Jamrock

It’s been about two weeks since I’ve arrived, here, in beautiful Jamaica.  I’m currently staying in an area known as Bluefields Bay.  Since arriving, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the beauty of Jamaica, and the warmth of Jamaican people.  I’m truly appreciative of this awesome opportunity.

I’m here on the island conducting my master’s research, which focuses on how marine protected areas (MPAs) affect  community members’ relationships with one another, and with their surrounding environment.  Bluefields is home to one of Jamaica’s largest MPAs, appropriately named the Bluefields Bay Special Fishery Conservation Area.  At present, this MPA is being managed by the Bluefields Bay Fishermen’s Friendly Society (BBFFS).  I’ve been fortunate enough to sit down with some of the wardens and local community members in the past two weeks.  They’ve welcomed me with open arms and I’m beginning to learn more about Jamaican culture!  Stay tuned.

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West Coast, Best Coast?

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I spent the summer of 2014 working in Alberta.  I had a great time.  I love the west coast (I guess Alberta classifies as just west coast-ish, but it’s close enough) – mountains, ocean, big trees, how can you go wrong?   During my time in Alberta, I met numerous BC- and Albert-ites that referred to Ontario as “Onterrible”.  Admittedly, that was something that I had not heard before, and I found it a little funny, if not also a little hurtful (in a light, prickly sort of way).   Some time during the summer, I was also introduced to the moniker: west cost, “best coast”.  I, of course, laughed it off.   For some reason, whether in Canada or the U.S., there seems to be some unspoken coast-to-coast rivalry – that whole “east versus west” thing.  Ontario will always be my home, and I love it with unreserved passion.

Okay, all of that aside, the west coast offers some seriously spectacular views.  A week ago, I took a brief trip through the Mojave and Death Valley (alright, so maybe I stopped in Vegas too).  The trip was remarkably hot, dry, and beautiful.

There were instances when I thought our 2002 Ford Focus would sputter and implode.  Luckily, we had about 6 liters of water in the trunk and triple A service (although, cellular service was spotty and unreliable).  As much as I like the desert, I couldn’t help but think that the planet would be an insufferable place if it became one big scorched plane.  This imagery seemed rather relevant and poignant as California continues to experience a long drought.

Oh yes, and I became reacquainted with my bovine, west coast friends.

Moooooo.

Envigorate

It’s probably time to write a blog post, as I’ve been absent for nearly three months (I’m currently experiencing a mixture of shame and embarrassment). To be frank, blogging is difficult for me because it’s hard to articulate all the random thoughts that go through my mind on a regular basis.

The student-led ENVigorate Festival took place at the University of Waterloo at the end of March.  It was an amazing access, and I wish to congratulate all those who organized it!  I hope that it becomes an annual occurrence.  There was a lot going on, with speeches, workshops, music, etc.  Needless to say, it was a lively and colourful day in the environment buildings.  Personally, I signed up for two workshops: sprouting and crocheting (it was a tough choice, there were so many things that I wanted to do).  I’ve always loved to knit, and I had heard that crocheting was quite easy, so I decided to give it a try.  I’m sure the knitters out there would understand, but the act of knitting can actually be quite addictive – perhaps, it’s the prospect of creating something from nothing with a simple repetitive motion.  Crocheting was definitely the same.  The particular workshop that I attended taught us how to crochet tea towels.  As with knitting, I found my “gauging” ability to be pretty poor, resulting in a tea towel with uneven margins.  In the end, I decided to unravel it while I was about halfway through, and am now in possession of a colourful ball of yarn that I hope to turn into a tea towel again.  What can I say, I tried.  I hope that the “Practice makes perfect!” mantra has some truth to it.  I’ve made it a point to buy some of my own crochet needles and finish my tea towel before I forget how to crochet altogether.  Perhaps, if I finish and it looks decent, I will post a picture of it :).

Sprouting was another new experience for me at the festival.  I’ve posted some pictures of my sprouts, below.  I had no idea how easy the process was, and how delicious sprouts taste when they’re fresh.  All you need a mason jar, mesh (or cheesecloth), water, and something to sprout (which you can easily get from health food stores or the Bulk Barn).  If you wish to learn more about sprouting, you can read this page.  I encourage you to try it!

Day 1

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Productivity

I saw this article recently about the hours in our day with the greatest productive capacity.  Apparently, it’s the first two hours after you wake up, according to behavioural scientist Dan Ariely.  In the past few years, I’ve grown to be a serious coffee addict.  The first two hours of my morning, in part, are spent enjoying my coffee while performing “low” tasks (e.g. e-mail, social media etc.) – exactly as Ariely describes.  I’m going to make an effort to try this new routine of making a plan before bed, and then carrying out the plan when I wake up in the morning.  For the record, I am NOT a morning person in the slightest.  I will report back on my progress.

I’m a bit rusty.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog.  At times like these, I wish that I had kept a travel blog.  Why didn’t I?  After a five year hiatus, I’ve decided to return to blogging for both personal and professional reasons.  I would like to document my life as a graduate student, and not regret a lack of record about my life as a graduate student five years from now.  There are so many memories that I wish to have preserved in writing from the past five years.  All I’ve got now are photos, and my brain (which is not the most dependable instrument).  In light of this, this blog will serve as both a current and rewinding tape of my life.  I hope that through this process, you (if anyone is reading this) will better understand how I have reached the point where I am at today.  I will try to post old photos and write little snippets about what I remember, and I will post new photos and articles that reflect my current life.  Perhaps, I am doing this just for me.  However, if you are reading this, please, sit back and enjoy.

Oh, and I still love turtles.