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.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Another 2 Series on Moving Back to Jamaica

I found 2 women who are writing about their Move to Jamaica, and I think one is Jamaican.

Their accounts are unfortunately not in the form of blogs, which makes reading them a bit tedious, but they are quite interesting.

The links to them can be found at, and they are posting in two threads, both of which can be found under the Tek Mi Back a Yard/On The Move topic.

One thread is: Update on the "Big Move" and the other is "Finally!!!!.... I Can Begin My Move."

Here is the first entry for the second poster.

(P.S. If you have never visited then you are in for a treat. It is the best all-purpose site on things Jamaican on the internet.)

Finally!!!!.... I Can Begin My Move
#19623286 - 06/30/06 04:45 PM

Well,,, it looks like my dream to move to Jamaica may finally come true. I have managed to leave my job, give up my apartment, and send down my barrels. I am not taking any furniture, or anything bigger than a barrel. I already have a house, and a husband in Clarendon, now all I need to do is move.

When I first went to see the house, it had not been lived in for over 7 years. The bush had taken over, and the animals and insects had begun to move inside. There was even evidence that someone had been living there. But all I saw was the land's potential. Hurricane Ivan did not damage the house, but our neighbors saw fit to remove the zinc from the front room and a few of the windows to repair their own homes. The room where the zinc was removed suffered some water damage, but nothing major.

There are 4 different types of mango on my land, an orange orchard with about 50 trees, cashew trees, star apple, breadfruit, jackfruit, pinapple, grapefruit, ginnep, okra, pumpkin, coconut, and bananas. We also have a stream and a waterfall on our property. There is only one road in, and the back of our land is off a cliff. The orchard end is on the side of a mountain and the other side has no people on it. We have privacy that allows us to bath out in the open and parade around in the nude if we so desire.

I spent five months there in 2005, Jan - May, and I have been doing nothing but trying to get back. I send my husband $200 US a week which is approx $12,800JA which we use to build up our little 3 room wood house and take care of our Jeep. My husband was a plumber in America for 20 years so he is building a bathroom and kitchen onto the house, cause as he says, 'a plumber has to have water." He has dug the pit and laid out the foundation for the new rooms.

We have decided to leave our furniture and have what we need built. We happen to be friends with the same carpenter who built the house 19-20 yrs ago. He has agreed to build the furniture, change the windows, and repair any damage to the house. The furniture will be built from trees on our land. Between my plumber and the carpenter, we will have our house repaired in no time.

We are considering whether or not we want to install the 15 poles it would take to bring the light to our land, but I am sorta against it. Currently, we use an inverter and get power from the Jeep if we need light, but I don't really see a need for the expense. We get up with the sun and go to bed with the night, we don't really need the light. On my next trip, this year we will buy a propane tank stove and a generator. I think we will have all the current we need without those 15 poles.

Look for my other posts to see pictures or my new home.
Pray for me and wish us luck.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Link -- Let's Talk About Sex

I found a great link to a blog on the "hypersexuality" of Jamaican men.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Miss Lou Passing Away

A giant has made her transition.

The Hon. Louise Bennett Coverly died earlier this week, and her life was briefly described in one of the many article saluting her life including this one entitled: The Life and Times of Louise Bennett from the Gleaner.

The following passage caught my attention:

When Louise Bennett began writing and reciting her dialect poems in the late 1930's and early 1940's she was regarded as an embarrassment. Speaking dialect was felt to be socially unacceptable and only the poor and illiterate spoke patois. The British (Oxford) accent was regarded as the epitome of cultured speech.

At Excelsior High School even some of the teachers did not see the value of Louise Bennett's poetry. But she was encouraged by persons such as W.A. Powell, Hugh Sherlock and the late Astley Clarke. She remained undaunted by the sometimes hostile attitude toward dialect. She insisted on presenting dialect poetry which reflected the lifestyle, philosophy and sense of humour of the Jamaican people.

Now, I have no idea what it took for her to persevere through what must have been some impossibly hard times. As a pioneer in the use of the Jamaican dialect, she gave life and legitimacy to the experience of the everyday Jamaican, and in fact to the experience of the everyday Caribbean person.

But that was done while working against the grain of the established British orthodoxy of the time. Jamaica was still a colony at the time, and would only achieve limited self-governance in 1944.

This past week, I had to draft a report that brought an end to a project I was working on that included some very strong feelings by members of staff.

I found myself drifting to the actual language that they used -- Jamaican patois -- simply because it was more accurate, but also because it was more expressive of their true feelings. In communicating feelings as well as words, nothing beats Jamaican patois (or that of any other island.)

In Haiti, the local dialect has an official name and is recognized as an official language. Not so our Jamaican patois which the majority of our citizens speak exclusively, and just about everyone understands.

The mark of an educated person is still measured by the quality of the English they speak. Someone who has mastered patois, with all its dynamism and subtle use of tones and invented words, is not recognized for their mastery, intelligence and ability to communicate.

