Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Yogis Out of the Woodwork!

Last Saturday was a day of discovery. A few of us went to a yoga studio that Marie and Love had discovered on a walk the previous weekend. While walking there it was easy to forget that we were in Jamaica; Stony Hill is full of nice houses, many of them huge. America is not the only country with the McMansion issue. Upon entering the studio, we were on an hour and a half long vacation from the Jamaica we’ve been adjusting to. Suddenly there were no buses trying to take off our heads with their sideview mirrors, no more men shouting ‘Whitey, yuh waan Jamaican boyfren?’, or unfixed dogs trying to fuck each other in the street. What we got instead was cleanliness, quietness and calmness. And a yoga session that kicked a lot of ass.

The class was taught by a Jamaican who has spent most of her life in California and recently moved back to open this awesome studio. The class was very full, even for a Saturday morning. Yogis, yuppies, hippies and other granolas popped out of nowhere to fill the veranda-like room with people putting themselves into odd looking postures. Where are all these people on the street? Who ARE they? It did not feel like the Jamaica I’ve been exposed to since being here. We were in some alternate universe where everything is in the right place and there is a general feeling of contentment. There was even live music by a guitar and a small hand drum to complete the experience. I was the most in the present since arriving in Jamaica.

While we were not the only white people in the class, a miniature herd of Americans still attracted attention. The owner introduced herself to us, which obviously led to a discussion as to who the hell we were. We told her we were Peace Corps and were greeted with much excitement. And since the universe works in oddly coincidental ways, she proceeded to tell us that she had just received an email the day before from a friend who wanted a Peace Corps hook up. Her friend is a Ph.D doctor of wellness and is coming to Jamaica to do seminars and whatnot on her topic of expertise, yoga included. We exchanged the necessary contact information and thanked ourselves for showing up on that particular day. Clearly, we were meant to come to this place of awesomeness and do handstands on a wall.

Wow, listen to me getting all excited about a yoga class. I am such a fucking hippy.

Right after leaving the quiet property that the studio is located on, we almost got ran over by a cement truck. Jamaica is always quick to remind you that it is still there, especially when walking on the road, which typically lack sidewalks. I am waiting for the day I get launched by an unseen sideview mirror impact with my back..

In other news, I learned tonight on the news that from January to June of this year, Jamaicans abroad have sent back remittances amounting to almost one billion U.S. dollars. How insane is that? To put that in prospective, there are just under three million Jamaicans living on the island and about that many living in other countries, mainly the U.S., UK and Canada. And the exchange rate is $1US to $85J. So that is a shitload of money for this little island. I’m glad remittances aren’t a big thing for American families; sorry parentals, I can barely pay for myself right now.

I’m getting better at smashing the cockroaches that run around in my bathroom at night with just the right amount of force to wound them, but not make them explode all over the place. At first I would slightly panic and crush the shit out of them, literally, with my flip flop in hand. After a few nasty messes of cockroach guts splayed all over the tile like a sneeze gone wrong , I decided to practice some self control. I’ve developed this quick flick of the wrist technique that has taken place of the overkill exoskeleton crushing method, and it’s been working out quite nicely. Last night I executed a rapid fire massacre of five of the little fuckers at the same time as going to the bathroom. I think this is a marketable skill. I’ll get back to you when I’ve figured out exactly how to profit from it.

To continue with the random blurts of information, this is our last week of hub-based training in Stony Hill. For the remainder of training we will be reunited with the other sectors in Kingston. I am having a hard time believing that training is almost over, but I am ready to begin my actual service. We find out where our sites are within the next week, so be on the lookout for an overly excited blog post in the very near future.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Moldy Clothes and Conversation

Last night I discovered that the rumors about Peace Corps Jamaica are true. Clothes do mold here. I had heard this before I came, but having never lived anywhere with any real level of humidity, I was in denial that things other than food items would actually sprout mold. So it was a sad resignation of this fact when I looked into my dirty laundry bag and saw a sports bra covered in tiny blackish spots. Gross. I’ve been pretty good about airing out my nasty ass workout clothes before I shove them into a confined space, but apparently I let this particular sports bra down. It was being overtaken by little spores of some unknown microscopic creature, egged on by my massive amounts of sweat and the water vapor in the air. I guess I will be washing my clothes to not only rid them of smell, but also of small opportunistic creatures. I’ve always known I prefer the dry wicked heat of the sagebrush death valley in southern Idaho to the humid like-walking-through-Jello moisture trap of the tropics.

In other news, we started the practicum section of training this week. Our training group is split into two, with one group going to the SOS Children’s Village and the other going to Homestead. SOS is basically an orphanage in an apartment style setting, with house mothers keeping track of all the little people. Homestead is a home for girls whose parents, for whatever reason, can no longer take care of them. A lot of these kids have been through things that many of us have only seen happen to people on TV. For the past two days we’ve spent about two hours in the afternoons with them, playing fun games, singing and talking about goal setting, planning, and whatever else they wanted to talk about. As we get more comfortable with each other, we will do sessions on more serious subjects, such as life skills and sexuality. All of this happened and will continue to happen in a semi-organized state of chaos with the volume turned up.

I am in the group of trainees sent to Homestead, and if you know anything about me, you know that I have issues talking about anything serious. This fact, combined with me having zero training or experience with talking to teens with issues, made me rather nervous about engaging with the girls on any level past surface. When faced with actually having to talk about something other than how my hair stays fluffy and how ridiculously sweaty I am all the time, I decided that I really didn’t want to be left alone with a group. So for the first day of small group discussion I stuck with a fellow trainee, Karen. We pretty much just made fun of each other in front of the girls, talked about why you would want matches if stranded on an island, and how you would go about becoming a nurse. It was clear that these girls just wanted someone to talk to, and we ended up just listening to them for a majority of our time there. I found surprisingly wise words flying out my mouth and me responding better to the stories of the girls’ than I thought I would. The imagined horribly awkward situation of me just staring at them after they said something rather shocking did not happen. I discovered that I am capable of not being a sarcastic asshole at all times and can actually say something constructive. Look at that, just over a month here and I’m already learning more about myself.

Anyway, enough of that serious talk. If you’re bored, type ‘Sergio the sexy sax man’ into YouTube and thank me when you have that god awful George Michael song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.