Monday, 31 January 2011

It's not what you know, it's who you know

After my day filled with crazy people I got myself a cheap flight to Jamaica for the following morning.  Once I got off the plane in Kingston, getting to a place to stay was a whole different matter.  Taxi drivers were telling me it would cost $35 to get to any place I had on the list, but I had read differently on the internet.  So I went to get the bus instead, for just $1.  I would get to somewhere myself!  A policeman stopped at the bus stop in his car to talk to me then when he moved further down to another woman waiting for the bus she completely ignored him, which says a lot for the police here!  A minute later a random man in a car stopped in front of us.  He was asked where I was going, then me and two other women at the bus stop got into the car.  Driving through Kingston with so much traffic and so many potholes in the roads made the journey an interesting one.  We almost crashed off the road, almost ran over a few people, almost ran over a dog, and almost ran over a goat. Yes that's right, a goat.  After lots of beeping, stopping, and people getting in and out of the car, I finally realised I was in a taxi.  But one without a taxi licence...just because everything I do isn't normal, as you probably know by now.  He dropped me off at one of the places I had on my list and asked for just $8 - much better than using a real taxi, don't you agree?!

So here's where the title of this blog comes in...
There was a mix-up on the hostelworld website and it wasn't a hostel or a guesthouse I was at, it was an apartment which could be rented between four people.  Of course, I couldn't afford that.  So the security guard phoned his friend, who phoned her friend, and two minutes later a taxi driver called Freddie came to pick me up.  He took me to a different guesthouse that I knew but they only had space for one night.  So the kind man that Freddie is, took me to where he lives and introduced me to a family who had a spare room that I could stay in!


There was Dainty, her 23 year old son Wade, and her 5 year old granddaughter Abria.  She set me up in a room with a double bed and made me a Jamaican dinner of jerk chicken with rice.  Little Abria chatted with me all night and was very fascinated with my camera at one point (hence all the photos).  She searched through the pictures of my family which were on my camera from Christmas day and she asked me who each person was, on every photo, until she started recognising them herself.

Wade & Dainty
She got to one picture and stopped.
"Who's that?"
"It's me!"
"Ohhh yeah.  You're white aren't you.  I forgot."
This whole time she had been looking at me just as a person, so when she didn't recognise the white girl in the photo, it was really something to think about how people see each other.
By the end of the night she declared that we were best friends.

The following day, with Dainty at work and Abria at school, I spent the day with Wade and his girlfriend Crystal (which I was later told doesn't mean girlfriend. In Jamaica, somebody isn't your girlfriend until she's your wife...who knows?!)  We went out for a while, got some lunch and I bought some things I needed, but the day mainly consisted of me asking millions of questions about life in Kingston.  It has such a bad reputation all around the world for being dangerous, so I wanted to know the truth from the people that lived there.  I don't know why I expected a different answer to all of my questions because I've learnt this in all my travels over the past few years.  There are bad people everywhere.  Fact.  But there are good people everywhere too.

The next day I met another member of the family, Dainty's nephew Sean.  After a slice of cake made from potato (I have NO idea how it tasted that good) made by Dainty, Dean took me to the salon he manages and introduced me to his friends.  Later on we got on a bus to downtown.  Oh my!  With the bus already full, I wondered where we would sit.  On the fold-down seat in the isle of course!  Let me tell you, you haven't been hot until you have been sandwiched in a tiny jam-packed bus in the Jamaican midday sun!  The conductor thought we could fit more people in, so he hung out of the door screaming;
"Downtown! Daawwwwwwntaaawwwwwwn!"
Not once did he communicate with the driver, so if people wanted to get on they had to use those power legs they have all inherited to run and jump onto the bus whilst it's still moving pretty quickly down the road.  It was definitely one of the most thrilling bus rides I've ever had, to say the least!

The streets were bustling with people, the shops were a sheet of tarpaulin on the floor and all their items placed on top. Each shop was almost like a mini supermarket; a pair of jeans sat right next to a TV, sat right next to a bottle of washing up liquid.

We walked passed a place called Tivoli Gardens, which is infamous for the unrest it has experienced over the years, most notably in 2010 where at least 73 civilian were killed.  Sean explained to me that it was between the Jamaican military police and a drug cartel ran by Christopher Coke.  He said the reason that there was so much hassle was because all the people were on Christopher Coke's side, as he protected them and gave them jobs and money.

I don't have any photos of downtown Kingston. Sean told me not to get my camera out....(cynical me was thinking it was because it could get robbed)...because too many people would want a picture taken!
We took these photo in the market when nobody was looking.

When we got back home, there was a light bulb flashing in Sean's mind.
"We could get married.  Wade, you could marry one of her friends, they're beautiful."
Watch out everyone!

The next morning, I was to leave Kingston.  Just three nights there and I've come away with a family.  Four people who I'll remember forever.  Freddie drove me to the bus station where I hopped on for another crazy bus journey, this time for four hours driving through the beautiful Blue Mountains.  I had said goodbye to my family in Kingston and was saying hello to some brand new friends in Bethel Court Guesthouse in Montego Bay.