Sunday, May 23, 2010

City under stress but a long weekend to relax

It has been a stressful week in Kingston. The outcome of last week's political machinations was not the resignation of either the Prime Minister or the Government. With an apology and notice that the extradition order would be signed Mr Golding felt he had the authority to continue. The level of scepticism about the politicians seems to be escalating and the conversations reflect an observation that the reaction of the gangs, dons and communities feels different. The people and the dons do not appear to be entrenching within the political tribal boundaries but are collectively articulating a dissatisfaction with all politicians and the governance of the country. There is little faith, trust or respect for the insitutions of the country - government, police force, justice system, education system - all are viewed as broken and inept at best, corrupt and self-serving at worst.
On Tuesday we were asked not to go into work. The concern was that there would be massive civil unrest as a result of trying to arrest Mr Coke. This has not materialised, though the level of armed troops and police in and around the city is significantly increased, the community for which Mr Coke is the don (and Mr Golding the MP) has barracaded itself to keep the police and defence force out and prohibit the authorities from effecting the arrest warrant, and people are generally limiting their movement around the city. The threat does not feel extreme but the fear is palpable. There is a pervasive sense of uncertainty and most who move around the city keep in close touch with loved ones and friends to confirm all is well.
Both CUSO-VSO and friends are reassuringly checking in with me to ensure I am fine and know how to manage and life goes on remarkably normally despite the fear and uncertainty. It is easy to be cavalier as one gets on with things but the updates from the youth peace facilitators and the students remind me that others are living a reality that is much more difficult than mine and the situation is unpredictable.

However it is now the weekend, and a long weekend and as is typical of the paradox of this city it feels relaxed and benign from my apartment. The city is quieter as many people have "gone to country" to celebrate Labour Day with as little labour as possible. Saturday brought hours of torrential rain and thunderstorms. The rain came down in vertical sheets and provided a quite different impediment to getting around the city! This morning the sun is shining again, though the sky is far from cloudless I think we will venture off to the beach as planned, with a picnic packed in the cooler and a relaxing day ahead. We have rented a car and I will carefully peruse the before I leave to avoid another "circuitous route"!
The rain has had an immediate affect on the city, all is greener and fresher. As spring turns into summer, trees are laden with mangos, papayas, avocados, breadfruit and many other fruits. The temperature is noticeably hotter and the air significantly more humid. The croaking lizards are back, the birds are noisier and the butterflies are returning. The mountains have resumed the blue hue that gives them their name and are often swathed in clouds and mist. The sunsets are longer and more colourful and the flowering trees are as laden as the fruit trees. The intensity of the beauty is breathtaking. What a remarkable opportunity this year is offering me!

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