Trip Reports

My Love Affair with Jamaica

It began in August 1998 and it was love at first sight. I had forgotten how exciting it was to be in the first throes of love. Forgotten how love awakens and stimulates all the senses. At first sight, as the plane touched down at Montego Bay, the blazing sunshine washed over me, instantly lifting my spirits. I looked all around me at the azure-blue sea, it’s near seamless union with the sky and the golden sands and there began the seduction. As I emerged from the airport I stood in amazement as I took in the true beauty of the island – the music and the most beautiful colour created by God – the glorious hues of brown, from richest ebony to creamy beige – the Jamaican people. The music was not from the sound of instruments but from the mouths of the people. Sometimes the mouths were open wide and roaring with laughter, sometimes the lips were down-turned and the voices were loud and angry, but always expressive in various tones creating tunes and melodies. There was a buzz ! about the place, people moved around quickly and it was exciting. My heart was racing.

August 1998 was my first ever trip to Jamaica, having been born and raised in England. The trip had been planned to celebrate my grandfather’s 100th birthday that had been talked about for years, especially by my mother who had always said that ‘if God spared her life’ she would certainly be there. Sadly, my mother died in 1996 and never made the trip. In a cruel twist of fate my grandfather died three days before I arrived in Jamaica. After my mother died I nursed a curious desire to visit her homeland. My grandfather’s 100th birthday provided the ideal opportunity. After hearing that my grandfather had passed away I was wary of traveling to Jamaica, expecting there to be a grim atmosphere. Nothing could have been further from the truth. My grandmother, although just widowed from the man she had loved and been married to for eighty years was as strong in spirit and as happy as ever. She told me so much about my family history, conveying what it was like to live in Jamaica ! at the turn of the last century. They were poor people; they struggled, never gave up, never lost their values or strayed from their faith. For the first time in my life I felt a part of the Jamaican race and I was proud and humbled by my ancestry.

When I returned to England I found something missing in my life. It seemed dull in comparison to the hustle-bustle of Jamaica. I also found that I missed the integrity of the Jamaican people – yes integrity. For no matter whom you are talking to, Jamaican people are honest because they say what they think and not what people want to hear and they have feeling and passion, which makes you feel alive. I missed the sunshine and the blue skies and beautiful mountains that seemed to follow you all around the island. The affair continued in July 2001 and again in March of this year when my Grandmother celebrated her 100th birthday. I had not been back in England more than a day before arranging a ‘secret rendezvous’ for three weeks at Christmas. But I have concluded that it is no good. I cannot live without my ‘true love’ any longer. Next year I am back for good and we will be together forever.

About the author

Deborah Gabriel

Dr. Deborah Gabriel is a Lecturer in Marketing Communications at Bournemouth University and the Founder and CEO of Black British Academics; a Community Interest Company working to advance race equality in the higher education sector.