Homes for the Holidays – Part 1: Jamaica

Christmas in Jamaica
Do you see Michelle? Christmas decorations at our host family’s house.

As digital nomads, our concept of home is constantly evolving. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s hard for us to answer where “home” exactly is. It seemed only fitting, then, that as we returned to Jamaica, our friends here said “Welcome home” to us, additionally adding: “Will Jamaica be home?” We made sure to answer them directly. “No. But we do love Jamaica.” Continue reading “Homes for the Holidays – Part 1: Jamaica”

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Going Out Dancing

Screen shot 2014-04-16 at 10.07.23 PM
Henroy teaches me how fi dance.

It’s hard to believe but today is my last day at the community center and so I figured I would leave doing something great – they got me to dance like a Jamaican….sort of.

At the community center, I became friends with a some amazing young entrepreneurs called “Super Legend Entertainment” (a very Jamaican name) who started their own entertainment company that preforms in our town as well as at hotels in the touristy area known as Negril. I am a huge fan of theirs, partly because I wish I could dance as good as them, but also because they have assisted me with all of our summer youth camps by providing free dance lessons.

After a year of so of talking about making a video together and doing lessons regularly at the community center, both finally came together this past week, even though it was my last one. Oh well. Such is life in Jamaica and a great way to go out. You never know when things will happen, but they do. It is what it is and more importantly, it was a great way to finish my service here at the center. It’s one of many fun memories among the many challenges, joys, laughter, tears, and some times utter ridiculousness that was my Peace Corps volunteer service (more to come for another post). I’m incredibly thankful.

Hope you enjoy the videos. -J

Jamaican Zumba Routine – “Same Way” by Busy Signal (Blurred Lines remix)

Henroy from Super Legend Entertainment breaks down the moves of the routine 

Speaking of videos, here’s another update from our new travel blog Intentional Travelers: The Best Videos by Peace Corps Volunteers Around the World.

Best-Peace-Corps-Videos

Jake’s Triathlon and A New Travel Project

 

Stops on our way home from PC Jamaica
Stops on our way home from PC Jamaica

New Travel Blog

As we gear up to finish our Peace Corps service at the end of this month, our next chapter brings a whole heap of travel. We are so excited to do some more exploring while we reconnect with friends and family.

A number of people have asked us if we will keep up with our blog. The answer is yes… and then some. We’ve been writing on this here blog for almost as long as we’ve been married. During our Peace Corps service, it naturally became geared toward helping folks at home understand Jamaican culture and our experience as volunteers.

We plan to continue sharing our life updates and personal thoughts here. You may have noticed that our web address has changed to jeddandmichelle.com (although simplyintenitonal.wordpress.com will still get you here, too).

In addition, we’ve started up a new blog dedicated specifically to our travels. This will allow us to try our hand at true travel blogging, where we’ll write reviews and guides. (I [Michelle] also have another website in the works about intentional living, but more on that later.) We’ll be sure to continue sharing the more personal photos, videos, and stories of our travels here on our personal blog, and we’ll share links to the travel blog whenever we think it would be of interest to our family and friends.

Jake’s Tri

For example, this past weekend we participated in Jake’s Triathlon for the second time. I wrote an informative review about the event and location on the new blog, which you can read here: Jake’s Off-Road Triathlon. I’ll only share the more personal photos from the event below, including this one of me getting interviewed after the race.

Jake's Triathlon finish

Apparently, I was the first female runner to cross the finish line, and the reporter thought I had won something. The truth is, I was part of a relay team and there were a number of others who finished ahead of us. I just happened to be a female runner- whereas other teams may have had female swimmers or bikers. The real female triathlete winner- who completed the whole race on her own- came in just behind me, as I was doing the interview!

Here are some more photos from the event:

Peace Corps volunteers helping at a water station
Peace Corps Volunteers helping at a water station
Peace Corps post-race reunion
Peace Corps post-race reunion
We reconnected with friends we made at last year's event, and they invited us to visit their farm near Boston
We reconnected with friends we made at last year’s event, and they invited us to visit their farm near Boston!
Peace Corps picture triangle
Peace Corps picture triangle

Here’s the main page of our new travel blog, Intentional Travelers. There are already some posts up from our previous travels. Over the next year, we hope to be adding to it fairly regularly. Click on this image to check it out:

Intentional Travelers blog

Let us know what you think of the new blog in the comments below.

Life Lessons from Jamaican Sayings

Jamaican Life Lessons
Earlier this month Michelle and I had the honor and privilege of welcoming the newest group of Peace Corps volunteers (group #85; we are 83) to the island. It was a strange feeling as we were at the Peace Corps Office working on paperwork and medical stuff to prepare for the completion of our service while surrounded by excited and nervous faces beginning their adventure.

It was infectious.

