What is it like being a Jamaican in Anguilla?

Xavier: What is it like being a Jamaican in Anguilla? Hi, I’m Xavier Murphy, the founder of, and today in Jamaicans to the World we are talking to Mitzie Temple-Richardson, a Jamaican living in Anguilla. Welcome, Mitzi, how are you? 

Mitzie: Thank you, Xavier. I’m fine, thank you. It’s good to be here, finally. 

Xavier: Good, good, The first question is, which paat a Jamaica yuh come from (which part of Jamaica are you from)? 

Mitzie: I’m from Clarendon, deep rural North Central Clarendon, a little district by the name of Mount Hindmost, it’s all the way up in there. I spent some of my formative years in Kingston, but I was born in Clarendon. 

Xavier: All right. Now, I’m going to go off script a little bit because my mom comes from a small town in Clarendon way up in the hills. Do you know Tweedside? 

Mitzie: I’ve heard about it but I have not been.  

Xavier: Okay. Not a lot of people hear about it. I remember having a discussion and people are like, it’s a mek up town (it’s a made up town), and I said Google it. So in Jamaica, which school because we’re passionate about our our high schools and our schools, which school you represented in Jamaica? 

Mitzie: Interestingly, a represent two: Excelsior High School, and Clarendon College. I spent my earlier years in high school at Ekkie and I then transferred to Clarendon College in fourth form. 

Xavier: Okay. I was about to say Ekkie, but you said. You said it for me. So tell us how did you end up living in Anguilla? 

Anguilla Beach

Mitzie: Well, I came here job hunting and at the invitation of my cousin, one of my cousins, who was a chef here, I came to Anguilla for employment opportunities and I have stayed for the past 26 plus years. On the 21st of May, interestingly, I will be 27 years living in Anguilla. 

Xavier: Wow. You are practically a native? 

Mitzie: Practically, yes.  

Xavier: I’m going to jump in, I’m actually just kind of changing up the things here because they seh (say) people in Anguilla sound like us. I will say this also, I remember when I went to college, I went to Miami-Dade. It was Miami-Dade Community College back then and I had a friend from Anguilla, and sound just like he’s from Jamaica. Your thoughts, is that so? Is it depending on the region? You know, yes, no, somewhat? 

Mitzie: From my experience, not so much. I guess according to the person’s exposure and their background, but for the most part, I don’t agree to the fullest but we as Caribbean people, we have some similarities, but not a whole lot. There is some still distinct features from Jamaicans to Anguillians. 

Xavier: All right. All right. I know you and I spoke earlier, and you’re married to an Anguillian.  

Mitzie: Yes I am. 

Xavier: Has he picked up on some of the Jamaican terms and all of that? 

Mitzie: Oh, yes. He doesn’t say “I” anymore, he said “me”. Me aint doing dis and me aint doing dat. (I’m not doing this and I’m not doing that). 

Xavier: But you sound like you have it down there too.  

Mitzie: I have to mix it up eeh (huh). You have to mix it up sometimes, right? 

Xavier: Yes. What are the people like? I mean, I know people always assume everybody’s from the Caribbean. We’re all aligned, but I do realize with my interactions with different people from the Caribbean, all islands are very different in terms, I mean, We have a lot in common but very different. What are the people like? 

Mitzie: Well, the people are friendly. I have made some friends 20 odd years ago and we still maintain those friendships. The people are warm from my experience. I’ve experienced much love and warmth and the hospitality is off the chain, but as with anywhere, you have differences. The Anguillians are forthright, they will come and they’re like, who yuh fah? You know, and you need to answer because they’re going to press until they get who yuh fah. “Who yuh fah” means who you belong to or who you’re related to, basically. 

Xavier: All right. So it’s their way of being upfront and say, listen, who your family is and who your friends are so I can kind of make an assessment of who you are based on the people that know you. 

Mitzie: Indeed, and further to that, it could be that we are related, because as a small island, almost everybody can connect to somebody from one end of the island to the next.  

Xavier: I see. 

Mitzie: They have to wonder if we related. If you haven’t disclosed that, you know, you’re not an Anguilla.  

Xavier: Ah, I see. I see. In terms of you said, they’re kind of upfront that way, I know we as Jamaicans, we either like you, or we doh (don’t) like you, and if we spirit nuh tek yuh, we ago tell yuh (if my spirit doesn’t take you then I’m going to tell you), me spirit nuh tek dah person deh (my spirit don’t take that person) or whatever. You know, do you find that they’re kind of upfront that way, as you mentioned, because if they’re coming out and saying, who yuh fah? Maybe dem kind a upfront dem way deh too (maybe they are upfront in that way too). 

