Photo Friday: Future Chocolate

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Denbigh, Jamaica’s annual agricultural fair, was 2 weeks ago. This is a large pile of cocoa pods, future chocolate, on display.

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Photo Friday: You’re So Punny

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Sorry for the radio silence the past few Fridays, but I’m back with a photo of a large pile of cocoa pods taken at Denbigh Agricultural Show last week. They are processed and will eventually become chocolate.

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Photo Friday: Summer Camp

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This week and next I’m helping with the Brown’s Town LIbrary’s Summer Program. It’s been an…experience. I’m trying to incorporate as much environmental education type things as I can, but it’s mostly an exercise in frustration. Here, the kids are making crafts out of recycled items that I brought (which makes me feel less bad for hoarding all those toilet paper rolls and egg cartons).

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Photo Friday: Pumpkin Sauce

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This is my new favorite condiment. My fellow G84 PCV, Ben’s, project partner makes this delicious pumpkin sauce. Definitely a savory sauce, it goes great with fried breadfruit, fries, chicken, some great black bean burgers I made the other day, basically anything you’d eat with ketchup. Perfect example of agroprocessing and small business (which we’re trying to promote) down here in Jamaica. Next time I have visitor, they’re going home with several bottles. 

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Photo Friday: World Cup Fever

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World Cup fever is real, y’all. I’ve been cheering on Team USA the whole time (I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN), but we suffered a bad defeat Tuesday at the hands of Belgium. Luckily, I had some good friends and a great view at Columbus Park Jerk Centre to soften the blow.

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When I joined Peace Corps…

Group 84 (holla!) recently completed our Mid-Service Conference. We are officially more than halfway through our service, we’re on the downward slide now. It is alarming to think how much each of us has changed, me especially. The women in our group often talk about how much more feisty we are now. And we have to be, with the deluge of harassment, rude comments, and general frustrating cultural differences we meet with each day. I’ve become a lot more confident, a little more weird, and my perspective on so many things has changed.

One of the exercises that we did at MSC was rather thought provoking for me. Fill in the blank: “When I joined Peace Corps, I said ‘yes’ to…” and “When I joined Peace Corps, I said ‘no’ to…” So here, I’ll attempt to flesh out my answers.

When I joined Peace Corps, I said ‘yes’ to…

At first, I rather flippantly answered “chaos.” That is perfectly true, though. Jamaica is not prone to being well ordered; line-cutting is normal, public transport doesn’t run on a schedule, people are ALWAYS late to meetings and just don’t show up when it’s raining. This cultural norm has taught me to be more flexible in many areas of life. I always have a book or knitting with me when I have to wait for something. Patience is key. My schedule is always unpredictable, which definitely keeps it interesting.

But I’ve also said yes to friendship. Natural wonder. Adventure. Cliff jumping. Fried chicken and rice and peas. Sunburns. Beaches. Pickney. Smalling up. Emotional highs and lows. Sweat (seriously. An outrageous amount of sweating.).

When I joined Peace Corps, I said ‘no’ to…

Any hope of a normal life (I was on fire with my one-liners at MSC). And yet, there is a kernel of truth to it. I am FOREVER changed because of the Peace Corps. I often quip that I joined the Peace Corps because I’m afraid of the “real world.” But if this life in Jamaica, with its poverty and hardship, isn’t real, I don’t know what is. I can guarantee you that RPCVs the world over rarely met your definition of “normal.” We’re always going to seek out adventures and worthy causes and we can definitely take a bath using only a glass of water.

So I’ve said no to looking at waste the same. To some freedom. To thinking that I had it rough. To taking “things” for granted. To being present at my friends’ milestones at home. To hot showers. To looking at tourism the same way.

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Photo Friday: Mid-Service

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This week, Group 84 had our Mid-Service Conference in Ocho Rios. As I’ve mentioned before, time is flying by at an alarming rate. Lots of thoughts from MSC that will coalesce in a post (soon come!), but suffice it to say, I love these stone cold weirdos.

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Photo Friday: Making Do

 

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Jamaicans are a resourceful people, as evidenced by the seatbelt used for a handle in a taxi I was in recently.

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Photo Friday: Calabash

I wish I was a cool as her.

Zadie Smith and her very cool head wrap.

We had matching hats!

Colum McCann and me

 

A couple of weeks ago the Calabash Festival was held in Treasure Beach. It is a wonderful literary festival with local arts and crafts and some lively music and discussions. It’s also known as Elizabeth’s version of heaven. This year they had some great authors lined up, including one of my favorites, Zadie Smith. Her first novel, WHITE TEETH, is one of the best I’ve ever read (not an exaggeration!). Her mother is Jamaican and most of her stories take place in England. She almost always has a Jamaican character and talks a lot about the Jamaican diaspora, which is increasingly interesting to me. She did a reading and I had her sign one of her books. Salman Rushdie and Colum McCann (I got LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN signed by him) were also there.

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Photo Friday: Laundry Day

Photo Friday: Laundry Day

Sunday was wash day for me. I’m luckier than most volunteers in that I have access to a washing machine (I still have to haul buckets of water to fill it up for each cycle, okay?), but current is so expensive that almost no one has a dryer. So we hang our clothes to dry. In wetter places up in the hills, they can take days to dry and sometimes get moldy. Rainy season soon come though, so I’ll have a challenge on my hands.

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