Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jamaica's Doctor Bird




I am not a bird watcher unless I get a chance to watch the Doctor Bird. He has the longest tail I have ever seen on a hummingbird. His tail is longer than his body. These pictures were taken when we went to YS falls a few weeks ago. But, we often get to see them from our patio flitting from one flower to another.

The Doctor Bird is the national bird of Jamaica. The tail feathers of the male bird usually measure six to seven inches long. They feed on the nectar of flowers. The following ten second video was also taken at YS falls. They had hummingbird feeders hanging along their porches. At the end of the video you can really see how incredible the tail feathers are.


video

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tooth #3


Bubby has had a lose tooth for months now that he wouldn't let me get near. As we were leaving for school yesterday morning he relented and let me pull it. There was nothing to it because it was only hanging by a "thread." It hardly even bled. He was relieved and had a much nicer time with his leftover pizza he had for lunch.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Culturama

Culturama is one of the largest fundraisers at Nathan's school. Each class chooses a country and represents that country in a friendly competition. They decorate their classrooms with items from their countries, learn the national anthem, present a drama and make typical food.

Nathan's grade one chose Australia. Parents were asked to help out as well so we chose to make some flags. I printed a flag from the internet and Todd traced them onto the painters cloth he had cut. Then we all got to color them.

Making the template.


Bubby coloring a flag.

Each class watched the others perform while the judges went to each classroom to see how they were decorated and to taste the food they had prepared. The older grades went first, so the younger classes sat and watched them perform their dramas.

Nathan sitting with his class.

K-3 class chose St. Lucia to represent. They stole the show. Their costumes were so cute and they danced and sang their hearts out.

Part of their drama included body guards to the royal family. You can see them on the left side of the above picture with their black suits and dark sunglasses. Too cute!
A shish-ka-bob and sauce from Saudi Arabia.
Nathan has always hated wearing costumes and acting. He didn't mind wearing Khaki shorts and shirt for Australia but he was really glad that he didn't have to wear a skirt like the boys in grade 3 did! Their class chose Scotland.

They did a mock battle scene that was too funny. The narrator said something about the victor's cutting off the enemy's head and when they fell to the ground a doll head rolled out.

The victor proudly held up the doll head representing the enemy's head. Everyone cracked up!


Nathan's classroom decorated.

Boomerangs and flags.

Kid's menus from Outback Steakhouse in Plant City, FL.

I would like to thank Outback Steakhouse in Plant City, Florida who donated the boomerangs and the menus for the kids. The menus have lots of activities in them for the kids to complete.
Aborigines.

Nathan played James Cook.


Rowing the boat.

Defeating the aborigines.


Here is a short clip of Nathan's class singing the national anthem of Australia.

video

Just as we predicted the judges chose K-3 and St. Lucia as the winners. Second place went to grade 2 representing Norway and grade 5adv. & grade six representing Brazil took third place.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day Daddy!

I seldom am at a loss for words. And, I guess it really isn't that I don't have anything to say it's quite the opposite. There is so much I could say about my daddy that I don't know where to begin. He is the epitome of greatness. Let me give you just a little of his background.

He was born to loving parents, one of seven children. He was born with glaucoma. He suffered many days without seeing with intense eye pain. He eventually went totally blind at age eleven. None of that stopped him. Due to his circumstances, he was forced to attend the school for the deaf and blind in St. Augustine, Florida. He was double promoted, skipping the eighth and the eleventh grades. After graduating high school, he attended Southeastern Bible College and graduated from there as well.

I don't have any of my childhood pictures here in Jamaica, but this is one of my favorites of my daddy holding his only grandchild on the day he was born. When I was a child he held me just as tenderly as he is holding Nathan in the above picture.

And, he has held me close with those tender hands for the last forty three years. I guess if I had to pick of one or two of daddy's characteristics they would have to be gentleness and full of wisdom. People have often asked me what it was like growing up with a blind father. I have always said that the only thing my daddy couldn't do is drive a car. And to be honest with you he has sort of done that. I can remember him backing the car out of the carport so he could wash it. He never lacked in ways of discipline. Although he had no trouble whatsoever spanking my brother and me, his correction was always firm but gentle. I have never heard my daddy raise his voice to me.

