Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Now I Know I’m Still in America

I knew that I had not yet left America when the time came to get rid of the two large items that my wife and I decided not to take with us to Jamaica: a sofa/loveseat set and my old 1991 Acura Integra.

I had seen old sofas and loveseats left around the compound by past residents and always wondered how in the world they could just throw out furniture like that (not all of it looking bad.)

Well, I found out why it was so difficult.

About a week ahead of the final date of the lease, which happened to fall on a Sunday, I used the Yellow Pages to call several charitable organizations to see if they would come and pick up the furniture as a donation. Several donations turned out to be too busy to come before 10 working days time, and I needed it gone within 7 days. Others did not take furniture at all…

On Wednesday I found someone who said that they’d like to take both pieces, and after they called on Thursday to confirm that they’d be coming by the following day, they dropped off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again.

By Saturday morning we were panicking, and even called to find out how much it would cost to pay someone to haul away the furniture to the dump: the answer to that was $60. Eventually, a hand-written advertisement placed in my complex yielded a phone call from someone who took the sofa, and someone who wanted the loveseat was eventually able to secure a van to pick it up, so by the end of the day both items were gone.

As for the car, I had some sentimental feelings for my Integra, which I had driven since 1991 for almost all of its 178000 miles. It had seen me through so much, and still was in pretty good shape, but the importation laws of Jamaica prevented anyone from bringing into the island any vehicle that was over three years old.

There were many companies willing to take the donation, and even to come and pick it up, with the only problem being that they could not do so before Wednesday, and I needed to have it transferred on Monday before I flew out of Miami.

Eventually I found out that the Salvation Army had a point at which I could drop off the vehicle on the way to the airport, which I did, but not without a short moment of regret that I could not keep it. As I drove up to the depot, I saw a sign on the building that said ‘Car Auctions Every First Saturday at 10:00am.” I then realized that my car was not even going to be used by a Salvation Army worker, but would probably be sent right back into the general population, and in effect what I was donating to the Salvation Army was not the car, but the proceeds from its sale at auction. Somehow, that was not as satisfying to me, because it meant that I really would have no idea where my car was ending up and in whose hands.

Oh well – the transaction took 5 minutes and that was that. I was car-less.

I couldn’t help think how different this was from Jamaica, where thieves recently jumped over the wall at my parents place and stole birds from the bird-cage and 4 plastic lawn chairs. In Jamaica, I would have found a recipient for all the items it took me so long to get rid of within a matter of half an hour, if as long.

The US is such a land of plenty, and a place that has become so affluent that any old and used item becomes a candidate for the dump, rather than something that could be recycled.

It was such a graphic demonstration of the land from which I’m coming, and the one to which I’m heading.


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