June 8, 2009

Emancipation Park and Fieldwork with the Kids

June 8, 2009

This morning, I called Evelyn, a deportee, to ask her when we might be able to meet up to talk about her deportee resettlement agency, “Land of my Birth.” She let me know that she couldn’t meet today, but that I should call her tomorrow to set something up. My plans to start my fieldwork foiled, I spent the morning working on a book review.

After lunch, we decided to walk over to Emancipation Park, which is just under twenty minutes walking from where we live in Uptown Kingston. Emancipation Park is reminiscent of a plaza in a Latin American city. It has a large fountain in the middle, with several brick paths leading away from it. Each path is lined with some sort of vegetation – palm trees, flower bushes, or these interesting, warped trees. From these well-maintained gardens, you can see the high rise hotels that predominate the skyline in New Kingston as well as the Blue Mountains that encircle the city.

I stayed at the park with my daughters, and Nando went downtown to the market to buy some vegetables. The veggies are outrageously expensive at the supermarket. I saw a cauliflower for about US $6.00. Vegetables are a bit more reasonable at the market downtown. We agreed to meet Nando at the apartment later on.

There are about half a dozen security guards at Emancipation Park, and they are pretty hard-core. I wasn’t surprised that they asked Tatiana not to climb up the light post, but when they asked me to take my bare foot off of the bench where I had perched it, I thought that a bit extreme. A few minutes later, the guard came back to warn Raymi to take her bare feet off the bench. Raymi had bent her knees to rest her book on her legs, but that was against the rules.

As usual, Tatiana, Soraya, and Raymi quickly made friends. They found two girls about their age, and set about playing like they were in summer camp. Running around barefoot, Raymi scraped her foot and her toe began to bleed. I took her to the bathroom to rinse it off. She continued to fuss about it for a while. An elderly Chinese woman sitting next to us told Raymi she should spit on it to make it feel better. Raymi decided against taking that advice.

It was a relatively cool afternoon, and there were quite a few people walking around the track they have set up around Emancipation Park. It made me want to join in on the exercising. But, I wanted to keep an eye on the kids. And, I hadn’t brought my running shoes. Maybe one of these days.

I feel like having the children in some ways enhances my personal safety. It certainly gave me a reason to be in Emancipation Park and appeared to ward off any potentially unwelcome advances. People seem to be less likely to bother a mother than they would an otherwise unattached female. Taking the kids to the park is part of my fieldwork. If I were alone, I would have to go to the park by myself, and sit there with a notebook, taking notes. That might look a bit odd.

After the park, we went to Juici Patti to get some food. I really wanted some of their conch soup, which is delicious. But, they were out. So, we just got patties, and then ice cream for Raymi and Soraya and carrot cake for Tatiana. On the way home, Raymi spilled her ice cream on the floor, but didn’t make a fuss of it.

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