Mitzie: Yes they are. I’ve experienced persons who they don’t hide and hit you, they will tell you how they feel about things, but for the most part, it is usually good. You know, it is usually good for the most part from my experience that is. 

Xavier: In your experience, what do Anguillians think of Jamaicans, you know, for whatever reason, what do they think in your opinion, I mean, in your opinion? 

Mitzie: Well, most people are expecting you to be vibzy (up beat), you know, outspoken and lively and if you are not they’re like, what part of Jamaica yuh (you) from? So, yes, you have to exhibit that outward characteristic, which they believe that all Jamaicans should be, you know, you should be the life of the party. 

Xavier: Okay. Okay, I get it. You should be the one that has the dance moves and you should be the one that… 

Mitzie: And all of that.  

Xavier: Speaking of the life of the party, what’s the dominant music that you hear there? 

Mitzie: Well, there is Calypso, there is soca, there is reggae, there is a different mix of music, the radio stations would play all the genres that you could think of. In terms of reggae, the reggae is widely known and presented here. We even have a similar to Reggae Sunsplash, it is called the Moon Splash, and that is held every March at the full moon. That full moon weekend is put aside specially for Moon Splash and Moon Splash is a reggae festival and we have reggae artists coming into the island. This year we had Mr. Festival himself, Eric Donaldson.  

Xavier: Oh, that’s quite a treat there.  

Mitzie: Yes, indeed.  

Xavier: And do they have a carnival? 

Mitzie: Oh, definitely. They have a carnival at the end of March, at the end of July rather, extending into August, the first week of August, and from the lineup, it’s pageantry and competition and, of course, the national sport boat racing, which is the highlight of the carnival for the most part and there is where you have a lot of competition. In that Carnival mix is the beach party that is held on the sandy brown beach and where thousands of revelers would be there. There is the juvie morning, and that is usually jam packed with neighboring islands and guests from overseas, visitors all from the Caribbean, and quite an adventure. quite an adventure indeed. The children participate; you have the children’s pageantry, Prince and Princess show and tiny tots and teenagers, the Miss Anguilla Competition, and other delights for the carnival enthusiasts. 

Xavier: All right. All right. And you seh (say) which are the neighboring islands that are close by that come over to the carnival and participate or which are just close by, which islands? 

Mitzie: St. Maarten is our closest neighbor and we are about an 18 minute boat ride to the French side and probably a 25 minute boat ride over to the Dutch side. If we fly by small plane, it is about 8 to 10 minutes. That’s just the distance separating us and that is where we go when we need to find things that we don’t have available here, we’ll go over to our neighbor, St. Maarten, and they support our Carnival and other activities for the most part and Anguillians have relatives in St. Maarten.  

Xavier: I see. 

Mitzie: Lots of relative widespread. Yeah. 

Xavier: How regular is the boat ride between there? I didn’t even realize it was that close. I mean, I’ve been there St. Maarten and St. Martine on a cruise ship stop but I didn’t even realize it was that close. 

Mitzie: Yes. As you said, from the cruise ship you could have taken a day trip over to Anguilla and the closeness it facilitates shopping and entertainment and other activities, family reunions, and so on. It is really, really interesting because the St. Maarten mixes, as you know, French and Dutch, but Anguillians all have relatives on both sides. It is quite interesting. 

Xavier: Good. Good. Next time, I mean, if I do a cruise that comes to that side it’s good to know because I’ve always wanted to visit Anguilla but I didn’t realize it was that close.  

Mitzie: Yes it is. 

Xavier: Never realize it was that close.  

Mitzie: It is that close.  

Anguilla Island

Xavier: I’m going to move on to food, and again, I always said this, the perception is always Caribbean, you know, whatever, what is something that is unique that’s in Anguilla that you would say try this if you come here? 

Mitzie: Well I think the goat water, you know, in Jamaica we have mannish water

Xavier: Right.  

Mitzie: Their goat water is made from the actual goat meat and for me it is quite delicious. It is different and special to Anguillians. It is one of the nicer meals I’ve tried and I do enjoy it and it is just off the chain.  

Xavier: All right.  

Mitzie: Of course, there are many other delicacies. Quite popular is the Johnny cakes. They either bake them or fry them and because of the island and the close proximity to the sea the mainstay in food is seafood and you have quite a variety: lobster, crayfish, fish of all kinds, and shrimp and the likes. It is a seafood haven and interestingly they have a Festival Del Mar with strictly seafood is prepared on the beach during that time, and that is around the Easter weekend. The Saturday and the Sunday, that time is dedicated to the festival. It’s called Festival Del Mar and patrons are treated to seafood delights. 

