Happy New Year!
I had a fabulous holiday season. I spent Christmas in Honduras visiting my friend Ben from Australia (he is teaching scuba diving in Roatan). Then the 2 of us went to Costa Rica for New Years to spend time with our friends from Vancouver who just moved down there. It was a much needed vacation.
Since my return to Kingston I have barely seen the light of day...
I facilitated a Strategic Planning Workshop last week with the Board of Directors, so ALL of my energy and sanity for the month of January went into preparing for that. It was a total success!!!! That was the biggest hurdle of my project here, now I have a few more wrap-up sessions planned with the Board and Staff, and then my focus will be on ensuring the Strategic Planning process and implementation continues after my departure (sustainability). This is the most gratifying work I have done in a very long time, I just wish I could be here to see where all this hard work is going to take the organization in the next year! I guess I will have to come back and visit, oh darn!
As for the rest of my adventures down here...
I still try to escape the chaos of Kingston when I can. A friend of mine from Canada arrived last week. I met him in Montego Bay, we then traveled down to Negril, and took the coastal route back to Kingston. I have officially traveled the entire circumference of this island, and seen more of Jamaica then most of the Jamaicans...at least that is what they all tell me. I have been blessed with the friendship of many local that are more then excited to show me the intimate little secrets of their island, that most tourist would never experience. I traveled into "The Hills" to visit where my neighbor grew up. Most homes are occupied by 5 generations of family, many have never left; great-grand-parents, grand-parents, parents, kids (my generation), and grand-kids...keep in mind many start families very young here (one of my colleagues is a grandmother at 36 years old)! Running water is more common now, as is electricity, everyone knows your business before you know it yourself, and the sense of community and trust is really heartwarming.
My friends arrival has been such a wonderful gift! Not only is it nice to have a taste of home, but through him, I get to witness all of the same emotions [in him] that I experienced when I first arrived. I now realize how much I have learned and grown since my arrival...amazing!
Last Friday, the Executive Director (and great friend) of Y.O.U. took me on a "Field Trip" to the Blue Mountains (Holywell National Park). When I previously imagined Jamaica, mountains were the furthest thing on my mind, however, I am officially more impressed with this aspect of Jamaica then I am with the beaches...well...almost! HAHA! The mountains are breath taking. There are so many rivers and waterfalls and a few guest houses perched on cliff sides, definitely off the beaten track! I plan to make a trip up to the peak, back-packing of course, before my departure. Oh, and the coffee from the Blue Mountain region is like nothing I have ever tasted...Starbucks eat your heart hear out!
I have now passed the halfway point of my adventure down here...the remaining few months are going to be very busy and are going to pass by far TOO QUICKLY!!!