When I returned home from Jamaica, I really was thankful to be together with my wife, family, neighbors and close friends once again. The weather was just as hot, although more arid than in Jamaica. During the daytime, my wife Kathy and I worked in our backyard garden and sat on the stone bench by the goldfish pond. Fancy goldfish and koi would appear from beneath the lilypads, expecting food flakes to be tossed upon the water. Dragonfilies often darted from plant to plant, hovering momentarily above the pond. Then, as evening descended, the cicadas began singing and fireflies appeared, blinking among the garden plants. It was peaceful, calm and safe. So different, I thought, from most of my evenings spent in Jamaica.
Sadly, given the government declared state of emergency in Jamaica during the spring and summer of 2010, we were told to head indoors by dusk. Even after the emergency was lifted, friends and neighbors told me to stay inside at night, behind locked doors and windows. Given all the tropic heat, it was not pleasant to close your metal window shutters each night. However, if you wanted to keep mosquitoes and other critters out, it was best to close and lock those metal shutters. Without screens or glass windows, it was also just too tempting for neighborhood thieves/toughs to stick poles through the window shutters and try to pull items of value toward and then out of your windows. That practice, called “fishing,” has unfortunately continued in Jamaica, especially during these economically hard times.
Now, as autumn daylight hours grow shorter in the United States and Thanksgiving celebrations are over, it is time to prepare for the Holidays. I just wanted family, neighbors and friends at home and in Jamaica and other global locales to know that I remain very thankful for your support, many kindnesses and good advice throughout 2010. Wish I could thank each of you personally for your thoughtfulness and guidance. In Jamaica, I did want to give special thanks to all my Group 81 Peace Corps fellow trainees…now seasoned volunteers (PCVs), to my Peace Corps leaders and trainers and staff members (Dan, Wes, Anika, Ann, Joan, Seleca, Shodel, Viola, and Saint), to my host families (the Williams in Hellshire Park, the Stennetts in Ewarton, and Mrs. Pamela Small and family in Montego Bay), and to the staff at the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust (especially Brian Zane, Blaise Hart, Jaswani Stewart, and Devon Grey). Special appreciation and gratitude to Samantha Bourke and her parents, Richard and Carol, for their dedication to improving and protecting Jamaican coastal areas and reefs. They have offered encouragement and true Jamaican hospitality to me and U.S. Peace Corps volunteers and PC staff members.
As our first Oklahoma snowfall is predicted for early next week, my wife Kathy and I want to wish each of you a Very Happy Holiday Season and Healthy 2011.
More news as the Holiday Season unfolds!
All the Best,