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.

Monday, March 31, 2008

No More Mosquito Meat

Everyone in Jamaica who has ever been around foreigners knows that local mosquitoes love to attack foreigners.

I don't know why, but I have a new theory... foreigner's taste better.

Up until recently, my wife and I would be in the same room, same bed pr same office and she would be stung while I would be ignored.

That is, until she had a 3 week bout of dengue fever last year, and all of a sudden the bites stopped.  I take it to mean that somehow dengue changes the "taste" of blood in some way, rendering it unpalatable to our locals.

I have no idea if I am right, but there does seem to be a correlation. If so, perhaps there might be documented evidence to back this up?  If there is, do let me know.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

US Newspapers in Jamaica

It's true -- the internet has made the world a much smaller place.

Just about any major newspaper can be read via the internet from Kingston, Negril or Port Antonio. Living in Jamaica does not mean living out of touch with the world.

It had convinced myself that I had the internet, and didn't need any newspapers whatsoever, including the Jamaica Gleaner or Observer.

That is, until we had the first paper delivered, and I realized that not all of the content from the online newspapers could be captured on the internet.

Then, I was delivered a complimentary copy of the Sunday Washington Post by PaperBoyJa, a local company that delivers overseas papers of all kinds.

After spending at least an hour devouring the latest news, reading the columns, reveling in the quality of the writing, enjoying how bloody smart the writers were, and witty to boot... I realized that there was nothing like receiving a printed paper at home on a Sunday morning. Even reading the classifieds was an eye-opener, as the number of houses for sale was pretty striking.

I felt as if I were joining in a much bigger world as I was reading it, as I had gotten quite used to the local newspapers with their lack of investigative journalism, typos and other indicators of generally lower standards. (This, speaking as someone who writes now and then for the Gleaner.)

Last October, I mentioned that the service existed, but now I can report that actually receiving the paper at home was simply a fabulous experience. I didn't feel like I was living in the U.S., but I did feel as if I were participating in the larger world, which is a feeling I have never gotten from reading the same papers on the internet.

I mentioned in my prior report that the service was not cheap. What that means is that a single Sunday newspaper (delivered) costs US$7. A weekday/Saturday paper costs less, and most others a bit cheaper US$4-$6 on a Sunday, and US$3.50-$5 on a week day. (I made an error in a prior blog.)

According to the PaperBoyJa site, there are :

Newspapers available from:
Argentina Australia Austria Belgium Brazil Bulgaria Canada Chile China Colombia Czech Republic Denmark Ecuador Egypt El Salvador France Germany Greece Guatemala Iceland India Indonesia Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jordan Korea (South) Kuwait Lebanon Malaysia Mexico Netherlands New Zealand Norway Oman Pakistan Panama Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland South Africa Spain Sweden Switzerland Trinidad Turkey UAE UK Ukraine Uruguay USA

Each of them is printed on demand, in a different format from the original newspaper, but all the information.

It just might become a monthly treat for my wife and I, perhaps on the days when I would really enjoy an international paper (like a Sunday after an Obama win!)

One of the big concerns that anyone coming to live in Jamaica should have is somehow losing touch with the wider world, or with their hometown if they are an expat. This is one way to ensure that at least a single, clear line of communication is maintained.


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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Different Quality of Life

Many who return to Jamaica would agree that the reason they are returning is to seek a different quality of life.

I'd say that this article might prove more than useful to help convince those that might be on the fence that coming back is, indeed, a sensible option.

See :

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

An Angry Comment on this Blog

In response to an article I posted up on Jamaican migration, I received quite an angry response from an Anonymous poster.

Before a flame war breaks out, I want to issue a warning that anyone can post anonymously, and can claim to be any identity they choose, just in order to create a war online. For all I know, the poster is someone who lives next door to me here in Kingston, who just wants to stir up a fuss.

Anyway, here is a sample of what she (?) said:

"I am an American, born and raised. I have visited the Caribbean Islands several times and Jamaica three times. How in the world can anyone from the islands come over here and dislike our country especially black Americans? Frankly, we black Americans cannot stand people from the Caribbean and will let you know it in a heartbeat."

"You black people from the isles, all of them, started this I don't like black Americans thing, way back then. It's all about jealousy. We look better, smell better, dress better, are classier, have more culture, are friendlier with more charm and we take your men, don't try to deny it. Learn from us."

"Black Americans, Americans period don't need you. Open your eyes. Go back to your boring little mountains, smoke your joint, do your nasty booty dances,..."

I almost deleted the post, but it seemed pretty heartfelt, and so authentic that it made me wonder how widespread the sentiment it. I lived in the US for 2o years and never heard anything like this from anyone, let alone someone who I imagine to be educated.

