I’m a few days late posting my monthly reflection, not because I forgot, but because I wasn’t really sure what to say. My update from last month still feels current – I feel settled, happy, and my learning curve has slowed and deepened. Nevertheless, I think it is important to take a moment to consider the impact made by the passage of time, and so I share a few reflections, in no particular order:

  • A little while ago I started swimming with the Masters swim team, and I am really enjoying it. Some days it is painful to wake up before the sun, but the cool water, friendly teammates and helpful coaching has reminded me how much I love being in the pool. Instead of a workout, it feels like a treat!
  • Thanks to the heat, I have started to take the bus or a route taxi to work each morning. Thankfully, my morning workouts at the pool make up for missing out on the walk. A/C and easy listening tunes make idling in traffic almost berable!
  • My walk home at the end of the day has become one of my most favourite things about life in Kingston. It’s the perfect distance to leave the stress of the day behind, get a little exercise, and is my best chance to marvel at the spectacular beauty of the Blue Mountains. No matter how hard I try, I cannot take a photo of the view that does it justice. I already know it is something that I will miss when I leave.
  • My cost of living here is way higher than in Canada. Even though I pay less in Jamaica for phone and internet service, my food and utilities are way more than I have ever paid back home. My electricity bill averages $5000/month (roughly four times what I pay in Canada), my water bill is $1200/month, and my groceries are easily $7500 per week (this cost would be way more, but I buy some of my meals at the YMCA as it is cheaper to buy some things than cook for myself). My cell phone is pay-as-you-go for phone service ($3000 usually lasts me 6 or 7 weeks), and I use wifi for my data service. My home internet is $5000/month.
  • On of the customs I love the most in Jamaica is the near-requirement to greet people when you see them. Days are filled with “Good Morning” “Good Afternoon” and “Good Evening.” Students (and some adults too!) are corrected when they refer to the wrong time of day (“Good morning?! I believe it is afternoon now, young man!”). The ‘rule’ is that whomever is arriving in the room is to offer the first greeting rather than those who are already there welcoming the newcomer. It brings me all sorts of silly joy to greet everyone when I arrive at work each day!
  • Things I miss (other than my family and friends): berries, dark chocolate, my pillow, carbonated water, lemon, sushi
  • Things I am getting used to: the crumbling infrastructure, the thin layer of dirt that covers everything, the smell of mosquito coils
  • I haven’t been cold in 4 months!