Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Get up, and try again

Five days ago it was the ten month anniversary of my arrival in Jamaica.  I have been reflecting on those months quite a bit these last few days, so much has happened that I didn't expect or foresee, and so much has not happened that maybe should have or could have.

Natalie Crittenden, with whom I shared a room with at the Cuso training before we left for our respective placements, posted this great TED talk on her blog and I'd like to re-post here.

Go ahead, keep on trying and failing.  I know I am.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Progress and produce

After many successive posts about sailing, I have something to report on the work front! (I'll bet you all were wondering if I did anything BUT sailing.)

Tarik, the Cuso International Jamaica Program Director, came to Montego Bay from Kingston last week and we had a series of successful meetings. Turns out, we have two very real new placements developing here in Montego Bay.  One is with an existing partner, and we would focus on helping them build their volunteering capacity, and another is with a brand new partner that seems very much on the same page as we are in terms of community development.

This new placement is especially exiting, because it will allow us to work with community members directly.  We have schemed and plotted several ways to do this, but they haven't worked out up until now.  But, as you can guess, being able to work "on the ground," so to speak, is an important way to reach people and communities that are experiencing poverty and violence. Asking people who live in communities what they want for their communities, for their families and for themselves, and then helping them realize those goals is very meaningful work for everyone involved, (even if it is also really slow, difficult and frustrating at times). So I am excited that our meetings went so well, and, fingers crossed, I'll be able to share more on who these partners are and what volunteers will be doing with them once details are finalized.

On other news, things are blooming here and mango season has arrived!

There are Tommy mangoes, Julie mangoes, Bombay mangoes, and whole bunch of other kinds that I don't even know yet. You can by one on the street for about a dollar Cdn, less if it is a little one, and then you can get a bag for the same amount. If you're lucky, there is a mango tree nearby somewhere and you can pick them right off the tree!
Sometimes we still eat papaya. (This pic's for you, Erika, I was testing camera settings - not bad, eh?)
Also, Jamaican hills have taken on a vaguely Canadian look these days, with beautiful red trees dotting the landscape.  These stunning trees are known as Poinciana, or Flamboyant, or what I've heard most often in Jamaica, 'flame trees'. They are originally from Madagascar, but have taken to the island and are really, really pretty.

Once the blooms start to fall there is a glorious red carpet underneath the tree.

I walk up and down this hill regularly to get to town.
And, just in case anyone is going into withdrawal, a boat picture for you.

This is Captain Phil, being hoisted up the mast so that he can fix screws that were wiggling loose and preventing the jib from being raised.  I did the winching to get him up (and gently let him down again) but there is no way you'd catch me way up there!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Engineers and Navigators

Two weekends ago the Golden Bear ship docked in Montego Bay. The Captain came by for a drink at the Yacht Club and generously offered to give tours of the ship to any member of the club who were interested.  So off I went - you already know how I feel about boats, big or small!

The Golden Bear is a training ship for the California Maritime Academy.  It was chock full (and so was the yacht club that weekend) of student cadets who are learning to be ship's engineers or navigators.  There is fully accredited staff that supervise the ship, but other than the kitchen, the cadets do all the work of running the ship.  They had recently been to Haiti to drop off some aid supplies and they were on their way down to Panama to go through the canal.
The student cadets led the tours for us. They were looking very smart in their naval dress.

The view from up top on the ship.  We climbed up to the bridge, then down to the engine room, then back up to the main deck.

The bridge - there are no chairs, except for the Captain's chair.  They used to have chairs, apparently, but then someone fell asleep in a chair while on watch, and that was the end of that!

The ship hold 300 students and there are another 75 staff on board.  Apparently there are less then 30 women students! 

Definitely a working ship.
The engine room - it was sooo hot down here.  They have two huge engines called 'bambi' and 'thumper' because one used to thump when it was first in use. Our lovely student engineer told us lots of other details while we were down there, but we were all wearing earplugs because of the noise, so not a lot got through.

The engine control room - look at all the pretty lights!
This wall had all the breakers for the electricity on the ship - we were asked not to lean on it...

It's hard to tell from the picture, but these were three feet tall!

Later on that day some of the students came out sailing with us on Diva.  I think they had just as much fun on our boat as we had on theirs!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

More boring sailing pictures

Two weekends ago I was sitting at the post-racing table talking to another woman who has been sailing for years. At the same time I was flipping through the pictures of the day's races on my camera.  She said to me, "Julia, aren't sailing pictures boring? We have thousands of pictures just like those at home."

So here you go.  I don't find sailing pictures boring yet, but I haven't quite got thousands either.  These pictures were all taken by Captain Phil, who provided his boat, Diva, to be the committee boat (the boat that sits at the start/finish line and records who crosses the line first and who actually comes in last.) It was two days of sailing with three races on each day and little bits of all kinds of weather, except we did escape the rain.  Several boats were brought down from the Kingston Yacht Club so there were 10 boats all together.  I was sailing in boat #10, and we came in 9th, although on the second day we did have two 4ths and a 5th.

Feel free to go do something else if you get bored...

Lining up for the start line - lots of jostling for position.
It is a timed start, so it is always a trick not to go over early or get wedged out by another boat.

Here's the action in real time video - drama on the start line:

We all go upwind on the first leg of the race.

Hanging my legs over the side to help balance the boat (I have the hat and dark glasses)

The boats kinda look like a strange flock of birds.
Then we all blow back downwind to finish.  The spinnaker sail can give you some speed!

This tanker, "the Royal," is a weekly visitor to Mobay and was kind enough to wait until all the sailboats were well upwind before he left the harbour, right through our race course.  Some boats didn't even realize it was there!

This is how it looks rounding the mark, with everyone taking down their spinnaker sails.  My boat comes in last - we didn't fly the spinnaker on this race because we only had three lightweights on board.  The second day we had four bodies and did better.

Another weird flock of birds?

Taking down our spinnaker at the end of the races - I am on the far right, looking up.

This is me sailing Diva, when we went to Negril several weeks ago - you can see it's a whole different vibe!
Hopefully you didn't suffer too much through those pictures.  Captain Phil took over 80 pictures on the weekend, so it could have been much worse. Or, for some of you, you could have been sitting in the boats themselves - I thought it was great fun, but I had a couple of bruises that are just fading now.