Endless Fun In The Sun

Time changes ever so quickly. It’s already 10 months that I have spent getting to know Jamaica; and now I am wondering, will I ever be able to live away from my new home? Will I be able to peel myself off and walk away from something that has become part of me?

Endless fun Just when my time is nearing the end, is when I feel so in love, and so connected to this island. This past week, we celebrated Ash Wednesday. While this holiday marks the beginning of lent; for me, it was a chance to get away from campus and everything school related, and instead spend time basking in the sun and the sea. I must have lost all inhibitions, because for what seemed like the first time, I was being the wild adventure-loving person I am. I decided to mix and match my two piece bathing suit, let my hair down, and take a dive into the Caymanas Mineral Spring in St. Catherine. The water was so crystal clear, it was like I was surrounded by a big colouful aqua mirror. I was with a small diverse group from my campus residence, each one of us from a different part of the world. My Japanese friends showed me how to flip backwards in the water, my Jamaica friend showed me how to float on my back -I will still need to practice that a little more- and I showed the group how you dive off a rock the right way. When we thought the scenery couldn’t get more beautiful, and the day better; then we drove to the boardwalk beach, about 15 minutes away. It was like we walked on to a movie set.

The sea was a mixture of blue and green; the sand so soft, and the sun shone on me as if I Endless fun was the star of the show. I laid my towel on the sand, next to my French friend, intending to absorb every bit of the sunshine into my skin. Meanwhile, my Belizean friend found a quaint hut to sit in and enjoy the busy activities at the beach. Our African photographer friend was snapping pictures like the pro he is; so that by the end of the day we had well over 600 pictures of souvenir. No beach trip is complete without a stroll, and this, my American friend organized. For me, it was a hard choice to go walking or lay lifeless in the sun. I needed all that this day had to over; including quiet relaxation. I gave in and went for a friendly scroll; only to be hindered by the bunches of sea moss that has caused the beach to look untidy, which made for an unappealing stroll. Even that didn’t matter. I was in my own world, daydreaming about what life would be like if I could do this forever. I returned to my towel of relaxation, pressed my shades on my nose, and looked up into the blue sky and decided, this is what a perfect day looks and feels like.

When the outing was over, we returned home in the mid-afternoon, back to our tiny rooms; but for me, with a deeper appreciation for this island. There is always something new to do here. Even the simple things are fascinating. What I love about Jamaica is the beauty that can be found everywhere; even in what is perceived to be ugly.

Jamaica has so many layers to unravel that I can never feel comfortable saying I’ve seen it all. Perhaps, that’s why even the locals are still learning about new things to do. I am in love. After my initial 2013 trip, I had to come back. Now, I have been here for 10 months, and still I feel I need more time to absorb, embrace, and explore. I have set a timeline to leave, but in my heart I am unsettled. There’s still more to know, learn about, fall in love with, and do. Jamaica seem to have its own reason for not wanting be to leave; the reason I have not yet been told. So as the months to departure draws near, my heart is growing more attached and my roots are extending deeper and deeper to its origin. When my time is up, someone wilI need to ply me away from this eternal love, the one between Jamaica and me.

Changing For The Better

It’s a new season- like when the snow-covered mountains and needle filled trees emerge alive in Spring, and ready to bloom, or when the butterfly finally emerge from its cocoon, ready to sore and take on the world. That’s the season I’m in.

Face the facts

Since I returned from a restful and family-filled two week vacation; my dependent steps have progressed to independent strolls. I stop by vendors now and then to purchase ground provisions. I yell at Taxi drivers to get going. I leave my house at sundown to go to the movie theatres or hang with new friends. Mind you, I’m still in Jamaica. I venture to malls to browse, alone. I scan bookstores, and when I decide on the book I like, I purchase it. I go to conferences and book launches. I spontaneously go grocery shopping and call taxi cabs totake me home. I spend afternoons studying at Hope Gardens, a stone throw from the university. I go hiking on Saturday mornings with friends, it’s our new ritual. Then we drink coconut water purchased from a street vendor on the way back. For months, the cocoon of dependency and priorities stiffled my yearning to explore Jamaica, and the adventure-loving person I am, had been playing it safe. But now, I finally outgrew the cocoon of campus living.

Strolling feels great. I have an awakened understanding of the Jamaican culture, people’s perception, values, and struggles. I am a better judge of people’s character- so taking the street taxis no longer scare me. The trouble with being in a new country is, you can never quite tell what people are thinking of you, how oddly out of place you look, even if you  are trying to blend in. Still, I’m getting better at removing that glazed look of confusion and timidity from over my eyes. If I do not wish to take a taxi cab, the next one will come seconds later. I feel that everyone is too busy trying to survive to be caring about me, and so I focus less on them too. Leaving the campus every now and again opens my eyes to the larger Jamaican society. In my interaction with street vendors, I am distant to what they go through- and I often feel guilty that I am underpaying them. Somehow the mingling with locals intertwines me with Jamaica. I feel like we are one and the same. That I am not a tourist, that I never lived in another country.

Best of both worlds

RelatedMy Jamaican Charm

Last week, as I was strolling through the botantical gardens I felt a deep inner connection to this land. Feelings of attachment, connection, and a waxing desire to find the cog that I am suppose to fill in this society. I can’t help but feel a strong urge to wrap my arms around the island and squeeze Jamaica; the land I have loved, and have always loved. When that day comes to soar, I am certain I will be strong and confident to do it alone.

