The worldwide Augustana College experience

Jamaica Blog #3

The tail end of the trip was a very interesting experience. Upon completion of our time at the Alpha Schools, we drove through the Blue Mountains to Boston Bay on the northwestern side of the island. Here we were again greeted by a luxurious resort, set up in the style of huts perched on top of cliffs looking over Boston Bay. However, unlike the previous resort in Runaway Bay, we were not cut off from the community at large. Jerk shops and bars lined the road that led up to our resort, and the locals aggressively peddled their food every time we went by. I greatly enjoyed my time here because ¬†we had the opportunity to play dominoes with some of the local residents. A regular at our table was a young man named Corry who looked to be about my age. He didn’t talk much about himself, other than the fact that he cooked fish locally and also sold some jerk sauce. Corry took time to get to know us and teach us some domino strategy, and was always ready to hop into a game. But the best domino player by far was a Rasta named Ray-I. He somehow managed to hold all seven dominoes in one hand and flipped them out with revealing anything. Ray-I sold carvings and jewelry down by the beach, but he was never unscrupulous, unlike some of the other vendors.

What made Ray-I a joy to be around was the fact that he didn’t seem to be judging me. Everyone in Boston Bay was friendly, but many of them seemed to be doing so only because they thought that it might gain them something. Case in point a man named Formula. Formula owned a seafood jerk shop and was the first local to approach me in Boston Bay. He was a very tall, sturdy man physically, so when he walked toward me in the dark I was a bit frightened at first. But he told me to loosen up and made polite small talk about where I was from. He then promptly proceeded to try to get me to buy something from him, every time I saw him. Formula got less friendly each time, and by the end of our time there, Formula was openly displeased with me. Corry and Ray-I, on the other hand, were friendly from start to finish. They felt genuine in their interactions with me, and I appreciated that greatly. I’m more than happy to support local businesses in Jamaica like the jerk shops, but I wasn’t in Jamaica to just be a tourist. I wanted to actually go out and meet people, and Corry and Ray-I helped me do that.

Another enjoyable encounter I had in Boston Bay was with a local vendor who I bough festival (a sweet bread) from. After buying festival from the man, he also asked me to buy something else from him. I was not interested in buying that something else, so I politely refused. The man proceeded to grab my arm and ask me why not. I told him that it was because I needed to keep myself in shape for track. The man then asked what events I ran, and I told him that I was a distance runner. I related it to Usain Bolt. I told him that Usain runs around the track one time, tops. I did it 25 times for the 10,000m run. That blew the man’s mind. “25 laps? B**** c*****!” After using a patois expletive, he ran over and drew a crowd of about 5 more people, who I had to tell about my 25 laps. A group of people who had no previous interest in me at all decided to open themselves up to a foreigner (me) because I ran track. We proceeded to trade jokes about the distance running, with one woman saying that Jamaicans aren’t cut out for distance running. Boston Bay provided an excellent chance for me to actually meet regular Jamaican people on their own terms, and I am very grateful to have had that experience.

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