Jamaica: My healer

Goodbye Ja

Heal: To restore to health or soundness; cure.

I’m struck today with the same feelings of loss and overwhelm as I was when I first arrived in Jamaica over 8 months ago. Yet I’m leaving Jamaica a totally different person.

When I reflect back on my experience here, only one word comes to mind. That word is heal. This lush island provided the gentle (and sometimes jarring) backdrop to a broken woman who was put back together again. Like Humpty Dumpty. I will always be grateful to this place and a piece of my heart will remain here.

These are 11 things I will miss the most.

1. The children in the playground next to my office window. Decked out in their bows, ribbons and bright green and red uniforms, these lively little ones became the musical backdrop to my fingers typing on the keyboard – their screams, squeals, shouts and tears. They hug, run, jump, fight, swing, throw balls and chase tires. They make my heart sing. (Then the loud cow bell rings and tells us all to get back to work.)

2. The endless summer sunshine and cheery birds. Every morning, the same bright sight and high-pitched sound. What a glorious way to wake up every day.

3. My favourite colour green. It never fades here and is everywhere you look.

4. My perched view from my bedroom window. It was always lively down below, at the crossroads of what I like to call “crazy and crazier” (otherwise known as Hope and Trafalgar). Shouting men, horns blaring, motorcycles dancing, school children marching in uniform, big yellow buses, families in the park. The scene always delicately illustrated the hustle and fight of life.

5. My friends and colleagues. Especially the fine, kind and brilliant women who shouldered my pain and watched me cry. And then laugh and smile. They cheered on my accomplishments as if they were their own. Thank you to Kate, Erin and Wendy; we will be forever friends, of this I am sure.

6. The breeze. Most afternoons the wind would pick up and a swift breeze would brush down over Kingston from the mountains. This was a lovely treat in the blazing sun. It also made for extremely quick-drying laundry.

7. The Blue Mountains. The majestic background to Kingston’s insanity. They look down upon us like a wise old elder, reminding us of the stillness and beauty of nature.

8. The town criers. Hearing announcements blaring from speakers on the tops of cars driving around town made me giggle every time they approached. I could never make out a single word they were saying either.

9. Jamaican’s unabashed appreciation for cheesy love songs. My love for Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Michael Bolton, Rick Astley, Luther Vandross, Peter Cetera and Chris De Burgh (to name a few) was all resuscitated. While reggae and dancehall also permeated my existence here, it’s the blaring soulful oldies I’ll remember most with fondness. (My dated CD collection gathering dust at home is most definitely going to be brought back to life with new-found spirit.)

10. The ocean. The ocean. The ocean. I could see the turquoise blue harbour winking at me as I got into the elevator every day. What a welcome sight. The beaches in Jamaica are also heavenly.

11. The attention. Yes, it could definitely be annoying and trying at times. However, being told you’re pretty, beautiful or sweet most days was laughable and flattering. It’s nice to be noticed. People in Jamaica talk at you all the time on the street and this genuine warmth from stranger to stranger is something I wish we embraced more in North America.


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