Waking up to snow everyday for half of the year isn’t my normal.
I am from the beautiful island of Jamaica where it’s always sunny and I never have to wear seven layers of clothes to keep warm.
Lush greenery and palm trees cover the parish of Westmoreland, home of the Seven Mile Beach in the town of Negril.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Canada and I’ve learned to make it home, but the winter months make it hard for me to adjust because I’m from a tropical island.
I miss home this time of the year because all I want to do is lay on the beach, sip a margarita and soak up the sun.
Often times I get asked the question, “Where is Jamaica?”
Jamaica is an island located in the West Indies, which is a group of islands between Southeast United States and Northern South America and is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.
The island has an estimated population of 2.89 million and is one of the smallest islands in the Greater Antilles.
Despite the size of our island, we are an active population of people.
We have made our name in sports with athletes like Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser. We are also widely known as the home for reggae icon Bob Marley. Toni-Ann Singh is the reigning Miss World pageant queen. She represents the island’s diversity; she has a Black and Indian background.
Our people welcome you with a nurturing attitude and a warm smile.
It’s difficult being away from home because I miss having my warm and caring family of people to nurture me each day.
I miss eating my favourite foods like oxtail and our world famous jerk chicken. Our food is a huge part of our culture and it’s made with lots of spices and heavily marinated. Tourists travel from Europe, North America and Asia each year to just sample our food. They are always happy they took the journey to Jamaica.
I can walk to any grocery store, shop or business within 15 minutes when I’m home. When I was in high school, I’d run out during my break to purchase freshly peeled mangoes from the suburban parts of the country. My friends and I would add pepper sauce and salt to the mangoes, and it would be one of our favourite treats.
I remember walking downtown to catch a taxi. Most times I’d have to run and yell at them, which always brought me joy. I thought it was funny that I had to yell every time.
There was always a football match in my community every Saturday. People would travel from neighbouring communities and fill the parking lots to the point where cars would have to park on the streets.
Football brought happiness to our community. I enjoyed the matches because my friends and I would cheer and do a victory dance whenever our team scored a goal.
My mom would wake me up on Sunday mornings and rush me to get ready for church. My dad would have ackee, a fruit, prepared with codfish and roasted breadfruit ready on the dining table for breakfast. My face lit up as I sat and ate with my family. After we were done, we’d drive to church, only five minutes away.
When we returned home, we would have ice cream. There was a man who rode around the neighbourhood on his bike yelling, “Creamo,” which meant the ice cream was here. All we needed to do was call him over and purchase it.
Many of my memories are based on moments that may seem little to some, but mean so much to me. When I feel sad, I’d run to the beach or sit on the sand to feel the cool breeze of calmness while I drank coconut water from a freshly picked coconut. I always felt happy to live on an island and have access to everything without having to drive too far.
Being in Jamaica means you’ll visit the beaches and the rivers at least twice a week. Our springs are cool and always bubbling and is pleasing to the eyes. It refreshes and rejuvenates the body.
Home is where my heart belongs and I will continue to reminisce and visit every chance I get. There is nowhere like Jamaica and I hope that one day, I can share this piece of my heart with the friends and families I have made in Fredericton.