Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Traffic and Falmouth

Last night after everything Saundra, a girl from Switzerland who just finished her dts and outreach, decided to stay in the country for a week and travel. Well none of her other team members decided to stay so she has been all alone. Thus far she hasn't really gotten to do any traveling and tomorrow is her birthday so she really wanted to go visit somewhere. So she looked in her traveler's guide book and decided that she wanted to go to Falmouth... Everyone asked, "Why Falmouth?" But we didn't REALLY discover why they would all ask that until we got there. Needless to say she talked me into going and a girl on staff named Melanie would also accompany us. I just wasn't thrilled at this idea. The part of me that likes to just do the same thing everyday didn't really want to go anywhere. The part of me that is young-American didn't want to go see anything historical. I didn't want to ride with strangers, really I could have just been FINE sticking around the base and laying out at the pool all day. The reason I was finally talked into it is because they said the word BEACH. They figured we would go to Falmouth look around at the neat historical things for an hour and then go to Doctor's Cave and enjoy the beach for the afternoon. So I figured I could handle the boring to make it to the beach. We had grand plans of leaving at 9 AM which would accomplish my goal for the first day of lent of giving up sleeping in too late.

Well the bad thing is that I couldn't sleep again last night. I tried and tried to fall asleep and I think it was about 2 or 2:30 before I finally crashed. Then for reasons unbeknownst to me I woke up at 6:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. I think I must've been cold and buried myself beneath the covers for the first time and then got hot because I woke up soaking wet with sweat. I was so irritated. First the sleepless nights that haven't disappeared since arriving to Jamaica and then night sweats. 

So I got up and got ready to leave, had a bowl of Cheerios and we were off on our adventure. We walked to the end of the drive and took a taxi into a very sketchy part of the city. I began to get nervous and afraid again. I had my initial leaving anxiety last night after I had committed to going but then it seemed to subside as I began getting frustrated about other not sleeping...

The city scared me. The Swiss girl kept doing things that the girl on staff kept pulling her away from and reprimanding her because it was a bad idea. She kept trying to get us into money exchange places but none of them were open because Ash Wednesday is a holiday in Jamaica. So she kept leading us around all the scary streets, the men kept asking us if we wanted a taxi, "Where you want to go?" and we weren't supposed to answer them. If I even shook my head or looked up or smiled when they said hello they would swarm us and I would get so overwhelmed and freaked out and afraid that we might be killed. If I had known the people I was with it would have been one of those situations where I just grab onto their hands and just get pulled along.

Different people we asked questions of pointed us in different directions. We got into a bus station and this man got ALL upset with us telling us that it was "very dangerous" and that he was not going to rob us but that it was not safe for us to stand there not knowing where we were going to go. When we were trying to decide what we should do and Melanie was trying to explain to Saundra why she shouldn't do what she was doing and trying to correct the mistakes she had already made...and as we weren't talking to him or looking at him...he started yelling at us, which made me want to cry, and he kept telling us that it wasn't like America here, that we didn't have "Uncle Sam looking out fa you. No troops, no cameras here watching..." and he talked about all of our daddys and their money. I was so ready to get into ANY vehicle to get away from him. 

The ride was great when we finally got going. I loved looking along the coast as we drove, literally on the edge of the land. It's kind of like that on the Pacific coast highway but here you are at sea level, not on a high cliff. If you stepped off the road you'd actually be in the ocean on most parts of the road. On the other side of the road was mountains and all kinds of houses and shacks were built into the sides of the hills. They were obviously places of poverty because they were built in close quarters to each other and made from any materials they could find. Fences were made of  pieces of tin roofing material and there were clotheslines. Everything reminded me of Venezuela and Costa Rica this morning from the CRAZY traffic and city streets to the landscapes, and it made my heart ache. I missed having a team, I missed my friends.

We arrived at Falmouth and saw just about all I cared to see in about 10 minutes. It looked like any old third world country village. There were little shacks on the side of the road, fresh pineapples and coconuts and bananas, men riding bikes, some random cars parked places...some random cars LAYING on their horns as the careened toward us as we crossed the streets. The streets were paved, but they are mostly packed dirt and crumbling rocks. Some of the buildings were original and very old...but honestly, they didn't look much different than any other historical building I've ever seen... I was bored. I took a few pictures and I promise I will post some...but about the only thing that I saw that I really liked and was amazed by was a HUGE window like the ones I like to paint. I would've really liked a window that big. It wouldn't have even fit in my house.

As a result from my 4 ish hours of sleep I got worn out really fast. As a result of my being bored and hungry I was ready to leave very quickly. We had another VERY rough encounter with transportation men and finally got in a taxi and headed home. Yes, home, not to the beach. After all of that, we weren't even going to the beach--AND we had missed lunch at the base.

I was very irritable. I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, had a granola bar and an apple and parked myself at the pool with a book that I hoped to prove mindless reading perfect FOR an afternoon at the pool. 


  1. Wow...sounds terrifying!!!
    I wouldn't step foot outside the resort when we went!!!

  2. WOW...another adventure!Wish I could be with you!Glad you got to the base unharmed! Keep writing these great stories!