Travelling by Heart

my journey to Jamaica as a CUSO volunteer


March 2016


 Today David and I head off for a few days of adventure at an eco resort somewhere in the woods between White House and Savanna la Mar. I’ll be posting photos on Instagram while we are away (I’m sure he will too), and will be sure to fill you in on our trip once we return.


Company’s Here!

Guess who just arrived?! It’s David!

Continue reading “Company’s Here!”

Holy Week

Jamaica holds the world record for most churches per square mile – 2.75 according to Guinness. Even though it is officially a secular country, Jamaica is essentially a Christian nation, with over 64% of people identifying as practicing Christians. Foreigners typically associate Rastafarianism with Jamaica, but in actuality Christian rituals are much more common. For example, last week I was at a conference about disabilities that opened and closed with prayer, much to the amazement of American guest presenters.  Continue reading “Holy Week”

Intro to Patwa: Soon come

Soon come (v): A quintessentially Jamaican unit of time. Used most often when one cannot be bothered to guess an approximate time but want to reassure or need some kind of benign response. Soon, but not too soon.


Me: “Where is your teacher?”

Student: “Soon come, Miss!”

Water, water everywhere…

World Water Day seems like a fitting celebration for Jamaica, an island nation whose name literally means “Land of Wood and Water”.

jamaica water facts

Continue reading “Water, water everywhere…”

On Display

It’s a weird experience to be a part of a privileged visible minority. People notice you no matter how hard you try to blend in. They recognize you even if you’ve never actually met. They honk at you and call out to you and try to get your attention. They talk about you under their breath (or sometimes out loud in front of your face). They watch out for you because they aren’t sure you know how to navigate their country and they want you to feel safe and welcome. They conspire to take you down a notch because you look like a walking wallet, even if you are living on a volunteer stipend. Continue reading “On Display”

JAM Jams: Ducking

Fadda Fox’s ‘Ducking’ was a hit in Jamaica last year and it still draws big cheers when it is played. Like any great party tune, it comes with its own built in dance move, this one being a ‘duck and veer’ that you can catch occasionally in the video (I think the best shots are at 1:09 and 2:32, but unfortunately neither are very good), in between the people bopping and whining.

Culture Shock 101

“Culture shock is a very real experience for people who move to another country.  Anyone who has lived or traveled extensively in another country has lived through some level of culture shock even if your decision to move was one well thought out. […] When you move to a new country, everything is unfamiliar: weather, landscape, language, food, dress, social roles, values, customs and communication.Your patterns are off-kilter; the smells, sounds and tastes are unusual and you can’t communicate with the locals. This is culture shock.
Continue reading “Culture Shock 101”

The Danger of a Single Story

In this TED Talk, Nigerian author Chimamanda Noguzi Adichie talks about how she learned to look beyond her own experiences and consider the many stories that make up a country or culture. An excellent reminder as I begin to settle into the inevitable feelings of culture shock that come with a long stay in another place.


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