The lure of Jamaica is very powerful. Who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their lives in such beautiful surroundings with such happy people. The warm sun and tropical breezes are like icing on the cake. Where else could you find the pristine white sand beaches with the dazzling array of colors of the Caribbean ocean where beneath the warm waters are countless varieties of tropical fish that swim among some of the finest coral in the Caribbean. But, alas, could you really be happy with all that?
The initial feeling in your heart when you first see Jamaica is very much the same as when you meet an attractive member of the opposite sex. Love at first sight! As we all know, there is more to love than physical beauty. Beyond what we see lies the unknown. This is true of Jamaica, as well, both have to have a period of courtship. In the beginning are the many dates with that someone special where each party begins to expose their inner being. So too with Jamaica. Time is needed to look beyond that first impression. You wouldn’t marry someone after seeing them just once. It takes several visits and lots of exploration to start to get to know this tropical paradise. Sitting under an umbrella on the beach is not going to enhance that relationship. True, you will meet the friendly hotel staff but this isn’t what all Jamaicans are like. Those people are trained to be more than everyday Jamaicans. The real Jamaican can be found just about anywhere else away from the resort. There you will find people as nice as those at the hotel and some not so nice. There are many different personalities out there which have to be dealt with on a daily basis. The panhandlers and hustlers are not restricted to the tourist areas but can be found almost anywhere the public is. The higglers you see in the craft market are similar to those in the produce market and haberdasheries. Can you discern whether you are conducting business with an honest person or someone who is corrupt? Do you know if you are getting a fair deal or not? Is a taxi driver giving you a local rate or is it inflated because you may not know the difference?
As you begin to learn about that special person, do they have a small habit that bothers you like biting their nails or talking with their mouth full? Surely all their idiosyncrasies are noted in the back of your mind where, at some later date, they come forth for you to decide if you can live with them or not. The same is true for you to live in Jamaica. If the young man at the traffic light washes your window whether you want him to or not, is that something you could deal with daily? Also, patience is a virtue you would need if you had to do business at a bank or one of the utilities. Standing in line for an hour is not unheard of. You might think there would be a lot of pushing and shoving or even fisticuffs but just the opposite is true. Hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices can be an all day affair, appointment or not. You may find these things very stressful in your life today, but in Jamaica, this is the norm. Much can also be said about Jamaican drivers. The taxi drivers take the brunt of the criticism for their fast and reckless driving but there are as many or more courteous drivers willing to share the road equally with you.
I have tried to compare courtship and marriage to living and adjusting to life in Jamaica. The similarities are quite the same. Each has to take its time. You need time to learn about each other at each and every opportunity as growth of the relationship is strengthened. Some things can be changed or some have to be accepted as they are. It all takes time and hard work but the reward is true happiness.
My love affair with Jamaica began on October 2, 1994 at Sandals Inn in Montego Bay. It was a love that took several years and many visits to nurture. That first year was spent as a typical tourist visiting several of the most popular tourist attractions such as Dunn’s River Falls. The following was more tours but all of them helped me to get to know Jamaica. Tours to plantations, historical buildings and sites, and deep exploration into the heart of this fantastic island further stimulated my longing to bring this relationship to a climax. But I didn’t let my heart rule my head. During those visits I spent as much as time as I could mingling with as many natives as possible. There are some good long lasting friendships born out of those unions while others faded faster than a Jamaican sunset. It was out of these newfound friendships that helped and guided me on my path to paradise. Once my mind was made up that Jamaica was the only place I wanted to be, it took a couple of more years to find the right house and to take all the steps that led me to this tranquil piece of heaven I call home.
Now it’s up to you. Come! Come and see the real Jamaica. Come and experience the happiness I have had for nearly six years. Yes…come and fall deeply in love and experience all this “Garden of Eden” can offer you. Later…