11 July 2008

My Day in the Jamaican Environment

I wake up and get in the shower. The shower isn’t hot or luke warm. It’s cold. It’s very similar to a garden hose coming out of the wall. I’ve grown accustomed to it, but it still takes my breath away some mornings. It’s really an exercise in controlling your breathing; like running or something, if you let it get away from you you’ll struggle through it. (It helps if you try and think about your day and not the cold water.) I get out and dry off (although I don’t stay dry for long). Then I get dressed and head out to breakfast. Breakfast generally consists of some combination of rice and peas (beans), some sort of saltfish, toast, maybe a fruit, some cornbeef medley, and callaloo (some sort of spinach-type greenery). The food is obviously different than what I’m used to but it’s actually pretty good. I mean, rice and beans and fish? And fruit? Yes please. So I feel like we’re eating well.

(This is our dorm. Kind of looks like shipping crates.)

After breakfast we either go to a training seminar, language class, or a health sector class (because Jess and I are in Environmental Health Sanitation). So from 9 to 12 (with a 15min break in there somewhere) we sit in a class and learn as much as possible. Then we eat some lunch. This is either a patty (essentially a better version of a hot pocket) or a peanut butter & guava jelly sandwich (from supplies we purchased). After then it’s back to class for 4-5 hrs and then dinner (which is remarkably similar to breakfast). For some reason, the sun goes down here around 6:30. 6:30! We’re at sea level. How can that be?? Anyway, it’s totally dark by 7:30. I didn’t expect this.

The real kick in the pants with this whole thing is that it’s all outdoors. Imagine getting ready for a church-like situation and then going to 8hrs of class, but the whole thing is carried out in open-air buildings in the middle of summer. It’s tough. It’s tough physically and mentally. I wear khakis, a button-up shirt, and leather shoes from 7am to 7pm. Then I take another cold shower before I go to bed. I can’t wait any later than 7:30 to shower because the water in our building shuts off around 8pm and stays off till 5:30am. Not to sure about why that is. Then, every other night we get the fan in our room. The oscillating fan makes a HUGE difference. It makes noise and it keeps the warm air moving. It’s awesome. Unfortunately, tonight is not our night for the fan. We share it with Dave and Molly (the married couple from Denver) (they’re good roommates).

(This was our sweet hotel room at the Westin in Maimi.)

On top of all this, we have a TON to read and learn. Like, ridiculous amounts of info to absorb. Virtually everyone in Jamaica speaks English fairly well, however, they also speak Jamaican Creole (commonly referred to as Patwa). At first the language seems like broken English; like the person who documented it had no idea how to write English but only speak parts of it. However, as you learn more and more about it it starts to take on serious complexities and can be as confusing as English at times. The language is starting to grow on me (unfortunately, I generally feel like a doofus speaking it because I don't understand it and end up just talking in a Jamaican accent). These days are very busy and rather exhausting. But they make me super excited to get out into our community.

(Flying from Maimi to Kingston I got the window seat!)

It should also be said they we’re sharing this time with an amazing group of trainees. Everyone is so motivated and determined to do their best. They’re intelligent and fun and all together make up quite a resume of travel and experience. I’m honored to be a part of group 79.


Josh said...

it took me 4 days to put this post together. enjoy it. bask in it's informational bounty.

Billy H. said...

This is a great update! I am basking in it's informational bounty!

Ryan said...

I think I'd die from the heat at night w/o a fan.
Glad you two are doing O'tay.

Ryan & Terra Lovelace

Scott said...

I'm definately going to pack a fan for Belize, to bad we just gave one to the thrift store, I might have to buy it back.

Out of all of the team 79 blogs yours is the best, good amount of info and great pictures. Thanks Josh

Josh said...

a night without the fan really is tough. seriously.

so tough in fact, that in general, i don't look forward to going to bed. i used to like getting into bed and now it's just not too appealing.

thanks a lot, scott. you should be able to find a fan anywhere (although it might not always be cheap). the only reason i havent bought one for us yet is because we aren't in our host homes yet and i dont want to drag a fan across the island when the time comes.

thanks for reading guys.

crashmattb said...

Well, there's a bit of culture shock involved, but it seems like you two are adapting to your new environment. I'd definitely need my own fan, though, purely for the noise to sleep (bad habit from childhood).

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