Jamaica is an island where you will see things you have never seen before, these are a couple of my Jamaica firsts!
Toad on a Rope
My Mum had come to visit me in Jamaica and I decided to take her to visit some relatives in the countryside of St. Ann. We set out in a Toyota Hiace bus (van) on a clear and sunny day, and drove the usual route past Brown’s Town and Calderwood, deeper into the green and mountainous interior. On approaching a hill, I noticed 3 people at the top who were crossing the road, so I slowed down to let them pass comfortably. As we reached the brow of the hill I noticed one of them was leading something along into the road in front of me….
then I realised it was a massive toad with a piece of string tied around its neck! As we approached the group the one with the toad said
“drive pon it nah mon!”
basically urging me to drive over it and kill it. I quickly thought about the poor toad and it’s splattered guts all over the bus and having to clean it off and replied “Noooo, it’s too crawny!” to which they all fell about laughing. They duly led the toad out of the road and let me drive past, assumingly to wait for the next driver to come along! *Many Jamaicans seem to be very scared of toads and believe they can be used by Obeah for casting spells on people.
Your Eye Nar Mek Good!
My vehicle was always giving me problems starting, as the battery wouldn’t charge properly. I begrudged paying $18,000 for a new one, as I was leaving the country in a few more weeks, which meant the bus would be parked up again resulting in the new battery dying in the same way. This meant I was always having to park on a hill (I kid you not!) hoping no-one would block me in, so I could roll the vehicle in order to give myself a ‘juk start’ when I was ready to leave! If this wasn’t possible I had to rely on a friend or a kind-hearted soul to push the vehicle to get the famous ‘juk start’, or if I was really lucky, I would find someone with jump leads to give me a ‘ol fashioned jump-start…. when I say jump leads they are normally just two pieces of strong wire which they simply hold onto the connectors on the batteries, sparks flying and all! (you have to love the tenacity and improvisation skills of Jamaican’s!)
One morning I was late and the vehicle wouldn’t start despite all the pleading in the world, which eventually turned into threatening through gritted teeth that I would sell it if it didn’t start…. needless to say, none of it worked. I needed a plan with a strong man. There is a large hardware store at the end of the road where I live, so I decided to wander up there to see if I could persuade some of the big strapping men that load the goods into the waiting trucks, to give me a ‘juk’ start.
As I walked up there feeling a bit nervous about asking for help, I noticed a boy of about 7 years old in among all the men in their overalls, leaning up against the fence watching me walk up the side road towards the entrance. As I got nearby he called out to me “Hey pretty lady!”, I smiled and walked over towards them thinking this will be easy now the ice had been broken. When I got to the fence and the little boy I said to him “Hi, whats up?” and he and the men all smiled broadly at me. Next thing, before I could ask for their help I noticed the little boys eyes all widened as he looked into my face and replied to me
“lady u pretty, but your eye nar mek good!”,
I had to laugh out loud with everyone else as I can only guess he wasn’t so used to seeing blue eyes and thought my light coloured eyes hadn’t been made correctly! When all the laughter had subsided and I was able to explain my plight nearly all the men flew over the fence to give me a ‘juk start’ much to the bemusement of the supervisor!