Group 84 Is Sunburned

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For all our best intentions, we’re still looking a little more like a collection of freshly steamed lobsters. Never before have you seen a group so haphazardly toasted. No amount of sunscreen has protected us.

Otherwise I’d say we’re having a great time. This past week, we continued our training in Hellshire, as well as making some trips outside of town. We ventured back into Kingston a few time to visit the market, learn some cool Jamaican dance moves, and eat some delicious ice cream.

DSCN0790We also visited Port Royal. You know, like the Port Royal from Pirates of Caribbean. In case you weren’t aware, Port Royal was a real place, located right here in Jamaica. Back during the pirating heydays, it was the seventh largest natural port and known as the wickedest city in the world. But then in 1692, a terrible earthquake shook the land and sent more than 75% of the land under water. What’s left has been preserved and protected by the small town of Port Royal and the country of Jamaica.

We had a chance to tour the land, browse over some recovered artifacts, and watch a short video on Port Royal. Then it was off to Devon House for ice cream!

DSCN0836On Thursday, we went to the market. Picture Canal Street in New York, only larger, louder, and busier. People were set up on blankets and tarps in the street, selling almost anything you could think of. Shoes, clothes, handbags, hats, soap, household items, and food up the wazoo. That was probably the coolest part. You walk into the “food” section of the market and there is vendor after vendor, under a tarp for an overhang, selling coconuts, melons, beans, flour, sugar, limes, almond corn, lychees, and so much more. There were fruits I’d never even heard of!

We had one assignment that day; buy something at the market. I can’t speak for the other trainees, but I was a little overwhelmed by it all. I didn’t know what to buy, or where to turn first. I finally settled on picking up a bar of soap, since I needed one. Another trainee haggled a vendor for a coconut and managed to get a decent sized one for pretty cheap. The man used a massive knife to cut open a hole just large enough to drink from. The water inside was delicious and hydrating. She was satisfied for hours!

We also managed public transportation that day. It was part of our learning experience. We broke off into small groups and went with an LCF on the taxis, the buses and minibuses. What an experience! The roads are bumpy, and there were way too many people crammed into that tiny vehicle. I felt safe with my LCF, but I think when it comes time to do it on my own I’ll be much more nervous the first couple of times.

Anyway, we have a security test on Thursday, and we have to get 100% and we have Patois lessons all week. Friday is Good Friday, and so we get the day off (hallelujah!), and then on Sunday we move from Hellshire to our HUBs for HBT. There, I’ll be assigned to a new host family and I’ll be staying with that one for next five weeks. Group 84 will split up for the first time since our arrival. Education will be in one town; Environment will be in another.

And so the training continues.

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