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Many times, Josh and I give casual feedback to friends and family (and at times the general public) on our well-being, our work, Jamaican culture and other aspects of our time spent as Peace Corps workers in Jamaica. I regret that this feedback is not always presented as it should be–balanced and in context. Usually my blathering is tinted by the mood I am in and the day Ive had and that isnt fair to anyone. not ANYone–forgive me, please and take this into consideration going forward. thanks!

I recently received a bit of communication meant as a well-wishing note that hinted at our time here just creeping by, our work as nonexistent and our attitudes…in need of encouragement! It was like, When do you guys get to come home?!

I want to admit to you that our opinions about time passing, about work and about Jamaican culture, each other, etc. come and go like a playful puppy through a newly-installed doggy door. Its the nature of crossing cultures or livin in farin. Just comes with the territory. However, I (we) should definitely be more responsible when we communicate these whims to others, especially American others. Here we are, your direct link to experiential knowledge of the Peace Corps, of life in rural Jamaica, and of living outside the U.S. and learning a lot about ourselves and how we are perceived by others. You tune in because you like/love us and want to know what and how we are doing. But I know I want to be a good steward of your attention and of the opportunities Ive been given, that you should learn good information from me.

Time isnt creeping by, at least not these days. In fact, I cant believe we are going home for our visit in less than a month! This summer has flown by! Yes, the hot and humid daytime (from 9am til 4:30pm) is brutal, but somehow the weeks fly. I remember last November, thinking that the one-year mark seemed so far away. And next week, we will be having our 2nd on-island anniversary (4 years married + 4 years dating), followed by our 2nd on-island Heroes Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Boxing Day (right?!), and so on. I think the months have always gone quickly in hind-sight, but it helps in the present when your days are busier and spent DELIBERATELY doing things you value.

This leads me to the question of work: How is your job going?
The question of JOB and WORK comes up almost immediately and thats understandable. As PCVs, we may go to a school, a clinic or down to a community center for work. More likely, however-we dont have an office or a place of work, per se. Another nuance is that we are technically always at work–on call. Of those volunteers in my intake group, my job description and work site is one of the least defined. I make my own schedule and sometimes that gets scrapped because of rain, a community members death or a host of other reasons. I work from home, offices in Port Antonio that let me plug in and peoples houses, yards, schools, churches, you name it. So, as you can see–its not a 9 to 5 thing and its hard to explain. It is completely routine for us to be doing work in our living room on a Sunday evening. It isnt rare for us to sleep in on a Wednesday and watch a movie, then go work out, then shower and take a nap. Its different, but thats life right now…might as well enjoy it. We dont fit in the mold, sometimes not even that of the typical PCV but we feel we are square with all the stakeholders, so its cool.

My job…it is going! When Im not at a meeting or helping to prepare for one, I am researching and coordinating opportunities for community persons and groups in the form of job openings, skills training and development project funding. When school starts back, I will be starting a Healthy Lifestyles club at the local Primary & Jr. High that will involve weekly health lessons, more physical activity (yay!) and a solid waste project. Very soon, my agency-Bowden Pen Farmers Association-will begin implementation of a project to reforest part of the national park and to solarize their eco-lodge (a big miracle, if you ask me). Otherwise, I have become quite popular with my neighborhood kids/pre-teens for making pretty things out of waste products-mainly plastic. So that will hopefully continue–my mom-in-law would be so proud of all my crafting. I am trying to help with a few specific things in the community–like Disaster Preparedness plans and Trash to Cash endeavors. A PCV named Annie just moved to Port Antonio (she is a real groovy chick) and will be working at PEPA. They just got a grant project for plastic recycling and want to collaborate on a couple of workshops for trash-to-cash. This idea is something I get really really excited over. Somehow, some way I will work to change the ways people here value these found materials…there is so much potential and folks have plenty of time to experiment. All that is lacking is the initiative. In any case, looks like I will have plenty going on once we come back from our home visit.

I guess I will let Josh write about his work. Suffice it to say that he has a bunch of things going on–so many that he has to keep a running list at all times. Okay…I should just tell you, because he wont: He runs a weekly movie night in our community, teaches piano lessons and is always helping people with their computer/camera/cell phone issues. He is drawing electronic maps for site plans, community needs and interpretive trails (for people/groups from here to San San). He is working on a proposal to renovate the Moore Town Primary computer lab, including rewiring the room, installing educational programs and holding training classes for teachers and community members. He has submitted proposals to improve 2 water systems in neighboring communities and is waiting to hear. People seek him out to photograph and video their families and events–so he puts it together (for free!) and has pictures printed and DVDs burned–quite the professional! He (with Rob) is recently helping an American doctor/Rotarian-turned-Eco-Resort-owner convert metal containers into dormitory housing for the homeless in Port Antonio. Josh is constantly busy with a plethora of tasks, some quick and easy and others overwhelming. Oh-just remembered that his photos will be featured in a big book about Jamaica (more details on that soon). So dont for a minute believe him when he says he isnt doing much.

As you may have already read, customs here regarding death are a big deal, a real community affair. Since last fall, it seems that we have attended events for deaths almost every other week and last week a lady passed away whom we knew and liked a lot-Ms.Nezzi. We went to all the events: ded yaad(s) , grave digging, set up (nine night), and funeral/burial. Our friend (her daughter) gave both of us jobs to carry out, which made being there easier. Rob and his host family came out on Saturday night to support everybody too-good times.



2 Responses

  1. I found this blog entry to be thoughtful, informative, fair, balanced, semi-solid, interesting, and 20% lower in Sodium than those OTHER blogs.

    I especially liked the parts about the details of your jobs… I know in the normal rat race here in the states it would seem that talking about your job (ex: “i count pills all day… derrrr…”) is boring to other people… but because you’re doing crazy (in a good way) peace corps stuff it’s interesting to hear about… so thanks.


    (the bad parts are joking and the good parts serious)


  2. You guys are awesome. Just making sure that someone told you that today.

    Believe it or not, I am taking intense comfort in reading your blogs right now (including the massive puppy-picture post). The feelings you are expressing are FAMILIAR and somehow comforting. This whole America thing right now feels downright farin’.

    Yup, start work tomorrow. Thanks for being my anchor right now. :)

    Peace and love,

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