Part One: Birthdays & Shuttle Taxis
Trip Start Aug 10, 2008
16Trip End Sep 30, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Wow. The days have gone by so fast lately. I'm finding it hard to believe that it's been over two weeks since my last update. Thank you for your birthday wishes and packages this last week (They were wonderful!), and for making me feeling like home was not so far away.
As for news from the island...
Last week saw me tackled by 20+ orphans at my agency (Dare To Care), receiving a blessing from a Rastafarian newspaper vendor, surrounded by friends at a birthday dinner (put on by my host mom) and enjoying a celebratory night on the town with fellow students in the graduate program. The latter, with ten of us taking on the city, proved to be one of the best nights I've had since arriving in Jamaica.
The weekend prior, I took a 3-hour shuttle taxi (chicken bus) to Port Antonio and the jerk chicken capitol of the country, Boston Bay. The experience reminded me that just getting somewhere in Jamaica can be an adventure.
Every time, I am in a shuttle taxi, I am reminded of the Knight Bus from the Harry Potter films, traveling at 160 miles/hour and miraculously avoiding certain catastrophes at each twist and turn of the road. Often stuffed beyond capacity, the shuttle taxis in Jamaica are much the same. However, they are usually "standing room only" lending to even more pulse-racing excitement. As license plates race up in front of the dashboard and pedestrians run out of the way; as the nucleus of sweating bodies sway and jerk from left to right, and each bump causes rib cages and jaw bones to shudder; reggae covers of Londonbeat's "I've Been Thinking About You" will pound from the sound system, thankfully masking the telling groans and creeks of the vehicle.
On Saturdays, reggae, R&B and football (soccer) commentary dominate in the shuttles. On Sundays, the dial switches to gospel. In either case, when music is playing, someone will be singing along with it. I am accustomed to the lone singer in a car having limited bravery in America, continuing only if others join in. In Jamaica, a female (regardless of age) will sing alongside Aretha or Ne-Yo, unaccompanied by her fellow companions, for the entirety of a trip. I greatly admire the courage of these females in providing such solo performances (and greatly appreciate the fact that I haven't yet met anyone who is terribly off-key). ;)
On the way home that weekend, we passed through the banana crops and undeveloped countryside of St. Mary's. Between surfing in Boston Bay (the most breathtaking beach I've been to, thus far) and that ride home (through the mountainous and Narnia-like lush overgrowth of St. Mary's), I am still unable to determine which setting was more beautiful. St. Mary's saw me as a child, wide-eyed in the shuttle taxi and unabashedly craning to see every blade of emerald grass. Boston Bay saw me laughing and bobbing on a surfboard above sparkling, churning shades of turquoise. It is difficult to make that distinction.
Errol Flynn aptly wrote once that parts of Jamaica were more beautiful than any woman he'd ever known. ;) One can't help but agree. Just visually, there is so much to appreciate on this island.
Where I stayed