See the original comment at the link below.

Add your comment to this post.

P.S. If this turns into a flame-war I will use my delete button heavily, and remove any and ALL posts that violate my personal, and admittedly arbitrary, code of conduct.


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Friday, March 21, 2008

Migrant Facing Reality in Canada

Another article appeared in the Gleaner recently, from a Jamaican migrant to Canada.

Here is the article:  Click here to see the original in  the online Gleaner.

Migrant facing reality in Canada
published: Friday | March 7, 2008


I MOVED to Canada last year with my family. The changing economic conditions forced my decision. As a skilled immigrant that paid thousands of dollars to get to Canada, I was shocked at the reality of the situation.

In order to get a job in Canada, you have to have 'Canadian experience'. All your years of work experience has no value in Canada. The job agencies seem to only want to give you factory or warehouse jobs. Most of these agencies are staffed by whites. They will ask you questions such as, can you use a computer? Yet, your résumé states it. Office jobs for minorities are limited. Most companies here are run by whites and the hidden discriminatory actions are professionally ingrained in policies and conditions of employment.

I have read a government report that states that 17 per cent of office jobs in Canada are held by minorities. Just imagine, if you were to relate that to blacks, it would really be a shocking number. I often ask myself, where are the blacks? The answer is that they are working in warehouses, driving trucks and working in factories. It could be said that Canada practises hidden racism, while the United States is open with it. At times, I have to mentally remind myself of my value and worth. Bob Marley's music keeps me going.

In reality, I believe that the skills programme that Canada offers is a way of getting immigrants to come to Canada to work in industry jobs so as to build the economy. Many Jamaicans are coming here without being told the truth. It would be good if The Gleaner did research on this and factually represent what is really happening to immigrants. The truth must be told.

I am, etc.,

Concerned Immigrant

Via Go-Jamaica

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Inventing Time Management

Moving Back to Jamaica has spurred an interesting boost in creativity on my part, as I was explaining to a friend of mine on the phone yesterday.

One of the products of moving home is a new time management approach that I invented when I quickly learned that the methods I adopted in the U.S. were woefully insufficient here.

It forced me to go back to basics, and design my own system.

Now, I am teaching others to do the same, and I think I am offering the only assistance in the world in developing one's own system (rather than trying to sell a pre-packaged set of solutions.) Or, at least, I should say that no-one else I have found is offering this kind of help... to my amazement.

The good news is that in April, participants in a couple of my workshops will leave with their own time management systems... fully designed by them. The programme is called "NewHabits-NewGoals."

In Kingston, April 15-16 --

In Port of Spain, April 29-20 --

On either page, there is a link to a free e-book, and also the entire body of source materials.

On Facebook, there is a "Time Management for Caribbean Professionals' group, and I welcome anyone with an interest in improving our productivity in the region.

It's an exciting time!

Labels: ,

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Caribbean Teenage Crime Rates -- A World Leader

Apparently the crime rate in the region is the highest in the world for teens ages 15-17.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, March 19, 2008 - The United Nations has reported that more Caribbean youth in the 15 to 17 year-old age group die from homicide than others their age in any other part of the world.

And, if that weren't bad enough...

The region also presents the highest rate of global gun crime - 42 per cent of the world's homicides

Click here to be taken to the article that has the details.


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Friday, March 14, 2008

Unspeakable Treachery -- Black Americans, Jamericans and Obama

A recent article in the Sunday Gleaner on February 24th, by Dawn Rich, was a shocker.

While her articles seem to be missing from the online version of the Gleaner, this one probably saved some bits from flying across the internet when it wasn't carried so that overseas Jamaicans could read it.

She said:

"Jamericans are up in arms.  They're sending a firestorm of emails to the Editor, because I pointed out that Barack Obama was an imposter, and Hillary Clinton a victim.

Are these incensed letter-writers born and bred black Americans, or even brown ones?  They are most likely the ones... who fled the island because of Michael Manley in the early 1970's.  They are Jamericans, the ones we all can't stand even when they're relatives.... They try to rule us with money, either the actual thing or talk of it.  Yet when they die, they all want to be buried here.

I don't care much for black Americans either.  They are the most ungrateful people on the face of the Earth.  Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, set them free.  They repaid his party by becoming life-long Democrats.  This is an unspeakable treachery.  So you can keep them, for all I care."


I felt that one all the way in Brooklyn, Broward, Brampton and Brixton.

She continues:

"I underrated Barack Obama in only one respect last week, when I compared him to Bruce Golding.  He is much worse than that...... Obama can talk and do so like Martin Luther King.  But the latter was responsible only for a civil rights movement, not a country.

