Friday, 22 February 2013

Limes from the tree & fresh fish from the sea

I'm now into my last week with Cuso International in Montego Bay, a very bittersweet time.

Naturally, I've been soaking up all the best bits of Jamaica that I can.  Yesterday Captain Phil was able to score a Bonito from the fisherman coming back to the dock, which is very similar to tuna.  So we had an excellent treat of fish seasoned with limes off the tree, roasted pumpkin and sweat potato, and tomatoes with basil from the pot on the balcony.  Nataleah, my neighbour and fellow volunteer, joined us and brought a cooked grain.  It was a lovely meal.

Other than that, life is busy wrapping up all of the work-related pieces, packing up my apartment, and thinking about the next set of adventures, the grand "friends and family" tour. Will post some more once I get through the hump!

Here are some pictures of the racing boats that came in as part of the Pineapple Cup Race, which I mentioned in my last post, along with some other miscellany.

Masts of a 72 footer and 80 footer.

Racing boats are built flat and open, like a sled, for the aerodynamic advantages. But it does mean you get really wet and you have to hang on!

All of the boats were American.

This was "Dragon,"as you can see.
The big ones, at the end of the dock.

All of the sailing gear, hung out to dry - there were 10 racing boats on the dock, and boy, was it smelly right after all the sailors arrived!

And in other news, here are some random pictures taken around the Yacht Club.

These are almond trees. Seasonally, the leaves turn red and fall off, but green new ones are always right behind.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Coming soon to a place near you

My little racing boats have been put to shame.  This week is the finish of the Pineapple Cup, a race from Fort Lauderdale, Miami to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Already 4 boats have arrived, and man, are they big!  The two biggest come in at 80 and 72 feet long, and the 72 footer, "Shockwave" arrived in the early morning and was an hour later than the record time.

When they arrive in Montego Bay, they are greeted with a case of cold Red Stripe beer, true Jamaican Hospitality. Last night, one of the old-timers told me that they used to take bets on which boats would arrive first, and sometimes they were days off in their estimations.  Now all the boats all have fancy tracking systems and you can see it here (click through to the "tracking" button) so we didn't bother to bet.

I'm "on duty" a couple nights this week down at the club to welcome boats as they arrive.  The boats themselves are very different from the cruising boats in style.  The whole deck is flat, with very minimal furniture and fixings.  I've heard that if you crew on these boats, there are very strict limitations on the weight you can bring on board.  The lighter, the faster!


On another note, I thought I'd give you the dates for the "friends and family" tour.  Please drop me a line if you are in a place where I'll be and want to connect.

*Toronto* March 1-7  

Julia and Captain Phil leave Montego Bay on March 1st.  Julia gets off the plane in Toronto and Captain Phil continues on to the UK.

*Ottawa* March 8-10

Julia goes to a Cuso workshop in Ottawa.

*UK* March 11-24

Julia heads to the UK to meet up with Captain Phil. (This leg has various ‘venues’ but I’m not responsible for planning it so I can’t tell you what they are at this point.)

*Toronto* March 25-26

Julia and Captain Phil fly back to Toronto. There will be a party of some sorts on the 26th. Stay tuned for details.

*Calgary* March 27-29

Julia and Captain Phil will be visiting friends who have relocated themselves from Toronto to Calgary. Way to go on making this more complicated, guys!

*Vancouver* March 29-April 11

Where Julia and Captain Phil will eat yummy sushi and check out motorcycles. And do some other fun things too.

*Toronto* April 12-18

Just in case you aren’t tired of us yet, T-dot pals.

And then we will head back to Montego Bay, Jamaica, on April 18th. 

P.S. I have a google calendar dedicated to the when’s and where’s.  I am excited to schedule you in!
P.P.S. I will have a Canadian cell phone number. Probably the same number I had before. Will keep you posted.
P.P.P.S. We will be very cold and whiny about your weather. Apologies in advance.

Friday, 1 February 2013

One month to go

I have been in denial for some time now, but it appears that I only have one month left of my Cuso adventure whether I like it or not.  On March 1st, exactly four weeks from today, I will get on a plane and return to Canada.  Oh, I am starting to anticipate the pain of pulling up all the roots I've put down in this place!

So, a list of pros & cons about the end of the Cuso/Montego Bay story...

Some of the things I will leave behind and will miss a lot:
  • My place: a restful, cool and very hospitable little apartment that has stood me (and a lot of houseguests) well.  I will miss hearing the wind blow through the palm trees and seeing the Doctor Bird feed from the bushes off my patio
  • The Yacht Club: a noisy, opinionated, very welcoming community of sailors and their friends. I will miss the Sunday morning racing on J22s and the crazy stories of what it was like in the "good ol' days" shared over Friday night Red Stripes.
  • The Jamaicans, of course!  Their culture is amazingly unique for a population smaller than that of the city of Toronto. This week I was in the grocery store and there were a lot of staff out re-stocking the shelves.  I passed, not one, not two, but at least three staff in various locations singing out loud unabashedly along with the music playing throughout the store.  Never see that at home!
  • Working in development with Cuso International.  It is painfully slow, tediously consensus-based, and mind-numbingly inefficient, but it does make a difference.  And I feel privileged to be part of the process of people and communities exploring new ways to live - ways free from pain, fear, and violence, amongst other things. 

Some of the things that I am looking forward too and that make me excited:
  • Family and friends: yay!  What can I say?  I am looking forward to all the hugs and greetings and updates and meals shared - see you soon.
  • Stuff: bring on the consumer choice!  Specifically books (in paper, not digital), clothing, and all the cool gadgets in Mountain Equipment Co-op
  • Freedom to move: public transportation available 24/7, access to a vehicle to get from one place to another, the ability to go for a walk and not melt in the heat (or be looking over my shoulder.)
  • Food: Mexican food, sushi, smoked salmon, crusty bread, fancy cheese, mushrooms, blackberries from my parents' freezer - should I continue?

Some of the things I am bringing with me: Captain Phil (we are embarking on the grand "friends and family" tour of Canada and the UK), a good tan (for a few weeks, anyways), and a whole 18 months of adventures and experiences.

But it will be my head that will be the most crowded; I have surprisingly little stuff to pack.

Okay, don't hold me to the last part in three and a half weeks when I have to put it all in a suitcase...

Also leaving behind my camera (lost on the bus to Kingston.) But will get to see Corrie (in this shot.) But will miss Jamaica's beautiful scenery (YS River behind her). Oh dear, it's going to be a tough month...