit and that was a great week.  She squeezed up in public transport like a pro, and we didn’t have any bad Jamaica interactions (yea!).  We did every thing pretty thrifty-mostly hung around site and Port Antonio. Showed her Great Huts and Boston Bay (got jerked chicken and coconut water), then toured Trident Castle—got an impromptu INSIDE tour. Lucky us!  We stayed our last night in Portland at Ivanhoe’s and had an authentic breakfast of ackee & saltfish w/ B.Mtn coffee (and french toast?).  At site, we took in a high stakes football match in Millbank, met all the VIPs, walked around the district and to Cistern Falls.  Thanks to Mom and to David for a great visit (and Mom for being our goodies-mule)!

Nick came out to visit after Mom left and we had a memorable time.
That is all.

Our first Easter in Jamaica was quite enjoyable, spent with friends in luxury (Schumakers @ Powell).  We attempted to be eco-friendly, coloring our brown eggs with natural dyes.  Great idea, good effort in execution…not too great of an effect, if I’m being honest.  We ended up using green food coloring and kool-aid.  The kool-aid worked really well and so did coffee…coffee made the egg dark and sparkly.

Corey came to visit and we had a very relaxing, good time—She brought us so much quasi-gourmet food and goodies [Manatee sugar cookie mix is my favorite of all!] under the guise of it being almost my birthday.  We watched lots of Flight of the Conchords, went swimming in the river and enjoyed the Portland rain from the comfort of our Jamaica mountain home.  We also spent a couple nights in Porti—at Scotia House and then at DeMontevin Lodge—went to Monkey Island and Frenchman’s Cove and Great Huts with Un.  We tried to make sure Corey got the chance to do all the quintessential things: ate jerked meat from the original spot (Boston Bay, Portland), enjoyed bag juice, played with kids on behalf of environmental advocacy (Earth Day!), received inappropriate comments from strangers (dudes), and smalled up in taxis.  She helped us say goodbye to our dear friends, the Schumakers, and stayed with us at Powell. Then it was time to go.

Dinner at Cuddy’s in New Kingston-good food, good drink!  That goodbye was rough, mostly afterward…They decided to return home to Idaho and start a new chapter of life and we’re excited to hear all the fun things they’re getting into.  Will and Andrea—we might never forgive you for leaving us, but that’s just because we like you so much.  Thanks for your friendship and for being people of integrity and good humor!  We have enjoyed this time with you and it’s not over by any means…keep in touch! ☺

A few days passed at site—info on life here and work to come…

A friend of ours, Rob, came to visit with Liza and his sister (Kelly) and her boyfriend (Tim) for a night—we did tacos, went to Dry River and Cistern Falls.  It was a quick visit and we didn’t want them to go!  It was great to have them and great to meet Rob’s family.  We hope Rob and Liza will be back to visit soon—Rob moved (back) to Portland a few days ago…so he’s much closer.  Actually, he’s in Bellevue, for those readers who know.  It’s going to rock having him here.  We’re hoping that this next year will be filled with engineering projects for he and Josh—water, road, construction, etc.

And without much ado, our most recent company…
Scott and Carrie Eklund made the cross-country trip to visit for a few days.  They are fantastic guests-for anyone wondering. They cooked dinner for us every night, basically gave us cooking lessons.  They didn’t flip out when Goob made a “doodle” on their bed…They LOVE to hike and stay active, so we tried to get them out to see everything our site has to offer.  We went to Nanny Falls (currently not open, but soon will be), which was a lot cooler than I remembered, Cistern Falls and the Cunha Cunha Pass.  They even stopped at Ambassabeth (which, by the way, is NOT a nickname for Jesse—it’s my agency’s eco-lodge site) and met a few of our VIPs.  It was a real joy to have them and, to think, if they wouldn’t have taken the initiative to come out, we might not have gotten to know them at all (and that would’ve been a shame).  Josh and I (and most of PCJ) really appreciate the way they’ve chosen to live and work throughout their time in Jamaica…I mean, they work hard, play hard and seem to have this very balanced, aware sense of contentment about the whole thing.  They take time to know people and to help where they can.  Okay, I’ll stop…but they’re lovely and we’re lovelier now that we can make bagels (in theory) and pea soup!

