Friday afternoon we went on to the Liberty Hall in downtown and learned of the work of Marcus Garvey, Jamaican National Hero. Also had a quick tour, via van and Mr. Mason, of downtown and the markets. It was very busy as everyone was setting up for the Friday night and Saturday markets. We finished the tour at Devon House on Waterloo Road, which is a few steps from my soon-to-be abode.
Friday evening, we newbies were hosted by current volunteers at Kim and Helen's place in Abbey Court. Very nice and great to get to know my new colleagues. I am very fortunate to have George and Carol working almost across the street from me and can either travel with them and/or get together some lunch times. They work at the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF). George is from Ontario and Carol is from Victoria - and they are both on the "elder" end of the scale just like me!
All is very well here and finished my week of in-country orientation. Now am off until I start work on September 5, staying at Liguanea Club until end of the week and move to my new place on September 2. Met with my landlord this morning, Miss Sterling, who is very nice and owns a number of apartments around New Kingston and has often leased to CUSO-VSO volunteers. She says we make great tenants because we are long term leases and we take exceptional care of the places - so she gives us a good deal. Anyway, my bedroom and bathroom will be a pale, sunshine yellow and the kitchen/living room will be a very pale blue. It is all kind of a peachy colour now and a bit dull, so this will lighten and brighten things up.
Fortunately, the internet and cable is already set up in my landlord's name and I just take over the payments, so I will have access right from the day I move in. This may not sound like a big deal to you in Canada, but it sure is here and I am so thankful! Everything here requires a long line and then you receive the service on Jamaica time - I could otherwise quite easily be waiting weeks or months for internet or cable. For instance, I went to buy my transit "seniors smart card" this morning, only to discover that they have been out of stock for 4 months though are thinking they might have some by the end of September. I still only pay $20 J each trip, but will have to show my ID each time to prove age. They don't seem to believe that I am over 60 :-)
I walked to Half Way Tree (HWT) - the transportation centre and shopping hub for uptown area - and checked out where everything is and explored the prices: Brooklyns - supermarket; True Value Hardware - which is huge and like Home Depot; Woolworths - where you can get anything at a good price; pharmacy, bank, etc. The bank is open Mon-Thurs 8:30 am - 2 pm, until 4 pm on Fridays, closed on Saturdays. Other than taking time off from work, I have not idea how one is supposed to go the the bank! Fortunately, I will be able to go this week and set up my account - I had to wait until I had a signed lease to prove residency. I also have my reference letters from HSBC. Then walked back - about 2.5 km each way.
Our new friend, Michael, who joined us as we walked through Trenchtown. He was particularly attached to Julia (Erin on the left).
Liguanea Club is very nice, but really looking forward to getting settled in my own place. Will send pics when I am.