Things Jamaicans are Afraid of

Jamaicans are known for being assertive, outspoken and fearless, qualities that can be traced back to our Ghanian ancestors in West Africa. But as much as we like to proclaim that “We run tings,” there are still certain objects that can cause even the “baddest” Jamaican to flatline.

With a little help from my family and friends I put together a list of our most common fears. Here goes:

Duppy: This is another word for a ghost. So many of the things that Jamaicans do
(or don’t do) are associated with duppies, and if you didnt take your Jamaican 101 class you are sure to have a few of them following you. Don’t sweep the house at night, be sure to wear red after someone in your house dies, don’t eat food without salt…

Black puss: As far as Jamaicans are concerned, a black cat is either bad luck of the worst kind, or just a duppy in disguise. Nobody wants to see them, especially first thing in the morning!

Visa denial: Somewhere between never seeing your $24,000 (ever again) and hearing the dreaded “Sorry Ma’am” lies US Visa Denial Street, a place where no Jamaican ever wants to be.

Roaches: Of any kind but more so the ones that fly. According to my friend Janelle, “Flying roach. Dat gi mi heart failure!”

Rat Bat/ Duppy Bat: All over the world people associate bats with vampires. Not in my country. Nope. Duppy alert!

Obeah: What voodoo is to Haiti, Obeah is to Jamaica. This type of sorcery, practiced by an Obeah Man or Obeah Woman, is purported to be the cause of much misfortune from illness, to job loss, losing a lover to someone else, mental illness or even death.

Beating: Most children fear a good “uss ass” but that doesn’t even stop them from getting in trouble (now what fun would life be?). The worst type of lashing though is the type that your mom saves up mentally and unleashes all at once. Cue most feared expression by a Jamaican mother: “If I talk to one more time. Alright!”

Mad man: If you have never been chased by a mentally ill person (Does this even happen anywhere else in the world?) or witnessed such a spectacle you, my friend, have much to be thankful for. As for me, I try to be extra careful when I’m in Cross Roads. Just saying…

Bad man: Yeah. That’s all I have to say about that one, lol. Go watch Dancehall Queen and take in Paul Campbell playing the role of Priest. “Walk and live…”

Bun: If you are being cheated on you are said to be getting “bun.” Worse than getting bun is the type of merciless cheating that makes a grown man want to run crying to his mom, the dreaded “bun without cheese.”

Stew Peas: Mmmmm, delicious stewed peas with salted beef, pig’s tail and those little dumplings, served on a bed of white rice. But men tend to consume this dish with a side of caution, especially when it is cooked by a woman. Why? Because she can use it to “tie” him. In other words he will never be able to leave her no matter how miserable the relationsip becomes.

Dogs: You know the type of dogs that have no owners and just decide to roam the streets, chasing “he, she and the old lady”? Same ones. I should add cows to this for the very same reason!

Lizard: Grung lizard (a type of lizard that only crawls on the ground), Green lizard (just another duppy in disguise), croaking lizard, … o.k. just stop already.

Mongoose: It’s not just any mongoose that Jamaicans fear. Noooo. It’s the darned ones that can’t make up their mind- they run halfway across the street, stop, turn back and run the other way. As far as many suspicious people are concerned that’s a sure sign that a car accident is going to happen.

Gunshot: I have mixed feelings about leaving this one on the list because there are actually people who run in the direction of gunshots to see what’s happening. Go figure…

Snakes/ Scorpion: FYI there are no poisonous snakes or scorpions in Jamaica, but do we care? Nope. If you want to see a big man put on the wings of the morning and fly just throw something in his direction that looks like a snake. Or not. Seriously. Don’t do it…

Banana trees at night: O.K. I’m skeptical about this one but my friend swears by it.  In fact our WhatsApp exchange went something like this:

Me: Banana tree???Clearly you are not Jamaican.

