I have a headache. The heat, the pressure and the change of scenery are all contributing to this painful pounding in my head. At least I’m dressed for the weather in a simple floral sundress and flip flops. My hair though, is getting bigger by the minute. The straightness is turning to friz. I suspect its natural and ought to have been expected.
When I arrived at my destination- the Norman Manley International airport, only an hour and a half (1 1/2 hrs) late, I climbed out of the airplane and walked through the ‘tunnel’ that attaches to the plane to the port. Inside of the airport did not feel like one. Rather, the long hall felt like I was walking through a nice alleyway with signs on the walls. The first thing I had to do was go through customs. The line was long but it was moving rapidly. When it was my turn, I approached a female immigration officer, I said good afternoon in my sickly voice but no response came, except a demanding arm stretched towards my face, expecting my immigration form and then my passport. I complied. She spoke, “6 weeks, this is an extended vacation”. I said, “yes, and very necessary to make up for the 16 years I’ve been away”. An unexpected smile arrived on her face. She handed back my papers and I smiled and walked away immediately.
I stopped at the “cambio” or the money exchange counter, which was another line up. Only two persons in front of me but may as well be ten. The lady was professional and I got my money and went for my luggage at the turning stalls. I see that it was already removed and left standing with other unclaimed luggage. I grabbed it and quickly found the “green” line, the one to use when you’re not carrying anything over $500US. No one was in the line so I asked another immigration officer the procedures. She took my declaration form and off I went. From travelling to different countries, I think that when you see the exit doors to a new country you’re suppose to know by instinct.This one was a little tricky. The narrow exit door was staring me in the face but it was hard to believe that the doors to my journey to rediscovery would be so small.
I followed the finger pointing of a worker whom I had asked directions. He was pointing towards the doors I saw in front of me. I slowly walked with hesitancy towards the doors which automatically opened and allowed me to see a glimpse of Jamaica. Crowds of people were standing outside. I thought it was a market. I started to pan my eyes from the left corner of the marketplace to the right in search of my cousin. I immediately spotted a slim fair skinned man looking the exact same as pictures I had seen on facebook. He looked like he saw me first and was waiting for me to see him. He walked towards me and helped me with my bags.
I waited by the curb for my cousin who went to get his vehicle. I wondered who would be the first to approach me as I stand alone with my luggage. I saw young men sitting around on garden beds and men appearing to be in deep conversations- though the content was not making any sense.
I peered through vehicles searching for my cousin. When I saw him pull up, I brought my luggage to be loaded in the trunk. The drive from the airport was nice and cool, not as I expected. No matter where we drove, I could still see the sea! Wow.
Our first stop was at Tastee’s, this store makes one of the best patties in Jamaica and I have been yearning for this experience for years! I thought it was going to be a walk-in store where you order your Jamaican patty and leave, but quite the opposite. It was a large restaurant. My cousin found us a seat and I enjoyed my beef patty with coco bread and a bottle of water. Walking on Jamaican soil feels completely different from anywhere I’ve been. My brain knows it’s no longer in Canada but is still confused about everything- at this moment, nothing is making any sense. Maybe this is what’s causing the headache! Along with this bright sun! My eyes are not adjusting.
I finally arrived at a beautiful and peaceful community which is going to be my home for the time being. The house I stepped into was something familiar. From the choice of furniture to the flat screen TV to the choice of decor I feel right at home again.
I was worried that my shower experience was going to be a cold one, but this house as choices even in water temperature. I chose to take a cool shower because at this point my skin was experiencing heat and humidity it had not experience since last year August! After the shower, my head was still pounding so I decided to take a nap, but was awoken from a deep sleep by my cousin’s wife. I thought I had slept all night.
Dinner was ackee and saltfish, the Jamaican national dish and one of my favorite meals. Both doors to the house (back and front) stays open and the breeze is ideal. It keeps the house cool. At 9pm the temperature outside was more to my liking. I used a fan at the beginning of the night but turned it off later when I was about to fall in a stupor. Wow, I can’t believe I’m in Jamaica!