Give Thanks

Trip Start Jul 06, 2005
1
11
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Trip End May 31, 2007


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Flag of Jamaica  ,
Thursday, May 11, 2006

Well, 4 months have passed since my last entry. Hopefully I haven't left you in suspense. I think the reason for not writing was due to the lack of good material, life was pretty normal and steady, nothing too exciting to report on. Recently though, freshness and change are the themes.
On April 29, I turned 26 years old!! When I was younger, early 20's, I thought by the time I was 26, my career would be at least in it's early stages, I'd have a job, maybe a husband. The overall impression I had of being 26 was having my own life, writing a new chapter where I am out of the nest and away from the security of college. When I joined Peace Corps I thought was postponing those events, but in the grand scheme of the universe, I AM writing a new chapter, probably a better chapter than I originally designed for myself. My career IS beginning; each day and each experience here is being stored to help me in the future.
A few weeks ago, I came to the realization that I really like my life right now, as it is in Jamaica as a Peace Corps volunteer. I have a lot of flexibility with my job assignment, allowing me time to come and go as I please. I love those days that I just work at home, at my own pace, in the comfort of my space, and not to mention I make better coffee than the office. (Side note: Jamaica makes world class coffee, Blue Mountain, but the Jamaicans drink the instant coffee, yuck. I understand why, but it doesn't make sense to me.) I am very fortunate to have a supervisor that allows me my freedom; he is very "hands off" and I appreciate that. I think the majority of volunteers have a stricter schedule, where they either go to the office or they must call in. The situation at my office just doesn't support my presence there every day since I no longer have a guaranteed work space. I do consider myself a fortunate PCV because I do have access to a computer more days than not, which isn't always the case in lesser developing countries where PCVs are working. Jamaica is still developing in many ways, but computers, telephones, faxing are all accessible communication tools. As a volunteer in Jamaica where these tools and resources exist it is difficult not to use them or have access to them, which is why my office situation is very frustrating to me. In an effort to alleviate this frustration, I decided to purchase a laptop. It was a big step for me; a computer is a lot of money and a lot of technology that I am not accustomed to. I bought the bullet and immediately felt relief to have decreased my dependency on my agency for these tools.
To go along with my new computer, I also moved into a new apartment. I decided I wanted my own space in February when my roommate had gone back to the states for about a month and I was all by myself in the apartment. I loved the peace and solitude that it afforded me. I knew it would take a few months to go through the approval process with Peace Corps, so I planned to move the first week in May. I already had a place picked out and I was so excited for May to arrive, and surprisingly, the months went quickly. I successfully and joyously moved on May 2nd. I am now living by myself, in a quaint one bedroom apartment. My good friend, Lee lives upstairs and another friend Mary lives close as well. The buildings are surrounded by a big garden containing fruit trees, flowering plants, and cacti, situated on top of a hill so we get many nice breezes. I now look forward to going home. I hope to finish my service in this apartment.

A big breath of fresh air blew in when my parents arrived in Jamaica on April 22nd. This would be their first visit Jamaica, and I was thrilled to see them and show them around. I looked forward to the vacation as well, to be tourist where I struggle with mistaken identity as a white person in a tourist town. Before their arrival, I wondered what Jamaica will look like from this different perspective and I wondered how my parents would find it.
From the airport in Montego Bay, we traveled to Negril in a monstrous bus that rose above the other traffic and swallowed the narrow highway. My mom was sitting by the window and she let out a few yelps when it seemed we would hit another car or scrape along the rock wall as we careened down the road. In my volunteer life, I often see these buses traveling down Main St. in Ocho Rios carrying "whitees" to and from their plush hotels. (excuse my sarcasm) I wondered what it was like for them to look down through the tinted glass, on the real Jamaica just out of their reach. Sitting in the air-conditioned bus with my parents, I got to watch them as they took in the sites, as we passed through the small towns and along the landscape between. The bus stopped once to allow everyone to get a cold drink. I was ready to pay much more than the local price for a Red Stripe, but this establishment was really making it off the tourists. I want to say, "More power to him." But what can be said for a society that seems to value the American dollar more than their own?
Once I got into the rhythm of being on vacation, I was able to just enjoy myself and the company of my parents. It isn't every day that I get to spend time with them, so I decided to forget about work and volunteer life for the week, and I chose to be a tourist. Granted I did use my knowledge and experience to get good deals and nice places to stay but that was it.
At the resort in Negril, we sailed and snorkeled, and had our share of rum drinks. After 4 days at the resort, we were all ready to see something else, something more real and spontaneous. We traveled to Ochi; my parents were able to see my old apartment and my new one in Ochi. My friend Lee had us over for drinks at her place, so my parents met two other good friends, Kelly and Cathy. We just hung out in Ochi, didn't do too much. Their last day was in Montego Bay, at an old estate turned hotel called the Richmond Hill. This unique place sits above Montego Bay and was the old estate of a Scottish family that owned Dewar's Scotch in Jamaica. The buildings appear to be original containing the original floor and ceiling and furniture, stepping into one of the rooms was, stepping out of 2006 and into the 1800s.
My parents left on my birthday, April 29th, but that's OK, I had a whole week of celebration. It's just another day right?? Many of my friends in Jamaica sent birthday wishes, and many loved ones called to say happy birthday. Thank you, Heather, Uncle Steve, and Stephanie Horn. One love.

As I close, I'd like to say that at this point in my service, as a result of a few events, I feel more at peace and more content with my position in life and in the world. My research is taking shape now too, but I'll give you the details of that in my next update, I've written enough for today. Thanks for reading.

Peace
Jen
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Comments

kgpaterson
kgpaterson on

groove on
great post, fascinating introspection, excellent outcome. I know more than a few people who would be happy to have found such peace of mind.

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