I never thought I would be fascinated about highways, of all things. But even the very highway was an attraction for me. I drove from Runaway Bay (Ocho Rios) through Falmouth, Trelawny; then to Montego, St. James until I arrived at a small town called Anchovy. It’s country, that’s what the locals say. I was attending a Sunday morning service there. Let me describe the scenery on the drive as best as I can. First of all, the highway was pristine. Not even a pothole or a crack could be since throughout the journey. There were times I would be looking ahead and all I could see were mountains and at the edge of the road I was looking at the sea which resembled the sky. Looking at the sea was like getting a glimpse of heaven. This is something I’ve only seen in a magazine. Tall coconut trees lined the sides of the street like a picture from your favorite artist. On arriving into Montego Bay, I saw hotels I only heard about. Hotels, perfectly designed (by the Spanish, I heard), took up large spaces like they were always might to be there. Golf courses covered acres of land and pretty flowers to add to the already appealing site. Is this really Jamaica? No one ever quite explain the surreality of this island. No wonder tourists (ie. those coworkers of mine) always talk about their love for Jamaica and how much they want to return. Driving through Montego Bay, the stripe designed to be like a boardwalk for tourist could have been any gorgeous city, in fact it could have been the same as walking along lakeshore or front street in Toronto. It was clean, filled with people from different races, rows of restaurants and small boutiques; and of course the caribbean sea was only a sidewalk away. We continued the drive out of the city and into the more country areas, passing the Montego Airport along the way. The scenery was covered with mountains and lush green trees everywhere. Could this drive have been anymore perfect?
Before I started out on that two and half hour journey I was staying in Runaway Bay for the night. I had arrived on Friday night to visit a good friend of mine. I met her mother for the first time as well as her fiance. She lived in a mansion, she says. Can you believe Jamaica has tons of these? These mansions were all beautiful to look at. A turn off the main road and a long drive up a hill, passing nothing but bush and trees will take you straight to this mansion my friend lives in. As is quite common, fellow Jamaicans buy these properties, design these large houses meant to fit even 12 families. They live abroad but the realtor or someone else collects rent. This is where my friend lives, and she loves it. I loved it too. A look outside anyone of her windows allow you to see trees everywhere. And a thirty minute walk back down the hill will take you directly to the beach. What other life could beat this one?
Her mother lives down the hill and has been living in Jamaica for the last 15 years. She also lived in Canada and in her adult live decided to return home. She now lives in a beautiful house with a pool in the backyard. She has helpers to take care of house maintenance (indoor and outdoor). She has a driver who takes her around in her SUV. She doesn’t like to drive, though from time to time she might venture to see her daughter on her own. She is an entrepreneur at heart, after starting up two businesses that I know of while in Jamaica. Her most current business, The Training and Recruitment Centre (TRC) owned with her daughter is the first of its kind in St. Ann. Her daughter is buying into this entrepreneurial spirit and has visions for what she wants for Jamaica, and in particular Ocho Rios. Early Sunday morning, I watched my friend’s mother in her long colourful silk dress that sits very loosely on her small frame, and the same silk material wrapped around her head flowing down her back as she glides inside her daughter’s home. She looks like a queen. Her driver sits on the very long and spacious porch with his legs crossed, reading the newspaper while waiting for all of us. We were all going into her SUV to be taken back to her house. When we arrived, the large gates opened and as I push the car door open, the dogs awaiting our arrival startled me. When I thought it was one dog, more appeared; from the largest bulldog, to the fluffy shih tzu and a small puppy.
I’m just falling in love with Jamaica in every experience. This entire weekend allowed me to see beauty I had never seen before in person. My eyes were in awe by the lusciousness of this island. I see opportunities and endless possibilities here, and to think I have only been to just 5 parishes. I have 9 more to visit. The more I see, the more I’m starting to think heaven is right here in Jamaica.