Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 8 - JAFSP (The Infirmary and Coconut Hike)

Love this plant...hard to believe it grows here.

View from Tracy W's hut

Some huts peeking out
So today was my last day at the infirmary and it was a little chaotic, because the day was shortened due to a scheduling issue. However, I was very happy to see everyone again, and see their smiles. One man sang a song and wiped tears from his eyes...another wanted me to take his picture with one of the students. I said, "Are you sure?" He said, "Yea mon, SURE, why not?". Lots of people were sleeping in various rooms. I suspect that our presence every day, while welcomed, is wearing them out a bit.
Picture taken as requested by such a fun gentleman

On the porch

We ate lunch at Anna Banana and learned that while you order from the menu, make sure to ask if the prices listed are actually still being used. We found out the hard way and the students (and I) ended up paying more for lunch than expected. I will add, though, that I had the best smoothie in a long time there, which is like gold when you're tired and hot.

After we were picked up from the infirmary, we got ready for the "optional" hike. I wondered, about 1/4 of the way up the steepest (and most narrow) path I have likely walked, why did I decide to do this again?! It was some of the most lush jungle we had seen: one minute we were in town, the next, we're hiking up, up, up. For about a mile, I believe Eric said. If not, it took us about 30-35 minutes to get up to the top. And there was not really any "down" other than one small part where it was more leveled out. We have learned that when Eric says "take a little walk", put on your hiking shoes, your bug spray, sunscreen, and pray. Or maybe that is just me!

When we got to the top (and I seriously wasn't sure if I'd make it, but I did!), we saw the Coconut Farm they had talked about. It wasn't like a farm in our country. The trees were not lined up was pure jungle with the tallest coconut trees. Through the trees, far down below we could see the ocean. The locals took enormous bamboo sticks with a special attachment to cut the coconuts. One of them shimmied up a coconut tree like it was nothing to help knock some down. They cut the tops off and left a small hole for us to drink the coconut water from, which was an adventure. It made the straw we had the night before seem like a real luxury. Then some of them started a few small fires around (not sure why) and the ash fell all around us. One of them said, "Snow!", jokingly. It was truly a wild experience. The walk down was much easier, except in one spot, which was so steep we had to walk sideways to keep from falling. I also tended to trip over vines across the path, but made it to the bottom without needing my inhaler the whole time. I think I have hiked somewhere in the ballpark of 8-9 miles this week. That doesn't include just the general walking and climbing, intensive hand drumming (if you haven't done this, then you won't understand), and so much more. I told Eric that this is like "Outward Bound for Musicians".
courtesy of Mandy Koch (end of the hike!)

The evening ended with us watching "Life and Debt", a documentary describing how Jamaica is in such dire economic circumstances. This impacted everyone greatly, especially after having lived among the locals in their rural environment, not staying at a resort. We had a discussion and the students were very moved by it.

Tomorrow is our last day of work in the centers, and my final day will be at the School of Hope with the children. It is hard to believe that our trip is beginning to come to an end. On one hand it seems that I have been here for months, while at other times it feels we just arrived. It has been so wonderful to get to know so many new people, and good students. The future of music education and music therapy professionals are in good hands, if these students are any indication!

At the end of a long day...and a Coconut Farm Hike

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