This is what makes Obama so potentially dangerous."


I used to enjoy reading Dawn Ritch's writing, but something corrosive seems to have seeped into her columns.  I remember reading her article on "Bombastic Trinidadians" and the factual errors alone were stunning (ti's covered in my business blog --

Nowadays, it's the odd column here and there that I can complete without shaking my head, and this particular one left me without words.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Letters from Foreign

I thoroughly enjoyed the following two articles written by Jamaicans living abroad and published in the Daily Gleaner.  Kudos to the authors for injecting some well-needed reality into the false impression created by visiting Jamaicans that "everything a foreign is sweet."

Tips for migrants to Canada

published: Saturday | March 8, 2008

The Editor, Sir:

In response to the letter 'Migrant facing reality in Canada', many English-speaking immigrants face a difficult time when first they move to Canada. Immigrants who are not black, but are also not white, may find it easier, as many companies are owned or have senior management who are of South or East Asian background. These groups have excellent social networks.

The social system here is complex. You will find that the cities are multicultural, but the more multicultural, the less tolerance for others who are different. It will be hardest on parents at first, but your children will fit in more easily and eventually you will too.

Regarding employment, before emigrating, it is necessary to research the potential demand for your skills. Do not rely on Can/Prov governments projections as these do not usually represent current needs/wants of businesses. Further, some skills sell differently in some provinces/territories. For e.g., currently it's the trades and engineering that are in demand in some places, medical persons throughout, and retail in others. It can be difficult to get into some jobs, e.g. accounting, without Canadian experience, even if you are starting entry-level. As for degrees, a bachelor's degree is usually sufficient for the vast majority of jobs here. Employers look more to your experience which leaves a lot of the well-educated frustrated.

Do not give up unless you do have somewhere better to go. Consider going back to college to get a Canadian certificate; they tend to discriminate against all others, including those from the USA. Always remember, Canadians are not as open as Americans - they just like to project themselves as such.

I am, etc.,


Edmonton, Alberta


Via Go-Jamaica

LETTER OF THE DAY - Living 'a foreign' no bed of roses
published: Saturday | March 8, 2008

The Editor: Sir,

Growing up in Jamaica, I often heard the phrase uttered by many that 'foreign is no bed of roses' I used to get angry at individuals who, in my mind were only saying this to discourage other Jamaicans from going to America, giving them the impression that life is difficult there. Up to this point where I am now living and working in the United States (US), no one could tell me that life was not much better here than in Jamaica. In fact, living in America was my dream and no doubt the dream of countless Jamaicans who still hold on to the notion that America is still the best place to live.

I will not for a minute deny that there may be more and better opportunities for young people here. However, people must realise that opportunities must be sought wherever you are. It will not just come and fall in your lap. I must also admit and make it clear that you have to work twice even three times as hard here as you would the same job in Jamaica. "Mi neva work so hard inna mi life!"

A different experience

Living in the US is a completely different experience. Would I come back to Jamaica to live now? Absolutely! I now realise that indeed foreign is no bed of roses as I used to hear others say and do I agree! For me and I guess for many Jamaicans living here, I feel like I am not living, merely existing. Life is or can be very monotonous and downright depressing. Especially if you live in those states affected by winter. Frankly, this place is not fit for human habitation in winter. Try spending a day in your freezer and you will know what I am talking about!

I guess what I am trying to say is that I would rather be in Jamaica, with all the crime and violence, with all the so-called poverty and everything else that others seems to be running from. There is no place like home. America is not for everyone. If I knew that I would still be extremely homesick after eight years living in the States, that I would feel so incomplete and yearning to return home every given minute, I probably would have made a different decision about relocating. I would have stayed in my country and made the best of my life and my situation. I would have been more grateful being a Jamaican and living in Jamaica. I wouldn't be so critical of everything, and eager to leave.

A blessed country

Jamaica is, as we say, a blessed country. There is this sense of freedom and happiness that you experience there. I am not saying that there isn't a lot of problems and that things are not very difficult for many Jamaicans. What I am saying is that it is not much different here in the US, Life is just as difficult for many, especially if you do not have a skill or a career. You have to fight and work just as hard to make ends meet and to be successful.

My advice to the average Jamaican that still thinks that America is the answer to their problems is that you are in for a rude awakening. Work hard and build your country. Try to make a difference in whatever way you can. You have it good and you don't even know it. Jamaica is still the best place on Earth to live. Ask any Jamaican living a foreign.

