Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm back in frigid Upstate New York.

In Jamaica I would wake up and go for a walk on the beach, a swim in the sea, I'd eat breakfast on the veranda wearing shorts, sometimes sighing that it was too sunny. Too sunny?! The mangoes and papaya were cut up, the breadfruit and coconut arrayed. Pineapple, banana, sweetsop, saltfish and ackee. And now... home. Don't get me wrong, it's good to be home. But, it was pretty nice in Jamaica.

We stayed a night in Kingston, with the parents of my friend, R. Then we drove (via Mount Diablo) to this house on the North Coast. (Driving is CRRRRazy, I tell you, crazy! Hair-pin turns, left-side driving, avoiding goats, pot-holes, cliffs, being passed by trucks on blind curves, honking twice on blind turns then praying nothing hits you head-on.) Anyway, the villa is owned by my friend R's family also. It has 7 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms. It is surrounded by a wall and gates, has tennis courts, a pool, is on the sea, has night guards who stand out on the beach, and has 7 "helpers." My son B says they should be called "doers" rather than "helpers" because they were doing everything and we were doing nothing. True. 

The villa.
B running down the beach.
We went to several waterfalls that flow into the sea.
C giving me some love.
Attempting to keep my swimsuit bottoms in place. Eek!
While staying at the villa we swam and ate and snorkeled and went to several waterfalls, including Laughing waters, the private beach where Dr. No, the James Bond film was shot. It was amazing. We enjoyed great weather, hot and sunny every single day. I didn't even wear the one long sleeve shirt I packed.

There were some contemplative moments though. Some "wow, this is an 'easy country' what would it be like if we were living in a 'hard' country for two years?" moments. 
  • It was hot. It could have been hotter. But it was hot. I liked being able to jump in the sea. Living somewhere really hot, well, it would be hard.
  • We stayed in two really nice houses. But there is so much poverty. So many people living with so little. In huts, shacks, on the street. 
  • Lots of stuff is just broken or doesn't work. No explanation, no expected date or time of repair.
  • I didn't have a single green vegetable, other than the same plain lettuce salad at every dinner. Plenty of fruit. Plenty of potatoes. But not a broccoli nor green bean in sight. 
  • The helpers kept calling my friend "Miss R." And she was comfortable with that, and telling them what to do, because she grew up in Jamaica with helpers. I don't know how I'd do being the one in charge.
  • All the helpers were black. That made me uncomfortable. I'm no-doubt-about-it-white. R is mixed race. She said 85% of the country is black, wealthy black people have black helpers, race isn't such a big deal there as here. (Don't know if that's true.) But it made me uncomfortable.
  • The driving. R drove. Fearlessly. What if I had to drive?
  • The grocery store made me want to hold my nose. But I didn't. 
  • R broke easily into her Jamaican way a speaking (patois?) that was so strong sometimes I couldn't understand what she and the Jamaicans were saying. And that is English. I think. 
  • Bargaining. Dude. I know I was being taken for a ride. Nothing actually sold for the price marked. I was addressed as Boss Lady in the market. And I think we accidentally paid $700J for a bottle of soda. ($8 US). But it was a big bottle. And it was passion fruit. (Compensating.)
  • Crime and walls and gates and fences and security. How do you know who to trust?
  • Window screens. Ok, they don't have them. No glass either. Just open windows with louvers. (And metal bars, of course) The lizards inside are cute, the hermit crabs too, mosquitoes, not really.

After spending time at the beach house, we had to return to Kingston, to catch our flight out. I imagine a city is where we would be living if we were in the FS. Not somewhere lovely and beachy. Kingston is not really that nice a place. That would be something different for me, dirty city-living. People burning random things, etc.

We had a great time. The kids are tanned. C is home from school with a fever though. (I already took her to the Doc. because a little Google + fever + Jamaica +tropics + mosquitoes = worried mom. Seems like a virus though.

My husband scheduled his Oral Assessment date for his second candidacy. ...And the self torture continues...


