Many of you know my husband is from Jamaica. He is in Jamaica caring for his father right now. He was there in April and had written in his journal about a little adventure that we thought we would share with you. I am hoping when he gets back or even before then, I'll share some more. I spoke with him yesterday and he was at the grocery store and it was supposed to be open but no one was there yet. Cracked me up. If you are Jamaican or know any Jamaicans or even if you've been there, you'll find that funny. I was reminded once again that it's just in his blood;) So here is Trevor's adventure in his words...
Public Transportation (Jamaican style)
During my visits to Jamaica, I usually have access to a vehicle. If you are familiar with Kingston, having a car to get around is convenient, not impossible, but convenient. This time around, mi haffi do a likkle business…(I have to take care of some business)
So, I venture out today telling my dad’s caregiver, Hazel, I will be back. “Do you know what bus or “robot” (robot – a private individual who uses his personal vehicle to transport folks, usually along the same route of the public buses. “Don’t get robbed” she warns as I leave the house. Not to worry, this is my old stomping ground.
I walk about a ½ mile to the bus stop with my back pack full of important docs. I have a mean “Don’t _ _ _ _ (mess) with me” look on my face. Hopefully they think twice before doing anything stupid. Today is my lucky day; here comes a robot (a Toyota Corolla). Five of us at the bus stop pile in the car. The 6’ 5” dude, me, is in the middle of the back seat. Surprisingly, the legroom is not too bad. We drive about a ¼ mile and run into stop and go traffic…not to worry, my robot makes an imaginary third lane on this two lane road…just when you think there will be a head on collision with oncoming traffic, the street miraculously widens. God still work miracles. When we run out of the imaginary third lane, he turns off the street and heads in the opposite direction from my destination. No problem, robots know the shortest routes, even if it means going through one of the top 5 crime ridden areas in Kingston. While all this is taking place, the passengers in the car are texting and talking on their cell phones…no problem.
We exit the crime area and I have to “big up” (give props, kudos) to my driver. By going through this short cut, he has eliminated a mile of traffic. I am ahead of schedule making good time. My robot continues to my destination. He cuts in front of other cars and narrowly misses hitting pedestrians who think they will defy physics and win the man vs machine battle. Of course, there are more imaginary lanes created by my robot. But, I get to my destination, Half Way Tree…in one piece…no problem.
Half Way Tree is bustling with people going to work. “Taxi, taxi” drivers are yelling as people walk by. Folks are peddling stuff, candy, peanuts, suck suck (imagine flavored sugar water frozen in a plastic bag), and some are up to no good looking to ruin someone’s day. I board a bus to get to my next destination, Cross Roads. The passengers on the bus are upset. Apparently, the bus has been there awhile waiting to fill every seat. The passengers start to unload to look for alternate means to get to their destination. Finally, the bus takes off, reggae music is blaring through the speakers. I’m smiling inside, it’s good to be home. Not to be out done by the robots, the buses have their version of NASCAR on the way to Cross Roads. Multiple hand gestures from the drivers as they cut off each other. All this time, the aroma of “CO2” from the exhaust fills the air. As I near my stop, I yell to the driver of the bus, “one stop driver”, this is the accepted notification to the driver to stop the bus. Bear in mind, the bus does not come to a complete stop. It slows down as it reaches my destination…I time the speed of the bus, ensure there is solid ground, then I disembark the moving bus….nailed the landing…I still got it…that is how studs exit public transportation….you had to see it…no tripping, no stumbling…smooth like “butta”.
Ok, so I have to walk through another crime ridden area. I hope I’m not sticking out. After all, t-shirt and shorts…nothing flashy. I walk across National Heroes Park, (compare to Monument Circle), to do my business. Don’t get too sentimental or patriotic…the park is a hotspot for robberies. I am aware of my surroundings, no one within 50 yards…that’s my bubble. I worked out this morning, so I can run fast if the need arises. No drama, I conduct my business and then stop at my old high school to take some pictures for the family.
So, time to head home…let’s do this again. I get on a bus and again am serenaded by the blaring music. This time, the bus is playing R&B love songs from the 80s…go figure, it’s 11am. You have to be Jamaican to appreciate the variety. I get off the bus at a convenient spot for me…not an official bus stop. Guess what, time to get a robot to head home. The driver of the robot taking me home is not as industrious as the first guy. Nevertheless, he is no less entertaining. This driver has no change to give to his passengers. So, the entire way home, he stops at every peddler on the way and asks if they have any change. Never mind that he stops traffic behind him every time, the man needs change. Thankfully, I have the exact change. I thank him for the ride, pay my fare and start my walk home.
On the way home, Hazel calls to let me know that my sister has been worried because I am travelling using public transport. Why is she worried? You never forget something you did for 20+ years. In fact, I embraced the experience today…brought back many childhood memories. Yes mi bredrens and sistrens (yes, my brothers and sisters), being home feels good. No problem…everyting “irie”.