Jamaica Magazine

"Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land I love!" by American Retiree in Jamaica

Written by John Casey

I love Jamaica! This is my tropical paradise where I intend to live the remainder of my life! There is no place on earth I’d rather be. “Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land I love.”

The reason for saying all that is because several readers, over the past few months, have criticized me for being so negative. They don’t understand why I’m still living here. They want me to write all the positive things. “Tell us about the pristine white sandy beaches with the cool tropical breezes.” “Tell us about the warm romantic evenings sipping cool island drinks with that someone special, while gazing at the majestic sunsets and star filled skies.” “Tell us about all the wild beach parties where food, booze, and sex are in wild abandonment.” You can find stories about those things in other articles on Jamaicans.com.

If I have to tell you about those things you don’t want to know about the real Jamaica. Don’t get me wrong. All of those things have enticed millions of people to the island. Yes, they are part of what makes Jamaica so hypnotic. But, most of those things are more for tourists than for residents.

All my writings have described what you don’t see on the resort. These articles depict everyday life, whether it is positive or negative. No place is perfect, not even where you live. If you want to live in Jamaica, you need to know about its people and culture. You need to know what to expect on a day to day basis.

The following paragraphs are a part of an email sent to one of the most vocal of my critics.

I wonder how many of my articles you have read. Everything negative is factual and not contrived. My editor insists that any article from anyone not be negative. Every month these articles are edited by the staff from the website.

I love Jamaica! I have never regretted one moment here. The things I write about come mostly from out-of-life experiences. It happens to be a fact that this country is very corrupt from the government down to the lowest entrepreneur. All you have to do is go on line and read the Observer or the Gleaner, island wide newspapers, to
get the real picture.

If you have read all my articles, you will remember that I am the director of my church’s outreach ministry. One program is the feeding of 300 school children in 4 schools in Montego Bay. This program is being expanded to 500 children in 6 schools next month. When I visit these schools on a weekly basis, I can tell you they are
nothing like schools where I am from. They are overcrowded, under staffed and very noisy. The many, but majority, of students who do excel and go on to further their education, do so outside of Jamaica. Many of them never return to give back to Jamaica. Having said that, those who have chosen to stay in their homeland have made enormous progress in all fields of endeavor. Those same newspapers have article after article on the success of those people.

Jamaican tradition is for most people to be late for everything most of the time. This includes opening hours for businesses, health clinics, work, sporting events, church services, you name it.

The amount of “crooks” are quite visible in construction and trade companies. One of my readers who bought a small hotel has lost 10’s of thousands of dollars from workers stealing materials from her property during renovations. This is a fact! All of my Jamaican friends have warned me about this since I moved here. I never use a trade person without a referral from a friend. White people can be overcharged by people of all occupations unless they are shopping wise. When I want to know a price in the market, I either listen for someone else to ask or have a Jamaican ask for me, unless it is someone I have been buying from regularly.

These and all the above are facts of life in Jamaica. On the other hand, most of the people I live, work and play with are much nicer than those in my past. Did you read how my community came together on Labor Day to improve our community? The papers are full of such communities volunteering their time and talents not only in their community but throughout the parish in worthwhile projects. This is typical island wide.

The taxi drivers get a bad rap for “buying” their drivers licenses and driving without knowing what the rules of the road are. My experience on the road is that most drivers are courteous particularly when it comes to other cars making turns. People learning to drive have a sign with a large red L on a white background hanging from
both ends of their car. I have never seen an irate driver honk their horn or do anything that would harass the student driver.

When you take into consideration the double digit unemployment and the number of people living below the poverty level, Jamaicans are happy people. It is hard to go anywhere without seeing Jamaicans, of both sexes and all ages, singing and/or dancing as they go. They are quite adept at living within their means.

The streets of Montego Bay, including the four miles I live from town, are cleaned and swept daily by people, not machines. Can you say that about where you live?

Many of the people who read my articles are interested in retiring here, as I did. If I painted a perfect place in which to live, I would be doing them an injustice. My experiences are real life.

Jamaica is one of the best islands in the Caribbean. In my eyes, it is the best. My travels have taken me to most of the larger islands and many of the smaller ones. There is none as beautiful with so much to offer than my Jamaican Paradise!

I hope I have cleared up some of the misconceptions about my writing. If anyone feels there are some areas which I didn’t address, please bring them to my attention. The sole purpose of my articles is to help people decide if Jamaica is for them. I do extensive research into many subjects for my many readers, including real estate agents, laws governing their moving here, visual inspection of properties, etc. All of this is done without a charge.

About the author

John Casey