Thursday, September 30, 2010

That Nicole is a B%$#@!

You know, back in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, I took a break from watching the 24-hour news coverage on it and thought to myself, "Damn, I'd hate to be named Katrina right now." Well, whadayaknow... Tropical Storm Nicole has mashed up Jamaica over the past few days and will continue to do so through the weekend.  I've never been scared of rain, but I've been thoroughly frightened the last two nights finding myself wanting Negasi to run to me in fear of the lightning and thunder just so that I wouldn't feel so bad.  He was fine with it all.  Lots of running and exaggerated and prolonged screams, but this was all for fun.

Seriously though, Nicole is a bitch.  She's destroyed numerous roads, bridges, farmlands and homes across the island.  9 people are said to have passed as a result.  The destruction caused by the storm raises many concerns around Jamaica's infrastructure.  One of the most tragic incidents occurred just minutes away from my first residence in an area called Sandy Gully.  A family of six was inside of a home built on a gully whose wall collapsed during the storm.  Subsequently, this home and two others, which were vacant, also collapsed.  I think the following comment made by a reader of one of Jamaica's newspapers encapsulates very well my initial thoughts when I heard this awful story.

 Sorry about the loss of lives.

Jamaicans please stop building your homes on gully banks. Life is hard and much poverty exist, but I learnt in sunday school in the 60's, the foolish man build his house upon the sand and the rain came tumbling down. The rain came down and the floods went up and the house on the sand went splash.

Look at the homes on Red Hills Road Sandy Gully bank, mushrooming like wild fire. Is no one looking? The government must address this with the same conviciton they went about in their defense of particular citizens. The lives of the Jamaica people are important, poverty is real, hard life is real, but come up with a solution. Singapore provide homes for its citizens with stringent rules and regulations. Jamaicans, become discipline and let the rules work, it is for your benefit in the long run. No more homes on gully bank, river bank or river bed no matter. Doing as you like will only cost more lives. The sea always come back and claim its course.  

Pray for the families affected by the storm.
Peace and LOVE.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bob Marley, Immortal Soul

So we took a trip to the Bob Marley museum over the weekend.  This marked my second visit and it was just as rewarding as the first.  It's definitely a tourist-y spot but I'd recommend it to any and everyone with just an ounce of admiration for Bob- excuse me- the Honorable Robert Nesta Marley.  He received this title when, in 1981, he was awarded Jamaica's third highest honor, the Order of Merit.
Is this or is this not an awesome pic?  Come on, I expect to see some comments on this one.  At long last, we get a glimpse into what Negasi was up to during his past life.  Hehe.
I mean, I have for a long time been a fervent Bob fan, which has led me to learn his life story, a majority, if not all, of his music, etc. etc., but I still got chills as I walked through a guided tour of his former home and recording studio turned museum located on Hope Road in Kingston.  I would definitely go as far as saying his spirit was alive and present in the home while we were there.  Unfortunately, but understandably cameras are not allowed inside the museum so I haven't a thing to show you of the actual exhibit inside the home.  However, I'd use the following words to describe the tour.  Breathtaking. Skin tingling. Inspirational.
OK. I'm going to keep this post short, but I want to leave you with a few sidenotes.
1. Bob Marley was once named 2nd sexiest man in the world. (faints on the floor)
2. I had a Wayne Marshall sighting shortly after leaving the museum.  I know, I know.  Less exciting, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Peace and LOVE!!
Can ya see me? Can ya see me?

Crash Course: Life 101

How long has it been?  2, 3 weeks?  There is much to be written about.  Where do I begin? I will start by saying my living situation here in Kingston has taken a total twist in that I am no longer residing at my cozy (disgustingly overpriced) 1-bedroom flat nestled within Kingston’s suburban neighborhood of Hope Pastures.  Why?  Because the inevitable took place.  What every Jamaican living in New York warned me about actually came to pass.  You guessed it.  My flat was robbed.  The thief got away with my Blackberry phone (what on Earth was I doing with one anyway-in Jamaica or America?) and a wad of money I had withdrawn in hopes of purchasing a vehicle.  Boohoo.   Instantly traumatized and unwilling to take any chances with not one, but two laptops in the flat I packed my bags and the three of us were out.  Being uprooted in this manner- so abruptly and unexpectedly- when I was just beginning to get comfy (perhaps this is a no-no for a foreigner anyway) led me to feel extremely disappointed and a bit depressed.  I felt (still feel) like I was literally being forced to start all over again when I was already beginning to feel a little behind because the bougieness and seclusion derived from my being in this ‘suburban’ neighborhood was, in several ways, starting to inhibit my contact with the “real” Jamaica. I mean, daily door-to-door car service is enough to shield anyone’s eyes from the realities, whether  painfully harsh or beautifully genuine, of any country.  To make a long story short my depression, albeit brief, has come to an end. Back to discovering and enjoying the island...
Although the incident put me through the ringer it proved to be a most abundant source of reflection.  I’ll list the lessons I believe should be taken away from this experience and others that have since taken place as a result.
  1. ALWAYS listen to your spirit.  What I mean by this is that I kept telling myself it’s ridiculous to need cash money to purchase a car.  It doesn’t matter that this is not America.  It’s illogical.  Anyway, after being encouraged to do so by others I withdrew the money.  Money gone.
  2. It’s a powerful skill to know how to create a balance between the wants and concerns of family members and those of your own.  Chances are your family’s concerns, regardless of how overwhelming they may become, are genuinely out of love.  However, it’s important not to lose sight of your own goals and wants and concerns while trying to satisfy your family.
  3. Never give up.

