August 03, 2011

jamaica in summer

Last Wednesday was the longest day in history.
Thursday was oh so much better ... once I was on the plane to MoBay. The flight was totally packed with so many people and pieces of carry on that the steward had to ask everyone to shift some of it under the seats in order to get the big pieces in the overhead bins. Elders, families, babies and children, college kids, rockstars, and the occasional Caucasian all headed to the island. I cannot count the times I was asked “Why are you going to Jamaica?” I simply answered I needed to go home. The furrowed brows and quizzical looks only slightly outnumbered the “Oh, you have a black man there” comments. “I’m looking for a little house to buy so I can move next year”, seemed to take most of them by surprise ;) Culture is a beautiful thing.
Immigration: by the hundred little gods. 28 immigration officers on duty, 3 rat maze lines with 10 snaky bends apiece, each bend holding 30-40 people shuffling along in the nonexistent air conditioning, I’m sure I saw a couple of people go down while working their way through the maze. Not to mention the mash up of other sardines still arriving and backed all the way up the arrival ramps to the top and around the corner at four abreast. The grumbling twenty somethings and fractious children with harried parents all straining for movement forward, hats, tickets and pieces of anything employed as fans.
Me, I was simply joyous to be home. Sweatrag in hand and Chinese fan stashed in my bag I breathed in the humidity and sweet green air (though somewhat polluted by the gent two people in front of me) and waited for my turn. It just didn’t really matter because I knew at the end of it was a lovely ocean drive through masses of humanity and crazy drivers that marks every homecoming.
Over two and a half hours but my suitcase was right there and a cart handy nearby and my knee had not given out. Out of the terminal and into the mad crush of travellers seeking their people or transport, taxi drivers hustling fares, offers of just about anything flying furiously, a smile and no thanks sufficed. Once past the main jamb up I stopped and took another deep breath and heard “DK” over the buzz of the crowd. And there they were Doc my little brother sunshine on two feet and my Ivan.
The rest of the evening was lovely and quiet, got settled in the condo across the garden from the last place I stayed. Doc hauled my stuff in storage down from his place; Ivan ran and got us food from Sweet & Spicy, brown chicken and dumplings, rice and peas, fried plantains and carrot & beet juice. Mm mm mm.
The look on Doc’s face when I handed him a stack of over 200 photos (he’d asked for a few for the house after I brought the last ones in April) was freaking priceless. Then I showed him the clips he could use to make a montage and change it up whenever he wanted. I think I’ll have to be sitting down with him and set it up before I go or they will still be sitting in a stack the next time I get back ;) ~ shiny~
Friday morning Doc made a brief visit after dropping Annette at work. He was running to get everything arranged for the food stand he and friend were setting up in the road between Margueritaville and the Dancing Moon for ATI. He had soup to make, Annette’s fried chicken and rice and peas, breadfruit and corn. Nevermind chasing down the charcoal guy who had disappeared to the hills to tend his animals and was late on the charcoal delivery. Always busy,never missing an opportunity to make some J, in a tourism economy you either work on a resort, are lucky enough to secure one of the few jobs in local shops, make your own job or go hungry.
Ivan and I headed downtown, went to the Cambio for Js, bought a new phone cause mine from Jan was toast, a jug for water for the fridge, groceries at another new market and then it was down to the new fishing beach up under the bridge before the roundabout. Ivan picked up some lovely crabs - alive and kicking - to make curried crab for supper and once he had them cooked off he was down to see Breadfruit about the boat for the next few days and I was in the ocean. I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with the locals and a couple of regulars at Mariners who were in town.
What I didn’t know about Independence week when I hit the beach to meet Ivan at Traveller’s, was that ATI, was the weekend before Independence. This weekend. A combination of Spring Break, Carnival, and Mardi Gras all done up Jamaican style was investing Negril. It used to be held in Ochos Rios, but Ochos was too small so it was moved here. Complete cultural immersion. Karaoke at Travelers with Ivan and a few J&B, then off to Alfred’s on the beach around midnight. Too much tequila and home around 4am.
The entirety of Norman Manley Boulevard, the main seven mile strip, was in a mad state of mini construction as locals built temporary vendor stalls cheek by jowl down the road. But I had no idea what Sat/Sun/Mon would be like, how could I?
