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.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Reasons Why Moving Back to Jamaica is Easy

In a reader's comment to the blog today, I was challenged in no uncertain terms.

I wrote about the seven reasons why Jamaica is a tough country to move to, or move back to.

It made me think.

The truth is, Moving to Jamaica is easy, for many reasons, some of which are related to a Move Back, others of which are related to an expat move.

Here are some reasons why a Move Back to Jamaica can been so very easy:

1. Family
One big reason I have always wanted to come back is to take care of my parents.

n an earlier post, I mentioned that we Jamaicans are way too enamoured of the idea of sending away our young to live in "farrin." The separation that results is painful to observe, and I think that many parents regret not being able to see their children and grand-children for more than a few days each year.

It's just not what they had envisioned.

They also aren't too keen on getting into the "rush-rush" life of Toronto or New York by moving there, away from their plants, pets and people they love.

The result? A lonely and slow process of getting old.

As the years pass by, Devon's success on Wall Street starts looking less important than just having an opportunity to spend the last few years living within a few miles of his kids. His sister Andrea's medical degree from the University of Florida is cold comfort when she is treating cancer patients in Orlando, instead of being here now and again to get her elderly mother some milk from the fridge.

Moving Back to Jamaica restores the natural connection that migration disrupts between parents and children.

At one point, parents wiped their children's bottoms, and at a later point it seems natural to expect that ... well... you get the point.

2. Friends
The friends I made in the states are long forgotten. We passed through each others lives like fellow passengers on a long flight. We each knew that the time would be short, and that we would separate, never to see each other again.

Here in Jamaica, at a recent dinner meeting, I ran into my friend Mark who I played with back in 1976, a neighbour on College Common. At the same table sat another fellow I was at JC Hope United's cub scouts with in 1974. Yet another fellow went to Wolmer's with me in 1982. We sat together quite randomly, and I had not seen the first two guys since the years I mentioned.

To say this would never happen in the U.S. is to put things mildly. In the U.S., like everyone else, when I visit I find myself sinking into a sea of anonymous people who don't care whether I drop down dead in one moment or the next.

Coming back has effortless restored me to parts of who I am that I had forgotten.

3. Food
More than the quality of the food back home, is the importance that we Jamaicans place on getting together to eat. We eat slowly, and tolerate, but do not love, fast food (other than patties.)

Eating serves a social function, and the connection that we feel around a shared meal is palpable.

I belong to the Jamdammers running club that has a full breakfast after each Saturday run of 10 miles. That's a FULL breakfast. I realized how full it was when I ran with a Johannesburg running club in December, and they served bread and butter after the run. Here in Jamdammers, we almost spend more time eating than running, but the food itself is only a part of what we enjoy.

4. Foolishness

Jamaican life is exciting. On this week's list we have a hurricane that is wobbling its way towards us, an election looming, my car that broke down last night, rain and floods for four days straight last weekend, water lock-offs each day (due to the drought??) and who knows what else coming our way.

The excitement in the air is, as usual, nerve racking, and any kind of what we call "foolishness" can break out and happen at any point. This has the effect of keeping a recent arrival on their toes at ALL times and there is _never_ a dull moment.

For many, this kind of unpredictability is debilitating. For most, the daily foolishness is awakening.

5. Flora (her, another F!)

Tomorrow morning, on my weekly 4:30am ride from Liguanea to Port Royal and back, I'll be riding back to Harbour View just as the run rises over the hills of St. Thomas and St. Andrew.

The hills will all take on different hues of blue-green, while the sun will spill its rays over the clouds, and send bright darts into our eyes. To the left will be the blue calm waters of Kingston Harbour, while to the right will be the rough surf of the Caribbean Sea.


6. Patois (I ran out of F's)

When I lived abroad, I learned to s-p-e-a-k s-l-o-w-l-y so as to be understood.

Back home in Jamaica, I relax and use more words, phrases, tones, abbreviations, grunts and other unnamed sounds than ever before. I am back to being bilingual and it feels ever so relaxed, normal and natural.

7. Fulfilled

No matter how hard I worked in the U.S., it was difficult to get motivated for very long by working long hard hours to make rich people even richer than they were before.

In Jamaica, I give J$50 (=US$1) to a beggar and I can tell from his eyes that this is a LOT of money. Yes, the poverty is widespread and saddening. But the opportunity to make a difference is tremendous, and it makes working and living here in Jamaica an act of contribution and service, rather than an act of personal enrichment (at least in tangible terms.)

Small acts of kindness go a long way.


For someone moving to Jamaica for the first time, in a later post I'll look at why moving to Jamaica can be easy for a first-timer / expat.

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At 8/18/2007 11:49 AM, Blogger Fred said...

"Easy" is a relative word .. LOL
Before I continue, may I wish you and your family some semblance of safety during Dean's onslaught.
Thanks for your profound words of wisdom about the process of returning to Jamaica.
My better half is already there (mentally).
My "roots" are calling. (laugh)

At 8/18/2007 1:04 PM, Anonymous jan said...

Beautiful write-up :)

At 8/20/2007 1:24 PM, Blogger David Mullings said...

I have moved back home twice (Christmas 2000 and Christmas 2005) and each time it has been easy for me - but then my life is different from most.

Before moving back, I visited home (Jamaica is still home) almost monthly because of my business so I have never lost touch.

My parents still have a house there, the one I grew up in, and my job provided a car and a good wage ($80,000 per month take home).

I would think that more things than what you listed truly make it easy or hard - it all depends on what you want to do with your life.

Keep up the great work and I hope everything is all right with your family after Dean's passing.

At 3/26/2009 5:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is so much more nicer!

Its a shame but there is truth in both articles really,

I love Jamaica and can not wait for me and my future husband to move there next year for a bit!! I love him in every way that a woman could love a man, from personal to universal but most of all its unconditional!! And he too is my dearest friend.

Stay blessed every 1 x x


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