This, years after Louise Bennett broke though and pioneered a new genre of poetry, writing and theater that allows Jamaicans to express themselves with words and sounds that are much closer to the expression of our souls than the Queen could ever come.

My wife, after a year, is only starting to come to grips with this strange new language (which to her sounds as foreign as Portuguese.) Nevertheless, she has quickly picked up that patois is the language to use when expressing the deepest feelings, regardless of what they might be.

The philosopher Martin Heidegger stated that "Language is the House of Being." If so, then patois could be said to be the House of Being... Jamaican.

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Bloggers Link Up

10 Jamaicans and 1 Vinci blogger met up in Kingston on Wednesday night, having only one thing in common... anonymity, and a passion for writing online diaries.

Check out Mad Bull's account here

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Nasty Downside

About a year ago, when I just started blogging, I had an incident occur in which I almost gave up the idea.

I told a former journalist (who is now an acquaintance,) that I had a blog and how much fun I was having writing it. She had never heard of such a thing, and decided to find out what they were about after I mentioned that there might be people out there writing about the articles she used to contribute.

When I got home, I followed out my own advice, and did Google search on her name. Sure enough, many of the articles that she had written could be found at the website of the newspaper. However, I also found a pretty evil site.

Someone had decided to make her their personal target. Not only was there a personal attack on her, but also on the site were pictures of her husband and children. And no, this was not in New York -- it was right here in the Caribbean.

It was quite disturbing.

And, of course, it was all written anonymously -- although it seems that the anonymous blogger lives someplace abroad.

The whole incident gave me pause for thought -- after all, here I am with my name and picture hanging out in cyber-space for all to see. Anyone who wanted to do the same thing to me, could easily do so.

The way I resolved it all for myself was to decide to keep on keeping on, because I am committed to playing a public role in transforming this rock of ours, if that is what it takes. Getting hit by some anonymously slung mud goes with the game, so I might as well steel myself for what is quite likely to come.

Given some of the things I have blogged, maybe I should be surprised that it has not come yet...

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Citizenship -- Finally

Finally, after 7 months of waiting, I was accepted as a Jamaican citizen.

Talk about high drama.

What I really should say is that my application for formal acceptance as a Jamaican was accepted. I referred to it in a prior blog.

Now that I have exited a strange legal purgatory I feel much better for the experience, thank you. I have a nice piece of paper with my picture on it, and a deeply imprinted seal, that came with a cover note to my mother saying "Congratulations" - your son has been accepted as a Jamaican citizen.

Accepted, huh?

It goes well with the Jamaican passport I have had since I was 5 or so, and the voters ID I have had since I was in my 30's. I imagine that it also means that I really did come back as a returning resident last year... and not as something else.

As confusing as this all is, after it was explained to me it made sense. Jamaica has had a generous law on its books since independence that grants full and automatic Jamaican citizenship to children and grandchildren of Jamaicans born on the island.

However, the concept of "automatic" citizenship became an issue for several reasons, and the law was changed in 2002 to say that citizenship had to be applied for, and then granted. A document would be generated that showed that the process had been followed, and it would list the documents used as proof. In my case, it lists my, and my mother's birth-certificate.

Much of the reform was generated by 9/11, as countries moved towards plugging various holes in their immigration and citizenship laws.

Practically, being an official citizen means that my wife could become a landed resident, and stay in Jamaica as long as she is married to me.

It also means that I can go ahead and form a Jamaican company, which will somehow fit in with my already existing US company. More legal stuff, and for this I will definitely need a lawyer.

I am likely to describe this particular process in my other blog "Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle."

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That Trini Feeling

It cannot have escaped the frequent traveller's attention that Trinis are an exceptionally warm people.

Their warmth extends to their inclusive and friendy nature, their insistence that ''All ah we is one," and their enjoyment of what we Jamaicans call "frowsy rub-up," especially at Carnival time.

Perhaps this explains why the security guard's physical search and pat-down at Piarco Airport is the most... "familiar" and "touching" experience I have ever had in too-frequent encounters with airport security in my travels.

On my first trip leaving the old Piarco Airport in 1996, I remember being quite surprised, and even shocked. On my 50+ trips since then, I have detected no change in method, except perhaps a slightly more business-like approach right after 9/11. To this day, their process requires every passenger to be physically touched (to put it mildly.)

At some point my shock transformed into a mild amusement. Each time I approach the appointed search after stepping through the metal detectors I can be heard humming the line line from "Linstead Market" - "Everybody come feel up, feel up." To myself, of course.

I have never detected that there is any malice intended, or even awareness on the part of airport security that this search is a little too "deep." There are no knowing looks, and no winks to indicate that a knowledge of the exact quantity of fat around my waistline is for my wife's edification, not theirs.

They have the bored look of people just doing their jobs.

This only makes it all the more surreal. Especially as Trinis make no bones about the fact that they have (perhaps) the highest percentage of pretty women in the world. Inevitably, the frequent traveller encounters one of these pretty women doing "the search."

