My apologies for lack of updates for the past month. I’ve moved houses, and no longer have internet at my house. And I’ve actually been busy at work, leaving me little time for blogging! But I’ll try to get back on track with more regular updates. For now, the biggest update I have is my new house, which I absolutely love.
Before I get to that, I should mention that May 15th was my 1 year anniversary of Swearing-In! That means I’ve gotten over the 1 year milestone, and let me tell you, it feels awesome. I feel like my projects are at a good point, that I have a lot of traction with them and that I’ll be able to get a lot of work done in the next year (11.5 months, technically. But who’s counting?). Most importantly, I really understand the culture now and I really know how to work and get things done and relate to Jamaicans. That’s something that is vital to any successful Peace Corps service, and I’m so happy to have reached that point.
The other big change for me this past month was moving to a new community! I moved to Negril in August, and was living on the Beach Road – a strip of all hotels and no community. I didn’t realize until a few months ago how lonely it really was, and although I really enjoyed living close to my landlords, I decided to move. I found an apartment I really liked in a community I knew I liked, got Peace Corps approval and moved in on May 1! The main house on the property is a HUGE 8 bedroom, 2 story house. There’s an older married couple who live in the main house, and they don’t even use the second story of the house – it’s just for when guests and family come to visit. There are 2 kitchens in the house (one for each story), 2 huge living rooms (again, one for each story) and a huge dining room. It’s crazy big. And my apartment? It’s the maid quarters. Yup, around the back they built a small, semi-attached studio and had it for a live in maid. But to my luck, they haven’t wanted to hire one yet and wanted to make a little extra money, so they decided to rent it! It’s the perfect amount of space too. My own kitchen, bathroom, bed room and even a veranda that has become more like a living room. The veranda has a long zinc roofed overhang, and sitting out there during a rain storm has become one of my favorite past times. And lucky for me it’s rainy season!
But more than just a good apartment, the best part has been having neighbors and a community. I live about halfway down a lane that’s loaded with people, and they all knew my name within a week of me moving in. Not so hard to learn one white girl’s name I guess. But learning all their names? That’s something I’m still working on. Soon come. My closest friends on the lane so far? The two little girls from next door, Shea and Sabrina. Shea is 3, Sabrina is 5. They are adorable, and start yelling my name as soon as they see me walking down the lane (maybe part of the reason everyone knows me…) They come over my house as often as they can, and are making good use of the two coloring books that I brought down! I’ve introduced Sabrina to go-fish and memory, two games that she loves. I’m gonna start watching cartoons with them (educational, don’t worry!), and maybe even doing some crafts. They’ve given me countless tours around the neighborhood, and introduced me to all their friends (I’m totally a hit in the 3 – 7 year old demographic, by the way). All the adults love to see me walking around with the kids too – they get a total kick out of it. And of course they use it as an excuse to say that I should have a brown baby and stay in Jamaica (specifically Good Hope). I think it’s a compliment, but it’s not a piece of advice I’m planning on taking... But it’s been a great move for me, and something I should have done a while ago. I do miss my old landlords, but the tradeoff was well worth it.
Before I go, I should also say that none of the civil unrest that went down in Kingston last week really affected me much. Peace Corps has all volunteers on a travel ban and a 6:30 curfew due to an upswing in crime, but that should be lifted soon. Things seem to be calming down for now and hopefully it’ll stay that way. I’m planning on writing a more detailed post about the whole situation later this week, so I’ll save my thoughts for that. But thank you to everyone who emailed and called asking how I was – I really appreciate it. But like I said, look for another update about it soon!