Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Jamaica is incredible, amazing, confusing, beautiful, dirty...everything I expected and yet not at all!
Kingston is the furthest thing from paradise, but I LOVE IT NONETHELESS!!!
It has been a whirlwind 2 weeks, as you can well imagine. I spent my first week getting oriented with the city and settled into my new apartment and making it feel like home. I have no hot water, and oven doesn't work, but I have a lovely view of the mountains and the sun rises on my face every morning!
Learning the transportation un-system (system would imply a sense of order) has been the biggest challenge, especially because I must plan my days events around getting home before dark. It is not a safe city to be roaming around at night alone. I am getting the hang of it though, and now understand the importance of "Jamaican Time," as it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to commute depending on the traffic and weather. This is just accepted. It is rainy season now, so commuting is dramatically effected; roads have potholes that could swallow a small bus, bridges are washed out, streets are flooded, the list goes on.
I started work last week and I am very impressed with the organization I am working with; they are doing a really great thing for the inner city youth of Kingston. My colleagues are all very warm and welcoming, and many have taken me on tours of the city. I will be working closely with the Director and the Board. My primary objectives are Strategic Planning and Partnership Development, complete with an overall organizational assessment. It is going to be a very challenging and rewarding 6 months!!
I was quick to appreciate the previous annoyances (Air-care) and luxuries (hot showers) of Vancouver, but also quick to forget the overwhelming level of "living large" that just isn't a priority in this culture. Strolling down the streets of Yaletown with a latte, enjoying a nice glass of wine at a coal harbour bistro, pedicures, golf, gym...definitely things of the past (for now...haha)! Getting home without getting killed in traffic, or breaking my ankle on the quasi-sidewalks, hoping my Coaster driver isn't too drunk, finding a shop that sells lettuce, getting to the laundromat before it closes (and hoping they have water), trying to understand patois (the local lingo), and being grateful that I have mended almost all of the holes in my mosquito net...these are the things I look forward to in my day.
So much still to learn, and enjoying every step of the process!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
In just two short days I have met some of the most interesting and amazing people here in Kingston. I met Delphine during our preparing for change training in Ottawa in June 2010; we instantly hit it off and became good friends. It was only by coincidence that we both ended up working on projects in the same country!! She has been by my side since I arrived; touring me around town, introducing me to other volunteers, helping me search for apartments, getting me a cell phone (I think Digicel needs to hire you!), showing me the importance of comfortable shoes, and of course...Devon House Ice cream! Bless you Delphine for being such a great friend!
It has all been exhilarating and a little overwhelming but the other CUSO-VSO volunteers are wonderful and so supportive...my instant family!
So far what I have discovered...one never walks alone at night (this is not much of a walking culture at all actually), forget strolling with a latte and window shopping in areas like Yaletown (think more luke warm sodas on Hastings @ Main), a cloudy day doesn’t always equate to rain, however, a sunny day certainly could, gum boots would have been a great idea (Vancouver rain has nothing on this!), there are 2 A/C settings...cold and colder, there are 2 jerk chicken settings...hot and hotter, and most importantly...LOOK RIGHT, always LOOK RIGHT before stepping off the curb!
As for the rest of my week, well in typical Coreena fashion, it's packed...I meet my CUSO-VSO team on Monday followed by meeting my colleagues at YOU. Tuesday there is a going away dinner for one of our departing volunteers. Wednesday I move into my lovely little apartment. Thursday I will attend my first Capoeira class. Friday is a YOU social function. Saturday I will introduce my famous Sweet Potato Pie (clean version) for our CUSO-VSO Thanksgiving celebration (I brought a tonne of decorations from Canada, hehe!) and Sunday...I thought I would leave that one to chance...