It’s easy to become fixated with making schedules, but it’s much easier to stay calm and let everything fall into place. When I am still, the things my heart truly desires, come right to me. I hear God’s voice whispering…this is the way.
This morning I woke up early anticipating my first radio interview. I was going to tell my story to others who live in the Diaspora and are interested in visiting or living in Jamaica, but might have reservations. I stood in front of the desk where my laptop and phone were sitting; near the window, overlooking the busy street of Hope Road. I could easily see above the other low rise buildings from the fourth floor, and if I squinted; far, far in the distance, there was Devon House.
Living in Jamaica, independently, was the mission for this trip. It had already been a week. So far, I had taken the taxis on my own, gone grocery shopping, and visited a number of restaurants with friends. Neither did I plan to have a radio interview this morning, nor did I anticipate staying with a colleague from the Business school. All of it just sort of happened. Happening. After the interview, I had my heart set on going to the beach since it was a Sunday, but the rain was coming down, like shards of glass.
With a few minutes of stillness, I found my equilibrium. This trip is about going with the flow, not setting down definitive plans like I often do. With the rain slowing, I decided, No, not the beach. To Hope Gardens instead. On my own. My colleague dropped me at the gates, despite my insistence that I take the local taxi. I walked down the long path leading to the second entrance to the gardens, and a very lanky fellow staggered in front of me, then slowed his pace. “Are you waiting for me to catch up?” I asked as an opener to a conversation. He laughed, and turned to look down. “Are you going to the garden too?” He wasn’t. He was going to another event occurring at the same venue. We now walked side by side, through the gates, and since neither one of us wished to separate, we took the scenic route around the garden…talking about our lives. Where I was from…What was I doing here… Where I worked.. What my plans are for the next two weeks of my trip…until we found his event, and I saw the entrance to the Zoo. It’s funny how things happen. Always, when you don’t plan on it. These are the situations I tend to find myself in, which makes me feel that I am never truly alone. There is always someone who come along my path.
The Zoo was just as I last recall three years ago. The same paradise with bright colours bursting out at me. My eyes soaked up the beauty.
It’s how I feel about Jamaica. Even though I arrived alone, I’m not. I’m surrounded by so many friends to help me enjoy my home. On the first day, I thought I was going to starve. It was my fault. I should have asked George to stop for food, on the way to the airbnb where I was staying. When I arrived and settled in, I thought I would have time to walk outside on my own. I forgot that it was dark by 6pm. There was no way I was going to leave this house, to go out there alone, by myself, to wander…No way. I decided I wouldn’t die from hunger. Thankfully, it wasn’t the case that I would go without food overnight. An honoured friend came to my rescue, and took me out to the jerk chicken street vendor, further down on Hope Road. It was later in the week I realized that the vendor was only a five minute taxi drive away. That’s what I ate for dinner, with coconut water.
Before the sun came out the following day, I was wide awake..whether from hunger, or the fear of it. I was determined to get to know my surroundings. By 6:30, I went out for a walk. I turned on Musgrave Road, then walked across Hope Road. It always scares me to cross the streets in Jamaica. It reminded me of when I was ten years old, and needed someone to hold my hand. I wish someone could still hold my hand as old as I am. The streets are just so damn intimidating. I was glad I was still alive on the other side of the street, where less cars were travelling. I saw the outskirts of the Kings House…where I believe the Prime Minister has his meetings. On my way back home, I decided to call George to take me out to get breakfast, and help me run my errands. It would make my life easier, as costly as it would be.
Sovereign Mall was not open at 9am in the morning, so I requested to go to the University instead. It was a good idea, because I reconnected with the staff, and with friends, plus there was a Digicel store and a bank side by side. It was my first day of independence, and even if I wasn’t certain about each step of the way, I intended to figure it out. Things went smoothly as they often do. The best part was when I visited the grocery store after my trip to the University. There, I purchased all that I would need for a week, and by 5pm, George took me home, in time for me to start getting dressed for dinner. Truly, it wasn’t a bad first day. My check list of errands were completed: I ate breakfast at Juici Beef, I now had Jamaican currency, a Phone with credit, groceries in my room, and now I was going out with friends for dinner. It was an ordinary day in Jamaica, just the way I wanted it.