(Translation: On the road and Easter)
Week One at Hub
Easter in Jamaica is a national holiday, meaning most folks get at least Good Friday and Easter Monday off from their travails, and the schools get up to two weeks off. We have moved to the next phase of our training program, “Hub” training, and we are currently in our second set of home-stays in these new communities. Since Jedd and I are in different sectors, we’re living in separate Hub communities for these five weeks. But fortunately, Peace Corps has arranged for married couples who are separated during Hub to be able to visit each other a couple times on weekends. So we took advantage of the long Easter weekend, and Jedd braved public transit for the first time!
He arrived safe and sound on Saturday after three bus transfers and about an hour and a half, despite one extremely pushy mini-bus loader man and thanks to his former-police host dad who we’ll just say “put everyone in their place.” As always, we enjoyed the great home-cooking by our Jamaican host family and learned more about their lives. We also attended the Baptist church on Easter with my host mom. Easter or not, Jamaicans love to put on their Sunday best so you’ll see in the photo that we’re trying to keep up.
Easter Bun and Cheese
One particular Easter tradition I think every trainee has experienced is the Bun and Cheese. We’ve been seeing them in the grocery stores since we arrived, and apparently it originates from hot cross buns brought by the English. Part of the mythology that parallels this tradition- as I understand it- is that because Christ’s death is recognized at noon on Good Friday, no fire shall be lit before noon as it would add even more pain to his suffering. The implication is that no one cooks on Good Friday and thus, a meal that does not need to be cooked, like Bun and Cheese, is a convenient solution. My host mother does not adhere to this superstition about fire but we did partake in the traditional dish on Good Friday regardless. I was surprised to find that the Bun and Cheese did not look at all like I expected. The Bun is actually slices of bread made with molasses, spice, and dried fruit (almost like a spice bread/fruitcake mix). The cheese, while labelled cheddar, is closer to what we in the states would call American cheese. And it comes in a tin can. I think I prefer the Bun and Cheese that I had imagined in my head.
For Your Entertainment
The day Jedd arrived, we took a quick detour to the grocery store on Main Street before heading up the hill to my host family’s house. There are always a number of men hanging out on the streets with nothing to do, and as the two of us approached the store, this is a series of short exchanges that occurred:
A man from across the street to Jedd: “Mr. Chin, dat yuh sista?” (Asian man, is that your sister? … referring to Michelle)
Jedd: “No, man. That’s mi wife.”
“Ah. She nice, man. Nice wife!”
Another man down the road who overheard the first conversation: “Yuh take good care of yuh wife. Jamaican men dem like di woman like dat. Yuh take care of her, yuh undastand?”
Yes sir, duly noted. 😉