Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Snauffers in Jamaica
My folks visited the first week in May and we had great time checking out the island. We spent the weekend in Negril followed by day trips to Rose Hall Great House, Rocklands Bird Sanctuary, and Glistening Waters in Falmouth. It was so nice to see them and we had a great time. My dad's favorite things were drinking lots of Red Stripe and offering commentary on local signs, like the giant Red Stripe sign overlooking bottom road that I still owe him a picture of (SOON COME, Dad!). I'm not all sure what my mom like the best, but she did go snorkeling with me for the first time, which I thought was pretty cool. Plus they got to meet Jenny for the first time, and that went great too. Pics for anyone who's interested are at http://community.webshots.com/album/559271061meOVMw
Monday, April 30, 2007
Another long overdue short update
Wow, is it really the end of April? I'm way behind on my posts including pics, so I got off my duff tonight. Here's a quick summary of what I've been up to and some pic links (bear with me for a day or 2... I'm still uploading :)
End of Feb & early March Jenny & I were back in Bulgaria. She needed to get her passport renewed, and I, well, I just needed to get out of Jamaica. During our time there, we traveled to the Old Mountains northwest of Sofia, out to Varna on the Black Sea, and back thru a tiny out of the way village called Koprivstitza. I didn't get to ski, but we saw and hiked through plenty, including a dusting in Koprivstitza. I wonder how many people travel from Jamaica to Bulgaria in the late spring for vacation? Pics are at http://community.webshots.com/album/558877697LsadSJ
We arrived back in Jamaica and promptly took off for Kingston. My brother Mike and his girlfriend Nadine were supposed to meet us on St. Patrick's Day for the Ireland vs. Pakistan ICC cricket match, but they got socked in by one of the big storms that hit the US last in the spring. We sold their tickets to other Peace Corps folk and were entertained with a huge upset... the Irish won! Pics of the day are at http://community.webshots.com/album/558878181rWUBvp
We've had a bit of an exodus here in MoBay. Robin COS'd at the end of March and took off for Scotland with Malcolm, Paula finished her book and went home, Nathan got an assignment and left for Crisis Corps in Africa, and Julie left MoBay. Robin has a farewell party which ended up being for others too! http://good-times.webshots.com/album/558413818lolcYN
Brooke A. hosted a wonderful and slightly overwhelming Earth Day event in Negril. She had over 600 kids show. I swear I have never seen that many kids in one place! She called in the reserves and a number of us on the north coast came by to help keep the troops in line. http://good-times.webshots.com/album/558812438ZKCGMG
Finally, Jenny threw a surprise party for my birthday! We were supposed to go diving in the morning, but I messed it up by coming down with a head cold the day before. So there wasn't a big "surprise" moment but Joe, Lauren, Peter, and Matt F. came by to celebrate with me. Thanks guys! http://good-times.webshots.com/album/558877780gZToxC
That's all for now. Our COS conference is this week (cannot believe it!), my folks are coming on Friday, and then the JCO will be back in action. So more pics will be up soon.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Work, friends, & JCO
Well another month+ of my service has come and gone. It's been a busy one and has flown by, but that goes without saying at this point. Significantly I completed my sixth quarterly report for my university. At least in number that makes me 3/4 of the way done, though I have a good amount of work to complete before I am anywhere near ready to defend my masters. The decision support tool for onsite sewage systems I mentioned in my July post has moved forward in small fits & starts. Basically I am heading toward working with a wider group of professionals, agencies, and community organizations to give it broader potential use. I hope. In the next few weeks I'll be doing this, and I'll update accordingly. Also significantly, I had my first official visitors about a year and a half into my service. Newman & Shiffer visited early in February, Newman for 1 week, and Shiffer... well he's still bumming around the island somewhere. It was great to see some faces from home in Jamaica, and it has really buoyed my spirit. Thanks for visiting guys! Picture postings soon come. Finally, I spent a few days with the Jamaican Caves Organization (http://www.jamaicancaves.org/) exploring Gourie Cave in Manchester and supporting the exploration of Volcano Hole (with Jenny) in St. Ann and 'Mystery' Hole in Trelawny. It was a great experience as before and I thank all the gang for letting me be a part. Pics are at http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/557844170eDbjBL, and if you look through them, you'll find a few of Shiffer bumming around with the JCO crew too.
That's all for now. I'm taking another brief junket off island, probably last of my service, but will check you again in March.
Peace to all,
Monday, January 08, 2007
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! I hope the holidays treated you all well. Ours were pretty busy as we did a quick round the island tour. Jenny's brother Niki and his girlfriend Petia have been visiting from Bulgaria for the last few weeks, and this was their last chance to see other spots in Jamaica. I saw some friendly faces from home when my Aunt Joanne and Uncle Jon came through Ochi on a cruise and we met up at Dunns River Falls. The Bulgarians and I then spent a few days in Portland with Tony & his beautiful new Jamaican wife Juni. We caught up with Napallo, Reina, and Joe for New Years in Negril, where we watched a cool fireworks display and sat around a beach fire till we passed out.
