Tag Archives: jamaica

Good-Bye Fringe Festival, COVID in Cambodia and Silver Linings

Yesterday they announced that this year’s Winnipeg Fringe Festival has been cancelled. My husband Dave has been a volunteer ticket seller and site manager at the Fringe for the last six years.

Working in the kids’ section of the Fringe Festival for the Winnipeg Art Gallery

We love the way the Fringe brings people and life and music and fun to the heart of the city where we live.  The Fringe is always one of the highlights of our summer. We take in as many plays as we can. This year things will be different.“I try to make my customers laugh.  I try to make them smile. I try to make their day a little better.” Yesterday I watched a great video thanks to my subscription to The Atlantic.  It was about a grocery store worker in New York.  His goal every day is to bring a little joy to his customers. He admits he’s scared each night when he returns to his family in their small apartment.  Could he have contracted COVID-19 at work and will he pass it on to his two small children?  But he says, “Someday I want to be able to tell my kids, during the pandemic your Dad did his part.”

Our sons working on a puzzle at Christmas

Yesterday my daughter-in-law asked if I had any jigsaw puzzles she could borrow.  We are a puzzling family and I actually wanted to buy one for her Easter basket but all the websites I went to said their jigsaw puzzles were sold out.  I have a couple I’ve finished since the pandemic started and I will take those over today.  I know the Thrift Store where I was a volunteer always had lots for sale.  But their doors are closed right now. Luckily my sister has supplied me with puzzles that should last me for the next month or so and has offered me more.

I’ve been thinking about the children I taught in an after school tutoring program in Runaway Bay Jamaica. They lived in these shanty towns and most of their homes didn’t have electricity or running water.  How will they and their families fare during the pandemic?

Here I am with some students at a high school in Phnom Penh where I was a volunteer.  Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen was initially sceptical about the virus and arrested people who were sharing information about its danger.  An article a week ago in the National Post says Hun Sen has now used the virus to give himself sweeping powers something that many think is extremely dangerous in light of Hun Sen’s past political record.  He has committed a wide range of human rights violations during his 35 years in power. 

My cousin who lives in Taiwan sent this photo he took in a bank. The chairs with X’s are to be left empty in order to provide adequate distancing between customers waiting to be served. Taiwan has done an excellent job of handling the pandemic. In this article in Time magazine Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen explains how they have prevented a major outbreak of COVID-19. 

 The city of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

Three silver linings of COVID-19

  • Manitoba Public Insurance reports 20% fewer traffic collisions
  • March 2020 was the first March in two decades where there was not a single school shooting in the United States
  • My friends in Hong Kong routinely post photos of the unusually clean air over their city. According to the BBC, carbon emissions are down 25% in China, Italy and India. 

Other posts……….

A Day in the Life of the Runaway Bay Tutoring Centre

I’ve Been a Newspaper Columnist for Decades

Oh To Be A Kid At the Fringe Festival


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I’m in KIT


Last year my husband Dave won a prize when he entered a draw for retired Manitoba teachers who were doing volunteer work.  He mentioned the volunteer work we had done in Jamaica.  

kit magazineThe news article about him winning his prize was in a 2014 KIT magazine. Later a staff person contacted me to ask if I would write a story about our volunteer experience.  It was just published in the Winter 2015 issue of the magazine. 

The fact that so many people at church, at my part time jobs, at social functions and via e-mail and phone have talked to me about the piece lets me know retired teachers really do like to KEEP IN TOUCH.  It just proves that the name of the magazine KIT  (Keep in Touch) is exactly what the magazine does- keeps retired Manitoba teachers in touch with each other. 

Other posts……….

He’s a Winner

A Terrifying Story Politely Told

A Day in the Life of the Runaway Bay Tutoring Centre

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Filed under Education, Jamaica, Writing

Bits and Pieces of Jamaica- From Karaoke to Bingo

Karaoke, goats, Bingo, more flowers and farewells. We’ve left Jamaica for other adventures but there are interesting bits and pieces of our time there that I want to keep a record of and they just didn’t fit into any other blog post. Here they are!