I was reminded that just two years ago I was exactly like them. Everything was new. It was painfully hot. I was completely exhausted. I wanted to start doing everything. I remember meeting current volunteers and feeling in awe of how experienced and calm they were. They seemed to know everything. I had so many questions then. So many unknowns and- in true Peace Corps fashion- never enough information to satisfy my curiosity and need to know everything or to be in control. I had arrived in a strange new world.

I wish we had more time to get to know these volunteers. It felt like we knew many of them because of Facebook. Peace Corps is a great opportunity to meet new volunteers, make new friends, and fellowship in this adventure. Truly, no one really know what you are going through more than your fellow volunteers, especially those that you serve alongside in the same country.

So I wanted to give this new group some valuable lessons I’ve learned in Jamaica from Jamaicans that helped me during my time here.  These lessons I will take with me for the rest of my life. None of these things might make sense to this group now, but hopefully they will when they meet new volunteer groups that come to Jamaica, when they become the veterans, when they are preparing to go back home.

“Tek Time” & “Soon Come”

When I first got to Jamaica, I really struggled with the pace of life here. Everything was slower. I had no control. I was so used to getting to my destination when I planned to. I was used to everything else being on a predictable schedule. More importantly, being in control of my own schedule meant being in control of my life. In Jamaica, I felt so dependent upon everyone else. Dependent on an unscheduled transport system, never knowing when I would get a ride anywhere.  Dependent upon the affects of daily thunderstorms. Dependent on other people’s time tables.

In Jamaica, “Tek Time” translates to “take time” or “slow down.” Don’t rush. You may want things to Continue reading “Life Lessons from Jamaican Sayings”

Jamaica by Jamaicans

Peace Corps’s Third Goal Office is hosting a video challenge for this year’s Peace Corps Week. Being the wanna-be film-maker that I am (and being partial to the Office of Third Goal who awarded us a free trip to DC last summer!), I had to do something.

Peace Corps has three primary goals for its volunteers, and the third goal focuses on raising awareness about our countries of service among Americans. Hence, the contest to depict what you wish Americans knew about your country in two minutes or less.

My strategy was to let Jamaicans speak for themselves (not too many PC countries can capitalize on their English-speaking counterparts). I’ve collected a lot of great interview footage over the two years, so hopefully I’ll get motivated to share more of that eventually.

Continue reading “Jamaica by Jamaicans”

A Special Message in Patwa

A good friend of mine is heading off to a new adventure in her personal and professional career back in the states. I was asked to make a quick video in honor of the occasion and thought it might be a good time to showcase some of the language skills I have learned during my time here in Jamaica. Please note I don’t claim proficiency nor do I speak like this everyday, though I wish I could. A special thanks goes out to my colleagues at the community center who made this a fun staff project. They helped me translate the words and coached me through how to say everything (in particular, with the right attitude). Hope this gives you a sense of the language from a foreigner’s perspective. Check out the video below to hear what it really should sound like.

One of the most frequent things we get asked about Jamaica is the language. Let’s be clear here, the official Continue reading “A Special Message in Patwa”

Jamaican Culture: Top Posts

Some grateful senior citizens recently gave Jedd the book Jamaica Fi Real!: Beauty, Vibes and Culture as a thank you for teaching them how to use computers. And it’s a keeper. The images are great; the content is relevant; the commentary is on point.Jamaica-Fi-Real-CoverThe books is fantastic and its words resonated with our experiences of this country. For example:

It’s possibly the most contradictory country on the planet. Jamaica combines a Third World standard of living with an almost First World life expectancy. It is one of earth’s most stable democracies, yet has one of its higher homicide rates. It is reputed to have both more churches per square mile, and a higher out-of-wedlock birth rate, than any other place on the globe… (pg. XVII)

Are Jamaicans happy people? Well it’s hard to say; while few people go hungry, there are pockets of real poverty, and a fair amount of physical discomfort. Polls say about half of Jamaicans would emigrate to the US if they could, and a high crime rate is not usually the sign of a contented populace. Then there is the constant complaining, for people here are world-class grumblers. Yet Jamaicans interact with such vitality and humour, that it’s hard to conceive of them as being fundamentally miserable and disgruntled. There can’t be many places where people laugh as easily or as often, and no matter how bad things get, folks here always find reasons for outbursts of merriment. (pg. 11)

Throughout our Peace Corps service, we’ve tried our best to Continue reading “Jamaican Culture: Top Posts”

Jamaica in “Winter” Photos

The other day, a family member back home asked me if there were any flowers blooming in our yard here in Jamaica. It’s something hard to fathom, coming from the Pacific Northwest where everything is dead and gray right now, but the flowers here are always blooming. That’s one thing I love about the tropics. It never gets dreary. Here’s a glimpse of what’s growing in our yard:

jamaica flowers Continue reading “Jamaica in “Winter” Photos”

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