Friday, August 13, 2010

So, we've been in Kingston for 2 1/2 days now and it's been busy!  Wednesday was a full, full day and the kids had to come along for all of it.  We started out early to apply for everyone's tax number, which actually didn't take too long.  We had to run back to the school to get some more paperwork in order before we headed down to the ministry responsible for issuing work visas.  We spent a long, long time there but once we were in the air conditioned part of it, none of us minded.  There are four other new teachers so we've gotten to know them pretty quickly since we've spent the majority of the last couple days together.  After the visa stuff, we went back to AISK, had some lunch and then a tour of the school.  Some grocery shopping followed that and then it was home and to bed for all of us!

Thursday (yesterday) was a great day for us because it was much more relaxed.  We got to spend the morning at home so we did some tidying up and spent an hour or so at the pool with the kids.  We just enjoyed having some free time.  I met our landlady when she dropped off a chair that she had had repaired.  She is incredibly nice and apparently her husband is too.  So, we're very lucky to have such great landlords.  This house is a new one for the school but it has turned out to be a great one.

Around noon, Anthony and Cara picked us all up and we headed out for the afternoon.  We saw Devon house, which is a national historic site.  It was pouring rain so we didn't get out but we plan on going back later to walk through the grounds and enjoy the best ice cream on the island.  They also have great "patties" (burgers) there so if we get a beef craving, that's where we'll head.  We went to a small cafe and bakery for lunch and I tried Kibbeh, which I'd never heard of before.  There are two kibbehs (these ones were stuffed with chicken) mixed with hummus and tabouleh and wrapped in a pita.  Pretty good.

Then they showed us different places where we can do our grocery shopping.  Price Smart is the equivalent of Costco or Sam's Club here in Jamaica and it looks like a great place.  Definitely the place to buy things in bulk.  So, we'll be getting a membership and stocking up once we get a car.  There's also Mega Mart which is similar but you don't need a membership.  We didn't go in so we'll have to do that soon.  There's a higher-end grocery store at Loshusan Centre, which is 2 minutes away from us.  I guess that's where we can find a lot of imported goods if we're needing something.  We didn't get a chance to look around but I'll be going back to see what's there.  We noticed that groceries aren't cheap so we're going to have to really find the best places to shop for different items.  There is a vegetable market that is not too far away so we might go there once a week nice and early to get produce cheaper and likely fresher too.

Anthony and Cara also took us on a drive up the hill to get a gorgeous view of the city.  Wow!  Definitely something to show our visitors when they come.

After our day with them was finished, we went with a man named Andrew to look at a vehicle.  Minivans aren't very popular here, though you can find Honda Odysseys at a premium price.  There are also Toyota Ipsum or Picnics, which are more carlike but with the extra seats.  We looked at a Toyota Nova and it's halfway between a North American minivan and a van.  It's older, a 2000, but it's in great shape (interior, exterior and engine) but there's no way we could afford anything new.  Duty charges on vehicles here are insane.  Andrew told us they are anything from 90% to 150%.  A 5 cylinder pickup truck's duty is 200%!  You don't see many American vehicles here because they aren't made for driving on this side of the road.  So there are a lot of Japanese vehicles, mainly Toyota and Honda.  To buy a brand new Toyota Yaris (what we had in Chile), it would cost $30 000 US.  Can you believe it?!  And used vehicles (and old ones too) are very pricey; they obviously hold their value very well.  I don't understand how there can be so many fancy vehicles here when they are so expensive but there are.  I'm guessing that there are many people who are car-poor.

Today I'm sticking around the house to wait for the technician from the internet/phone/cable company to come and install everything.  Once we get it all hooked up, we'll let you know our phone number.  We're very excited to be able to get CBC here, a luxury we've not had anywhere else.  I'm also pumped to get HGTV and the kids will be happy to have Treehouse.  Not that we are TV junkies but it'll be nice to have some familiar shows and stations.

So, I've just been busy tidying up what we have so far, while Der has been at school dealing with setting up our bank account here in Jamaica and then perhaps working out all the details with the car (if it hasn't sold already).  The kids' carseats desperately needed cleaning so I undertook that job this morning also.  Ooof, you don't realize how much you work when you do that until you are working in the heat and humidity with no fan!!  I was dripping!

Wish us luck getting the car dealt with! And if it falls through, send us good vibes to find something else, OK?  This weekend we are planning on getting pictures and videos taken so we can post them and share with you all.
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