Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Strings and Tings

It has been a very busy few weeks in Jamaica since I returned from Washington, DC. Work and meetings at the National Volunteer Centre are ramping up after the summer doldrums; Canadian Women's Club is back in gear with busy plans for the fall; and there seems to be a plethora of volunteer get togethers and social events.

Highlights were a volunteer pot-luck, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (strings), and the toughest Hash.  

Previous weekend we went to the quarter finals for the football World Cup (2014) regional selection, Jamaica vs USA.  It was a wild night of vuvuzelas - yes I had my own! - and waving of Jamaica flags.  And we won!!! First time ever Jamaica has beaten the USA. 'Twas a night to remember. 

On Friday evening we had our second volunteer pot-luck, hosted by Brianna at her and Ivy's apartment as farewell to Ivy who left on September 18.  It was a Jamaican food theme and everyone brought their best.  Delicious.  I brought a callaloo and pumpkin quiche. A delightful evening of friends, food, and laughter.  We miss you already, Ivy!

Saturday evening at the Royal Philharmonic - their first ever trip to the Caribbean! - was magical.  It was held in the newly renovated Holy Trinity Cathedral: while the setting was equally magical, it was incredibly hot.  It was a full house (about 1,000) with no fans and no AC.  And we were all in our orchestral finery: luckily for the females this meant strapless dresses; unfortunately for the males this meant suits and ties.  Jamaica's finest were there with prime minister, governor general, etc. I think the male:female population ratio in Kingston dropped significantly on Saturday night.

Sunday was another hash, this time about 15 km inland from Annotto Bay travelling over the famed Junction road. All about two hours from Kingston and on the edges of the Blue & John Crow Mountains. I was driver again and happy to be so. It was at River Edge, a beautiful hostel and campground nested in the foothills.  A number of hashers and hangers-on chose to stay and cool in the pools, enjoying short walks around the property.  Wise people!!!  Included were Kate and Onyka who wanted to discuss a project; and Brianna and Dad who chose discretion as the better part of valour. All of these decisions after the  Hashmaster, Owen, declared that the first half of the hash was in a river, that falling in with your camera and cell phone was a probability, that we had to 'climb' to get out of the river  . . .  A number of hashers turned back after the first 10 minutes of horror.

Of course, I have no pictures. Left camera with smarter people than me. I spent the next 35 minutes struggling up a river while my four friends and car-mates were lolly-gagging in the shade: usually up to my hips; climbing boulders; sinking into sand over my ankles (while wearing hiking boots); climbing waterfalls; traversing rapids. Only to come out of it all and climb straight up to a trail - and I do mean 'climb'.  The other 45 minutes were the usual, delightful hashing along trails, false trails, crawling through barbed-wire fences, dodging goats and wayward cows, wending our way back down steep embankment, a final 10 minute river slog, and home to a well deserved beer and Ting!  It took me about 10 minutes to untie and get my hiking boots off: I was so tired and my legs and arms were literally shaking. Thankfully I had my new Tevas and dry clothes to change into.

The beer and Ting are combined: my Jamaican version of an English shandy.  Can't drink my beer straight.  What can I say?

A highlight for the whole weekend was that Brianna's dad, Bob, was visiting for four days.  He lives in Las Vegas.  I never knew that people actually live in Las Vegas, but apparently they do and they are very nice. I am learning a lot in Jamaica.

Thank you to Kate for most of these pictures. I did not take my camera to the Royal Philharmonic (purse too small) and too dangerous to take on hash, and too tired after hash to even think about pictures. 

Speaking of pictures . . . 

 This is a picture of hash of September 2 - didn't get that one blogged, but like this picture of the mists rolling through the hills near Guava Ridge.  It rained for most of the hash, so few other pictures.

Our tickets to a very special event in Jamaica.

These fans were lifesavers for the audience and the orchestra. The conductor asked if we could possibly at least fan in sync with the music.

Holy Trinity Cathedral 

Bob, Brianna and I outside the cathedral (excuse my ridiculous windblown hair!)

The fabulous frescoes and mosaics on the ceiling of the beautifully restored cathedral.

Kate and I waiting for the concert to start.

Waiting for the hash to begin at River Edge, where there were cool pools to splash in.

Brianna and her Dad enjoying walks around the property at River Edge

Stream - not the river! - at River Edge

The beginning of the hash. Yes, that is the beginning of the trail.

View to the hills where we ended up.

Doesn't matter where you are in Jamaica, there is always a laundry line.

Harvesting coconuts so they wouldn't fall from the trees onto our cars!

Usain Bolt's "Tracks & Records", where we stopped for a very good dinner on the way back into Kingston. Great food, cool decor, and reasonable prices. I am definitely going back for more jerk chicken spring rolls. Thank you, Bob!

Brianna, looking like a giggly 15 year old, and Kate, all googly-eyed at they meet the famous Usain Bolt.  They were buying groceries in MegaMart and apparently he shops there too - but doesn't have to wait in line.  He was very gracious and stopped for autographs and photographs.  Fortunately, Brianna had her camera in her pack.  And where was I? At the office working - drat!

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