So, as some of y’all know, I’m currently in Jamaica and will be volunteering with Projects Abroad, where I’ll be participating in a teaching project at the Villa Road Primary School and working with kids in Grades 1-3 (tentative).
While it was an adventure to get to Jamaica from Morocco (read previous blog post), it has been a really good (although wet) start to the journey. I got here at 4am on a Sunday and was greeted by a sleepy but absolutely lovely and heartwarming family in the mountains of Mandeville.
There are at least 6 people who live in this cute and cozy house – I say at least, because I see new faces around the dining table every day, so I’m not sure how many live here and how many visit, but it’s always fun and full of energy! The kids and I have hit it off on a great note too, which makes me very happy. As most of y’all know, kids and I have our perks when it comes to getting along with each other 😛 so I think I’ve done well 🙂
The family is super lovely, quite religious, and very entertaining. There are some cultural differences I’m noticing, but nothing too severely distinguishable from what I’m already used to.
I have also had my induction, where I was shown around town and got to know the local city centre. I’m so not confident about traveling alone, mainly because the way to get into the city centre from my mountainous home is through a taxi that crams in 4 people at the back and 1 person in the front (which isn’t as bad as the taxi service in Morocco, but it’s harder to get a cab to come to you, unless you have the cabbie’s number). But I’m sure I just need to give it a bit more time for adjustment purposes and I should be good.
The most striking thing I’ve noticed about Jamaica is how incredibly gorgeous their people are. Not just superficially, but also underneath. People here are so lovely, so friendly, so kind. I’m sure there are the other kind of people, but luckily, I haven’t met them yet 😀 Everyone here is willing to help you get around, give you directions, provide you with a lift – and all it takes is exchanging a smile and/or a “hi” to start a conversation! I’ve had a couple of days at my placement and one of those days, I was given a lift to the Projects Abroad office by a beautiful older woman, who offered to help after she saw me visibly distressed at my taxi not turning up at the school to pick me up. I feel so bad for asking “How much do you charge?”, because she said that kindness doesn’t come at a price. Bless her!
I also had the opportunity to meet some of the other volunteers who are also stationed here in Mandeville. So far, I’ve met 2 English people – one who was so hilarious, I’m actually bummed out that I met him when he was ready to leave, another who is such a sweet girl and has moved to Mandeville after being in another part of Jamaica, 2 German girls – equally hilarious and friendly, 1 Norwegian who is pretty much like me personality-wise, 1 from the US who was initially a bit intimidating but is actually a pretty down-to-Earth guy, and 1 from Canada who is so funny and is such a fun-loving 17 yo girl. We all have even been on our first outing together – going on a drive all the way to Kingston and visiting the Bob Marley museum (which, by the way, is a must-see: for all the spectacular memorabilia that has been displayed in the Legend’s former home). It was so much fun and was a great way to get to know each other.
So there you have it – my first week in Jamaica has been amazing! Placement is amazing, people here are so gorgeous (inside and out), I’ve met some awesome new volunteers who have become pretty good friends of mine here and are like my new family away from family.
I’ll be writing up a blogpost on my weekend in Negril – and oh boy! I have a lot to say ❤ ❤ ❤ Hint: it’s like a slice of heaven!