When people hear that you’re from Jamaica they immediately think you must be a laid-back, fun-loving, breach-going type of guy. I mean let’s be honest Bob Marley; the world’s greatest reggae musician was from Jamaica. In recent times, track legend Usain Bolt, known for his passionate and boastful displays of conduct, has also become a widely celebrated figure from Jamaica. While for the most part, these adjectives are not far from the truth, there is a lot more to Jamaicans that the narrow perception displayed in the media. Jamaica is a country with a history unlike any other, with roots in slavery and colonialism, Jamaica has developed a unique spirt that transcends our music, food and community. The struggle for independence has left a deep sense of survival that permeates the centre of every Jamaican. In spite of the struggles we have overcome, we are a people grateful for life and hell-bent on making the most of our limited time. Here are a few reasons why I love our little island of Jamaica.
Here in Jamaica, there is a true sense of community that exists in the church, the schools, and the towns, wherever you go. We look out for each other; we are our neighbor’s keeper. Walking to the supermarket I find it hard to not encounter a familiar face. It could be a friend of my mother, or maybe a classmate of my brother, the degree of separation is relatively small. In Jamaica you find that your family can exist outside of your home through those friends that you grow up with. Going to the market you develop relationships with the vendors, the people who grow the food you eat. In your church you form a close bond with your choir members. You become close friends with the parents of your children’s’ classmates. It is because of these connections we feel like we can brave any obstacle because we are never alone. Having a support system that extends outside of your home and forms the fabric of the culture here in Jamaica and is one thing I value greatly about our country.
Now hear me out on this one, I know many persons may disagree but I love the hot humid climate in Jamaica. I know you’re thinking it’s hard to last without seasons, but so much of our culture is shaped around the warm climate year round. We get to enjoy going to the beach more often than persons in colder climates. I love stepping outside in shorts and slippers and not having to bundle up just to go to the supermarket. Being in a warm climate also means I have access to more fruits like mangoes, pineapples, coconuts all year round. There is nothing as refreshing as having a drink of coconut water on a scorching day. With the heat there is also a sense that time moves a bit slower, the idea of fast-paced here in Jamaica is legions different than that notion in North America. While we do value our time there is a sense that sometimes you just need to let things fall as they may. There is an innate rhythm and flow on the island that you would find hard to shake.
I would be remiss to write an article about why I love Jamaica without mentioning the food. I’ve noticed that in many places with hot climates the persons tend to love spicy food, Jamaica is no different. Whether you are biting into curry goat or a Jamaican patty you might need to watch out for the heat. In Jamaica we value being able to sit down to a home-cooked meal with abundant flavour. For us it is a simple pleasure in life that we can enjoy so we make sure it is the best. Our food tells a rich tale of our ancestry in itself. Whether it’s the fragrant stew peas dish made with pigs tail, which originated from food fed to our ancestors as slaves. Or our seasoned fried fish topped with pickled carrots and onions served with fried dough. Our diverse cuisines highlight the melting pot of culture that has formed Jamaica, and I haven’t even spoken about our prized jerk chicken! The food in Jamaica is truly one of a kind, it is just one of the many reasons why once you come to Jamaica you can’t help but fall in love.