It is just over thirty years ago since I went to Jamaica – It is nearly 30 years of marriage and my youngest just turned 21. I sometimes think I have taken on board the experiences and lessons learnt..
Our ages ranged from twenty-one to thirty-five. I was the youngest and the bossy one. I had never been abroad so of course I knew everything. I’d always had friends from other countries, or not white, so I wasn’t prejudiced. I believed in multiculturalism, ecumenicalism and the social Gospel. That was all right then.
It was very hot. The pavement intensified the heat and reflected it back up to my face. Double the heat. It bounced off the white walls and rushed at me from the shiny metallic bus sides. Quadrupled. Perspiration rolled down my back, my arms and legs. I defy any anti-perspirant to work in such a place. One of these days I would learn to carry an umbrella, but at the moment I didn’t have one, or the money to buy one.
I had been working at a local community college, but the stifling heat wasn’t the only thing that kept the students away. Shots had been heard near Hannah Town that morning and many had felt it was safer to stay at home. I had sat on the steps of the office fanning myself with an old piece of paper. I had made all this effort to get down here on time and now no one was here. Typical. One of the secretaries wandered past complaining about the heat. The manager leaned against the door,
“It’s not worth you being here today. They’re all so jumpy you’d be safer off at home.”
I didn’t know what was worse, that I’d struggled all the way down in the heat, that I’d sat down and waited or that I had to gain some energy to get home again. I think it was the last thought that really got to me. My thoughts about Jamaicans were not charitable.
Bear with me …