My daddy is the smartest man I know. Not only academically but in all aspects of life. I can remember when I was young and stupid I got into credit card trouble. I don't know how he found out about it but one day we were at lunch and he told me that he and mama wanted to help me pay off my credit card debt. They had discussed it and they would give me the money to pay off the debt and I could repay them without the high interest rates. He didn't see my embarrassing smile as I said, "Daddy you can't do that because I owe a lot." He assured me that he knew it was a lot and they still wanted to help. However, he didn't know quite how much it was and when he pressed me for the amount, I told him. Unmoved, all he said was, "Oh! I didn't know it was that much." Even though he didn't lend me the whole amount he still helped me. He helped me get a loan in my name, using their house for collateral at a much lower interest rate than the credit cards wanted. That part shows his goodness. He also got an insurance policy to cover the amount of the loan just in case I defaulted on it. He had me pay the premium on the policy. That part shows his wisdom. I learned a very valuable lesson.

My daddy is talented in so many ways. He is an accomplished musician, playing the organ and the accordion. He tunes pianos. He sings. He preaches. He teaches. He fixes. He cuts up potatoes and rutabagas in perfect cubes. He builds. He reads braille. He types on a brailler and on a keyboard. He continues to learn. Within the last year he has learned to surf the internet with his talking computer. He's fluent in Spanish. He made such an impact in the country of Paraguay as a missionary that when we returned after eighteen years to visit, the people in the airport greeted him by name, "Hermano Rolando." It was that way wherever we went.

But, mostly what he does, is, he loves. Unconditionally.

Happy Father's Day Daddy! I am so blessed to get to call you mine!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thanks Everyone...

I came into this world forty three years ago today. Flag day. My daddy has always said that everyone raised a flag when I was born. I've loved him for saying that. As far as excitement goes this year's activities have been as exciting as last year's. Last year we had to drive to Miami to get our Jamaican visas. This year I spent the morning washing clothes. This evening we will have dinner with a team of twenty that is here from West Virginia.

I have realized today how blessed I am. I am loved by so many friends and family members. My day started off with my son giving me a birthday card he made. You know it was my favorite. Shortly after breakfast the phone calls started. With the exception of two people, almost everyone that is important and close to me have called. The two that haven't, well, one is falling in love fast and the other one is pregnant. So, I will extend them a little grace. :)

Nathan just came in from playing football at the park with his dad. (My other favorite present today-Todd taking Nathan to the park.) He came and stood beside me and whispered,"Mom, the team is going to get you something at dinner tonight."

"You probably weren't suppose to say anything about that were you?", I said.

He very quickly covered himself by saying, "Well, I didn't tell you what it was."

Sometimes he really makes me laugh.

Thanks everyone for all the birthday wishes.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

This is what I woke up to this morning...
We live on the third floor of our apartment complex. Our landlord has the one above us. I couldn't understand why water was leaking into our apartment in about five different places. Apparently our landlord left the water running and it leaked through the cracks in the concrete. When Todd woke up before six this morning he found the swimming pool in our spare living room and ran up and turned the main valve off. So, when I got up about 6:30 he was mopping.

After talking to our landlord we found out that it was a broken water pipe in the walls. He had his handyman install some kind of filter. Something didn't install properly.

I am very thankful that none of the leaks were over any of our furniture, rugs or electronics. We have been without a home phone which carries our internet connection for three days now. We have come to the Montego Bay Yacht Club for lunch everyday to check our emails. There have been two phone crews working on the lines. Hopefully they will get it fixed today. As we were watching the news this morning the cable went out. I just shook my head knowing it was too early to call Mrs. Green. Thankfully it came back on before long. I am most thankful that we have power or at least we did when I came to the YC for to post this. It is extremely hot here.

Monday, June 9, 2008

YS Falls in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica


YS Falls are located near the Black River on the south coast of the island, in the parish of St. Elizabeth. The waterfalls themselves are located on a working cattle ranch and thoroughbred horse farm. We started our road trip out in Montego Bay and drove up through Anchovy. We took a turn a little early which ended up being a route to the falls but, it wasn't the quickest or easiest. The map we were using was not real helpful because the writing was minuscule and every time I would find my place on the map, we would hit a pothole and I would lose my place. A few times we stopped and asked if we were on the right road and every time we were assured that the road would lead to the falls. They were correct and we did arrive after an hour and a half of twists, turns and bumps.