I’ll start with a photo of Dave swimming in the ocean.

dave in the oceanMost evenings Dave and I cooked supper at our bed and breakfast or went out to small local places where we could get supper for around $5.  dinner at piper's coveOur first Sunday in Jamaica  however we splurged and went out for an elegant dinner at the Piper’s Cove Villa.  dinner at piper's cove with the whole groupWe went back our last Sunday in Jamaica along with our hosts the Beaches and the other three couples who had joined us at the Morning Glory Bed and Breakfast. 

Naseberry Fruit

Naseberry Fruit

I did a post about some Jamaican foods we tried but here’s others we’ve tried since.  

Jamaican Apples

Jamaican Apples

Cornmeal cereal with condensed milk and cinnamon, sorel juice, custard apple, Jamaican apple, potato pudding, naseberry fruit and June plum. 

dave singing karaokeOne night we went singing karaoke at a local bar.  Some of our Jamaican neighbours were great performers.  Dave tried his hand at a little Johnny Cash and was a hit. 

Happy Bingo player at the Resource Centre

Happy Bingo player at the Resource Centre

On Fridays the regular volunteers don’t come to the Resource Centre where we were tutoring. Dave and I asked directors Mildred and Tony Beach if we could plan a couple of Fun Fridays for the kids and they agreed.  We taught them action songs, played board games, took them out for soccer and played games like Scattergories and Pictionary with them. Their very favorite activity however was playing Bingo. 

I have already done a blog post about flowers but here a couple more photos that I’ve taken since. flowers jamaica

flowers jamaica

flowers jamaica

jamaica flowers

flowers of jamaicaMy most lasting memory of Jamaica will be of goats. They are simply everywhere much like cows are in India.  I have so many photos of goats. baby goats drinking milk jamaica

Our last day at working at the Resource Centre the children sang a special farewell song for us.kids at resource centre sing to us  And then we were inundated with hugs and final requests to take photos of our kids. Their families don’t have cameras and they loved it when we took photos of them. good-by smiles from our kids

Other posts about Jamaica………

A Great House Haunts Me

Meeting the Parents of Jamaica’s Next PGA Player

Pedicure Patois

Beaching It on the Caribbean

Visiting Our Jamaican Kids At Their School

Walking Into A Bob Marley Tourist Trap

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Is It Culturally Appropriate?

boys looking at magazinesThey’ve never been on an elevator or visited a public library.  Most of them don’t live with their father. They’ve never seen snow and the only dental service they receive is when volunteer North American dental students visit their school to give them check-ups. Some of their homes don’t have electricity or running water or a television.  two jamaican girlsI’ve been struggling with choosing culturally appropriate reading materials for my students here in Runaway Bay Jamaica.  How do I pick books to read to them that are relevant to their life experience?  I reflect on that in my latest Vast Imaginations post.  

Other posts about reading material for kids……..

But They’re Not Chinese

Reading Aloud to Teens

A Zombie Apocalypse

Wish I Had Them in Jamaica

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Filed under Books, Childhood, Jamaica, Writing

No Chili in Jamaica

ochi rious town squareWe went to the city of Ocho Rios last week. Ocho Rios is where Christopher Columbus first landed when he came to Jamaica.grocery shopping in ocho riosDave took advantage of one of the large grocery stores there to buy supplies to make a chili supper for the Beachs- our Jamaican hosts. He could find all the ingredients he needed except…………. the chili!  Later we looked in another grocery store in Ocho Rios and three in the Runaway Bay area. No chili powder! There was jerk sauce with chilis and chili sauce but no chili powder. Dave improvised with a variety of other spices and his signature chili was still delicious. cruise ship in ocho roosOcho Rios is a popular stop for Caribbean cruise ships. Although one was in dock when we were there we didn’t see many tourists in town. yam seller ochi riosThe local vendors complain that while the cruise ships used to let passengers just roam the town now they encourage them to take packaged trips to swim with dolphins or visit Dunn River Falls so that means the local merchants in Ocho Rios don’t benefit from the tourist trade. orange vendorThis vendor was peeling oranges for customers.selling sun fishAnd this fisherman was trying to sell his fish to passersby. houses in ocho diosWe spent time just wandering the streets ocho riosand trying to get a feel for the place. Because we seemed to be the only tourists there people were trying to sell us souvenirs at every turn. With the tough economic times they’re experiencing I understand why. 

It was interesting to see Ochi Rios, but I don’t think I need to go back. 