Something New

This month you had my heart beating with no specific rhythm. In trying to be the perfect girl, I am not being true to myself. So, who do you say you love? It’s not the defensive, always-in-control, picky, freedom-lover chic you think you know. It’s the quiet, don’t question you, do-as-you say, pretty girl you enjoy being with. The honeymoon phase is no-doubt over, and I am done pretending.

Something NewI spent the better part of this month feeling guilty about my feelings. We seem so right for each other. Spending days and months looking out at your tantalizing view. I thought I would have wanted to spend my life here. I must have forgotten how fleeting feelings are. More and more, it no longer feels like I’m in Jamaica, that I could be anywhere in the world. I quickly remind myself that I am here, and the issues I am faced with some days probably only happens here.

Why are things so complex? The security officers guard the doors of knowledge, doing their best to not allow the “wrong” people in. First, I was told I needed a library card. Then I was informed of their process: Nothing is allowed in the library except your laptop in hand. No liquids. Nothing. It took me months to wrap my mind around that. But this month, I managed to enter, not once or twice but several times.

The longer I am here, the more I realize how complicated the small things can be.

It’s not like the attraction is wearing off, but I realize that there is more to know than what meets the eye. You are slow to reveal the intricate details of who you are, and I am making up my own assumptions about you. You are a challenge!

Something NewI’m looking up at the blue sky and enjoying the sun on my skin, and I am remembering what makes me happy. It’s the simpleness of life, having a peace of mind, nothing to think about, and just being free. Green is my new favorite colour and there’s much of it here. If all days could be like this. I’m ditching the headaches, heartaches, the uncertainties of love and I’m trading them in for something new.

Finding Balance

Finding Balance For a second, I was loosing myself in all this studying. In the past three weeks I loss focus of what I’m here for, “to rekindle my relationship with Jamaica”. That was the slogan that pulled me here on this island in the first place; yet I go from classroom to apartment each day. At the end of last week, I had enough. I turned down my books, shut the laptop lid, and found ways to spend time with Jamaica.

Walking around in Halfway tree was a delight. I stepped into one of the most famous and long standing restaurants, Tastees. I remember it as a place that sells Jamaican Patties, but as I was observing the menu, I see they have varieties- from chicken and fries, to ackee and saltfish, to calalloo loaves. After ordering my chicken and fries combo, I walked towards the sitting area and scanned the room. There were not many choices of empty tables, so Andrea and I took the only dirty one available. A rasta man was sitting at the table close to us and with the limited space it was hard to make ourselves comfortable.

It was not the way I would like to eat lunch in the city, so I decided it would be best to head back to campus. The two of us, Northamerican girls made our way back by taxi. We had gotten directions earlier, but were still having difficulties finding the Halfway tree square. We asked the hilgars and bus drivers for more direction. Once we found it, we listened intently for our location to be called out by a taxi driver, “Papine, Mona campus”. We hurried inside the taxi and felt safe. The experience took my mind off math and instead, I was focussing on getting to know Jamaica.

The following day, I set my books aside again. This time I went grocery shopping and stopped at the mall to purchase festival and red peas soup. The combination may be odd, but those were just what I was craving. I sat quietly in the food court and a feeling of appreciation and contentment came over me. Jamaica, I see, is revealing itself slowly to me with no signs of wanting to hurry the process. I gazed up at the other levels and reminsced on my experience only a year ago when I was touring the mall for the first time. I no longer felt stressed.

On the third day, I decided I would wake up early to study the day away. But, again, Jamaica requested my company. Early saturday morning, I was drunk with sleep that I did not hear the knocking on the door til seconds later. I jumped out of sleep to open the window next to the door. The voice said, “Good morning” and I opened the door ajar, feeling inappropriately dressed for visitors. “Are you coming to the river with us?” It was David. He had given me a weeks notice and I had declined because I knew I would need the time to study for the math exam.

Still, I closed the door and debated in my tired mind what to do. Study or go swim in the river? I dragged myself around the room, complete my morning routines and hygiene. I saw myself reached for the razor and the shaving gel. Then I saw myself picking a bathing suit and then throwing a sundress on.

“Are you coming?” David called out from the opposite side of the door.

“Yea! Give me a second” I shouted.

I grabbed my purse, filled it with a bottle of water, sunblock lotion, and my math study notes. Yes, I decided I would do both- swim in the river and study while I’m there. The moment I arrived, I torn my dress off and proceeded to walk to the deeper part of the river while holding David’s hand for support. The water was frigid, but in no time I was used to the temperature. While the other girls were sitting on rocks enjoying their morning, I was swimming like a fish. Sometimes, I was floating on the water and observing the scenery, rich with green trees and blue skies. The stress and anxieties I was feeling, floated away. I had forgotten about Math and school and I was enjoying my company with Jamaica.

It’s such a gift to be on this island and I simply can’t get enough of it. Over the pass month, I’ve felt deprived of seeing Jamaica but this past weekend has changed that completely. It’s funny how the simple experiences can make life such a blessing. Jamaica gives me that each day, and I can’t help but fall head over heels for this island.