Monday, January 12, 2009

Jackfruit & Bamboo Poles

Events of Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Location: Jamaica

Did not sleep all night. Seriously. No sleep. At all. Even with 50 mg of Benadryl in my system. What's with that??!!

Since my construction project is done, I'm back to assisting the cook. We will walk to the vegetable market today to find the fixin's for tonight's dinner. The market reminds me very much of the market in Guatemala - lots and lots of people, lots and lots of food, and lots and lots of confusion. Mass confusion. We stop at various stalls to bargain and dicker for the best price.

After veggies, it's time to get the meat. We walk down to the ocean's edge to the fish market. I am sensitive to odors, and the smell of fresh, dead fish about knocks me over. And the sight of the fish - all around - is enough for me to swear off fish forever. We are searching for lobster - but no luck. No one has fresh lobster this morning. A local diver offers to go dive for lobster that day - he tells us to come back at 2:00 p.m. to see if he's successful. We then walk to the baker's to pick up Coco Bread - yummo. It is different to have to walk to several different places - rather than just walking into one giant supermarket to get it all. I enjoy learning all aspects of this culture.

For lunch today, we have jackfruit. I think it tastes similar to a cross between a pineapple and a banana. It's a little rubbery, but I like it.

After lunch, we close the clinic for the last time and then head to do a raft trip on the Martha Brae River. This is a 3-mile, guided raft ride on a raft constructed of bamboo. There's 2 people per raft, along with your guide. We had David, a character who loved to tell stories and show us all of the natural beauty around us. We would pull the raft up to the shore and sniff allspice, or look at ackee, or touch a "sensitive" plant, which folds up in itself when touched. The ride lasted about 90 minutes - very relaxing, very nice to end our last day in Jamaica.

I even get a chance to "drive" the raft with the bamboo pole.

All good things come to an end, and unfortunately, Saturday night was spent packing. (By the way - we didn't get fresh lobster - but our diving friend happened to have some frozen lobster - good enough. We put it in a bisque.) Packing to go back home is always hard. I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I miss my family and my pets and my house and the comforts of home. On the other hand, I love the sunshine of Jamaica, and I have met some amazing people on this trip. I enjoyed getting to know our guides, John and George, who took such good care of us. I enjoyed talking with Miss Ruth, our fabulous cook, who introduced us to many different foods. I enjoyed Fernando, our driver, who regaled us with history and stories as he drove us around the island.

I liked the local "craftsmen", Roy & Dandy, who would try to get us to buy their "handcarved" items each day. We had Patrick, the ice-cream man, who rode around on a bike, with a cooler on his handlebars, and tooted his horn to attract our attention. We had Moses, an older gentleman, who would come to the dorm every morning to tell us that he had watched over us the night before to give us good blessings. We had Miss Patsy, who works with the children of the ghetto of Jamaica, who gave me a gift of Jamaican-colored flip flops on my last day. And, of course, I had Ms. Dimple & Pastry, who kept me entertained all week and showered me with love and hugs and kisses. It's always hard to say good-bye on these trips, not knowing if you'll see the people again.

Upon reflection, the trip was a good one. I learned many things about a culture I didn't know much about before. I saw aspects of it that the average "cruise ship tourist" doesn't see - the good, the bad, and the ugly. I tasted many new dishes; I saw many new sights; and I learned how to do new things. I enjoyed getting to know the 18 other people on this trip - some from my own church family, and some of the medical people. We shared many laughs and stories along the way.

Mission trips are a funny thing - you always go out with the intention of helping and serving others - and yet you come away with the feeling of being helped, and of being served. You come back with a HUGE appreciation of your own blessings - and a deeper appreciation of this beautiful world that God has created, and all of the beautiful people he has put in it. Mission trips can be life changing in so many ways.

Be sure to do YOUR part today to save the world - one action at a time, one day at a time. Sign up for a mission trip and see how YOUR life changes.


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