Him: Cause a town (Kingston) you come from. Ask smaddy (someone) from country (rural parish) first

Apparently banana trees look like duppy at night. Obviously (rolls eyes:) )

Rolling Calf: A rolling calf is said to be the duppy of a butcher who has died and comes back in the form of a bull with blazing fire where eyes should be.  This bull runs through the street at night, dragging a chain behind him, and has the ability to prevent you from moving. I’m still traumatised from hearing rolling calf stories as a child, to the point where I refused to finish writing this post until in the morning!

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We Run Tings, Tings Nuh Run We

Jamaicans like to say “We likkle but we talawah” which is basically a testament that although we are from a small country we make an unforgettable impact on the world. From our unique music, to our religion and our language…

We experienced another interesting flash in the spotlight recently when a commentator on MSNBC’s A.M. Joy used the Jamaican phrase “We run tings, tings nuh run we” in reference to the Obamacare/ Trumpcare debate. The phrase which means “We control situations, we don’t allow them to control us”,  was a refreshing interjection, used at the right moment to comment on an otherwise tense issue.

 

I’ve included a clip of A.M. Joy (recorded by phone) that a friend in the US made, as well as two versions of songs based on this Jamaican affirmation. I hope you enjoy, and the next time you come across a challenging situation just tell yourself “Me run tings, tings nuh run me!” PuraVida 🙂

My Favorite version, by Flourgon

 

Red Dragon’s version featured in the 1999 Jamaican made film Third World Cop.

The Calm Before the Storm (That Never Was)

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I want to share with you some breathtaking views that I captured at Goodman’s Bay in Western Nassau. It was early September, the day before Hurricane Irma was supposed to hit, and there were not as many people using the beach as an outdoor gym or cool out spot. The sand was sparsely dotted with a few brave souls who were either relaxing or finishing up their final workout sessions.

As I waited for my son’s training session to end, I considered how Irma, which was already barrelling through the Caribbean and ravaging everything in her path, would probably change the landscape forever once she made landfall in Nassau. In the rapidly fading light I quickly snapped four shots which I hoped would preserve, at least digitally, the serenity of Goodman’s Bay on that evening.

Luckily Irma decided to spare Nassau, and the Bay remains unchanged. Hopefully you too will get to enjoy one of these magical sunsets when you come this. PuraVida 🙂

I’m Back!

A few months ago, I completed my studies in translation & interpreting, and having emerged on the other side of one of the most challenging experiences of my life, I can finally give some TLC to this blog of mine. My final year was the most gruelling portion of the journey, which meant I had to divert attention from my beloved blog, to a gang of jealous, demanding assignments and exams which refused to be appeased no matter how much time I devoted to them.

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Now, I cannot help but feel tingly all over when I reflect on how  fortunate I am to have been able to pursue this love of mine, because the naked truth is, I was lovestruck from my very first Spanish lesson. Later on, when I encountered Translation in college, it became clear to me that we would be together “till death do us part”. With that said, my chosen path in life was not surprising.

Thankfully I came out of my relationship with UTRGV (muah!) with my sanity intact (I think!) Which means that I can now get back to my other love which is writing. What can I say? The love triangle is now complete. Here’s to bringing you some awesome posts in the near future!

 

 

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Summer Breezy

A while back I showed you some beach views of Eastern Nassau. This post has views of the same area but I did it in the form of a video instead. It was an unbelievably hot day and there was nothing to do but sit on the beach in the shade a tree and feel the refreshing breeze on my face. Just give yourself an hour or two out here and you’ll forget that the rest of the world even exists. Try it!

The video was recorded on the drive back from Yamacraw beach and heading along Eastern Road. You will get little peeks of Nassau’s Eastern coast as well as glimpse the beautiful houses that line the shore. Could the beat in the background be any more perfect? Enjoy!

