Usually when people I know visit Jamaica, they stay at the usual tourist hotspots…Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios. They are warned to stay within the walls of the resort for their own safety. As beautiful as the resorts are, I feel that they do not allow tourists to see the Real Jamaica. Yeah, you’ll see the clear blue sea and sandy beaches. You’ll see Jamaican citizens working in the resort and hear their sing-song patois as they call out to you to buy t-shirts, wristbands or other souvenirs.
But what don’t you see? You won’t see where they live, where they shop and how they get there. You won’t see the bumpy roads they travel to get to where they need to be. You won’t see school children in their brown and blue uniforms walking to and from school. You’ll never know that children go to school in shifts rather than all day like our children do. You won’t see grown men and women standing on street corners begging for money to buy ice cream to cool down from the intense Jamaican sun. And you’ll never see cows and goats crossing the street, and the cars that slow down to let them pass just like any other pedestrian.
During my trip I was able to see the Real Jamaica. I’m not going to lie, some of it was a little scary. Seeing people step into the street in front of my dad's car without looking both ways made me a little nervous for their safety and ours! Being asked repeatedly to allow my son to ride a donkey on the beach was a little unnerving. (Those dudes just don't take no for an answer!)
It was also eye-opening. While watching the children wait for a taxi to take them home after school, I noticed the differences between them and my children. It's way deeper than the way they talk. It's in their whole approach to life. My children have most likely already had way more opportunities than their Jamaican counterparts and my kids have completely taken what they have for granted. I'm not saying their ungrateful by any means. It's just a given to them that they're able to do the things they do, whereas the children in Jamaica know they will have to work harder for what they want. As J sat in my dad’s car listening to his mp3 player and playing his PSP, I watched the school boys staring at him curiously as they walked by. It hurt my heart that there was no connection between them, which is silly really because their eyes locked only for a fleeting moment through the barrier of the car window. Not like they could strike up a friendship right there and then, right??
This post isn't really in line with the overall theme of my blog but it was on my mind so I decided to post it anyway. We take so many things for granted here...water, electricity, smooth roads to drive along, access to quality (though expensive) health care...those things aren't necessarily a guarantee in other parts of the world. I'm determined to thank God everyday for what my children and I have and to not sweat the small stuff. I encourage you to do the same.