Monday, November 26, 2012

Jerk Festival

Jerk  - a style of  cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice.

Negril Jerk Festival - an annual festival on the cliffs of Negril that offers jerk seafood, chicken, pork, veggies and very loud music. After reading about the festival online - cotton candy, bouncy castles, live music - I thought this would be a super fun way for Cale and I to spend our Sunday afternoon. When we arrived, however, the only thing that was set up for kids was this bamboo swing - no bouncy castle or popcorn machine in site. I was worried that Caleb might be upset, but in true Caleb fashion, he took it all in stride. "Oh well, mom." he said "that is not a big deal. We can still have fun." And we did. 

Bamboo swing at the Jerk Festival
I'm so excited to say that Alan arrives in 2 days!! Finally our little family will be complete again. Here are a few of the many changes that Alan will notice in his not-so-little-anymore boy:

 -  Potty-trained (!!!). This was a huge accomplishment for Caleb and I, but I'm really excited to have daddy here to share tips on how to pee standing up!
 -  No more naps which has lead to much earlier and easier bedtimes
 - He is very interested in letters and words and can spell his name, and two other essential words - mom and dad. He wants to know what is written on every sign we pass.
- He had grown! It is a tight squeeze to get him into his scuba suit now!
- He has added some hilarious words to his vocabulary - interesting, amazing, frustrated, holy moly, fantastic, wonderful, awesome (sounds a bit like his mother, I know). He also has started telling people on the beach that he is in Jamaica 'doing research'!
 - He has become a bit of a prophet uses his advanced reasoning skills on his mother. When he can see that I'm beginning to feel frustrated or tired, Cale will often tell me "Mom, remember what Bob Marley says? Don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing is going to be alright". I can't stay mad after that.

Alan may not be quite as excited to realize that Caleb has been sleeping in my bed every night. We only have two bedrooms, and with the steady stream of visitors it was easiest to just let Caleb sleep with me for the past few months. I'll admit that I'm afraid of how we are going to break this habit. Another challenging sleep journey begins.

Three more days!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekend explorations

Hello, gecko.
I've had a busy work week with a presentation to the Negril Chamber of Commerce, a live radio interview that broadcast across the country and trying to stay on top of a few Nova Scotia-based projects that I'm still working on. Needless to say, I was very happy when the weekend arrived.

We have a new visitor this week - Patricia, another member of Alan's family who took me up on my offer to visit us in Negril. It has been great having both Patricia and Teresa here to watch Caleb, and they are both always up for adventures, so we decided to spend today touring the mountainside and checking out some attractions that Cale and I haven't had a chance to see yet.

Our first stop was YS Falls, a really lush and beautiful area in St. Elizabeth with a 7-tiered waterfall and mineral pool. We then drove across a mountain range and through an intense rain shower to visit the Appleton Rum factory where we were greeted with umbrellas and a complimentary rum punch. On our drive home we passed through 'Bamboo Avenue', a 3 km stretch of road lined with an archway of bamboo trees. We made it home and went for a dip in the ocean just in time to catch the end of a perfect sunset. Truly a memorable day.

One of the many tiers of the YS Falls 
Mineral pool relaxation. They say it takes 10 years off of your age - good news for me, but for Cale, not so much!

Need I say more??
And I have some amazing news to share - my best friend, Lydia, gave birth to her baby boy (Kai Alexander Fudge) on November 14th. I'm so incredibly happy for Lyd and Nick and feel like Caleb's bff has finally been born (that is a completely realistic wish, right?). I have already sent home a Bob Marley shirt for Kai that matches Caleb's and have been dreaming of their first photo shoot together ever since!

Friday, November 9, 2012

C is for celebration

To celebrate two months of living in Jamaica, and the halfway point of our adventure, I took Caleb out on a date. It was just the two of us, so we dressed up and headed to a restaurant down the beach. We 'chatted', laughed, built lego rocketships and ate delicious veggie pizza. Walking home, he greeted all his beach friends and told them all about his 'pizza party' with mom.

Today was an exciting Friday. Teresa, Alan's aunt, has arrived and she spent the day with Caleb while I headed out to the beautiful community of Bluefields. I was invited to attend the official launch of the Bluefields Fish Sanctuary, a marine protected area supported by the community. Jamaica has fish sanctuaries in different 14 villages that will all be receiving international funding to increase monitoring, enforcement and education initiatives. The celebration consisted of balloons, boat rides and speeches (including one by the British High Commissioner), and a delicious lunch of lion fish, rice and peas and festivals (fried donuts).

The mountains melt into the sea in Bluefields
I was excited to get home because we had another party to attend - the birthday party of a good friend we have met on the beach. Caleb was very, very excited about the party. He had already had a birthday card made and he couldn't wait to present it to his friend. I must say that Caleb has become a bit a legend on the beach. He is really happy to see his buddies everyday. He greets them with a 'respect' (fist pump) and tells them all about his day. They are amazed at how well adjusted he is and I think I can say that Caleb has officially adapted to Jamaican life.

Teresa, Alan's aunt, is now here, and without much time to adjust, she was thrown right into a rasta beach birthday party! We headed over to the abandoned hotel that Michael, the birthday boy, and his friends have made their home. We were greeted by incredibly enthusiastic welcomes and overflowing plates of jerk chicken and rice and peas. It was a ton of fun and made for a wonderful and very memorable Friday.

Caleb celebrates with the birthday boy

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Learning to chat Jamaican

Locals on the beach were not happy this week - we were hit by a cold front. This was completely unknown to us, however, since the temperature only dropped to 24 degrees. But sure enough, people were dressed in coats and hats and a few even tried to convince us to buy them some rum because 'they were sooo cold!'.

Grampie and Caleb, barely surviving the cold

We've been having a great time with Grammie and Grampie and will be sad to see hem go tomorrow. We've had lots of adventures including almost getting stranded in the mountains when our taxi nearly broke down, spending an afternoon in the sun at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, beach mapping in Montego Bay...but I think the most memorable part of the past two weeks has been watching the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Each day has brought about new changes to the beach. As a coastal researcher, it has been fascinating for me to witness and document all that has taken place. I'm now working to provide good information to the hotel owners on the best ways to manage the changes on the beach, like how to deal with the mountains of seagrass that have recently washed up on the shore.

Wastin away again in Margaritaville

Another exciting development is that Grammie is quickly becoming fluent in Jamaican! After reading my 'Chat Jamaican' book she can almost decipher the local dialect when talking to locals or reading the Jamaican Gleaner. The 'Chat Jamaican' book is really quite amazing. Here are a few of the different situations described in the book where you may need to use an authentic jamaican phrase - although I admit I haven't found myself in many of these situations so far! Obviously I need to stay in Jamaica a bit longer.

Days of the week: Monday - Mondey, Tuesday - Choosdey
Dining: Give me a little more rice- Gi mi a lilly mow rice
Visiting the family: Where is my grandfather: Weh grampa?
A mother and her pregnant daughter: You are catching man: Yuh a ketch man

A few sections only have cartoon depictions, such as: A farmer on his donkey, a lady cutting sugar cane, A peasant running for his life and When a man's woman is giving him a hard time (yikes).