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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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!

 

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

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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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

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