My Jamaica (Part One)
I had to admit that I was scared. Yet I kept reminding myself that this was the plan that I'd devised when I learned that I'd won four medals from the JCDC. I'd told myself that this trip to
On those trips, I was pampered. Calabash paid my airfare and as soon as I landed at the airport I was paged, "Mr. Geoffrey Philp, please come to the office of the Jamaica Tourist Board." Next, I would be whisked through the airport and taken by a driver to the place where I would stay. In the mornings, the driver picked me up and took me to meet my eager students. After teaching all day, I was taken home to shower, change and escorted to the theatre or similar cultural event. This usually lasted for a week, and I stuck to the schedule. But over the years, I began to ask myself if I really knew
The plan had worked, but then I began to get angry with myself. I was allowing the actions of a statistically insignificant fraction of
Yet the hills, which had been an integral part of my childhood landscape in Mona Heights, kept on calling.
I walked out to the gates of the hotel and talked with two stern looking security guards. We talked about the rains and how green the island looked. I asked them about taxi rates, and then, I made the decision.
I walked out the gates of the hotel down to
As we made our way past King's House, I introduced myself to the driver and he told me his name was Minto. We talked about the weather, the recent elections, and life in
By the time we got to Matilda's Corner, Minto said to me, "So, you've become an American?" I'd never been asked the question so directly and there was no equivocation. I had to say yes.
We talked a bit more about the rain and the roads that were filled with potholes. I would have taken pictures but I still haven't learned how to use the panorama setting on my camera.
After dodging an oncoming car and landing in one of the craters, Minto complained, "We're too talented to be this poor!" I agreed with him and gave him a few examples of several Jamaicans in South Florida who had distinguished themselves in many fields, and many examples of students such as Lance McGibbon at
"There's something about us," said Minto, "that makes us stand out." I agreed with him again. As I got out of the taxi at the gates of the University of the
None of my friends were there. They'd either finished teaching their classes or had finished their office hours and had gone home. So much for surprises. I wandered around the campus and visited some of my old haunts. Then, I went to the bookstore where I bought a few books that some of my friends in
I made one last circle around the campus, walked out the gates, and caught a bus that dropped me off at the bottom
I was ready for my next adventure.
For photos of the trip, please follow this link: My Jamaica.
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