I am, etc.,


Brooklyn,  New York

Via Go-Jamaica

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Violence as a Sound "Teaching Tool"

I have written before about the different points of view on corporal punishment here in Jamaica, and shared some of my points of view on the subject.

Recently the Minister of Education, who seems to be one of the very bright sparks in the 6 month old administration, declared that flogging at home and school were contributing to the high levels of violence that we Jamaicans are experiencing.

He said: "do you know what that passes to the students? That the only way to resolve a conflict is through violence, and what is being played out in the society is reinforced everyday by how we as a society imparts disciplinary instruction to our young people."

This flies in the face of much of the conventional wisdom which argues that "flogging was good for me, so it must be good for everyone." Unfortunately, those who state this nonsense never deal with the idea that our high murder rate might have something to do with the fact that we teach and demonstrate the "efficacy" of
violence as a teaching tool.

Every child that is beaten is taught: "Do this with your children (or spouse, or neighbours, or elderly, or poor, or otherwise defenseless.)" "It works!"

Of course, it doesn't.

"See this link to the article"


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Friday, March 07, 2008

Jamaican Migration

It's more than likely that most of the readers of Moving Back to Jamaica are educated people who migrated and are interested in returning (at least vicariously through others.)  If so, they make up part of the 72% of educated Jamaicans who live overseas.

This article summarizes the number of educated Jamaicans who live overseas.

Read the article here

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Bad Trend is Starting

This was bad news.

The world is paying attention to our crime rate, and in a small way has stopped doing business with us as a result.

A few days ago, it was announced that a girls netball team from New  Zealand has refused to travel to Jamaica to play because of the crime situation here.  See the link below for details. 

Recently, a friend of ours in the U.S. vehemently stated that she would not be coming to Jamaica anytime soon. The reason?  Her brother had informed her about the hatred we Jamaican people have for gays, and the laws that could see him and his partner thrown in jail if he ever visited.

Gays have been boycotting Jamaica for some time, out of a reasonable fear of being discriminated against in ways that they simply don't experience in other countries.  We have dropped off their radar of places to consider visiting, and unfortunately many Jamaicans would happily affirm -- say "Ah so it fe go, yes!"

Would we say the same to the Kiwi netball-players?

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Monday, March 03, 2008

My Parents' Smart Choice

At some point in 1982 or so my parents had a choice -- should they buy a VCR for the family or a mini-computer?

At the time, VCR's were well known and many people were getting them in, and sharing movies left, right and centre.  It was all the rage.

At the same time, there were a few articles coming out in Time magazine about"'mini-computers" that were hard to understand with a whole strange new language and unfamiliar jargon.  RAM? ROM? disc?  Monitor?  CPU?

To my parent's credit, they decided to invest in the future of this new thing... and I got my hands on the first computer which at the time cost some $199 -- a TI-994A. It turned out somegood things:

-- I learned how to play video games
-- I learned how to write programmes in TI-Basic
-- I got a summer job using the first IBM PC's in 1983 and 1984 (the ones with 2 floppy disks)
-- I was able to quit my first job cleaning up garbage from the dorms in College, for a nice computer job paying more (without ever having to show up for work once)
-- I got an A- in Computer science (my first A)
-- I was able to get the most Engineering Co-op jobs as my computer background, and my working background  were so deep compared to other students

It started a snowball effect that has lead me to today, writing several blogs that I am about to monetize in different ways (this isn't one of them, BTW) and to publish my first first e-book -- perhaps the first one published for working professionals in the Caribbean region.

And of course, my parents eventually  bought a few VCR's, and a couple of DVD players.  But they have been forgotten, pretty much, and become as useful as the radio or television.  In the meantime, the computer has only grown in leaps and bounds, and become more than just a console to play games on.

To say the least, I'm glad they made the choice they made.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

More Memoirs of an Illegal Alien

In a prior post, I referred to an excellent series that is being released ever so slowly on -- "Memoirs of an Illegal Alien."

The series makes for compelling reading, and is the only account I have read in any form that described the Jamaican experience in America.

The protagonist is a Jamaican like many that I am sure we all know -- illegally living in the U.S., and barely getting by with purchased social security numbers, close scrapes with the law, living hand to mouth in someone's spare bedroom, odd jobs here and there, etc.

The issues come out every few months or so, and they are quite realistic -- so true to form that I imagine that the author is delaying his posting so that he can stay a few steps ahead of the law!

Here is the link to the entire series, once again.

I had to myself after reading his account of how he snuck back into the US from Bahamas in Series 31 -- is to REALLY worth it?

P.S. Has anyone read any other first hand accounts of Jamaicans living in the US in any form? I welcome the input.


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