One Love, Much Love

15 Nov

So I’d like to change the pace a little bit for this blog post, as I’d like to dedicate it to my Momma in Jamaica who passed not too long after I made this trip. As many of you know, I was in the Peace Corps (if you didn’t know, well, then, now you do), and was hosted by this amazing family who I go back to visit as often as I can. This last time in Jamaica, I went to take care of Momma, who had been sick for a while, so I visited the family house to help out as things were getting worse.

 

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RIP Momma.

 

The beginning of the journey was sweet. I met Tyra (my sister, 23) and my 6-year-old godson (Tyra’s son), OJ (September 21, 2011 and, at 6 years old I really like him) near the airport in Montego Bay.  It was beyond great to see them! But then, within the first hour of our journey to the house, my rental car succumbed to the horrendous potholes in the middle of the road, which…based on the quality of the road, I guess was inevitable. With a popped tyre, we ended up on the side of the road next to another car who had met the same fate as we did. The other guy who was fixing his tyre was kind enough to fix mine…I thought it was hilarious (and very Jamaican) that, as he was fixing my tyre, instead of complaining about the road quality and how the potholes should be filled, he talked about opening up a tyre repair shop on the side of the road next to the potholes. Funny, but I’m also not saying I wouldn’t invest.

With the tyre fixed (reminder to myself: it’s so cheap to fix cars in Jamaica), we hopped back on the road, but the potholes weren’t the only treacherous aspect of driving here. The roads were insane, and I kept having to remind myself to drive on the left side. It took double the amount of time to get to Elim that it would have on a bus.  Meanwhile, in the backseat, Tyra was changing a baby’s diaper… I can confidently say that’s the first time time that that has ever happened to me.  Here’s to new experiences.

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Look at my G-d son repping the Pittsburgh Steelers!  (Oh my gosh, is this what people feel like when they post photos of their own children??)

 

We finally arrived on the dirt road at the house in Elim, and I had a mix of emotions. Momma wasn’t there as she was still in the hospital at Back River, but it was great to see the yard and the family again.  It was a mix of emotions and everyone moved over to make space for me in the three room house. When I used the outdoor bathroom there was the constant sound of running water and I could only find one shower shoe, so whenever I went, I hopped around on one foot. I started referring to myself as “one-footed Sam.”

Everyone slept two people to one bed (minimum).  I was sharing with OJ, whom I love but — bless his heart — he snores.  And it was hot and stagnant in the house, I needed air so I let him lay and went to get a better rest in my car.  I cleaned my feet – which were covered in dirt – the only way I could, with my other foot (…which was equally dirty).  But sleeping in my rental car was a blessing in disguise, it provided me with an extra level of comfort. I had privacy; it was clean; I could roll the windows down. The night sky was amazing, and I had never seen it look bigger or brighter.   It was such a clear night and the sky was covered in twinkling stars! I loved Elim.

The next day, I remembered some more things I love about Jamaica — besides the language, the night sky, and my family — the beauty of the people.  I went with Tyra and OJ to see OJ’s dad. It was the first time OJ had seen his dad in years.  His dad, who shares exactly the same name he does, Oral Amardae Andre Morgan (junior), or Oral Morgan, or Oral Junior (OJ), is now with another woman who was unexpectedly at the house that day.  I braced myself for hostility and awkwardness, but Tyra and the “other woman” got along great and bonded over Tyra’s new baby (that she has with another man). It reminded me of how much Jamaicans seem to love children, and their love for the baby had overcome a potentially awkward situation.

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Is my skin always this reflective?
But also…family  ❤ Love these people.

 

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At a cook shop in Santa Cruz, picking up fried chicken for dinner.

 

I think about Elim so much and am always touched by the people when I go back. After all, it is people who carbonate an experience.  I made sure to find time to walk around my community and visit members of Landlease and New Town, including Pooh, who I love to see every time I go back.  She was the most loyal member of my exercise club which met at 5:30am during the week in order to beat the heat.

Five years ago, when my Peace Corps service was coming to a close, I had given most people in my community who I was close with a departing, tangible photo of us together and wrote a note on the back. When I came back this time, some of the people showed me that they had kept their pictures all this time.

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A picture I had given her 5 years ago, still in mint condition. Jamaican me cry.

 

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Paulette and Marvette.

 

 

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Visiting Bumpy in Blue Fields (Patrick’s host mom).

 

 

I loved being back, but this time it was a bittersweet trip. It was hard to say goodbye to Momma, especially since she passed not too long after I returned to the states. She’ll always be in my heart, and I can’t wait to go back to see the rest of the family again (which… is happening soon). Stay tuned for a new Jamaica blog, folks.

I asked Tyra before this upcoming trip if OJ is still so sweet and she said “Yes. Maybe sweeter”.  AWWWW!!!

All the love, ‘mi soon come.
Aunty Sam

One Response to “One Love, Much Love”

  1. deekerson May 26, 2018 at 11:39 am #

    I love this episode. I think I may have missed reading it back when it was first published. I also love the phrase “it is people who carbonate an experience.”

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