One of the British left-overs in Jamaica – every town has a city centre clock tower. This 17th century beauty is in Old Harbour, St. Catherine

I’ve been tracking time in months, though since I’m here for 5 months plus one week, that’s a bit off. Do I count forward from the starting point, or backwards from the end point? Today is 2 months since I arrived – fugit inreparabile tempus, as they say. Do you know Virgil never mentioned anything about fun? 🙂 It is also 99 days until I leave. I can hardly believe that in just three weeks I’ll have less time here ahead of me than behind.

And, after two months here I can still say I am just finding my feet, geographically and emotionally. I am only starting to feel some momentum in my work. I am just now looking up, and around, and setting personal and professional goals for my time here.

Five months plus a week is not enough. For some reason, if I’d had the originally planned full 6 months I’d feel like that was meaningful. But 5 months plus a week feels somehow insignificant. It’s not even half a year.

We’ll see. I’m not here on a holiday, but I do think that it’s of value to see more of the country than just the strip along the bus route from my house to any given office. It somewhat surprises me that Cuso doesn’t organize out-trips, even on a cost-recovery basis. A Saturday trip up the mountain to a coffee plantation and roastery or a Sunday beach excursion would be a little encouragement to get together and explore. It would go a long way, I think, in helping volunteers to feel really here. Yes, I make an effort to do these things, and sometimes am lucky enough to find people to do them with, but that’s me – what about the rest of the group?

City centre clock tower – May Pen, Clarendon

In fact, one of my disappointments so far has been in the lack of community that Cuso engenders. I have been told that’s because of major recent/ongoing changes in staff and programming at the local office, but to me it seems like if you’re going to send groups of people into countries, to spend money training them and tell them how to manage expectations of the experience, you might also want to manage expectations of the company. A culture of volunteer care has to start in the corporate office, and it has to be consistently translated to the country offices. That’s a huge huge order, I know, but people work better then they feel cared for and taken care of.

That said, I am grateful for all the ups and downs of this experience, and I am looking very forward to whatever my remaining time holds. It’s been as bumpy as a country road getting to this point. I am tanner and leaner than when I arrived. Not really tan, and not really lean, but moving in those directions. I have more stamina, but less clarity. I am also more raw and vulnerable. And also, perhaps, beginning to be more optimistic, to smile more, and to see the beauty of it all.

Tick tock. Tick tock.