 

Pop Stop :)

I came across the most refreshing fruit treat while passing through Downtown Nassau today and I absolutely have to share it with you. D’Nard is the proud co-owner of Pop Stop, which features a line of unique gourmet popsicles. He, along with his cousin started the business two years ago. The cool, fruity creations are made from delicious tropical fruits which are grown on their farm, and of course they are freshly prepared on a daily basis.

While I was talking to D’Nard, there was a steady stream of tourists as well as regulars all looking for a cool way to beat the heat, so you know this is good stuff!  Check out the vid to find out more about Pop Stop, and be sure to drop by and visit them in the Pompey Square when you come to Nassau. Tell them Chicajamaicana sent you 🙂

Tornado in the Bahamas!

A little over two weeks ago pictures showing a waterspout near the Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau emerged on social media. It had everyone talking excitedly about the “tornado” that was about to hit the capital, but being ever sceptical I dismissed it as nothing (maybe it wasn’t even a current photo), until my friend confirmed that it had actually been on the news. Anyway, the waterspout dissipated and everything quickly returned to normal. It was not to be that way for too long…

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(NEW PROVIDENCE, JUNE 15, 2016)

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Don’t let a Jamaican call you…

 

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Butu, gyal clown, mowly, pretty-dunce– these are just a few of the (sometimes hilarious) terms that Jamaicans use to describe people unfavourably, and if any of them is directed at you, it means you might have gotten on our wrong side. Don’t know where that is? Let’s just say it’s somewhere you don’t want to be 🙂

Jamaica’s official language is English; however if you touch down in Jamrock on any given day you will hear most people talking in Patois, our colourful dialect that has an English base but a strong African influence. It’s a mix that has produced a very unique language that people of other countries love to imitate; and you know what? We don’t mind at all; we actually love to hear someone with a different accent talking in Patois. Continue reading

Paradise Island Bridge, Bahamas

Since today is a public holiday in the Bahamas (Labor Day), I decided to take my workout to the Paradise Island (PI) Bridge. There are actually two bridges connecting PI to the mainland, New Providence (Nassau), and provide another great way to stay in shape if you’re in the Bahamas.

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Perks include the beautiful view, especially when you get to the  very top. On your walk/ jog you will see the Atlantis hotel, tourists coming and going by boat or ship and the Atlantic Ocean. Continue reading

Steel pan music is from Jamaica?

Mitch: You know I don’t think it would be such a bad idea if we went down to Jamaica. Did a little legwork.

Amanda: Nice try.

Mitch: But I do love steel drum music. Do you know why there are those little numbers on the inside of the drum?

Amanda: Will my life change if I do?

Mitch: Well each number corresponds to a note. Now it take years to master these notes. These guys are musical geniuses. Did you know that there are some notes that are only audible to them?

So I’m minding my own business, flicking through channels about two Saturdays ago when I spot a map and a flag of Jamaica on the screen. I check the name of the show and realize it’s called The Inspectors. Of course I’m instantly on alert as soon as I realize that Jamaica is being discussed. I see/ hear a couple of investigators talking about the lottery scam (whole other topic for a completely different post) and I already know this won’t be good, but I’m curious nevertheless. I grab my phone and start recording. Continue reading

Mi nuh deh a Jamaica now; mi deh a Ochi.

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So apparently Jamaicans the world over are feeling quite puzzled because of a WhatsApp voice note that’s been making the rounds in the past few days. In the message a female voice can be heard telling someone that she lives in Jamaica. No big deal, right? The cringe worthy moment comes, however, when she explains that she’s not in Jamaica, but is instead in Ochi. A weh di…Wha-???

