Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day Two - JAFSP

Boston Bay beach
Today was full. Very full. And HOT. Tracy (the other MT supervisor) and I spent several hours with Eric, running errands with him in town before heading to the three sites we'll be working at next week. He picked up the custom-made drums ordered by students made by a local man. They are amazing with wonderful tone. We then had lunch at a place called Anna Banana. I had their fried chicken which was NOTHING like fried chicken at home, and fried plantains. 
fried chicken with sauce
smoking the chicken


All good. I never knew all the ways chicken could be prepared, but it is wonderful here. Jerk chicken, particularly the jerk sauce, was created right here. It was something else following the director Eric through town. It seems like EVERYONE knows him and he has many friends here which is why he is able to keep JAFSP going strong. He did things like buy an enormous bag of rice for the infirmary before he took us through, as a gesture, and he connects with everyone very well.  The infirmary, while difficult to tour in many respects is something that I feel I was prepared for very well (from my own students' experiences in the past, as well as from Eric)... How the students will handle it? Not sure. Some of the beds were really unclean and the condition of many was not good, but they smiled SO big when we introduced ourselves. One man, (who didn't have a leg) when I asked how he was doing, shrugged and said, "Well, you know...I have a good life!" Their positive attitudes and optimism in this culture are is the poverty. Shops and stores are literally in tin shacks in many places.

Looking at jewelry for sale at beach

Students relaxing before dinner in general meeting area

steps coming back from Boston Beach (my hut is up to the left)

I found myself really looking forward to working at the infirmary. One man had a lizard crawling above his bed, while another man was covered in his food. And still, their response to us just walking in....amazing. We met vendors at the market in Port Antonio and all try to sell you something, so you just have to be direct. Some cool stuff though, made from local seeds, coconuts, and other natural resources. Also, bamboo is used a great deal. 

Outside my hut made of bamboo. Look closely and you'll see the lizard.

The homeless shelter is going to be more of a drumming class or recreational music-making and we only met the staff there. 

We went to the School of Hope and it was great. The kids ran and opened the gate for us to enter. Several children had Down Syndrome, hearing impairments, etc. as this is a school for children with special needs. They were all smiles and waves. It will be great to work there as well.

We ran songs tonight and had our first "MT meeting" and I'm still learning names. There are so many people...31 total in our group, with 16 or 17 being MT students. We also had our first drumming class. Eric said he would start assuming they knew nothing and started out completely at the beginning on how to hit the drum. Then, within 30 minutes was showing us all sorts of rhythms and teaching us songs. Quite the learning curve. I can't believe all the new information we all have to take in...from new food, music, rhythms, lyrics, words, names of people, etc. 
local plant...the colors are leaves, not flowers

This evening, after training, we went into Boston Bay (the little town we're staying in) and they had a "talent show". It was basically on a street and these two guys started it with playing/mixing dance music. Eventually, different guys went up and would do rap/reggae style songs. It was LOUD, but students danced along with the locals and so Eric, me, Tracy, and the other supervisors hung around until they all wanted to come back here. Every once in awhile, a car would come barreling down the street and the entire party had to split down the middle and let it pass, but would immediately return to the street. I did try a "Grape Nut" ice cream which was good.

Tomorrow we go to a beach near here, in our last "relaxed" day. I'm looking forward to swimming and being cooler! Sunday is the big hike. At the end of the first leg of the hike, there is apparently a gorgeous waterfall where we get to swim, then come back. This will be a big accomplishment for me if my feet and back make it out okay.
The "Errol Flynn" Marina (click here)

That's about all...there is so much I can't explain about the culture and the people here. The way of life is so laid back....and Eric was telling us that a guy told him to not stress out so much, that it was bad for his health. Meanwhile the guy didn't know how he was going to feed his kids that week....again, the optimism is awesome. Each person I met at the market in town shook hands in a different way...often they would say something with the handshake/fist bump/thumb touch sequence like "Peace, love, light... we are all one" or something along those lines. Peace, love, and light...indeed.

amazing view from one of the huts 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting Sharon! The pictures are beautiful. I imagine the pace is a bit slower than France!