It's been slow coming around to reality, but my university work is calling me back. Some more friendly faces from home were around when my professor friend Tom got married in Ochi this past week. Tom is an RPCV from Kenya and was the first person I met at Tech. I'm posting the pics here. Congratulations Tom & Elizabeth!
That's all for now. A blessed new year to all.
Friday, December 22, 2006
OK, so obviously I'm not missing from anywhere but my blog. I had intended to post something the following week to give a real update, but another month of my service has sped by. I can barely keep track of time here. Jenni Post wrote of "Peace Corps time" as being different from 'real-world' time. An apt description. I have managed to nail down my thesis topic ("On-site Sewage Treatment Systems Decision Support" or some similarly stimulating name), re-survey the planned Ramble water distribution network line with the help of Caitlin & Khaled and her Brunton compass, and subject my girlfriend to hosting an unexpectedly large Thanksgiving party just before moving in with her. So yeah, I've been pretty busy. I'm looking forward to a little down time next week before the start of the new year.
That's it for now I guess. I miss you all very much and look forward to seeing the folks coming this spring.
Happy holidays to all!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Missing Person Report
Please be advised that Andrew Snauffer aka "Drew" was reported missing last week. He was last heard from about 3 months ago. If you have any knowledge of his whereabouts, please notify the authorities in Jamaica.
Please also be on the lookout for an animal spotted near his home in Jamaica. It is about 6 feet tall and extremely hairy. It has been seen lurking in the shadows at night and seems attracted to the scents of various liquors, notably rum. A picture of this mysterious beast is shown below. If you spot it, please contact local authorities immediately.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Big Spring Water Supply Dedication
Monday morning was the official dedication and opening of the Chesterfied water supply system. Chesterfield is actually across the river from Castleton and is accessible only by a makeshift footbridge. I arrived in Castleton on Sunday night to find that footbridge washed out. Then the food for the next day arrived and we had to carry it across the river. So we began. Then it started to rain. Then it started getting dark. Fortunately all the food made it across without getting dunked or saturated. I did get saturated but at least not dunked. The next day the soon-to-be new PCVs from the wat-san sector arrived and successfully navigated the river. Of course we Chacos people had the easiest time of it. :) The ceremony started late (of course) but wrapped up early (amazingly). We did a little tour of the system. It contains 2 standpipes (one is pictured on the left), one storage tank, one entombment, and a little over a mile of pipe. Elizabeth talked about the amount of work and cooperation that had gone into it, and I gave a brief design overview. After we came back down the hillside, we were treated to a wonderful meal of curry chicken, rice and peas, boiled bananas, and boiled dumplings. Pictures from the day can be found at http://community.webshots.com/album/553395934jxyEvv (this is a different webshots account).
The trainees seemed to enjoy seeing the project, and various community members expressed gratitude for the system, which alleviates the difficulty of climbing a steep slope to get water from the spring. I didn't really feel like I had done that much. SPA grants had funded it, and Elizabeth had rallied the community through some difficult times to get the work done. In the end though, I realized it was the result of everyone's effort, and I am glad that I was a small part of that. They say more often than not we PCVs don't see or appreciate the impact that we have during our service. Now I have gotten to see a project that I worked on get completed, and for that I am most grateful.
The new group swears in this weekend. I'm going to Kingston with Jenny to see the ceremony and celebrate their milestone. Wow, I can't believe it's been a year since I first became a PCV.
Peace from MoBay,
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Summer Camp Fever
The last two weeks really kept me hoppin' as summer camp fever hit MoBay. PCVs Robin, Julie, and me along with Flankers community counterparts Allen, Julianne, Charm, and Mrs. Nash ran summer camps for ages 6-10 the first week and ages 11-16 the second. We had about 50 kids everyday! We played games, did crafts, and talked about the environment, health, and safety. This is me discussing their posters on disease transmission routes and blocks ("F" diagrams for water sanitation folks). One of the coolest projects we did was an "eco-sculpture." I sorta got the idea after reading Essa's blog entry about using recycled materials in arts and crafts (http://essanicapc.blogspot.com/2006/05/in-service-training.html), and Robin had wanted to do a thing with empty paper towels rolls she was collecting. In the end, we sent the older kids out into the community and had them collect trash - 3 bottles, 2 cans, something red, something shiny, etc. Then we asked them to make something out of the materials and awarded prizes. This is the group that won. Their scene is one of a mother making the beds while her grimacing son takes out the trash. Way to get the theme guys! At the end we took the kids on an "underseas tour" (a boat with big glass windows in the hull) and hosted dance competition. Watching 8-10 year olds do the dutty whine has definitely given me an appreciation for where Jamaicans learn to dance. Or should I say when...