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Now for anyone who is not really familiar with Jamaica, that means nothing. But for everyone who is from, or associated with yaad we know Ochi is the short for our beloved and beautiful Ocho Rios, a breath-taking town on Jamaica’s north coast. So if Ochi is located in Jamaica, what is this young lady talking about? Continue reading

66 Steps

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So I emerged on the other side of last December a few pounds heavier than I would like to admit. Enter January and the extra helpings of succulent ham and rich Jamaican fruitcake suddenly seemed to have been a terrible idea, leading me to the somewhat depressing conclusion that I needed to do a complete overhaul of my diet/ exercise routine (again, sigh). Truth be told, I’m the kind of person who means to do well when it comes to exercising but my attempts have always been sporadic at best. Continue reading

“Gern to Cat Island!” – Education in Motion By Nicolette Archer

I recently came across the following article about Cat Island in a copy of Bahamasair’s inflight magazine, Up and Away, and was absolutely mesmerised by the descriptions of the island. In my 7 years of living in the Bahamas, I have visited four of the 700 islands and cays that make up this archipelago but I hope to visit so many others!

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As most of you know this blog was meant to be the motivational factor for me to get out there and visit new and exciting (well even the not so exciting) places. This article has done the same for me- it just has me itching to see what this serene, laid back island is like. With Nicolette’s permission, I’m sharing her account of a visit to Cat Island with you, in the hopes that you too, are enticed into visiting this  breath-taking island in central Bahamas. Happy reading!

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Jamaican Sat’day Soup/ Rice n Peas, Anyone?

Pull up to a Jamaican’s house on a Saturday and the unmistakable smell of the traditional Sat’day soup will caress your senses and invite you in.

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Doesn’t that look good? My mom taught me well!

Last week Sunday (of all days), for whatever reason, I felt the urge to run a boat (cook a meal) consisting of something straight from yaad (Jamaica). Truth be told, most meals that I prepare are easy dishes with rice being the foundation, so I have no idea where this sudden burst of inspiration came from. Continue reading

Spanish curse words? ¡Ay Caramba!

My conversations with my non-Spanish- speaking amigos usually go like this:

Hola.

Hola.

¿Cómo estás?

Muy bien, gracias. ¿Y tú?

Muy bien.

Streetwise Spanish

I do have a little gem that could get them beyond the ordinary basic Spanish though. I recently got to listening to a few tracks from the CD that accompanies this book called Streetwise Spanish and I love it! I actually listen to it all the time. Each track consists of a dialogue between two or more Spanish speakers, which seems simple enough. But the beauty of this listening experience is that the accent featured on each track is from a different Spanish speaking country/ region.

This package is ideal for people who want to go beyond the Spanish that is taught in the classrooms. Rather than the formal/ academic style Spanish that most of us learn when we do Spanish as a second language, it focuses on local slang straight off the streets of Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia…

Now let’s get into why you actually came on here in the first place! Many people, including my students are interested in street Spanish and try to get me to teach them the colourful curse words- palabrotas– that are used by Spanish speakers! Continue reading

Reading? Who has time for that?

As a teenager, I lived for reading- Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Harlequin Romance, Mills & Boon, Sweet Valley High- I must have read thousands of titles! I actually spent hours in my high school library (back when kids knew what a library card was!) Saturday mornings were reserved for going to Tom Redcam Library in Cross Roads, and it was actually a cool thing to get dressed up and go to the library, choose a couple of books, meet up with friends (and crushes!), then hang out for the rest of the afternoon. Well enter adulthood, and the carefree days of just reading for leisure went right out the window! Continue reading

Bahamas National Pledge- Spanish Translation…El Juramento Nacional de las Bahamas

Bahamian Flag

Bahamian Flag

I recently did a translation of the Bahamian national pledge for a function at work. Seeing that this blog is dedicated to Jamaican as well as Bahamian and Spanish culture, I have decided to share both the Spanish and English versions of the pledge here..

