My (Michelle’s) parents came to Jamaica over New Years, and we had a wonderful time showing them our community and exploring new parts of the island together. It was a week Jedd and I had been looking forward to and dreaming about for months. And my parents reported that they enjoyed themselves even more than they thought they would. On our way back to the airport, I asked them what their impressions were of the country and the culture. Here are a few of their observations:
- People seem happy, friendly, and easy-going. They sing while walking down the street and greet each other constantly.
- It’s not hard to survive in Jamaica without a car.
- There are an unexpected number of imports in the grocery stores, including the Latin American version of Frosted Flakes and cheese from New Zealand.
- Dogs are not pets so much as they are an alarm system and perimeter guard.
- People dress much nicer than you would expect after seeing their living conditions, and they make their fashion choices regardless of the temperature.
- There are tons of little bars, every twenty yards in some areas.
- Peace Corps job positions appear to present a lot of challenges to success in their very nature, and many volunteers have helpful skills and expertise that are not used in their primary PC job description. (This is another reason why Peace Corps is not just about what you do in terms of achievement because the cross-cultural exchange is just as important.)
- Driving on the other side of the car, on the left side of the road; dodging pot holes, goats, dogs, people; over-taking and being overtaken by cars; and the many other challenges of being a new driver in Jamaica is “exciting.”