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September 10 2014


September 18 2013

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I insist that my efforts to stifle my laughter were valiant. They were not, however, enough to appease the good Mr H.S. Archer, long-suffering husband, part-time welder and farmer extraordinaire as he and I spoke in Port Maria, St Mary.

"It not funny, man!" he snapped. I told him I agreed and that he should continue with the story.

'Arrow Man', as he is called by fellow residents, told me he was feeling burdened by the expectations placed on him by his quarrelsome wife. He seemed as if he needed to get it out, so I offered him a listening ear. As the tale unfolded, however, I found it hard to keep a straight face.

"Like when mi come home inna di night, mi want to eat mi dinner and relax likkle bit. Watch news and dem ting deh. But would she allow mi fi do dat? As mi come in she telling mi bout mi must go bathe. Yuh ever see anything like dat inna yuh life? Big, big man lakka mi," Arrow Man said. …

… “She never always so horrible, yuh know,” he said. “She go England go live fi four year and when she come back she just start ningy ningy inna mi ears every night. Mi caan badda,” he said.

There was a small bar across the road from where we were standing, and I noticed Arrow Man staring longingly at it. I asked him if he was thinking of drowning his sorrows in liquor.

"Well, mi would have a drink yes," he said. "But from the other day every time mi have a one drink this woman mek up noise. And now she tek up dis habit fi ah smell man like she ah police." …

   (via Arrow Man and his ‘ningy ningy’ wife - Lifestyle - Jamaica Gleaner - Tuesday | September 17, 2013)

July 11 2013

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…I asked the gap-toothed bartender if mosquitoes were a major problem in that part of Portmore.

"Weh yuh really ask mi seh?" he said with dramatic flair. I told him I had always heard jokes about Portmore and mosquitoes, but I didn’t know if they were based on facts of any kind.

"Bredrin, if yuh lef yuh shoes outside ah night, mosquito tek it weh and gone. If yuh lef yuh clothes pon line, dem tek it and go sport," said Milton. I chuckled. “It nuh funny!" he said, pulling for a black plastic bag that had been resting at his feet. Out of it he pulled what looked like a tennis racket.

"Dis is the only ting dat save we in Portmore," he said. “Yuh use it fi zap di mosquito dem. Mind sharp everybody inna Portmore have one. Yuh haffi walk wid it like how yuh walk wid yuh shoes, else dog nyam yuh supper. Or mi should say, else mosquito nyam yuh nose." …

(via Mosquito country - Lifestyle - Jamaica Gleaner - Tuesday | May 14, 2013)

March 12 2013

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Well, I certainly didn’t plan for this! Just 10 minutes earlier I was happily roaming the St Thomas community called Amity Hall, sharing jokes with friendly residents and enjoying the outstanding landscape. Now I was huddled under a creaking shed made of zinc and wood, with an impish fellow called Byron, as heavy rains lashed the area with alarming force. It was a windy shower, so the shed was providing shelter for little more than our heads, but there was no building close enough for us to run to. We were stuck.

“Jah leggo di pipe pan we wickid, man!” said Byron. The left half of my face was soaked. We could see that down the road this sudden shower was already causing the roadway to flood. Tree branches were swaying to and fro as a drenched dog darted down a nearby hill.

I asked Byron, a long-time resident of the community, if this kind of sudden rainstorm was common in Amity Hall.

“Well, this part known fi di rain,” he said. “Dats how comes di place always so green and ting. Sometimes di rain fall every day, fi all a month straight without stop. Ah so it go, bredda.”

The whooshing sound of the wind and rain made it feel like a hurricane. And with due respect, Byron is not the person with whom I’d wish to be cramped in such close quarters. I told him so. “Tee hee! Ah so it go, pardy,” he said. “When rain blow yuh get trap all bout. One time me and Miss Jackson daughter get lock up inna one half side ah one house we did ah help build. Whole night she sing inna mi ears bout how mi fi bruck out window. Mi ask har, when mi bruck it, if ah she ah go pay di people dem back fi it.” Byron was emphatic as he spoke. He clearly felt passionately about the matter.

“Anyway, we deh deh all night till morning come and some workman come let we out. Dem swear seh we did ah gwaan wid tings. Ah true dem nuh know what a baddaration she be.” …

  Via Rainy day in Amity Hall - Lifestyle - Jamaica Gleaner - Tuesday | March 12, 2013

February 26 2013

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… I asked her where the cooking was being done. “Prento!” she yelled. With that, a man in a cap poked his head out from behind a bar where others were inside drinking and playing dominoes.

“Who dat?” he asked.

“Come show di young man what we cooking,” said Cat. The man seemed puzzled.

“What mi …” he started to say, but Cat cut him off. “I say to show him what we cooking!” she said.

“Allright, allright,” the man said. “Come in, mi bredda. Pot ah bubble up now.”

