Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A 'ole heap o respect

Just when I thought I'd been in Jamaica long enough to know it all, something interesting happens that turns it upside-down. 

Yesterday, I was taking my usual route taxi ride home and I had a totally different conversation with the driver than normal.

(Aside #1 - a route taxi is the equivalent of public transportation here.  It is a sedan car that runs along a fixed route and carries four passengers. The far is usually about $90 Jamaican (just over a dollar Cdn) and I take them all the time to get where I need to go.)

Usually the driver is a young man, and he asks for my phone number or makes some other pass at me. Sometimes it is just about where I am from, but often it includes something like "Do you have a boyfriend?" or "Can I go home with you?" I've seen these kinds of conversations happen with all kinds of women in the cab, Jamaican ones as well. So the drivers on the whole don't have the best reputation.

But yesterday, the driver started to tell me about the passenger that had just gotten out before I got in.  "He has a 16 year old girlfriend, that is not a woman, that is a schoolgirl.  He's a pervert!"

(Aside #2 - what the driver said was mostly in patois.  I am pretty good at understanding it now, but I'm not so good at reproducing it yet. Bear with me)

After the driver had me agreeing that this was wrong, he proceeded to tell me all about his wife of 21 years. 

He said, "You know, Jamaican men, they always have 2 or three women." 

I nodded in agreement. 

He said, "Me, I don't like to tell no lies, so I go home to mi woman." 

He was clear - he had plenty of other offers, he was a driver after all, but he didn't bother with them, he went home and met his "needs" with his woman. 

"After all," he said "that's why I don't got no wrinkles, you know - no stress.  And mi girl, she look young too." And it was true, he looked about 25, even though he said he was 46.

He had told me he had two sons, so I asked "Don't your boys give you stress sometimes?"
And he said, the part that I thought was the best, "They good boys. They see how me go forward and they move in my direction." 

Let all the other taxi drivers take note, I've found the one I'd be willing to go home with.  He'd take me home and I'd met his wife and sons and probably learn a lot.  

(Aside # 3 - He still did ask me where I was from - some things don't change.)


On another note, Captain Phil and I had a feast last week.  It was celebratory and so involved baked avocado, lobster, steak, roasted vegetables, and banoffee pie for dessert.  We were stuffed and happy by the end of the meal!

The pre-dinner lobster, bought live from the fisherman earlier that day.
Poor suckers - so tasty though.
really, really yummy!
banana, caramel and whipped cream - with chocolate shavings on top - what else could you need?
Necessary after all that pie, I raced both Saturday and Sunday this weekend on the sailboats.  One of club members did a great video of the weekend which I've re-posted below, if you can stand to watch another sailing video.  I am in the blue shirted team, just past the 1 minute mark, taking the winch handle out of the winch.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

On youth work, the Blue Mountains, and avocado

I thought that when I returned to Jamaica, my life would slow down to its relaxed state of being, the pace at which I've lived the last year.  But it appears that a bit of the whirlwind of Toronto came down with me, because I have been busy the last few weeks.  And with already more than three weeks of company  from three groups of people expected before Christmas, it doesn't show any signs of abating.

Some highlights from the past couple of weeks:

First, a professional success!  Nataleah Hunter-Young arrived in Montego Bay and started her Cuso placement working with the Social Development Commission.  Her placement is a result of my work to develop new partnerships outside of Kingston.  She will be working with youth in disadvantaged communities to help them develop leadership and lifestyle skills and access education, training and employment.

So far, she had been enjoying Montego Bay and her placement is off to a good start.  The only problem is that she has not been to the beach yet, but we are planning to remedy that next weekend.

I am feeling good about seeing the fruits of my labour. A second volunteer is scheduled to arrive later this month so soon the Montego Bay contingent will be three volunteers strong.

The signing of the tripartite agreement, between the volunteer, Natalia (on the far right), the partner, SDC, represented by the Parish Manager, Mr. Hayle (on the far left) and Cuso, represented by Tarik Perkins (in the middle).
On a personal level, this weekend Captain Phil and I attended the lovely wedding of our friends Audrey and Aziz, which took place high in the Blue Mountains at a place called Heritage Gardens.  The view was spectacular, the bride and groom were beautifully attired in West African outfits, the guests were an eclectic mix of Africans, Jamaicans and Canadians, and the food was scrumptious.  It was an event to remember!

The drive up was less than 20 km, but it took us 45 minutes because of the switchbacks and the potholes in the roads.

The covered patio where the reception was held.

These "lanterns" were set along the path ans staircases and lit to create a magical glow.

Sunset with a view way, way down to Kingston Harbour
Finally, I may have mentioned on the blog before, but one of my Jamaican goals was to buy an avocado (pear, as they are known locally,) every time I went to town for as long as it was in season. So yesterday, after getting off the bus that brought us back for Kingston, I walked down the back lane where the men and women selling produce off carts or baskets sit, and bought two pear and bananas, tangerines, a green pepper and a papaya.

The green pear, in the back, was enormous and probably weighted at least 2 pounds.  And, that red fruit is actually an avocado as well!  I'd never seen a red pear before - I am going to taste test it tomorrow :)

The green pear made up part of last night's dinner and also was served with breakfast this morning (we ate the papaya too). It had a wonderfully fresh flavour and a velvety smooth texture.