Sunday, December 5, 2010

The week has been full with long and busy days mostly spent at DRF working on the Annual Report for the AGM next week, exploring potential funding sources from calls for proposals and happily receiving confirmation of funding from UNICEF for a recently submitted proposal. In addition of course time with students, who are preparing for exams, and negotiating with schools to ensure they are permitted to write their exams despite suspensions.
Christmas is definitely in the air. Attending church for the morning sermon is quite unneccessary at this time of year, one needs simply to ride the buses! The Christmas season seems to soften the tone of the preaching from the more threatening tone at other times of the year. In addition to the sermons there is the singing. One day this week the sermon and singing was from a man whose resemblance to Ray Charles was not only his blindness but also his incredible voice! Gospel being rendered passionately by a man who sings like a cross between Ray Charles and Keb Mo is great accompaniment on the morning journey to work.

The grocery store has increased its supply of flour and dried fruits as fruit cakes are being made in most kitchens. As with so many things here, there is serious competition as to who makes the best fruit cake and great pride from the baker regarding her (or occasionally his) particular recipe and creation. There are various kinds - moist and well soaked in rum, dense with fruit, more "cakey", those made with fruit soaked for months or even years in rum, those cooked well in advance and steeped in liquor, those freshly baked and eaten immediately, dark ones and light ones. My experience is that they are all delicious and I graciously and with appreciation receive any that I am given! I remember fondly a gift from Markham last year of a particularly delicious one, thank you Kharma.

The darker side to the pre-Christmas season is being more aware when walking around. Crime and muggings increase at this time of year as people carry parcels and often more money. The dark falls early and provides cover for quick get aways, so extra caution is required. As I was walking home one evening a young woman waiting for a taxi asked if she could walk with me as no taxis were available. She was walking home and uncomfortable doing so alone, however the protection of a small, older white woman was more than adequate! A reflection of the respect still afforded, about which I have to say I have mixed feelings. Regardless, the company was pleasant and we enjoyed the walk together.

Friends and colleagues are making plans, as am I and Christmas this year will see me in Barbados with my daughters and the Bajan side of the family. Another tropical Christmas with the only white stuff being the sand on the beach and the only ice being that in our drinks! As well as the delight of sun and warmth, it will be wonderful to spend some time with my brother and his family.

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