When I got over there the scent hit me with force. I could smell the pepper, onion and other spices. Two pots, one with pork and the other with dumplings were set atop a wood fire and would be ready, Prento told me, in about 15 minutes.

“Is not me really start di cooking,” he said. “But mi helping out. Di man what really doing di cooking inside,” he said.

I asked him if everyone there would be partaking. “Yes man! Di whole of we going to eat. Yuh going to eat wid we too. For yuh is here and we not leaving yuh out!”

I told him that would be very nice, but insisted that I couldn’t impose. Also, I wasn’t very hungry.

“Yuh must eat!” he said. “Life short. Food will done pan yuh if yuh nuh eat,” Prento said.

I told him I certainly would eat with them, another time, but had to be going.

“Well, alright. When yuh come back wi set yuh up wid some tings fi carry back to town - some potato and yam,” he said. I told him that was a most generous offer.

“Is Contrivance yuh come, man,” he said. “When yuh come here yuh must feel welcome. People from around here is good people and we like stranger to always feel welcome and happy. When yuh come Contrivance yuh must not want to leave,” Prento said.

Via Cow thieves and cookout in Contrivance - Lifestyle - Jamaica Gleaner - Tuesday | February 26, 2013

February 05 2013

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You don’t just happen upon a place like Content Gap in rural St Andrew. No, sir. Getting there is a military-grade test of your mental fortitude and physical durability. If the long drive doesn’t get you, the potholes and narrow roads most certainly will.

So when you do get to Content Gap, the only sensible thing to do, really, is stay a while. What’s the point of rushing off after such a hassle? Well, in theory, this works. In practice, though, a few caveats may well be included. You want to be sure, for instance, to choose your company wisely. Advice like this would have been useful to me on my last visit.

Through circumstances that I would rather not recount in detail, I ended up spending my time in Content Gap with a mildly pungent fellow I will, for the purposes of this story, call Jack.

Now Jack at first appeared to be a random straggler, a wastrel wasting the hours away by the side of the road. But for some reason, he and I started chatting, and since there was nobody else around, I decided to take him up on his offer to be my unofficial guide.

“Mi know dem place yah, man. Mi know dem place yah wicked wicked,” said he. We walked around for a while as I snapped a few photos of the magnificent view. The mountains are a splendid sight and make the tedious journey to the area worth it. The air is crisp when you’re that high and the silence is calming.

The trouble I faced was that Jack would permit only minimal silence.

“So, bossy, when yuh teck dem pitchka yah now, yuh couldn’t like, teck me inna dem and pay mi a smalls?” he asked.

I responded in the negative. He paused only briefly. “So like, ef mi carry yuh camera and dem ting deh, yuh woulda like, tell people seh is me tek di pitchka dem?”

Again, I told him no.

The man pouted. At this juncture, I assured him that if he had something, anything else to do, I would be more than able to get by on my own.

“No man, bossy. Is me and yuh rolling, man. Me and yuh, bossy,” he said. Just what I needed. …

Via Rolling through Content Gap - Lifestyle - Jamaica Gleaner - Tuesday | February 5, 2013

Reposted bysiriusminerva siriusminerva
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… As I carried out this search for the woman, I was surprised by the number of riverside burial plots there were in the area. A peaceful resting place, I’m sure, but what of hurricanes and landslides? I sat on a wooden post near one of the burial plots contemplating this very question when up walked a woman with elaborate hair. Now, I contend that there were no fewer than 30 multicoloured clips, all strategically positioned, on that head, and my first remark to her was an exclamation of the tremendous strength her neck must hold to support such a burden.

“Tee hee!” she giggled. I introduced myself and she told me to call her Jean. I offered her a seat next to me on the wooden post and asked if she was from Cane River. “No, not me, my cousin dem,” she said, pointing to a nearby roadway.

“Wah meck yuh siddung into di dead yard?” she asked. I told her of my search for Miss Margaret and she, too, denied knowledge of the woman.

Across from us was a grave with the words ‘Platty Heavy’ painted on it. I asked her if people in the area ever worried about the burial plots being so close to the river.

“Nuh really, yuh know,” she said. “Is long time di place stay so, and nothing never happen, so we don’t really have no reason to worry about dat,” Jean explained.

We both got up and started walking together up the road. I told her I would have to resume my search for Miss Margaret another time, since it was getting late and I had no leads.

“Yeah, yuh can do dat,” said Jean. “When mi reach up top, mi will ask ‘bout har, but mi never hear ‘bout nobody name so from mi born. Maybe ah one ah di duppy dem yuh did see, yuh know,” she chuckled. “For yuh love fi siddung inna dead yard, maybe is one of dem love yuh off and teck a set pon yuh!”

I said goodbye and hurried home.

Via Searching for the living in Cane River - Lifestyle - Jamaica Gleaner - Tuesday | January 29, 2013

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