The National Pledge of the Bahamas El Juramento Nacional de las Bahamas
I pledge

My allegiance

To the flag

And to the commonwealth

Of the Bahamas

For which it stands

One people united

In love and service

Yo prometo

Mi lealtad

A la bandera

Y a la mancomunidad

De las Bahamas

Para lo que representa

Un pueblo unido

Por amor y servicio

PURA VIDA- Enjoy Life

 

pura2.png Pura Vida (pure life)- the idea of being at peace with the universe and not taking life too seriously, is what inspired this blog initially. I mean the world is a tough place to survive in, and most of the time we take things way too seriously. We often get swept up in the storm of rushing around, trying to cram 1,000 things into 24 hours. And if you’re like me that comes with making endless to-do lists (I literally cannot survive a day out without my trusty lists). I just feel like I never get everything done! Which is exactly the point. If I can never get it all done, there will never be any time to take a break and focus on me. It’s simple, aside from the daily grind of work, running errands, managing a home, and planning for tomorrow, we must incorporate into our day, actions that also lead to our well- being.
Below is a list of practices that I have been trying to engage in, with varying degrees of success. Some days I’m really good with my list (another list?), other days I am way too busy (I’m not trying to be perfect here- just honest). But I’ve come to realize that it’s actually on those hectic days that I need to just step back for a minute, calm down and do something just for me.

 

1. MEDITATE/ PRAY- meditate
Mornings are often the most chaotic time for us. For me, first comes the sheer agony of dragging myself out of bed, then running around crazy trying to get through the door on time (did I mention hitting the snooze button one too many times?). Continue reading

Teacher’s Day Off

A few years ago, as part of their final assembly, a graduating class did a depiction of what teachers get up to in the staff room when they are away from the prying eyes of students. It was a good-natured-imagination-gone-wild-hilarious portrayal (to put it mildly), that had us teachers in stitches. So I decided to answer the question, “What do teachers really get up to when school is out and there are no kids around?”, Well not that anyone asked, but still what do they really do? Especially if they are faced with a four-day weekend? Labour Day, Saturday, Sunday and Whit Monday…Do they really raise the roof? Maybe a tad (but I’m a bit boring so make that ‘maybe a smidgen’), along with getting some well deserved R and R. Although, believe it or not some holidays just give us teachers an opportunity to catch up on all of that unfinished work.

But what happens when one teacher decides to spend one whole day doing absolutely nothing? On Labour Day at that? Here is how my day went…

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Dream Destinations

I have been to a total of six countries so far: Jamaica (birthplace), The Bahamas, Cuba, Colombia, Guyana and the United States. I have had good times in all of them- from hiking to the top of the Kaieteur waterfalls and sleeping in the jungles of Guyana, to attempting the folk dances at a dance workshop and dancing the  night away at an all night Salsa Circuit in Colombia. Of course, each place holds a special place in my heart.

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GUYANA (Planting trees to reduce flooding)

KAIETEUR- world’s highest single drop waterfall)

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CUBA

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Random Phrases in 4 Languages

When I came to the Bahamas I was a bit intrigued the first time I heard the expression ey used at the end of a question. Here’s an example, You crazy ey? Now 6 years on and I find myself saying things like ey (eh/ huh), bey (boy)- sometimes just for fun, but more often than not, automatically. So I thought I would share some phrases/ words that are frequently used by Bahamians. I have also included the English version along with a Spanish translation of each.

Many people, too, seem to be fascinated by the Jamaican accent and slang. I sometimes break out into Patois to the delight of my students, who want me to repeat the word/ phrase. It’s also fun to see the confused faces when I say something completely incomprehensible to them! One of my personal favourites is chakka chakka (disorganized). So of course I had to give you the Patois/ Jamaican version of each phrase as well. Continue reading

Represent, represent… ¡Mi música!

What’s that one song in the “Latin” music genre that sets your blood on fire? You know what I’m talking about… that song that makes you break out those pretend salsa moves, while the self projected image of yourself- the one who is a Dancing With the Stars contestant- moves across the stage . OK, maybe that’s just me. But then again I’d like to think that I’m not the only one that fits that description…

Apart from the enjoyment factor though, music also has educational value for me. Most- or maybe all of the songs that I listen to- have served the purpose of helping me to master Spanish. After singing these songs a few hundred times you would pick up a word or two in Spanish as well, believe me!