Xavier: Good, good, good. If I was to visit Anguilla, is there an event or a place or you know, something that I must do whether it be, okay, you have to experience the carnival or whether it be you have to experience that seafood type festival that is happening in Easter or it may be a location that you say, you have to look out from this particular location? What would that be? 

Mitzie: Well, without any doubt, I would invite you to visit the beaches, they are spectacular. They are world-renowned and they have chalked up quite a bit of international attention. There is the famous Shoal Bay East, among others and they are beautiful, just beautiful. In addition to the beaches, the island on a whole is flat, and from the most vantage point, you have a little glimpse of the sea and because of that, wherever you are, you can overlook somewhere. If you’re on the backstreet, for instance, you’re overlooking the beautiful, picturesque sandy ground, and it is a beauty. If you’re on Meets Bay Beach, you will have a spectacular view of the sunset and it is just beautiful the way the island is laid out. When you are on the southern coast, you have an inhibited view of St. Maarten and even the lights when the island lights up, you can see St. Maarten in the nights and according to your location, it’s beautiful. We just enjoy that ambiance, you know, of just tranquility for the main for just enjoyment sake. It’s just beautiful. 

Xavier: I know you’ve been there, as I mentioned earlier, practically, you know, hey, you’re practically a native there, but I’m gwine (going) tek (take) you a back a little bit. When you first got to Anguilla, what would you say was the biggest adjustment you had to make coming there from Jamaica? And there may have not been any, but what was the biggest adjustment you had to make? 

Mitzie: Well, the biggest adjustment was trying to get around without public transportation. There was not any then and there’s still none. There are taxis available, but most natives don’t go the taxi route because it can be expensive. For the most part, when you are here it’s hard to get around without public transportation. You have to become friendly. If you weren’t friendly before you have to be friendly so that you can catch a ride to wherever you want to go and interestingly, that of course led me to get my driver’s license, and subsequently I purchased a car. 

Xavier: Well, it may not be a bad thing if you have to hitch a ride as we seh (say) with somebody yuh meking (you’re making) friends quickly right there. 

Mitzie: Of course. Definitely. Most of my friends, our friendships were built with that beginning.  

Xavier: Yeah, it’s good and bad, good and bad I’d seh (say). 

Mitzie Yeah. It was just challenging. It wasn’t bad for the most part but it was challenging. It was really challenging and because we don’t have a lot of trees and shades and so on, that sweltering sun would take a toll on you so yes. 

Xavier: In terms of the cost of living there, how would you compare it to probably in Jamaica or the USA or whatever, what would you say in terms of the cost of living? 

Mitzie: The cost of living is high. We have two legal tenders, the Eastern Caribbean dollar and the United States dollar and the US dollar is equivalent to 2.68 EC dollars, and we don’t have factories, and so on. We don’t do much export, we do a lot of importation, we have to pay for that at the end of the day, and subsequently, the cost of living is high, rent is high, foodstuff is high and as a result, and so on, but once you’re working, it’s manageable, but it is challenging though. It is challenging. 

Xavier: Is the opportunity to work, I mean, I know we’re under CARICOM, and typically you’re able to go from one place to another, between the members but is it challenging in terms of let’s say, I was to pick up from Jamaica or one of the other Caribbean islands and say I’m moving there job wise, paper work wise? There is still maybe some type of paperwork or some process you have to go through. Again, I know for you, you’ve been there a couple, you know, when more than a couple of years, is that process a difficult process? 

Mitzie: Well, on our members of the CARICOM and the OECS, and while we might not be able to stick to some of the privileges of the other islands, be reminded that we are on British Overseas Territory, and we are guided by their rule as well. Presently we have, for instance, Jamaicans need a visa to enter Anguilla as a regular visitor. Job wise, one would need a work permit to be able to work here. However, there would be provisions made for those persons who are employed by the government of Anguilla and those provisions would be specific to the persons being employed. Other than that, though, persons coming in would need to apply to the British High Commission for a Travel Visa, visitor’s visa to come to Anguilla. 

Xavier: I’m jumping back a little bit into fruits here because I forgot to ask, right, we cherish our mangoes. We have levels of mangoes in Jamaica. You have yuh (your) common mango and then you have yuh (your) pedigree, you know, yuh (your) East Indian, yuh (your) Bombay and yuh (your) Julie and possibly in the middle, some would say a number 11 might be common or might not be common, we doh know (we don’t know) yet. I’ll let users decide, but you’re saying, there’s not a lot of trees or whatever. Yuh have yuh mangoes growing there (do you have your mangoes growing there)?  

