Kingston continues to amaze me! This is the best thing I have ever done!
I work at an incredible organization. It's an Innercity Youth organization that focuses on mentoring and developing employability skills. My days are spent mostly with the Board of Directors, working on Strategic Development, but I take every possible opportunity to spend time with the kids in our Youth Centre. I have hosted a few workshops already on business skills, resumes writing, interviewing, etc. The kids are all so keen and I often join them for a game of football (soccer) in the afternoons! These kids are truly amazing, they have everything stacked against them and little opportunity, most can't even afford bus fare to get here, let alone breakfast or lunch, but they continue to show up EVERY DAY and they wear their best business attire and always come upstairs to show me and to wish me a "good morning" ...part of the business etiquette I have taught them! They are so driven...I am learning a lot from them.
The city itself leaves a lot to be desired. I have never experienced such a contrast between the "haves" and the "have nots." The number of people living in poverty in Kingston is not nearly as shocking as the vast disparities in living condition.
It is chaos for the most part. Traffic rules are merely recommendations, as are most rules. The pollution is mind boggling, both the garbage and the noise. Many of my neighbours don't have electricity, therefore no fridge, stove, etc. I am living a VERY modest life out here, but still feel so much more fortunate then most. It is really amazing how quickly you get conditioned to something though. I feel totally at home. The locals are starting to call me "brownin" instead of "whitie" haha! I have the transportation system mastered...basically take a deep breath, close your eyes and hang on for dear life! Haha! I sometimes get to work in 20 minutes, sometimes in 2 hours...hence "Jamaican time."
I am training in Capoeira (Brazilian martial art) and taking Zumba (latin dance) classes, as well as informal Spanish with a colleague of mine whenever I can. There are a few great places to run and a fairly decent gym that I have a membership at. No golf as yet, not really in the budget anyway. I am having a blast learning about the cuisine, and of course taking every recipe and "cleaning" it up. My entire office is getting on board with "healthy eating" which is definitely not a part of the culture here...it's really cool! My Excutive Director told me today that she has noticed a change in the atmosphere since I arrived, she says there is an amazing new level of energy in the office! A few of the girls now join me for runs after work, and they are always excited to show me what they brought for lunch! haha! It's so crazy and flattering!!
On the weekends I try to get out of the city...it's all you can do to remain sane in this chaos! There are a number of beaches within an hour, totally empty!! I have been blessed to have found an amazing network of friends here, I meet someone new just about every day...guess it helps that I talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime! haha! This weekend I discovered a surf camp just east of town. A bunch of Rasta's that live on the beach, surf every day, play music every night! I am joining them for a surf/live music weekend in two weeks, sleeping in a hammock on the beach, bon-fire...so excited! This weekend I am taking a few extra days off and going to an area called Port Antonio, just the girls...sooooo needed. On Wednesday my friends have arranged a birthday celebration for me!!! They have reserved an entire restaurant and are doing everything they can to keep me from feeling homesick! I am really blessed!
Life is so much more of a struggle down here, but for different reasons and yet everything just seems so much simpler!!