I will leave you with the lyrics to Dennis Brown’s “A True.”  Fitting, no?  Peace and LOVE.

We got to know what we're living for
We got to know what we're loving for
We got to know who we're praying to
We got to know what we're singing for
We got to know who we're playing with
We got to know what we're working for
We got to know who we're talking to
We got to know what we're listening for
We got to know what we're writing for
We got to know what we're dancing for
We got to know what we're striving for

A true, mmm, a true, mmm
A true, mmm, a true

Monday, September 6, 2010

Country Livin' Part II

I just liked this butterfly.  We kicked it for a while.  I was surprised to still see her there each time I came onto the porch.
Roasted breadfruit.

Poor cows.

Father. Son. Sugar cane. Common ground

Country Livin': Our Trip to Lambs River in the Parish of Westmoreland

Good news.  Negasi and I have received a visitor!  Whom, you ask?  Negasi's Dad.  Yes, yes, finally some relief from our bout with homesickness.  I will let you watch the following video because I think it best captures the significance of "the reunion."

So, soon after our visitor arrived it was off to the parish of Westmoreland to see the home in which Negasi's Grandpa Brian was raised.  Instead of truly roughing it on one of Jamaica's infamous cross-country bus rides we rented a car- a cute Toyota Yaris.  We quickly realized that our plans to leave Kingston at 8 a.m. to head to 'country,' as Westmoreland and I believe most parishes outside of Kingston are termed,  were senseless. Why?  Because Jamaican time is real, people!  A friend of Negasi's grandfather's and resident of Spanish Town had agreed to meet us at 8 a.m. sharp and "escort" us to country.  Believe me when I say that we didn't hit the road until 2 p.m.  Let's call our escort Johnie.  Johnie somehow knew everyone we encountered on the road, young and old, so getting to the car rental place was a journey in its own.
Our 2-day rental (and Negasi on the left)

The Ride

Laaaaaawd! That car ride. That car ride.  The roads through Jamaica's hills are no joke!  They are narrow, not lit at night, and they are without railguards, so basically don't look down. : /  To get a better sense of the fright in our hearts as Johnie's friend drove us through the windy, narrow roads of the never-ending hills think of that traveling fair that stops through a town near you once per year.  You know,  the one your parents brought you to when you were really young, but stopped after the countless stories on Oprah about how hazardous and shoddy the rides are.   OK, we're on the same page.  Now, I'd liken the drive through Jamaica's hills to the ride at the traveling fair that you couldn't wait to be tall enough for. This was also the most hazardous ride- wooden tracks, no seat belts, only a handrail that you'd hold onto for dear life.  In short, we were relieved each time we made it to our destination.

The Home in Country

Webster's dictionary needs to insert a photo of the home we visited beneath their entry for the word, 'tranquil.'  The ambiance of this place was just so relaxing- and naturally so.  For all the folks who are into aromatherapy this and that, you'd love country.  Why?  Because you are able to bask in nature's own aromatherapy.  On my first walk around the house my senses were greeted by deliciously fragrant grapefruit.  Not like the stuff they sell at Bath & Body Works, now.  This wouldn't make you dizzy or lightheaded or make you want to throw up after a while like that fake ish.  Just good and natural grapefruit- not too loud, not too faint.  It made me giggle. *Teehee*
And then there was the greenery.  Avocado tree here.  Breadfruit tree there. Sugarcane around the back and countless herbs scattered about the place.  So lush, so healthy.  It all just screamed, "Come live here and be healthy with us!"  In short, our stay was not nearly as long as it should have been.  We've already made plans to return.  

Before I close this post out I want to give a big shout out to Grandpa Brian also known as Mr. Brian also known as Uncle Brian also known as Uncle B also known as Brian (pronounced Bri- aahn..Grandma Lavern, where you at?)  When you visit someone's home you learn a little bit more about them, understand them a bit better.  It's only a humble place like country that can birth a man just as humble.  Peace and Love always.

The entrance

Watch out, Bath&Body Works.