So it’s clearly no shock that I’ve only updated three times after being gone for a month. I don’t really have any specific stories to tell because everything just seems like one huge run on sentence of events and people and things all mashed together into a big humid blur…kind of like this sentence.After our two-ish weeks in Hellshire, we moved out to our sector specific hubs. The youth sector, my sector, went to Stony Hill, which is up in the mountains just above Kingston. Here we’ve been sitting in a classroom a lot because, well, that’s just what you do for training. We’ve only had to watch a few videos made in the 80s, but none have been as incredible as the ones I had to watch at FedEx for my package handler job. I will never wear a t-shirt with a graphic of a wolf howling at the moon tucked into sweats which are then tucked into work boots and then get my un-ponytailed hair stuck in a mechanical belt.
I’ve been enjoying Stony Hill quite a bit. It’s in the mountains and mountains always make me happy. The temperature, especially at night, is more bearable. I can sleep and not wake up coated in sweat. Sunsets and sunrises are pretty awesome, and there are plenty of steep roads and places to explore. Virginia and I did yoga one evening on a veranda with a perfect view of the sunset over the mountains; I’ve never felt so cliché and exactly like a stereotypical Peace Corps hippy. Sadly, there are no trails because that isn’t really a big priority here, so staring at the mountainsides is a big tease. A machete would fix this issue.
A few of us have been running in the evenings after training. When I say running I mean huffing up an extremely steep road and then sprinting back down it; there is no such thing as flat ground here. There’s a marathon/half marathon/10K in Negril at the beginning of December and if we all train somewhere like this, we’ll show up and totally slaughter the competition. Assuming no one else ran straight uphill for fun because who the hell does that?
I’m getting pretty good at ignoring all the random men hissing at me, which apparently is how they ask you out on a date here. I’m becoming ok with being called ‘baby’, ‘sunshine’, ‘sweetie’, ‘pretty girl’, ‘afro chick’ and whatever else that almost every male says when they walk by and after staring not so subtly. Some guy asked me for my phone number when I was walking home tonight. The conversation went like this: ‘Good evening, can I have your phone number?’ To which I replied ‘No, I don’t have a phone’. Huge lie, I totally have a phone. Then he offered to give me his phone. Family and friends, you know what you’re getting for Christmas and birthdays…a used phone and some random dude’s number.
Jamaicans want to touch my hair just as much as the people back home do. They also ask if I’m a female, just like people at home. The whole short hair thing just really throws people, especially right after I just burp or swear loudly. My host family in Hellshire said they thought I was a boy when I walked downstairs in my soccer shorts and t-shirt. Weird.
Oh, and no one believes me when I tell them I really can play soccer. I spent tonight playing with a bunch of guys at the field in town, then got roped into playing more in front of a church on my way home. The field was a blast back to my first three years at Montana State Billings with the best field in the West. Best meaning best gravel pit in the center, best hump down the middle blocking sight of players’ lower halves, best flooding goal boxes, best bumpy as a horny toad’s back playing surface, and best dead grass. This field actually may have been better than that, as there was no hump and the grass was green where it actually was growing. The area in front of the church was straight up gravel. Stopping required my skiing skills and a pass that went where it was intended was a miracle. When I play on a quality surface again, my first touch is going to be great, which is what happened after playing for three years on the field from hell in Montana. Real pitches are overrated.
We went on a three day shadowing experience at the beginning of this week. I went to a small village, Accompong, up in Cockpit Country on the western part of the island with another trainee, Mary, to stay with a couple of current volunteers who happen to be a couple named Matt and Julie. It was a great experience. I felt like I was in a Peace Corps commercial the whole time: perfect little rural village, beautiful scenery, awesome volunteer projects and hammocks. I hope my site is halfway as awesome as Accompong is; I don’t want to hope for too much. It made me really anxious to get out to site and have some freedom. And then miss being around everyone at training. You can never have everything.
I miss everyone at home and think about everyone often. I can’t wait for visitors after my first three months at site. But don’t you worry, my fellow trainees are awesome and my host families have been stellar, so I am being taken care of.
And I think that is about it for my word vomit session.
PS – I can receive padded envelopes full of cool shit during training…cough, cough. No packages until September, though. Send me interesting books, I need shit to read.