Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Blue Drawers

Blue Drawers, Cooking in Pot
Blue Drawers, Ready to Eat.
 Blue drawers, or blue panties as my host mom likes to call them, are only the most delicious breakfast food in Jamaica.  Also called tie-a leaf, duckoono, and boyo, this yummy dish is made from coconut, sweet potatoes, green bananas, sugar, vanilla, spices and raisins.  The mixture is wrapped inside a banana leaf and tied with a string. The wrapped parcel reminds me of a gift (see top pic).  The parcel is then placed in a pot and cooked in boiling water.

Why is it called blue drawers, I wondered? It's because the banana leaf gives the water a bluish tint and the shape of the fold resembles drawers.

Blue drawers is eaten cold and for breakfast, per my experience .  I'm not sure what I can compare the taste to. It is moist like a pudding but firm, coconut-ty, sweet and the raisins give it a tangy pop.  I enjoyed it with coffee and felt like I was having dessert for breakfast.

I appreciate that the ingredients were so fresh and so close to home. The bananas and  leaves were gathered from our back yard, the coconut and sweet potato were freshly grated and bought at the outdoor market.

The appearance of blue drawers reminded me of a dish in the Dominican Republic called "pastelito en hoja".  Pastelito en hoja is also wrapped in a banana leaf but it's not sweet and is has a meat filling.  In the DR, making the dish was a very social experience as a group of us gathered together under the tutelage of an experienced Dona to make our first batch..  See my posts from April 2006 for pics.

All this writing about food is making me hungry!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Di Bus

Above is a picture of a typical bus in Jamaica.  The writing on the bus, bottom left, says seats 12 but  that is almost always ignored. The bus usually holds 16-20 persons.  The pic is not of  my bus stop but is of a stop in Mobay.  I didn't take a picture of my stop because I don't want to attract attention to myself and I feel like a camera would expose me as a tourist or something.  The buses in my site are much more colorful and they have custom writing all over. My favorite bus  has bible verses written on the outside and inside.

The ride from work to home is usually about 40 minutes and costs $120 JD ($1.40 usd).  There is a bus driver and a bus loader who helps the passengers and collects the money.  The loaders is called the conductor or "ducta" which sounds like doctor to me.

Sometimes it can be quite an adventure, riding the bus home.  The adventure starts at the bus stop.
The bus stop is located at a gas station at a busy intersection of town and the bus driver is usually on the run from the Police! Why would the bus driver be on the run from the police you might ask? Because the passenger loading is supposed to take place at the bus park, not the gas station,  but the buses NEVER EVER goes to the bus park because, well I'm not sure why. So the bus drivers and the Police have this game they play where the police will show up on their bikes or on foot and the buses will scatter as the drivers are yelling at the police. The buses then circle the block until the Police leave.  It can be DRAMA, with all the running but I think I've gotten used to it. At first i thought I had stepped into the wrong bus and was confused by the police showing up and the buses running from the police.  This one day I felt like i was in an action movie, as I had just gotten on the bus when the police show up and the bus starts taking off and we are riding down the road with the door wide open.  the drivers yelling shut the door shut the door and i'm trying to shut it but its one of those sliding doors that needs some momentum. it takes a few tries but i finally get it shut.  Pheww safe on the bus.

Apart from the Police there is more DRAMA with the "ducta". Typically there are 2 or 3 buses to choose from.  The bus driver will not leave until the bus is full, so the "ductas" compete with each other to try to fill their buses first.  It's quite a spectacle when you are not the one being pulled in different directions. The  "ductas"  will literally fight over passengers, they are shouting at each other, taking your arm, pulling you in different directions, helping with your bags.  The first time for me was overwhelming so I went with the  "ducta"  that I was most familiar with and got on his bus.  Now I look for the most "ready" bus  so I don't have to sit and wait too long for the bus to fill.

Once I'm on the bus and I'm sitting and waiting for it to fill I can safely observe the spectacle.  Being on a bus sometimes is like rooting for a team or standing in line at the grocery store.  As you wait for the bus to fill you notice that another bus is filling quicker and you wonder if you picked the right bus. You want to encourage people to join your bus because the quicker it fills the quicker you can go. When people get on your bus you feel  like your team just won a point. YES!! Go "ducta". I can appreciate the "ductas" hard work and passion for filling up the bus as he runs across the street, stopping traffic,  trying to get more passengers. Not many people work with such  passion everyday.

Between each other the "ductas" tease each other in good fun and run from each other like school children.  Most of the time, if you look closely and understand what is going on, it looks like they are  having fun and as they break into smiles and laughter.   It makes me smile and laugh to see them running around trying to get more passengers.  I can write more about the "ductas" but I'll call it a post now.  Please pray for the "ductas" as they have a very stressful job yet are usually polite, helpful  and calm despite the drama :)

Saturday, January 07, 2012

My Partnering Organization

The slogan of the St. Ann PAA is "HIV/AID is everybody's business! Be a source of sustainable change!"
Just a little more about the organization that I am working closely with, the St Ann Parish AIDS Association (St Ann PAA).   Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes and Saint Ann is one of them.  The AIDS Association is an all volunteer organization.  The logo is pictured above.  Some of the things the organization does is outreach, intervention, advocacy, counseling and grants.  Last week was an exciting week as the organization awarded 3 grants to people living with HIV. The grants are to assist PLHIV in creating creating a sustainable source of income. Specifically the 3 grants were for a landscape business, a snack shop, and poultry rearing.  Currently they are organizing a Community Fair for January 21st with over 25 community groups and businesses representing their organization.

 The St. Ann PAA has some exciting projects on the horizon.  The organization has received funds to open a resource center and a cyber cafe.  I will be assisting in the set up of the cyber cafe and the resource center.  Currently  I am working on a website for the organization and will soon share that with you all. The sponsors of these projects are the National AIDS Committee, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and Peace Corps.

Pray that the Lord, our Strong Helper, will move us ahead with great Joy and Strength for his Glory.