I Have Come Home

My dream of living in Jamaica has come true. A year ago, I recalled seeing a sign in the airport beckoning me to return; so I have answered! With new adventures, especially extended ones, it is hard to get excited when you are leaving friends and family behind. It’s hard to be excited after giving up your apartment, resigning from your job, and giving away your car, to live in the unknown. Yet, I have said my good-byes and I have given up my life at my former home and now a new one awaits. This time, Jamaica is just as I left it.

Related: Follow my heart?

I have found the same “marketplace” outside the doors of the airport; and I am greeted with the hot Jamaican sun as I make my way out. This time I am prepared. I tried not to seem as if I have come homeI was struggling to remove the two suit cases and a small hand luggage off the trolley. One of the suitcases is almost as tall as me. I managed to get myself together and pull my luggage, along with my laptop bag swung over my shoulder. For a petite girl, my trying to pretend I have everything under control is painfully foolish; as I see one man steering at me. He had helped me lift the larger luggage from off the trolley and as I wheel them out on my own, I see him staring still. I scanned the marketplace and found a few empty spots in the row of chairs, so I make my way there. My face is stern, attempting to give the facade that I know what I’m doing, and I am no foreigner. I walked pass men sitting comfortably on a high ledge, designed to hold large plants. They watch me organize my luggage next to the chair I was going to sit. I took my seat next to my luggage, exchanged my eyeglasses for sunglasses and did a quick scan of my surroundings. The men were now staring out in the distance. I remove my sweater for at this point I was sweating profusely, and I pulled up my long brown dress from revealing so much cleavage. I could feel the caribbean breeze blowing on my skin.

A few mintues ago I started to wonder whether I was ever going to leave the airport. The customs officer needed an address for the place I was going to stay at, and I did not have one to give her. She sent me down to the information centre to have my cousin, Donald, paged over the intercom. I had left my passport with the same officer because as she puts it, “this is the process. You go down to get the address and you come back to see me.” I walked off in the direction of her finger pointing. Donald didn’t respond. While I was standing at the counter, still waiting for a rapid reponse, I examined my letter of acceptance from the University of the West Indies, and starred at the university’s address printed on the letterhead. Since it was hard for me to remember Donald’s address; the place I had stayed a year ago, I decided to write the name of the hall I had applied for and the address of the university. I told the woman at the counter who had paged Donald, who was no longer paying me any attention, that I would come back just in case she was wondering what I was up to. I walked towards the same custom officer; and after the person in front of me left, she beckon for me to come. I handed the scribbled address to her and she happily wrote it down and said, “all I needed was an address. You are a Jamaican”. Then, she returned the customs form to me. I was free to leave.

Donald appeared from out of nowhere and was now standing a few inches from me. We made eye contact. And just in case he did not see me, I waved. He made his way towards where I was sitting, while talking on his cellphone. He removed the phone from his ear and hugged me. “Were you here long? I was circulating the area”.

“No, I sat down five minutes ago”.

He helped me roll my luggage to the road side and left me there to get his car from the parking lot. I did this before. I knew it wouldn’t be long for his return, and the other waiters now know I am no stranger to this land.

Jamaica had been anticipating my return and I’m greeted with warmth and tranquility. I am familar with the long road from the airport, and the sea that sits on the outskirt that borders the land. There is no surprise. I drive through New Kingston, a stop at Donald’s air conditioned workplace, and later we eat lunch at Scotchie’s. My first meal is festival and jerk chicken with coconut water to drink. We sit under a hut, on chairs made from bamboo. I felt the cool Jamaican breeze blowing and when I listen quietly, I can hear the wind singing praises for my return. Yes, I have come home.

Day 45: The Last Day

The Last DayCould there be a more perfect last day? I would assume it would just be a drive from home to the airport- as it generally should have gone. Instead Jamaica gave me a thank you gift by revealing its beauty to me one last time.

Emancipation park, located in Kingston, is such a lovely place to relax. It’s a place where newlyweds come to take pictures, where school’s will take a day trip, even where couples might come to share a romantic evening. It is laced with trees and flowers and benches. Small sound boxes are camouflaged in the park, you can hardly notice them but for the sound of music that emanates which creates for a lovely ambiance. This is where I spent my last few hours.

I arrived into Kingston before 9am and I walked from halfway tree to the park. Pictures were taken, conversations were shared and in general Jamaica made me feel appreciatedThe Last Day . Jamaica was happy to have me and is now sad to see me go. The morning sun was warm and pleasant on the skin, the breeze filled the air with coolness. I observed Jamaica one last time and thought about the future- “when will I see you again?” It was hard to believe I was leaving this experience behind to go back to reality. I couldn’t see anything but the moment. Even when I saw that it was well after 11am- already I was in the park for more than two hours! I was not in any panic. I suppose I’ve been in these situations before where It seem that I’m going to miss my plane but everything always works out in the end. The truth is, waiting in the park was so much better than waiting at the airport.

It was almost 12pm when I arrived at the airport. The sign on a large billboard along the way reads, “Please come back”. That made me smile. Jamaica realized that I did not succumb to its appealing beauty and was now pleading for me to return. Boarding started at 12:35pm. This part of the airport is beautiful. I could not help but stop to read some of the lovely posters along the hall towards the gate. As I am reading the posters in the design of a postcard, I see that there were other visitors that felt the same about Jamaica. It is so much more than beaches and resorts. There is so much to do! When you leave, you are already anticipating when you’ll return. Jamaica does that to you with all its charms. You ultimately make the decision before you leave that you want Jamaica to be part of your life in the future.

The Last Day So there I was walking towards the airplane, still oblivious to the fact that I’m going to another country, my home. I never revisit a country but Jamaica probably would agree that it’s different. This is not just a country, it’s a home. It welcomes you on your arrival- whether you are a resident, a visitor or someone like me (an inbetweener) it intends for you to actually feel at home and will not object if you choose to make it just that.

You have to wonder now, why then do so many others want to leave?