Other posts about Jamaica

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Filed under Jamaica, Travel

Hairnets and Helmets

hairnets and helmets green grotto cavesWhat are Dave and I doing in hairnets and helmets? It was mandatory to put on both before we were allowed to begin our tour of the Green Grotto Caves in Discovery Bay, Jamaica.  The hairnets may have been a precaution for those who still believe in the myth that bats can get tangled in your hair. The caves are home to 24 different kinds and we saw lots flitting around during our tour.chett our guide green grotto caves Our guide Chedd was very knowledgeable about Jamaican history and well versed in facts about the animal and plant life of the country.  Thousands of bats live in the Green Grotto Caves. They fly out at sunset through light holes like this one in great waves. We saw the wide swaths of guano (bat shit) they leave on the walls of the cave along their path. They spend six or seven hours hunting and then return to the caves. The bat guano is collected for fertilizer and in days of yore, the Caribbean pirates used it to make gunpowder. Every morning workers must sweep up thousands of seeds from the fruit the bats have collected and eaten. Some seeds sprout and grow like this one for a short time in the artificial lighting of the cave but they don’t live for long. 

This deep lake in the caves was where a scene from the James Bond movie Live and Let Die was filmed. It served as a base for the story’s villain Doctor Kananga and James Bond’s submarine emerged from this lake. Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond built a home in Jamaica in 1946, was married here in 1952 and had a long-term affair with one of his Jamaican neighbours. Chedd told us that this coral rock between two of the caves proves that 40-25 million years ago Jamaica was completely submerged under the sea and that 10-20 million years ago the tectonic uplift of the Caribbean plate created its present state. One of the rock formations was hollow and Chedd played it like a drum. This opening in the rocks is said to be the outline of the island of Jamaica. Chedd told us the entrance to this room of the caves was called the Limbo Hole and could only be used by the fittest and agile tourists and he was sure we could manage it. We did. For a time the caves served as an underground nightclub but the vibrations from the loud music, the debris from foodservice and the clumsiness of drunk patrons were doing ecological damage to the caves so the government took over and turned them into a tourist attraction.

This sign points to an escape route. The caves have often been used as hideouts- by pirates, by runaway slaves, and by the Spanish fleeing the British. Chedd told us this rock formation is supposed to look like the Biblical character Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt. We found this interesting because when we toured the Jenolan caves in Australia they also had a rock formation that looked like Lot’s wife.  

Banyan fig tree roots seem to be the only vegetation that really thrives in the caves and our guide said if you follow the roots you are sure to find water. I was interested in these huge fruits on a tree at the cave entrance. The guide said they are calabash. Despite having to wear rather bizarre headgear our tour was great and taught us many new things about Jamaica.

Other posts about Jamaica……..

Pirates, Plantations, Political Activists and Pot

Jamaican Introductions

Acquiring a Taste for Jamaican Food

Dead Yard Party



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Filed under History, Jamaica, Nature

Jamaican Introductions

Let me introduce you to some of the people and places and things we encountered on our first couple days here in Runaway Bay Jamaica.  Here’s Morning Glory Bed and Breakfast where we will be staying for the next month. It’s at the end of a windy and very bumpy road filled with potholes and ruts.Meet our host Tony Beach.  A retired engineer from Winnipeg, Tony was born in Jamaica and came to Winnipeg as a young man to study at Red River Community College.   Here’s Mildred Beach. A retired social worker and counsellor from Winnipeg who together with her husband Tony built Morning Glory Bed and Breakfast as a retirement home and started the Runaway Bay Resource Centre where Dave and I will be volunteering in the after school tutoring  program during our stay.  Meet Violet the cook at Morning Glory Bed and Breakfast.  Violet is shelling gungo peas/beans which she will serve with our rice for supper. Check out the balcony outside our second floor bedroom.Check out the view down from the balcony into our front yard.  Meet Rita our neighbour who showed us the coffee beans, bananas, plantains, jack fruits and sour sops she grows on her yard. Apparently Rita is seldom seen without curlers in her hair and carrying a machete. You can see the machete in her hand as she walks with Dave. Here is the market where we did some shopping this morning. Here is the conch soup we had for supper. It is made from the meat of the conch shell, yams, green bananas and dumplings stuffed with chyote fruit- creamy and spicy. It was a full meal in a bowl. What next? We’ll see tomorrow! I think we’ll probably be introduced to a few more new things.

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Filed under Jamaica, Travel