Saturday dawned a torrential downpour, clearing as the sun, and then the music began to pervade the resort around noon. We just settled in for a nice quiet day listening to the craziness swirling around us cuddled up talking and watching National Geographic ;) Well, until the people next door to us broke out into open warfare. I hadn’t visited that kind of drama for a long time. The heat, too much liquor and an overabundance of passion melted all the neighbour's filters away. The popo were called in after awhile and it was settled after about 3 hours ... and you do not interfere.
Sunday rose bright and shiny, Ivan was playing a private party at Scrub-a-Dub that afternoon so Doc came and grabbed me to visit Annette between trips to the road stand;) Traffic was already stupid at the roundabout (only 2 lanes), the petrol station a line of ants. Up the road past Shell it started to clear but pedestrians were already packing the roadsides & the little local bars were booming.
Once we turned up the switchback to Doc’s road, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the road crews had actually done some work and filled in a few of the biggest pot holes, especially the place where you had to almost stop the car to navigate the ruttage, and the, lo and behold, for the first time ever, there was no water running down the hill from the water main under constant non-repair to Doc’s place. I was so surprised I had to get him to stop so I could take a picture just for Charlie.
Annette’s garden is growing and blooming like mad. Some of the flowers that only grow 2 feet high in Canada were over 4 feet tall. Doc has the yard lights in but the screen still isn’t up;) Doc started the prep for more soup; I cracked a cold one and settled in for the afternoon. Once Doc was on his way back to town Annette and I sat down and had an afternoon of girltime – I so love her. AND both pairs of shoes fit perfectly and she loved the style of them so it was a win-win with my foot shaped paper cut out ;) We went through the pictures and discussed housing & construction – building vs. buying, what to bring and what I could get here at a decent cost. Sewing and patterns, clothing and recipes, along with some local gossip were chatted over coffee on the doorstep in the sun. Obscured by clouds and warned by sky and the low growl of thunder we headed inside for a cool one and dominoes. Annette is a very good teacher and I managed to actually win a few games using all of the tiles like a real adult(it’s an option as to how many you use). The afternoon lightning show was phenomenal, literally vibrating the house with the thunder but it cooled everything down a bit and the worst was over in an hour. Doc wandered back around 6, and then it was showers, a quick stop at the hotel for a change of clothes, extra smokes and down to Doc’s road stand.
Welcme to CRAZYTOWN.
Bumper to bumper vehicles of every description, loaded with people including their trunks and waybacks with lids and doors open, hanging off the sides of service trucks, riding on top of whatever load was being hauled, standing through sunroofs. Motorbikes snaking in and out of traffic wherever they pleased, going 10 times faster, sometimes with three passengers, than anything else in the road. Music pounding from every direction, the cacophony of street hawkers, and the mouth-watering scents of real food being cooked over open fires up and down the boulevard saturates the senses. Sitting on a cooler in the back of Doc’s food stall I watched the parade wishing for nothing else than my good camera with the telephoto lens ... Everyone was stylin’. All the stereotypes were strolling side by side with those in their Sunday best and some with the only clothes to their name: rastaman, bboy, dancehall, schoolgirl, grandparents, families, and the gamut of singles, sequinned bikini bikinis covered by fishnet shirts or not, with heels or gladiator sandals, little black dresses and a rainbow of colour and ruffles and bling, suits, board shorts of every description, jeans and the inevitable display of men’s drawers ;) Cocktail dresses and daisy dukes (occasionally with front zippers undone to a perfect V), hipster pants & clamdiggers, animal prints, neons, and all the sunbright yellow orange and reds salted with black&white, hats caps and scarves, sarongs, pleather and a hula skirt, skin art and collections of arm bands from the venues. Oh, what a show. Words cannot convey the ferocity of the pleasure seekers, it must be experienced.

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improvise & overcome

... and why would I choose to associate myself with a term that most used used in a derogatory manner?
In order to change the meaning of a word or create a new meaning for a word, one must own the word. Over time and use the word may evolve to mean other than was originally intended & to that end...
my definition: an independent woman

dictionary definitions:

1. informal term for a (young) woman
2. an unsupervised umarried woman
3. a young woman or girl, esp. a peasant girl.
(usually facetious)
3. a woman servant
4. a wanton woman
5. Archaic: a strumpet
[Origin: 1250–1300; ME, back formation from wenchel, OE wencel child]

synonom :"dame"

Women Entitled to Nothing but Complete Happiness

International Wenches Guild

what do you believe?


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