Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Starting to Experience Jamaican Life

The Larsens invited us to go to the Kingston Branch with them for the Friday night social.  They asked if we wanted to meet them there of if we wanted to go with them.  We chose the latter.  They have been great about taking us to various places including the Kingston chapel and letting us enter it into the GPS.  But we did not feel confident about driving in the dark in a little rougher part of town.  It was a good decision—on Friday and Saturday nights the streets are very busy in the neighborhoods.  The traffic is only two lane and very congested and there are lots more pedestrians.  We drove to their apartment and rode with them.  We fought our way to the chapel only to discover they still did not have power so the activity was canceled and no one called the Larsens to let them know—the second time this has happened.  So we fought the traffic back to their apartment and ate the cake she had prepared for the activity.  She also sent some home with us which we enjoyed for a couple days.

On Saturday I took Bob down to the church to meet Elder Larsen so he could join him on a service project clearing trees off people’s roofs.  We arrived a couple minutes before 10—the appointed time and no one was there.  When we called Sister Larsen she said he had left some time ago.  Any way we ended up waiting for over an hour because apparently he had gone to get the chain saw and someone was using it and then it needed gas and then he had to help someone else.  So Bob and I visited with some young elders who came to help and then Bob started helping the people who were cleaning the church and grounds. I decided that was a good thing to do too so I started helping clean up.  Finally Elder Larsen and Pres Singh the Branch Pres, showed up and Bob and the elders took off with them and I went home.  I was tempted to go to Mega Mart but decided it probably was not a good thing to do on my own—besides Bob has all the money.  (Any time you go to a store or shopping center or just about anywhere, you have to stop at a gate—a large bar across the road which is lifted by the guard—and receive a ticket.  When you exit you hand the ticket back to the exit guard who lifts the gate.)  Interesting system which I have not figured out yet.   Anyway, I thought it was too much trouble to stop on my own.  So I went on home to wait for Bob’s call.  As I was trying to get into our parking place without Bob’s directing I scraped the side of the fender on the post.  I think I have mentioned there is less than 10 inches on either side of our parking space when the adjacent space is occupied.  I felt bad but not devastated as it definitely is not the only mark on the truck and not the worst either.

This is Bob's service project--I really quized him to make sure that was not him in the tree.  Elder Larsen took the pictures but that is not him in the tree.  It is a machette wielding Jamaican.  There is another picture that shows how he limbed that Bread Fruit tree.  In front of Bob in the lower picture is the Bread Fruit they salvaged, roasted on site in an open fire, and sent home with the helpers.

Bob called about 4:00 and so I went to pick him up at the Larsens and we decided even though it was late-ish we would try to get to Price Smart (like Costco) before it closed and pick up a printer.  I started to write earlier that I don’t mind the traffic here, but the trip was a good test of that attitude.  We were stuck in a line of traffic probably over a mile long--A two way street that is often forced to be a three lanes when someone wants to get around a pothole or a stopped taxi or some other vehicle.  Everyone “noses in” that means if you want to turn right across traffic you just start inching your way out until the traffic stops and then you go through—along with at least one other car that sneaks through too.  The amazing thing is that no one even honks at you or gives you a dirty look.  It is just the way things are done.  I have learned to do a little inching myself—the hard part about it is watching oncoming traffic, turning the wheel and giving the little “toot, toot” which means thanks.  I make turns in front of cars that are about 50 feet away because I know they will stop—sometimes they even blink their lights to tell you to go.  It really is a good system—we have seen zero road rage, not a single hand gesture, except for the cab driver who waves at you to tell you he wants in—then he goes across 2 lanes and turns in front of someone else.  We have not seen a single accident; we saw glass in an intersection one day but not a single accident.

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