Another hot day in Montego Bay as Lorna and Nancy head to a Christmas party in Canterbury, a ghetto community packed along the banks of a storm gully.
The homes are very modest, mostly of wood and zinc, and are very close together. Within this squatter community exists a basic school, which is similar to a nursery and kindergarten school combined. Each year The Meeting Place Church throws a Christmas party for the children and there is usually something there for the adults, too. My wife and I picked up the women and brought them to the party before the church arrived. It was amazing to see how fast and organized the church workers were in preparing for the big event. Once the Christmas carols filled the air, the community square became filled with children of all ages. Lorna says, “The children are so poor but very happy to see us. They were all excited about the cake, soup, and Christmas gifts they received. I think they enjoyed the cake as much as the presents. It broke my heart to have to leave those precious little ones, especially a five year old boy who became attached to Nancy. I wish I could do more for them. They are, after all, God’s children too.”
After the party, the ladies went to the beach again. “It was so hot in Canterbury. I think it was the hottest day since we arrived in Jamaica, especially after standing for several hours in the heat. Too bad it didn’t melt the fat off me!”
Christmas Eve day was spent relaxing on the beach. Lorna took time out for a relaxing massage to help ease her back pain from standing so long at the Christmas party. As they walked back to their cottage Lorna noticed, “The streets were very quiet. Everyone must have gone home for Christmas eve.” And that’s what they did, spent their evening exchanging gifts and watching Christmas specials on TV.
Christmas Day, Lorna’s birthday. After breakfast, it was back to the beach for the day. She was surprised to see the beach was full of Jamaicans. One thing that Jamaicans love is the ocean. It is very common to see them having an early morning swim before heading off to work.
Christmas night got under way at Sandals Royal Caribbean where Lorna’s party began. “How can I describe this resort? It was out of this world! It was the most beautiful resort I had ever seen. What an awesome place and a wonderful dinner.” The executive chef made her meal extra special by writing “Happy Birthday” around her dessert plate. “Then there was entertainment and lots of free drinks. I had a blast!” They spent the rest of the evening into the wee hours of the morning at the Coral Cliffs nightclub. When the staff found out it was her birthday, they brought her onstage and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. The evening was filled with dancing, drinking, and meeting a lot of wonderful people. That was one birthday Lorna will never forget.
My wife and I invited them to spend their last few nights at our home. One night, we all went to a dinner party put on by one of my neighbors, who lives at the top of the community, which offers a breathtaking view of Montego Bay. “The hostess was Blossom, a very lovely Jamaican lady who lives in a beautiful home with an awesome view of Montego Bay’s city lights and the surrounding mountains. There was lots of delicious Jamaican food, great music, friendly people, and lots of Jamaican rum.” Later in the evening, Lorna and Nancy learned how to play the most popular game in all of Jamaica, dominos. “Nancy and I had a blast playing dominos. We even won a few games against the men. What a great night to remember!”
Those last few days were filled with more time at the beach, house hunting by Nancy, and tasting Jamaican cuisine away from the regular tourist spots.
Lorna was a typical tourist visiting some of the more popular attractions on the island and staying in the middle of all the action on Hip Strip. She met numerous Jamaicans who took her and Nancy to places around town not many visitors get to see. She also experienced some of the day to day cultural Jamaican experiences, like spending time in long lines at the bank. Some of her most fondest memories are of the Christmas party in Canterbury, her birthday party at Sandals and Coral Cliff, and the dinner party in a Jamaican home. To sum up Lorna’s fantastic vacation, she did it all!