Monday, January 4
Day #3 of the 2010 Jamaica Medical Mission Trip
It's time to buck up and get to work - that's the "mission" in the "Mission Trip", after all. Today, the doctors, nurses, and pharmacists head over to the Medical Clinic in Falmouth to begin seeing patients. Because the clinic is small - there is not room for all 26 of us to work there every day. It's just too tiny. So, some of us opt to run errands today.
Falmouth is relatively safe - but to insure that safety, we have "guides" that escort us everywhere we go. Our guides are a great group: we have Dalton, John and George. These young men earn $25 per day to shepherd us around town. And that's no small task. There's 26 of us. It's equivalent to herding cats. Try it some time.
We begin walking around 8:00 a.m. that morning - for the remainder of the day, I estimate we walked about 5-6 miles. We walk to the center of town where we observe the "Mayor's Christmas Tree" of Falmouth, Jamaica.
We visit the Fish Market down by the ocean to see if we can snag some fresh fish for dinner. Unfortunately, a cold front has moved in (I know - laugh if you want....a "cold front in Jamaica" brings the temperatures to a chilly 72 degrees. Freezing, huh?!) and the fishermen were unable to go out in their boats this morning for fish. I do find a few fish who want their picture taken with the Drama Queen - and I happily oblige. It appears I have fans (or fins - groan) everywhere.
We head to the Library so we can make copies of some medical documents we've brought. We need 400 copies - front and back sided. They give us a quote of $800 Jamaican dollars. (The exchange is 85J to 1 US). We happily agree and the transaction is done - although it takes about 90 minutes, because the Library doesn't exactly have the fastest copy machine in town, and 200 (front/back) copies takes a long, long time. We browse the book titles and relax while waiting. No problem, mon.
We head to a local preschool - just in time for "opening ceremonies" for the new semester. The principal invites us to watch, as the children recite the Lord's Prayer and sing the Jamaican National Anthem.
The children "sing" a prayer, and I very discreetly pull out my camera and try to take some video without being detected. I figured the principal wouldn't be too happy if I disrupted opening ceremonies by blatantly videotaping the children - so I apologize for the poor quality of the video - I wanted to be invisible. What's a hoot in this video is the young girl who is so into her praying - watch her face. Priceless.
We are invited in to observe the children in the classrooms - what a treat!
We then walked to the harbor and watched the construction of the new shipping terminal. Plans are for the world's largest cruise ship to be able to dock here - and construction has been going on for quite awhile. I have to wonder if the sleepy little town of Falmouth, Jamaica can handle 5,000+ people walking the streets and hailing taxis. It just doesn't seem possible that it's infrastructure can accommodate the needs of the tourists as well as the residents.
We leave here and head to the Post Office so we can mail some post cards. And it is here that an interesting development occurs. The Copy Clerk from the Library comes in - sees us - and comes rushing over.
It appears he has been searching all over town for us. He's desperate. He's amazed that he found us. So am I.
He made a mistake. And he's very sorry about it. But - apparently, we were misquoted the price for the copies we had made earlier at the Library. And he has come to track us down and get this resolved.
The $800 Jamaican dollars was the wrong price for the 200 copies we had made. Oh, no. The correct price is....drum roll, please.....$4,000 Jamaican dollars.
WTH??!! We all about fall over. Right there in the Post Office. Are you kidding me? $4,000 for copies??!! (Keep in mind, we already have paid the $800J and have the copies in hand.) We argue a bit and tell him his price is ridiculous, and if he won't lower it - we'll just give the copies back. He won't lower it. So, we give the copies back.
And we walk on.
We eventually get over our indignation and realize we really do need those copies for the patients that will be seen. And so - we walk back to the Library and offer $2,000J. A compromise, so to speak.....and the Copy Clerk - rather reluctantly - agrees. Whew.
With copies back in hand, it's time to head back and call it a day. Walking and bartering and kissing fish is hard work.
After I made brownies, though. It IS Monday, after all. And the Drama Queen ALWAYS makes brownies on Monday. It doesn't matter where she is in the world - a tradition is a tradition.
And she licked the bowl. Again - tradition is tradition.