Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh, how quickly we forget...

I was thinking about my blog recently and it dawned on me that I might not be painting the fullest picture of Jamaica as I've come to know it with my not-so-consistent posts.  I might have only hinted at this in 1 or 2 previous posts, but I must reiterate the following: Jamaica IS a developing nation.  It's a tough place to live.  It is not for the thin-skinned nor the weak-minded.
Why have I felt the need to remind my readers of this (yes, all 13 of you), you ask?  I've come to realize that I'm much more likely to post something on my blog after a pleasant experience I've had here in Jamaica than I am after a not-so-pleasant experience here.  And, whaduya know?  I haven't posted consistently since August, folks.  Life here ain't easy.  Let me give you a few examples of this and why I constantly find myself annoyed with a whole host of things here, namely the class system that plays a huge role in pretty much every aspect of Jamaican life.
1. Before I even moved to Jamaica I was able to meet my first landlord in Queens, New York while she was visiting family.  At the end of our first meeting she asked me if I was a Rastafarian. WTF!! Who does that anymore?? This is something at which I cannot even get mad.  Shame on me for not being able to foresee the difficulty I'd have with this landlord during my tenancy and long after I vacated her tiny, overpriced flat in a mock Suburb of Kingston just from that one question alone.
Please believe that there are tons of classified ads in Jamaica's newspapers in which renters request 'decent Christian individuals.'  Wheredeydodatat, you ask?  Jamaica, baby.
2. Jamaica is having extreme difficulty making up her mind on her stance on Rastafari.  In Jamaican homes, schools, and businesses the general consensus is, 'Bob Marley all day, every day.'  However, you will find that members of the Rastafari community are generally considered to be of the lower class here.  Color consciousness- excuse me- obsession with skin color continues to pervade Jamaican society.  Meeting a Eurocentric standard of beauty is key, also.  I've noticed, and my Jamaican-born schoolmates agree that retail store employers are more likely to hire applicants who are 'pretty' or 'light.'  The opposite exists where domestic workers, sometimes called helpers or maids, are concerned.  One noticeable commonality among domestic workers in Jamaica (it is very common for the average middle-class family to hire a domestic helper to do house chores throughout the week) is that they are usually middle-aged, darker complected women.  Notice a trend?
3. This place in no way caters to the handicapped or disabled.  OK, I'm whining now, but this has irked me for a while.  I often see persons in wheelchairs, walkers, or the things you place your arms into to help you walk upright because there is a physical rehabilitation center located just off of the University of the West Indies Campus, and man!...these people barely have sidewalks to walk on.  The last thing I'll say on this matter is that the U.W.I. campus has few ramps for persons with disabilities.

That concludes my overdue rant.  I leave you with descriptive photos:
My expression after the people at Courts told me I wasn't eligible for a price plan on a washer because I wasn't a Jamaican.

Negasi disappointed at the fact that the public park gates were locked at 3 p.m on a Friday afternoon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hope in Kingston: Our Trip to Kingston's Botanical Gardens

Now that the threat of Tropical Storm Thomas is behind us, Mommy, Gasi, and I decided to venture out of our safe home well-stocked with all types of hurricane preparedness things- you know, water, water, bottled tap water, more water, canned food, candles, matches, etc.- and take a trip to....WENDY'S!!! Yay!! I had ( I won't speak for Mommy or Negasi) a serious fast food itch.  I know how pathetic that sounds, but it's the truth.  
Anyway, that's not what this blog post is about.  It's about what we did after we stuffed our faces at Wendy's, which was take a stroll through one of Jamaica's Botanical Gardens, Hope Gardens.  I think I can speak for all three of us when I say we were amazed at the ability to simply walk through a tall gate (the entrance to Hope Gardens) and take ourselves away from the madness and haste that is Kingston.  The whole time there all I could think was, 'Dudus WHO? Political strife WHAT? Murder capitol WHERE?'  Hope Gardens is FREE to the public- this is a first for me in JA so I was appreciative of this alone.  The Gardens are so expansive that we did not and could not possibly have walked the entire grounds in one afternoon.  Natural beauty abounds the Gardens.  Think beautiful, ancient trees with roots whose strength you just don't see in NYC (I can't talk for the South or the rest of the US.)  OK, OK, so this is one of those things you must see.  Enough with the descriptions!! For your viewing pleasure:

Curly weave?

There he goes.

Here I come.

Mommy and Negasi.


Excited about nature...

Let's call this the 'Tree of Life'

Does this remind anyone else of Coming to America's Zamunda??

These trees make me laugh for some reason..

Everyone should hug a tree once in their lifetime.

Charlie Brown joined us for the day.

Real Bushman...I kid you not he opted to sit and eat his popsicle on this tree stump as opposed to the neatly crafted bench just steps away.  IMMEDIATELY after he took his shoes off!! Then, he orders me to remove mine.

Nature's footrest.

Return to nature

The view from down below.

This sculpture really spoke to Mommy and I because we've had to get down and dirty washing clothes by hand...we have no washer : (

Negasi against a massive tree trunk.