The dream of living abroad is a common aspiration for many Jamaicans. Success stories of those who’ve made it overseas are celebrated back home with proud exclamations of “so-and-so gone a foreign!” Yet, as the days turn into months, and the allure of distant shores settles in, subtle reminders of Jamaica emerge, evoking a profound sense of nostalgia. Here are five distinct reminders of Jamaica that you can truly appreciate while abroad.
The Mongrel Dog
Every street in Jamaica seems to have at least three mongrel dogs that take up residence. In first-world countries, where urban environments are more sterile and domesticated, encountering a stray dog, especially a mongrel, becomes a cherished flashback to home. The sight of these resilient, street-smart canines invokes memories of lively neighborhood scenes and the comforting sense of familiarity.
Few things evoke the essence of Jamaica like the sight and smell of mangos ripening on a tree. Whether you were sneakily picking the ripest mangoes from trees overhanging the road or sharing a bucket with friends and family, the mere smell of the fruit rekindles cherished memories.
Rice and Peas
After spending an extended period abroad, you stop feeling for something nice and start to feel for or crave, rice and peas. Foreign staples like potatoes and pasta can’t quite compare to the comfort of a well-cooked pot of Jamaican rice and peas. When you pass by an authentic Jamaican restaurant and catch the scent of this dish wafting through the air, even if it doesn’t taste perfect, it still feels like the best thing you’ve had in years.
Music is a vibrant part of the Jamaican culture. The beats of Dancehall coursing through our streets often becomes a white noise we expect. Abroad, you may find bustling streets and lively pubs, but often, there’s something missing: the music. Hearing that one fellow Jamaican on your street crank up classic Jamaican dancehall tunes instantly will lift your spirits and your waistline, regardless of location or activity.
An Overloaded Bus (Bus Loading)
Overloaded buses are a familiar sight in Jamaica, with drivers and conductors often calling out to potential passengers to fill every last seat. Outside of Jamaica, this is a rarity. Spotting someone advocating for more passengers on behalf of the driver or witnessing someone scoot over in their seat and declare, “He can hold man,” instantly creates a sense of camaraderie and shared identity.
While the allure of foreign shores is strong, these five reminders of Jamaica are the subtle treasures that help Jamaicans living abroad appreciate our Jamaican heritage even more.