Bfiles said...

welcome back!
looks totally glorious. You have the right kind of friends.
But I know what you mean...after contemplating this lifestyle, I think any travel makes you wonder...could I live here? Could I do this? What if it was harder than this country? At least here they speak English (I think) and have nice beaches... etc.

Consular Hopeful said...

Great pictures. Looks like it was an awesome trip!

Shannon said...

Don't confuse a great vacation local with an easy post. There is a reason that Jamaica has a 15% differential (that means it is a hardshop post) and if you read the post reports on Talesmag you will find that some people hated it, some people loved it.

I am glad you had a great time and got a way from the stress for awhile.

Oh and if that fever doesn't resolve very quickly take the kiddo into the Doc and make sure they know you were in the topics and could have been exposed to ...something. Malaria and Dengue are not something you want to be messing with. Hope C feels better soon.

I'll Take Mine... said...

Bfiles- Yes, more than once I said, "Imagine if we lived here?" But not in a positive way. Life is easy back in the US. Easy-peasy.

C.H.- Thanks, it was lots of fun.

Shannon- Trust me, I don't think living in JA would be easy. Far from it. It was easy, knowing I was leaving. I just now signed on to that TalesMag thing. Didn't know about it. Cool. I did announce to our doctor that we were in the tropics and I had been googling dengue and malaria and they looked at me like I'm a ninny, but, hey, it's my kid. And Lord knows, Google has been known to help one or two savvy ladies I "know" diagnose dilated pupils due to plant poisoning and stinky breath due to foreign body up the nose. So phooey on them. She doesn't have all those malaria or dengue symptoms though. Just a low fever and cough. But I'll keep my eye on it.

Emily said...

The beach is my ideal vacation. I am glad you guys had a good time. How wonderful to have "doers" on your trip! That would be awesome.
I know what you mean. I have been to both Montego Bay and to Kingston. Totally different experiences. I was able to see both extremes. It was rough. I stayed with someone that worked at the Embassy in Kingston, and housing is nice, but the week before I arrived, there were riots in Kingston.
There are a lot of great places to visit, but not to live. On the same hand, there are places I would love to live, but not visit. I hope that I will be able to do both.

jamieschip said...

So glad you had a good, eye-opening time. It all looks incredible. Glad you were able to get some time away.

When is your hubby heading to DC? Jake is going November 29th. He was trying to get the 18th and it disappeared right before our eyes. We have three people who couldn't even get a spot for November and now have to wait until January. Glad we don't have to wait that long! Hopefully you guys got a November spot too. Now we are checking Priceline, Hotwire, Travelocity, and Orbitz every day to try and get a good flight/hotel deal. Fun fun.

Bryan said...

Welcome back! Glad you guys had such a good time. What date for the next OA? I got Nov 19th. Starting to freak out, just a little bit.

I'll Take Mine... said...

My husband is also November 29th, along with Mr. Schip. What a coincidence! It'll be a party in there!! "You want your project funded? No problem. Take all the money you need, oh, you want me to have the money, no, you, no really, I insist."
Nov. 19 is great. Are you doing any study groups? Skype groups? Etc. Email me if you want to connect with my husband. Although I'm sure you know plenty of people to help you, being in your current job.

Destinaish Unknown said...

OMG I loved this post and how you tied it into the FS! This totally sounds like a hardship post to me, where do I sign up for a week at the villa with servants?

Bryan said...

Yes I have a group here that I will be working with. We plan on meeting at least 4-5 times. I have even managed to talk a current FSO into observing a Group Exercise. I believe all but 1 person in the group is testing in November, I guess we must've all been sitting in front of the computer right at 10am hitting "refresh" like mad :)

I'll Take Mine... said...

Bryan- My husband says, "Can I come?"
That is very awesome.

A Daring Adventure said...

Awesome blog post- gorgeous pictures- and I LOVE your honesty! All of the things that made you uncomfortable would have made me uncomfortable, as well.

Tell DH to keep on keepin' on. Because I like you, and I want to have the possibility that we'll be posted together someday!