From the first post, you know we went to Jamaica for 3 days. It wasn’t a long time at all, and yet, it will yield 2 very different blog posts.
Here goes # 2. This post is kind of like a love letter to Jamaica. I’m not going to talk about the Jamaica that tourists get though.
(Beach photos taken from Google)
Although, the beautiful beaches are one part of my home, this love letter won’t hide the flaws that we have.
I already told you that we arrived exhausted. We hadn’t showered in 40 hours or slept in 32 when we landed at the airport in Kingston. Nonetheless, we took a pic at the airport so we could send it to our friends who were stuck in the cold.
On our way to the house I noticed a restaurant that was not there before. It immediately caught our attention and we decided that we had to check it out before we left. We did and it was pretty neat.
Now listen, Mexican food is not one of my favourites really, but … Ackee and plantain nachos? Jerk chicken burritos? Cool! I’m in. (Don’t let the $900 price tag for the burritos turn you off. That’s about US$7.)
We washed them down with – what else? Jamaica’s “cerveza” of course – Red Stripe.
Walking down the street we stopped to purchase some fruit. I would never in a million years purchase food from any of these establishments in America but in Jamaica, it’s all good. Plus, the customer service from the proprietor was good.
Take a look at these yellow pages billboards that tried to fat shame me, this guy selling shoes on the curb and the “Fun Fast Food” stand.
On Saturday, we stole away for an hour to get massages. They are just as good as any you’d get in the States but for half the price. Also, in a first for me, the full body massage included getting my tummy rubbed. Interesting.
(At the spa)
Considering that it was such a short trip, we squeezed a lot in. I got to see some frineds from high school and tried a drink called a Henny Colada. Let me tell you … It was GOOD.
In classic Jamaican fashion, there are lots things that could get you in a twist if you let it, but you just cannot. Hot water in private homes is a luxury. My Aunt has a water heater which is great but it needs to be turned on when you need it and then off to conserve electricity. We had forgotten to turn it on before heading out one night so we took COLD showers. Wooooo! I am not ashamed to say that I did not wash my back or my hair that time. I laughed about it, sent Shaunie in and wished her well. I’m pretty sure she didn’t wash her back either. While we were out, (and I was sipping on my Henny Colada), one of my friends ordered food. The waitress brought it out to him and then informed him that he had made the wrong choice and should have gotten something else. He asked her why she hadn’t said that BEFORE he ordered. Turns out she was right and it wasn’t very good. Oh well. He’ll know for next time.
At yet another food spot, I was to get a cup of tea. After waiting for a few minutes, I was told that the hot water machine wasn’t working. After waiting for a while longer, I asked if I could get something else instead. I was told that I would have to pay for it separately since tea is what came with my combo meal. (huh?). I didn’t let it bother me. It’s island life. I asked for my tea bag and a cup and took it to go. I could make my own tea at the house. Shaunie was incredulous. Her comment was … “THAT could never happen in America. They’d get horrible Yelp reviews and they’d be out of business.” LMAO!!!!!
My Aunt lives with her best friend. They’ve been best friends forever. That best friend has a friend who she’s known since she was 4 years old. He and his daughter picked us up from the airport. The daughter is also the person who stays with my Aunt if the friend needs to go out so she’s not home alone. That’s just the way things go in MY Jamaica. Friends are family and they help each other any way they can. It’s super common for folks to have that kind of community and you cannot buy that for all the money in the world.
One day we had to go see my Aunts cardiologist – who by the way – is a past student of hers and not only doesn’t charge her for services, she also got the other doctors who treated my Aunt when she was admitted to the hospital not to charge her either.
Driving around in Kingston, you don’t see beaches or tourists in bikinis, but you do see lots of interesting things. You see local guys trying to wash your windows at stop lights to earn a buck and you see beggars asking for money and/or food.
I tend to fan off the window washers, because they can be a bit annoying, but this time around I was feeling generous so we gave one a few dollars. I also gave a beggar some food.
We didn’t take any pictures of them.
Life for many locals isn’t easy … But I love that no matter how hard life is, Jamaican people find joy. They love music and dancing and on any night of the week, there is some party to attend. I love that it’s generally understood that when it rains people don’t go to work. I love that we are proud of our little country. I love that they play the national anthem at the start of every movie in the cinema and I love that Jamaican people love a reason to dress up. They tend to keep their places neat and tidy no matter what they are working with. I love that strangers say good morning when they walk by you and that children address adults as “Miss This” or “Mister That”. You may even be called Auntie or Grandma by a complete stranger. It’s a sign of respect. I love that friends just stop by without calling first and that they may come bearing the gift of some mangoes since it’s early in mango season and they are hard to come by right now or they may come looking to see if you have a sweet snack to offer them. I love that Jamaica has awesome ice-cream; Although, as a general rule, menu’s are kind of useless because chances are good that at any given time, they won’t have all the listed items. On this trip, I had to settle for grapenut since Devon House was out of rum and raisin. No problem.
In Jamaica, there is a lot to be desired. Crime and unemployment rates are too high and the education system doesn’t cater to the poor. In some areas, there are more potholes than there is road, but people are willing to share the little they have, on January 21st they are still wishing you Happy New Year, there is always something to celebrate, men get very creative when dishing out compliments and you can always find a reason to smile. Also, as my Aunts friend joked when we woke to the news on the 19th, “At least OUR government is not shut down.”
This is not the all-inclusive resort Jamaica but it’s the Jamaica that has my heart.
(In the garden and driving on the left while eating my ice-cream)
(More back yard garden and the mountains just outside the front gate)