Monday, November 16, 2009

A weekend in Paradise then back to Paradise tarnished

The trip out of the city to Port Antonio was wonderful. The mountain road zig-zagged through tiny villages, passed hand-made foot bridges leading to houses precariously perched on the mountainside, football (soccer) and cricket matches being played on the few pieces of flat ground, bamboo, coconut, mango, and flowers and vines growing in layers upon each other, steep green-clad folds and creases of rock forming a barrier to the other side of the island. Thirty kilometres takes an hour and a half and then the road descends to the shore and follows the coast through gentle little towns with markets and colour and music, the turquoise Caribbean glistening in the sunshine.

Saturday was spent enjoying a very comfortable villa, a beautiful, picturesque beach, great barbeque, good company. Sunday sunrise saw me walking across the cliffs, watching the sun come up, and the humming birds, woodpeckers, egrets and other birds taking advantage of the cool morning, followed by an early morning swim.

Lunch was a trip to the 'best jerk in Jamaica' at Boston Bay and a picnic at the Blue Lagoon of movie fame.

Then back to the bustle of the city before the mountain road was rendered more treacherous by darkness! Having seen the beauty of the country and the coast and how richly they can provide for the needs of the people, the squalor and the poverty in parts of Kingston seem even less excusable.

On Thursday the International Day to Prevent Child Abuse was celebrated by a candlelight vigil in Emancipation Park. This year 110 children under 17 have died as a result of violence and abuse in Jamaica. To put the magnitude of this into proportion the population of Jamaica is the same as that of Toronto. There is a great deal to be done here to protect children. However, the event was full of joyful children, performing and participating and running around in the balmy evening. The pink and yellow plaques have the names of the children who have been killed, 700 others are missing.

This weeks observation from travels round the city is the creative and elaborate hair sculpture that adorns the heads of many of the school girls and women. Given I am on the bus by 7:15am, I am in awe of the time the girls must have got up to achieve the adornment! I manage a wash and go approach before heading for the bus, so the concept of skilled and creative hair styling before a 7am bus ride generates great respect.

This weekend will be spent working at DRF on Saturday and catching up at home on Sunday, even in Paradise laundry must be done!

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