We recently beached it up at San San Beach (near Porti) for Shannon’s birthday and shared a potluck, pool-side meal in her honor. Check out my new swimsuit!

And I recently had a birthday—big 27.  Thanks to all who called, texted, sent FB wall messages and actual mail (those people are my favorite). ☺  Josh did an amazing job of making me comfortable and spoiled, too.  And the mail—got boxes and big fat envelopes days BEFORE my bday.  You guys bless me! I have already dug into the new books and worn/eaten/used all the other stuff! All except the iTunes card, which I’m saving (thanks Troyers!).

I know Josh is about to drop a long, heavy entry on you—a lot of things that I’ve been thinking too.  I figured you may want to know what all we’ve been doing—As you can see, it’s been a lot of entertaining!

Work-wise, there are several projects a-brewin.  So much goes into “doing a project” than you realize—there’s finding funds, applying for funds (which requires cost analysis, planning the project, etc.), setting up project groups who will potentially manage things (that should already be set up, but aren’t)….and that’s as far as I’ve gotten.  But that’s before any work gets started on the project.  The process takes SO LONG and it’s full of details that could go wrong at any time.
Here are projects that are “in process”:

  • [josh&jess] Project Projector: Using this medium for community lessons and building capacity in its use. Status-Projector delivered to us, still hoping for more funding from loved ones (hint). Currently showing bi-monthly double features in our town square and preparing lessons for trainings and in schools.  Mailed a signed letter from Moore Town School to the Ministry of Finance to waive our customs tax.
  • [josh] Rehabilitation of 2 community water systems, Cornwall Barracks & Moore Town. Status-Proposal turned into funding organization; waiting for answer, should be first of August.
  • [jess] Equipping Rio Grande Community Center with functional computer lab, office and other furnishings. Status-secured funding for 4 computers and a printer (yay), waiting to order until Center has a functional mgmt team. Waiting on this to happen before I write for any other furnishings.
  • [josh] Construction of slow-sand filter at Ambassabeth toward Health Dept. approval. Status-design finished, project agreed on by group. Waiting to hear that materials are purchased and on location. In addition, Josh is building one with/for some friends in Mocho this week—if they like it, replication is a big possibility.
  • [jess] Ginger House Environmental Group seeks to fence in Fuller Park and build a covered pavilion for events. Status-proposal in, awaiting answer in July.
  • [jess] Bowden Pen Farmers’ seeks to equip Ambassabeth site with solar power and to reforest ~20 acres of denuded land in the Nat’l Park. Status—proposal was ACCEPTED and implementation with begin in the fall!
  • [jess] BPFA and the community want to host a children’s summer camp in August.  The theme will be “Something of Value” and will encourage kids to value themselves, their neighbor and the environment. Status—proposal finished and submitted, but issue w/ office has caused our application to NOT be considered. (angry face)
  • [jess] BPFA seeks to begin a business strategy that uses waste items in the found environment to create gift products, such as jewelry, home and garden accessories.  This “trash to treasure” project will hopefully become my secondary project (for the rest of my time here). Status-proposal in, still in the product development and interest building stages.
  • •    [jess] Fi Wi SignTing, a Peace Corps SPA project, seeks to establish signs along the main road that point out historical points of interest as well as tell the way.  Project will highlight the distinctive history and culture of this area and invest in the future of the area-giving the communities something in which to take pride again. It will also help in disaster preparedness, as hurricanes almost always hit our watershed area. Status-Abstract approved by PC, need to meet with BPFA on details before submitting actual proposal.
  • [josh] Moore Town Cultural Center—The idea is to build a two-story museum/guesthouse. Status-Design is being finalized, land is secure, will start to seek funding once design is ready.

With that, I hope it proves that we’re not just goofing off (at least not entirely).  Josh has also met with various service-providers and leaders about repairing our road, but alas—It doesn’t look like the funding will show up for us this time.  Our road is officially closed, however the community continues to use it, filling that part at Friday in, over and over, after it rains.  I’m amazed at the lack of investment going into the future of this area, by government and industry here.  Maybe it’s simpler if I say like this:  No one seems to care about the well-being of the 2,400 people living in this area, not even the elected people whose job it is to care.  I would love to retract this statement in the future…

In any case, I know this has been a long catch-up, but it’s been a while and I thought SOMEone would be interested (yes?).  Til next time (likkl muor)—

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