Below I will share a few of the songs that I find irresistible. They help me to get my head in the zone (think Sean Paul), and  I can’t help singing along and busting a move or two when I hear them. Enjoy!

 

Genre:MERENGUE

This song mixes sweet Afro- Latino beats with Caribbean rhythms- it tells the story of a a young man asking for his lady’s hand in marriage.

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Look-out spots in Eastern Nassau

I’ve always been fascinated by the beach. A cliché, maybe. But I cannot help getting lost in the different shades of blue, the warm sea- breeze on my face and the eternal nature of the waves that never cease their patrol of the shore. Going to the beach is one of my favourite pastimes, and even now, whenever I go back home to Jamaica two or three times for the year I try to fit it onto my list of to-do’s. Being converted into a resident of the Sunshine City (Portmore) means I have easy access to two or three beaches. And while those lucky enough to live in places like Negril and Montego Bay might scoff at the idea of Hellshire as a choice beach, I ignore and smile quietly to myself. I enjoy the simple pleasure of the salty breeze, warm water, the smell of fried fish, the pure vibes of the reggae beat in the background, intermingled with the laughter of splashing kids yet too young to realize how lucky they are to be enjoying this wonder… Who can dare tell me this isn’t heaven!

Hellshire 2 HELLSHIRE BEACH, JAMAICA

 

So how do I recreate this scene now that most of my days are spent in Nassau? Continue reading

Stadium on Fire

Do you have plans for May 24 and 25, 2014? If not, then I’m inviting you out. ¡Ven conmigo! Come with me to the IAAF World Relays 2014, in Nassau, Bahamas. The Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, located in Oakes Field, will be on fire, and all vibes a go tun up till it  buck. For all of my non- patois speaking amigos, that simply means, the level of excitement in the stadium will reach maximum heights, as more than 40 teams vie for athletic dominance on the relay stage.

At the risk of offending 99.9% of the non- Jamaican population that is reading this post, I have to say I hope Jamaica mash it up and make a clean sweep of every event. Wishful thinking? Maybe, but ambition has never killed anyone. My (very unnecessary) warning to the other teams however, is don’t be caught sleeping on the track. The Bahamian athletes make for formidable opponents, and I am sure they have no plans to simply hand victory to the other countries on a conch-shell-decorated platter. In fact, I have to be honest in saying that since I have been in the Bahamas, I have (grudgingly?) come to realize and accept that the athletes of the 242 don’t joke around!

Whichever team you choose to support, I’m sure you will be treated to a wonderful show in which athletic prowess will be the main course, while music, food and laughter will be served up as tasty side dishes, all under the open, sunny skies of the beautiful Bahamas. Continue reading

Amistad Meeting

Have you ever procrastinated about doing something, and then when you do, you have this big “Wow!” moment? Then you wonder what took you so long in the first place. I am happy to say that was my experience last night. Happy because the result of my experiment was such a pleasant surprise.

I heard about the Amistad group a few days after I touched down in Nassau back in 2008. Afterall, no self-respecting-non-native-aspiring-Spanish-speaker is spared knowledge of  the club once they begin to move in Nassau’s “Spanish circle”. Continue reading

Welcome to la Pura Vida!

I recently took part in an event, and was given the option of spray-painting my name or a caption on my event t-shirt. After agonizing for quite a while I decided to have Pura Vida, which literally means “Pure Life”,  spray- painted on mine.

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THE BACK OF MY T- SHIRT

Reason? Pura Vida is a Tico (Puerto Rican) saying that best expresses the costarricense (Costa Rican) worldview. In essence, Take it easy/ It ain’t that serious/Just chillax/ Enjoy life/ Keep calm and carry on. If you’re from Jamaica then by now you might have realized that Pura Vida is just Spanish for No Problem, our response to some of the most challenging situations that face us daily. While the reality may rage against such a euphemistic outlook, it is a refreshing take on this crazy rollercoaster of a life. Continue reading