Mitzie: Xavier, you’re making me hungry. You’re making me yearn for some mangoes right now as we speak. Well we have mango trees, a few mango trees. Some residents have we call Julie; what we call Julie they call Grafted here and I haven’t seen any East Indian but the mango crop here, we don’t have a wide variety as in Jamaica, not by a longshot. We crave for the days when we can go home and enjoy some mangoes even now as I speak. 

Xavier: I feel sorry for you, but at least you’re getting mangoes. At least there is some type of mangoes there that you’re getting. 

Mitzie: Well, mango is imported so we get mangoes in the shop, of course, not the quality that we are accustomed to, but we have to make do. 

Xavier: Wow, that’s kind of surprising that they’re imported, you know, really surprising but as you said it’s a smaller island and you’re kind of out there, so whenever likkle (a little) wind passing by this place or that place. Yes. 

Mitzie: Yes indeed, and I’m trying to plant my own. It’s a struggle. Hurrican knocked down the peer tree, the ackee tree has survived, the mango, not the mango… wishing. The soursop tree has survived, the June plum tree died. It’s replaced, but you have some plantain, and some bananas and some [intelligible 25:28] and ting (thing). 

Xavier: All right. It sounds like you have a little backyard farm going there that yuh (you) start. Yuh (you) starting yuh (your) thing? 

Mitzie: Trying a thing. 

Anguilla Airport

Xavier: Mitzie, listen, I really appreciate you spending some time with us and telling us about Anguilla and your experience and your story there. I have two last questions before I end. The first one, I kind of know the answer but maybe I’m assuming so you may have a different answer to this, but you land in Jamaica you’re off the plane, what is that first thing you’re doing? Whether it be to go get, again, I’m assuming here, go get your East Indian mangoes or whatever or it may be something else and you say, listen, I’m going here or I’m going to go get this to eat. What is the first thing you’re doing? 

Mitzie: My usual, I usually want some jerk chicken or some jerk pork, some jerk something, and of course wherever the Otaheite apple is I’ll find. If I can’t find it, I’ll send someone to get and of course the mangoes. 

Xavier: It really sounds like a lot of the fruits you’re used to in Jamaica you’re not seeing there. 

Mitzie: Not a lot. Well, I only see jackfruit sold in the supermarket and I don’t see a lot of like naseberry and so on. I don’t see it.  

Xavier: What ‘bout guinep (what about guinep)? 

Mitzie: Guinep is here. The Anguillians call is kinep.  

Xavier: You have to get your own June plum you said. You have to plant your own June plum tree. 

Mitzie: Yes. June plum is here and it’s called golden apple here. Say that again. 

Xavier: And yuh (your) Otaheite? 

Mitzie: They have another version of it here, it’s called wax apple. It’s a smaller specie but it’s not as juicy as the Otaheite, it’s more waxy as the name suggests. We have cherries here and cerasee is hard to find. Well, I’m deviating a bit because I like cerasee tea. 

Xavier: Right. Right. 

Mitzie: I did find it some years ago, they call it maid naple or something similar but it’s hard to find now because of the hurricane destroying, but some other little similarities.  

Xavier: Right. Right. 

Mitzie: We have sweetsop is here, of course, it’s known here as sugar-apple. 

Xavier: Okay. 

Mitzie: And such delights. 

Anguilla Coast

Xavier: You make it with what you have and then what you don’t have when you go Jamaica you get the seeds, yuh (you) bring them back, yuh (you) plant them. 

Mitzie: We try, but the limestone factor of the soils we have here it’s challenging. Sometimes you have to get topsoil and so on and some of the soil variations, they actually grow well but of course as with everywhere as you have different soil across the island. 

Xavier: I see. Well, here is how I typically end. I typically end with you telling me how to say goodbye informally. How the Anguillians would say goodbye informally when they’re saying it to a friend? So you’ve been there 27 years, I’m putting you on the spot now, you know, Jamaicans will seh (say), bwoy (boy), catch you lata (see you later), you know, likkle more (little more) or, you know, something like that, and I don’t know what Anguillians may say, and it may be simple as Goodbye, I don’t know. 

Mitzie: Sometimes it is goodbye. For the younger set would probably say, see ya (see you) or see yuh lata (see you later) or whatever the case may be; when the older folks will say tek care yuh ere (take care) and see you some more time or something like that. 

Xavier: Well, I like tek (take) care lata (later) and see you some more time. Again, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for spending some time with us and telling our viewers all about Anguilla and your story there. See ya (see you), tek care (take care). 

Mitzie: Tek care (take care), Xavier. Thank you for having me and it was indeed a pleasure speaking with you and speaking about Anguilla, my home. My second home.  

Photos  – Deposit Photos

About the author

Xavier Murphy