I mentioned in my last post that after a year of living in another country, I’m finally feeling at home. I was pondering this on my ride back from the nearest town where I go to shop. It’s a ½ ride, which here means it’s about 12 miles. Despite the absurdly fast and reckless driving, the condition of the roads still manage to slow down traffic, and when I say traffic, I mean six to seven cars spotted at one time. I digress. I was thinking about how I feel at home in Jamaica now and what that means exactly. Well, I realized it means that now, this absurdly fast and reckless driving just seems like regular driving to me. (I never get sweaty or nervous anymore and I can keep my eyes open the entire time!) In other words, nothing is surprising; it just is.
To give the non-PCV an idea of what I mean, here are a few things that used to be surprising, but are now just standard everyday life:
- Greeting everyone you see – known or unknown. If you see someone 100 yards away, out working on their farm, you are rude if you do not look over and give them a wave. This is now ingrained into my being. When I walk around, I am constantly looking around making sure I don’t miss someone that I can throw a “mawnin” to.
- On the same note, it would be very strange if a Jamaican man (any age) did not hit on me in some way when I pass, and even more expected, ask me to carry (bring) them with me. Of course, I always say that my “husband” would not like that, and then it is just expected that they ask me if my husband is a Jamaican, to which I always reply “yes”. Ladies always gots to be on the defense. Also, when they ask you to carry them, it means that they not only want to go with you, but that you will pay for their travel. No, thanks. Also, the radius of unwanted attention expands exponentially depending on the number of lady PCV’s you are travelling with. Example – if there are 2 of us, 3 times as many men will seek us out. If there are 3 of us, 6 times as many men seek us out, and so on and so forth. You get the extraordinary picture.
- Travelling – If there are not at least 4 people in the back seat, you do not have a full taxi. Also, where I live, 2 people in the front passenger seat is pretty standard. I’ve been in a taxi where there were 2 in the front passenger, 2 in the front driver’s seat (one is the driver, one passenger) and 4 in the back, and then 2 in the trunk (most taxi’s here are wagons, so the trunk is pretty spacious). Of course, when there are children along for the ride, you sometimes lose count of how many people are in the taxi. (One time I counted 14 total!)
- Car seats in Jamaica = Your lap. Yeah, I mean you. If you get handed someone’s baby, just go with it. It’s not unusual to hold a stranger’s baby for the duration of your ride. (This actually works out great for me, because I love holding stranger babies, or any baby really) In other words, I’ve seen one car seat here in Jamaica; it belonged to my first host family in which 2 of the children would climb in and out of in during the car ride. It was more of a play seat them. And seat belts? Yeah, right, you want to get laughed out of Jamaica?
- Speaking of children – Other than car seats, it’s a rare sighting when I see a stroller. People just carry their babies around, and if they can stand, they start walking. One time I saw a 6 year old pushing his 1 year old brother around in one for fun. That’s about it.
- No PDA. I’ve rarely seen a Jamaican express their love for another in any sort of physical way (or verbal for that matter) even to their children. Example: A teacher and the chairman of the school board are married; it took me about 2 months to figure it out. Even now, I still have my doubts.
- Jamaican’s love, love, love KFC.
- I hear more Celine Dion and other adult easy listening songs here than I do reggae. Much, much more.
- Hot Dogs are called Frankfurters, and don’t be surprised if you get them for breakfast.
- Despite that Jamaica is known for its great coffee, most people just drink instant, including yours truly.
Those are all the things I can think of for now, which is a lot considering the reason I made this list is to point out things that I don’t notice. Hmmmm…..oxymoron? Anyjah, despite my perhaps sarcastic *ahem* and negative tone, I do love Jamaica and I feel so lucky everyday to be here. Which brings me to my next segment, Gratitude!
Things I am thankful for today:
Great camp day – we painted!
Fun. – My new favorite band, or as I like to call them, the new Queen
I made real coffee today – Dunkin Donuts Vanilla, yum! (LYB)
Parks & Recreation – Specifically, everything Tom Haverford says and does
Tom Haverford/Aziz Ansari’s Huge Smiley Face
Stickers – students love them, and I love using them as bribes
My sweet friends and family that send me awesome packages
My host mom that cooks delicious meals
My real mum that cooks delicious meals that I can't wait to eat
Blaine from Glee
Football season starts in a month
Weekend at the beach in 3 days
Sweet dance playlist that I made for said beach weekend
America in less than a week! See ya soon