Saturday, August 18, 2007
I was going to write a story about the wild Emancipation Day weekend celebrations here in Jamaica as an accompaniment to this painting. Sort of a morning after, ode to the debauchery of the night.
There were tales of choked traffic on the normally sparse Norman Manley Boulevard, cars and motorcycles riding 3 or sometimes even 4 abreast the two-lane road. Young women in varying stages of dress or undress, beach wear was de rigeur even after 11pm. Especially after 11pm. We saw thong-wearing ladies riding on the backs of Ninja's,deliberately grabbing their own bottoms and shaking their exposed cheeks to the cheers of onlooking vehicles.
Or as my youngest daughter said, "Mommy, wherever you look tonight, you see something really silly. Or just plain stupid."
Hmmm. I'm rather glad to hear that coming from a 10-year old. Not necessarily an appreciation of her culture, to be sure, but more on that later. Remind me of her very first introduction to her cousin's "dancing" on a DVD, shot in the bowels of a late-night Montego Bay dancehall party spot.
But that's another story.
Tonight, is about the wait for Hurricane Dean.
We've bought our 5-litre jugs of bottled water, several packages of candles and matches, scores of biscuits and crackers and root vegetables, pounds of rice and dried peas, and even secured a brand new coal pot with a bulging, 4-foot tall sack of coal. We did most of our shopping yesterday at the Hi Lo in Negril, which was still relatively calm, no crowds, shelves full.
Today we returned to the Hi Lo to with draw cash from the ATM, but had to wait for the Brinks truck to re-fill the stacks of jays. The line grew long. We then sped off to Sav, which was more than bustling. It was boiling and bubbling with activity.
"Kang-el,kang-el, kang-el - tree pack fuh one hundred dollah," bellowed the tall, slim man, walking between the cars on St. George's street, clutching his red and white cardboard boxes of slim white candles.
The vegetable market was bursting with food and folk. We bought naseberries, plantains, carrots, irish potato, and two bags of chopped callaloo. We went on a search for cooler in the hopes we could forestall doing with out ice for at least a few more hours after the electricity goes. We found an average coleman-style imitation cooler for sale, the usual size for a family picnic, but the price was over 60 bucks. A bit steep for what would probably prove to be just a few more hours of ice cubes. We passed on the cooler.
We're now back in Negril,darkness has fallen, and the tree frogs have begun to gleep as usual. I am spread out in the darkness, on crisp white sheets of a freshly made bed, a ceiling fan blowing above me, and my face lit by the blue glow of my laptop.
I am struck by the sheer comfort and delight of this moment. Peaceful, calm, clean and crisp....it may be a while before I have such a gift again.
Posted by VH McKenzie at 8:43 PM