I also helped out PCVs Lauren and Malaika with Lauren's Marine Park Camp. On Thursday we gave the kids a chance to try out scuba equipment for a minute and swam around with them. Friday afternoon it was raining so I helped entertain them with some rounds of Simon Sez. Between the past weeks' camps, most of the other PCVs and I hosted the new trainees to give them a brief taste of PCV life. Most of the new vols will be in more rural settings. But we got to share a few stories and all had fun. My webshots account (http://community.webshots.com/user/asnauffer) has pics from that weekend and these camps except for the post-party from Flankers. Send me an email if you want a link to these.
I'm heading back out to Castleton tomorrow for the ribbon cutting on the water supply system Monday morning. The water sanitation sector trainees are going there for the ceremony as well. I'm looking forward to sharing a little about the work we've done there. Then I'll be back in Kingston on Friday for their swearing in. Wow - hard to believe the next group is here and ready to start serving.
That's it again for now. Peace to all,
Friday, July 28, 2006
More on the things I'm working on...
Hi again folks,
It's still hot as #$%@ here and sometimes a struggle to do anything but sit in front of a fan with a Red Stripe. But things are picking up at this point in my service. Before I left for vacation I made a trip to Castleton, St. Mary to help with the Big Spring entombment work. My advisor Jim liked the story about this in my quarterly report, so here's an excerpt -
"A key component of this reconstruction was the necessity of stabilizing a concrete wall attached to a sheer rock face. The community had tried to hand chisel a groove in the rock, but because it was so hard, they had been unable to make significant progress and had given up. Fellow PCV engineer Julie G and I determined the best way to stabilize the wall would be to dowel the rock face using short lengths of rebar and mortar. This effort required renting and carrying a portable hammer drill to the site. In order to minimize rental costs, we needed to complete in one day the transportation of the equipment to the site, the actual drilling into the rock, and the return of the drill to Montego Bay. On May 2, I rented the drill and carried it to Castleton by public transportation. I was delayed because the tax exemption paperwork took longer than expected to go through (“soon come” as they say) and because, despite having called and told Ward’s Power Tools that I was coming for the drill, one of the employees had rented it to someone else by the time I got there. Finally the paperwork came in and they found a replacement drill, which they assured me would work fine, even demonstrating as much by drilling a less than 1/16 inch hole into their tile floor. I was off. Following the 5+ hour trip, I met PCV Elizabeth S in the community shortly after 6. We waded across the Wagwater River and ascended the 56 meters to the site of the entombment. While the generator had been dutifully carried up the hillside to its predetermined resting spot, the 100 meters or so of extension cord to carry current to the worksite had not been put out. We waited an hour or so for that, and I ate a light snack. Drilling commenced just after dark. Fortunately the community people had located some floodlights as I had requested, so we were not totally in the dark. There was already some internal friction as to who would be first to begin drilling the holes. I settled this by taking the drill in hand and starting it myself. Despite the delay in schedule, everything seemed to be going remarkably smoothly... until I started the drill. While the drill motor wound up and spun forcefully, the bit stalled just past the 1/16 inch mark and stopped boring into the rock. It was about that time that I realized the replacement hammer drill had a hex bit rather than the spline fitting required for the bit. Ward’s had allowed me to take along a chisel bit that was with the drill, so for the next few hours, various strapping men from the community took their turns using the hammer drill to chisel out circular holes in the sheer rock face."
The folks at Ward's have been very supportive of our work and allowed us to return the J$6000 (~US$100) bit without any hassle. That saved the project a good chunk of change. These are some pics of this drill I hauled there and what the entombment looked like when I visited again July 7. You can see these and other images in the Big Spring Reconstruction, Castleton album on my webshots account -> http://community.webshots.com/album/552246395fDVJio
I am still working at the National Water Commission's Quality Assurance (NWC QA) lab for the western region, usually one day a week. My supervisor there Richard Meggo told me that he's leaving to pursue his PhD in Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa. In fact, his last day is today! Good luck Mr. Meggo!!! The composting facility at the Retirement Landfill is dying a natural death. PCV Pat W has left the responsible agency, and calls to her former counterpart have been mysteriously "disconnected" and not returned. I'm still helping out with the Homework Club at the Peace and Justice Center. This community center in one of MoBay's poorest communities hosts this after-school program for kids involving arts and crafts, skills development, and of course homework help. I found at this center a group of Jamaicans that I can actually play football (soccer) with and keep up. They are aged 10-12. The program is on break now, but we're planning a summer camp Aug 8-17 that I'm really excited about! The search for the master thesis is heading toward some work I've started in conjunction with the Water Resources Authority (WRA). We are planning to develop a tool to help WRA professionals approve or deny the proposed on-site sanitation systems in new developments. We'll then pilot it in St. James and throughout the western regions, assuming I can locate the underground water maps each of the parishes purchased. It'll hard to put up any cool flashy pics of this work (unless you wanna see more poo pics Sparticus!), but if successful it would be used for development proposed throughout the country.
All right, I know I've been overdue, but 'nuff for now. Life for me is good now. I wish you all the same.
Peace and love from Jamaica,