Nathan and Uncle Howie unloading.

Nathan woke up not feeling well, but we convinced him to come along with us. I couldn't tell if he was truly sick or if he wanted to stay home and play with his Wii all day.

The boys paying.
The entrance to the falls is US$14.00 for non-residents and JA$500.00 for resident adults (about US$7.00) and JA$300.00 for resident children (about US$4.25). The cashier was very nice and gave Uncle Howie a resident rate even when he told her that he wasn't a resident.

After paying, they pointed us down the walkway to the jitney.


At first it seemed like we were the only ones there because there was no one else on the tram. But, more people arrived throughout the time we were there. A few park employees rode with us to man the gates. We rode for about ten minutes. We stopped twice to go through two gates. Each time we would stop, an employee would jump down, open the gate, we would drive through and he would close the gate and re-board the tram. I assume that was to keep the cows and horses in the proper pasture. The scenery was beautiful. The smell of the cow pasture reminded me of home. There were huge mango trees loaded with fruit as well as other flora and fauna.


We disembarked from the tram at the souvenir shop which led to a boardwalk. The trail was nicely marked with informational signs. They showed pictures of birds and flowers that were located inside the park and also gave information about them.

The rules were clearly spelled out for all to abide by.

Besides the seven waterfalls, their greatest attraction is the zipline. It starts at the top of the falls and has three separate "legs" to it.

A large gazebo was built around the base of a huge tree. The last leg of the zipline is built above the roof of the gazebo. The zipline fee is of course separate from the entrance fee. For non-residents the price is US$30.00 and the resident price is $20.00. They also have a price for going unlimited times. Uncle Howie did the zipline and again they gave him the resident rate.


This is a view of the gazebo built around the big tree and the platform above the roof where the last leg of the zipline starts.


Uncle Howie on the zipline.

Keep an eye out for Uncle Howie's blog. He actually has a video of him doing the zipline and he said it was a lot of fun. The only drawback was that you travel pretty fast down the zipline and it is hard to "sight see." That is probably why they offer a price for unlimited trips.

View of the first layer of falls.

The next layer of falls with the pretty red ginger plant in the foreground.

Nathan and Uncle Howie.

View of the boardwalk and steps along the falls.

They also have two rope swings. To our surprise there was not an additional charge for using the rope swings. Todd was the only one in our group that went off this rope swing. He even did a flip off of it on his second time going.


Checking out the rope.

Gloves are provided and required.

Nathan NOT going on the rope swing.


Todd prepping for his second go.

They had another rope swing on the other side of the big tree that was for those who weren't brave enough to swing down from a platform.




Life guards were stationed along the climb of the falls to help with the ropes and various other stops. They were very nice and helpful. The thing that impressed me the most was the fact that the park had a sign posted explaining that tipping was permitted but to please advise the front office if any of their employees solicited tips. That is very unusual for Jamaica. Here, if a service is provided, no matter how menial or insignificant it may be, a tip is expected.


Nathan wasn't real sure about trying out one of the rope swings.

After his daddy was pushed around for a bit...

...he was easily convinced.

Weeeeee!

Here is a short video of my boy swinging. I love how the guard stood at the top of the falls in case there were an unfortunate incident. When we got through here, we gladly gave him a tip! At another location on toward the top of the falls, another employee offered his services taking pictures of groups. We let him take ours and he remained friendly and helpful when we didn't offer him a tip.



video



The water wasn't too terribly cold. I even walked out to the top of one of the falls with a little help.

Another set of waterfalls.

Very pretty.


They weren't kidding!

More waterfalls.


Bird of paradise?

We enjoyed a drink before the return trip on the tram back to the main gate. When we arrived, we went over to the snack bar. They had a full menu ranging from jerk chicken, fish, pork and hamburgers, fish sandwich, and french fries. They also offered a full bar with juices, soft drinks, water, beer and alcoholic drinks. For some reason most of the places here keep food and drinks separate. You order and get your food at one place and order and get your drinks at another.
We didn't take the same route home. We chose the easier route through Middle Quarters which is shrimp country. We were glad to get home after a long day. DeeDee had roast with onions and potatoes, broccoli casserole, rice and gravy as well as salad ready when got home. It was all delicious. She also had a banana pudding which she made from scratch and it too was wonderful.