Now, if you are not a frequent traveller, you may not understand the tedium and boredom that goes with the chore of flying from place to place. It sometimes gets so bad that a young, attractive airport security guard can (unfairly) conjure up imagined images of arm-outstretched encounters at Gate 7. This is through absolutely no fault of the innocent traveller.

You see, upon exiting the twin metal detectors, there are usually two security guards standing there waiting to do their duty -- one man, and one woman.

The man usually looks like an ex-policeman who was fired from the force for beating up some mouthy citizen. The woman might be the one from Gate 7's dreams. His job? To search the men (especially those damned Jamaicans.) Her job? All the rest.

The frequent traveller is repelled (with evolutionary force) from his bad stale-Carib breath, to her Chanel No. 5. One learns how to time the process of emptying the pockets, taking off the shoes, removing the laptop, walking through the metal detector... just right.

One one occasion, I was faced with the worst of extremes. He... an unshaven, unkempt brute rotating from his night shift at the penitentiary. She... a fine-boned girl from South, who I could swear I saw standing in front of me in Girl Power fete several nights before.

I employed my usual "frequent flyer shuffle" to ensure that he was occupied when I stepped through. I put on my "confused traveller face" (essential for getting favours) and stepped towards her.

She waved me over to him.

I slowly (and painfully) looked at him, and then back at her. Mustering up my best Trini "ole talk" I lifted my arms to the search position and loudly exclaimed -- "But don't I get a choice?"

Much laughing all around... Chanel No.5... the usual too deep search... a hum of "Linstead Market" in my ears.

Man, dem Trinis friendly sah!

Such are the very small joys of frequent travel.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

A New ezine

I recently launched a new business ezine, FirstCuts, that is described on my business blog. It is free to subscribe.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

There is a wonderful news service that was recently launched --

It is a compilation of daily news across the Caribbean region that I have found to be tremendously useful, even in finding articles that I have skipped over in my daily reading of local papers.

The newsletter is delivered as a single page of HTML email to the subscriber's inbox (which may present formatting problems for some recipients.)

It makes me wish that someone would create some way of getting all the Human Resource related news across the region into a single web-page, and maybe someone at Caribbean360 might be interested in expanding their offerings -- I hope so.

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Weinberg on Writing

Link to Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Caribbean Literary Festival

I guess now that I have been to the Calabash Literary Festival, I now can consider myself some kind of writer!

Click here: Caribbean Literary Festival

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Glad to Be Away from Broward County

The following article caught my eye.

Apparently, the US Federal Govenment has been stopping random motorists on Rte 441/7 in broward to check for Socai lSecurity numbers.

Failure to provide a number apparently was cause enough to be arrested with being read Miranda rights, and incarcerated at Krome Detention Center in Miami.

I am quite glad to have left that environment behind.

Read: Raid on the Banana-Boat from today's Sunday Herald in Jamaica.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

The Calabash Literary Festival


The Calabash Literary Festival.

Yes it was...

I was never prouder to be Jamaican, and pleased and tickled at what had been accomplished. Colin Channer, Kwame Dawes and others have blended their skills and commitments to create what is a unique and powerful annual event, and one that could only be held here in Jamaica.

Why only here?

The Jamaican spirit of rebellion came out as it only can in Jamaica. Stuff that sounds corny in New York, sounded revolutionary here. Overdone in London? Poignant here. Ridiculously religious in Toronto? Spiritual here.

Some combination of the setting by the sea, the flawless execution (almost), the smell of ganja in the air and the writers, poets and actors in attendance... plus the ordinary people who had come out to basically listen to other people read to them... it was all quite unique.

The effect it had on me is that I started to consider (quite seriously) whether or not I am a writer. As I was sitting there I thought about all the posting I had done over the past year, and started to wonder if that is also considered "writing." For some reason, I have always thought of writers as poets and novelists, not management consultants.

Real writers wear Birkenstocks, very tired-looking jeans and natural-fiber clothes made from hemp. Not quite the image I have created for myself (at least not more recently.)

But as I thought about it some more, I decided that I should say that I am a writer, and that the form of expression it takes is blogs and papers.

Maybe at next year's festival there should be a section or activity for bloggers, or as puts it, "citizen journalists."

But that does not seem quite right either. I don't consider myself a journalist, even though I keep a journal. Maybe I am not quite a writer, even though I kind of write.

This whole blogging business makes me feel like a square peg in a pack of the neat round holes I recognized at the festival, and makes me wonder if I am involved in a legitimate, serious activity.

I am not even sure of the answer to that question, as I am just plain having too much fun writing my 2 blogs to decide.

Now if someone were to pay me to do this... that would just about kill it, I am sure!

If someone were to organize a formal "blog" section at Calabash, would that have the same effect on my blogging?

Maybe I am just better off skulking around in the shadows hoping that no-one serious pays attention.

Not quite revolutionary, but subversive. Delicious.

(For more serious reviews of the Festival, check the and archives.)

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