Thursday, June 25, 2009

Well Fit

Some people have been asking me about my running.
The first month or two my running was very inconsistent due to all my traveling and stuff.
Since then I've finally settled in to my house and life I have started training again. I'm actually training for a marathon in Negril in December. Running on the hills out here is extremely difficult. Any direction I run there is a mountain to go over. It was very rough the first couple of weeks. Every run was a hard workout that left me exhausted and hurting the next day. I decided to treat the first couple weeks as a strength training period so I could get strong and train well on the hills. I would run hard then take the next day off and just lift. (I found a weight set here)
The strength training seemed to work and I can run every day now. The only problem is that I have to wake up so early to beat the heat. I wake up a 5, get some coffee, then head out for a run and am done before 7. It's good to be finally getting into shape again, and I hope I can keep it up.

There have been some other unintended consequences to my running. I am the only white person up here. I am also the only person who actually runs. Put those two things together and it's a recipe for a lot of attention. It was strange the first week or so because people would just stare or stop me to ask what I was doing. In the end though it's been an awesome tool to get to know people. I always wave and say good morning to everyone (a huge cultural thing) so people have come to like me and are excited when I run by. It's easy now to just go up and talk to anyone in my community because they know my face and trust me. When I don't go out and run people ask me where I was. It's been great. Now every morning I get to hear:
"White man well fit!"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What Kind of Things do I do Here

I get asked that question a lot. Most times I just hang out and meet people/read and be bored. But, sometimes cool things happen. Here are a couple of cool things that have happened in the last two weeks.


My church in Cincinnati has a twinning relationship with a Catholic church here in Jamaica. That church is helping to build new parishes around the island and especially in my area. They recently helped to build a new church in a community named Grange Hill. I went to the church dedication to meet new people, make some contacts, and see some people that had traveled from Cincinnati. It was a really nice time because I was treated like a guest of honor. That's one perk to being a white guy in rural Jamaica. Everyone assumes you're important (they also assume you have lots of money (not true)). It turned out to be a really good time and I met some cool people that I can work with in the future.


Another part of my job is health education, so I went to a grade school last Thursday to give a presentation on personal hygiene and sanitation. To the smaller kids I talked about things like hand washing and picking up trash. For the older kids we talked about how diseases travel through the environment. For expample: If you do do by the river (happens here) someone, maybe you, will drink that water and get sick. The kids here are very receptive to what you have to say and it's usually entertaining. (see the Pics)


We had a health fair in my community. Health fairs involve a lot of people coming from a community to to receive routine services such as blood sugar testing, pap smears, aids tests, etc... This one was especially large because a group of American doctors and nurses came to put on the health fair. This meant that over 150 people got to see a doctor and receive medication from the free pharmacy they had. (health care here is technically free but it doesn't always work right). I really enjoy helping out at health fairs because it gives you a chance to talk to people about problems they have going on in their community, and give them some education, and clear up health misconceptions they have. I could write a whole book on health superstitions people have here.

So those are a couple things that are a fairly routine part of my job. Right now I'm working with a local resort to help them with some problems they are having as it relates to water treatment. Their wastewater treatment plant is not working right and they are having problems with their pool management. I'm trying to figure out exactly whats going on, and for the next couple months I'll probably be doing some kind of training with them.

Take Care

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Birthday

So this is how we party in Jamaica. We kill a chicken, go on a hike, then eat the chicken. This may have been my favorite birthday ever.
I know it's been a while since my last post but I've been busy. Last week I went to Kingston and was sworn in as an official volunteer. We went to the US embassy and got sworn in by the Ambassador. Now that everything is official I'm pretty much on my own. This is both good and bad. My job at the Health Dept is keeping me busy for now but I want to start working on some projects in my community. It's been a challenge (in a good way) to meet everyone in my community, and an even bigger challenge that I'm the only white guy there. Everyone knows who I am, where I go everyday, and what I say. It's a little strange living in a fishbowl because you have to be on your guard every minute of the day.

I have internet access now at my office so I'll try to update my blog weekly.
Take Care

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pictures of My House

Heres some pictures of where I live. I get to wake up everymorning and enjoy the beautiful mountain view. The rains have just started so the hills are even more green than in these pics. Everymorning I go for a run up one of the hills and enjoy the view. From the highest points you can see both the north and south oceans. It's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Random Stuff

I'm back in Askenish. It's so nice to be back in the hills where it's nice and cool. After training all last week I was looking forward to living in my little community and figuring out what I'm going to do here for the next two years. I'll be busy this week with some meetings and on Thurday we'll be having a health fair at the Health Dept. I'm also going to be going out and doing some water sampling. The most exciting thing that's happened this week is that I met with the Social Development Commision. They are an organization that works with communities to help them meet their needs. (confusing) Basically they help communities form community groups to organize and get the things they need. I'll hopefully be working with them in Askenish.
Sorry for the rambling short post but my time on the internet is about up.
Take care and call me sometime.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Job (Dedicated to Gavin and His Mom)

I'm not exactly sure what I'll be doing for my job here. Thats a good thing though. It just means I'll have opportunities to do lots of different things. My main project will be working to improve rural water supplies in my Parish. The Parish of Hanover is in the very northwest corner of Jamaica. It is considerered remote because it takes about 5-6 hours to get to Kingston. Most people have either jobs in farming, service, or tourism. The city of Lucea is the capital and the tourist city of Negril is also in the parish. The coast is beautiful and the intreior mountains are even more beautiful. The mountains are filled with a lot of small rural communities that don't have access to piped water. They get their water from springs or rainwater. My job will be to improve these water supplies and make them safe to drink. Right now a lot of people still carry their water from springs and rivers. I actually don't always have water available so it makes bathing and going to the bathroom interesting.

Hope that gives you a little bit of insight into what I'm doing here.

PS Check out Gavin Finnegan's blog. He's one of my friends and it's pretty interesting

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm Alive

Sorry I haven't been updating. I don't have internet readily available. These past couple weeks I've moved out to my site. It's a town called Askenish in the Parish of Hanover. I live on the side of a mountain in a very rural community. It's so pretty and I love hanging out there. I will be working throughout the Parish to solve some of the water problems they have. We can talk about that more later, but for now I'm just hanging out and getting to know the people in my community. I've also been traveling around a bit to see the country. Traveling is an adventure in itself. To get into town I have to ride about 10 miles down the hill in a "taxi". The term taxi is used loosely and usually there is no taxi and I end up riding in the back of a truck with some goats. It's awesome.
I love living in the bush and I'll post some pictures soon. "Soon Come" is the Jamaican saying for that.