As my Web site title implies, “Almost Published” does not mean published. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even mean that my novel is finished, though I am at the point where I need outside editing and feedback to make it good enough so I would want it to be published, let alone good enough for someone else to want to publish. I’m considering paying for professional help (for the book, not for me), but the practical side of me hesitates at spending more than a small portion of my savings on an unpublished book that has no guarantee of making me money. The more imaginative side of me says that finishing my novel is part of my dream, and I am on a deadline.
Why am I on a deadline? Not because I have an agent, or a publisher, or even a somewhat arbitrary date set by the folks at Nanowrimo, but because I have a due date: November 28. If all goes as planned, my husband and I will have our first child sometime around the end of November or beginning of December. We are both very excited about this new stage in our lives, but I also predict that it will put my writing progress on hold for at least a few years.
Now that it’s been almost a month since I got back from Jamaica, it’s about time that I complete a blog post telling about the second part of my trip. After leaving the Calabash Festival, Matt and I spent some time in two parts of the island: Portland, IMHO the most beautiful parish, and Kingston, certainly not the most beautiful part but the place where I know the most people.
The organizer of the Calabash Festival was kind enough to give us a ride back to Kingston with a van full of authors and musicians, which provided for good conversation and relative comfort. For the 3 ½ hour ride from Kingston to Port Antonio (the capital of Portland parish), however, Matt (my husband) and I got to take the country bus. I thought it would be good for Matt to get a little taste of the Peace Corps experience, but Matt did not find the Peace Corps experience as charming and character-building as I did.
Though the details differ, many RPCVs share similar stories about public transportation in the developing world— the goal is to fit as many people as possible onto the vehicle with little regard for their comfort. Matt and I actually weren’t that bad off (despite what he might think) because we both got our own seats on the bus and our suitcases were stored in front of us instead of on our laps like I had feared. Plus, Jamaicans only put people on their buses, unlike some countries that transport chicken and livestock in the same vehicles as people. And Jamaican buses don’t put people on the roof. Still, it was both impressive and frightening to see how many people they fit on that bus. At one point, when I thought they had already fit the last person who could possibly fit onto the bus, it pulled over to pick up not one, but three school girls. They got the school girls crammed inside because the “conductor” of the bus (he hustles people onto the bus and collects the fares) left the door open and hung out of it while it wove around sharp curves on the windy mountain road. One guy we met at our hotel told us that he once was on a bus where they passed a kid in through the window because he couldn’t fit through the door. After about half an hour of the hot, crowded ride, Matt had experienced enough Peace Corps life for his liking. Too bad we still had three hours left . . .
When we finally got to our resort, though, it was worth it. We stayed at a place called Great Huts in Boston Beach, which combines African-style architecture with tourist-caliber amenities. We were in the Almond Tree House, which is really built around a tree. I met the owner and founder of the resort, a doctor from New York, at the synagogue in Kingston when I was the Peace Corps and he let me stay there twice during my Peace Corps term for free while it was still under construction, once when my parents visited. It’s much more built up now and has several new features, including a swimming pool on the side of the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Of course, it was no longer free, but they did give us a nice discount as returning guests.