Comme les Éléphants

While wondering the halls of the musée Dauphinois right by my French residence, I happened upon a quote by mountaineer, Caroline Villeneuve, that read, “Mon rêve, c’était de faire comme les éléphants, de revenir où je suis née” or in English, “My dream, it was to do as the elephants, to come back to where I was born.” For some reason, this has resonated with me since then and I did not really know why until now.

I recently returned from a fulfilling trip back to Jamaica. It was the first time I travelled for the holidays since moving further north, and I have decided that travel during the winter season to a warmer destination can cause some painful withdrawals, upon return, which I do not admire at this time.

Uptown Kingston at primet-time: Hop on while you can!

Uptown Kingston at prime-time: hop on while you can!

Still, though I have taken this trip before, I had never taken it like this. The fragile innocence of youth can blind one to the realities that they have lived, and this trip exposed me to many of these facts and figures I had not concretely defined before.

Simply put, it was a family trip to celebrate the start of the end and the end of the start.

Nevertheless I went into this with an agenda; comme les éléphants, I knew that there was much to rediscover and I only had two weeks. I prepared myself as I had during last summer’s European adventure: I made a list of destinations after a quick search on TripAdvisor and I made a promise to myself that no time would be wasted; at least once every day, the sun would shine on my face. Soon I came to realise that my agenda was becoming of something more.

Negril: Rick's Café at sunset is a must.

Negril: Rick’s Café at sunset is a must.

It is quite difficult to explain exactly my experience; to analogize, it is as if I have been telling a story I once remembered so clearly as a kid, as clear as real life. Every time I retold this story, something was added to it or taken away; and so everytime I retold this story, it felt less true, less authentic, like I had never really known it before. So once I began seeing characters and objects from this story again, things slowly came back to me, still faint but ever so familiar.

Unlike my European escapades where walking was a must, we drove everywhere; it was a blessing and a curse as the heat could kill, but I had to absorb everything in 5 seconds or less. Even so, for the things that took more time, like going to the supermarket or meeting my father’s friend from high school, I was like a sponge in water.

St. Catherine - Flat Bridge: on the road.

St. Catherine : on the road to Flat Bridge.

Conversations had more depth, people and places had more features, and my memories had more flavour. I concluded then that, in all my denial as a proud immigrant against acclimatization, I could now properly justify my multinationality as the proof was right there.

I did indeed live a part of this story, but a long time ago; when trees grow, their roots stretch out, reaching ends once unknown to that same trunk. So I may have lost my accent, and I cannot easily differenciate between uptown and downtown as other locals; but my roots all started from the same spot that I can and will always return to.

It never hurts to learn what you have always known.

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music of the Moment:

Back to the Future

William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but use worst,” and that is one of my greatest fears. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about time; how much I have, how much I’ve used, and how much others have in comparison to me. It’s a world-wind of thoughts that involves too much math and not enough positivity; but alas, it is a difficult task to stray the mind from a topic with which it is already determined upon.

Today marks exactly three months since I returned home from the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Sometimes I feel like I literally just came back; other times I feel like I never even went. It’s strange when I look back on the mesmerizing photos from that time and think, “Did I actually do that?” But then, I recall the itchy hives I currently suffer from since coming back, and reassure myself that yes, I did indeed go.

IMG_1767

Even more so, I look back at some of the photos I’ve taken within the three months of being back at home, and I’ve done quite a bit also: volunteered at a renowned international film festival, went to a Tori Kelly concert (she’s the bomb, check her out!), took a boat cruise with friends around the heart of downtown, and performed some songs for the first time in a long while in front of a crowd of students at my university.

And now, as I nervously organize myself for exams the end of this semester, my mind occasionally wanders to the plan of next semester: six months in France.

It’s funny, really; I tell people about my plans and they say, “Wow, look at you. You’re doing it all!” But that’s not how I feel, no. I feel like I’m doing some stuff, yes. But not all. I don’t even feel like I’ve done much. Then I look at other, more successful people my age or younger and think that I definitely have not done anything compared to them.

That’s where the want for time comes into play. I keep wishing that I could rewind the time; do a few things differently, keep a few more the same, and then live life over again using my time more effectively. But reality never likes to change now, does it?

It’s also the thought of what I will be doing once I return which frightens me. A bit more of school then what?

But as my thoughts continue to roll around in my head, I’m starting to realize that I have time – plenty of it. And the more time I can say that I’ve used, the luckier I am. There are quite a few others out there who haven’t even reached my age yet with not much time left. Unfortunately, we tend to be very blind to what we have been blessed with when we are so focused on what we want.

So the future? I don’t really know. But that’s just it: I don’t really know. And that is the beauty of the future I guess, that little element of surprise. I’m sure the Me five years ago would be surprised to see what I’m doing now. I’m still a bit shocked and there’s more in store. But since I don’t yet know what to expect, might as well just enjoy what the present can give me here and now.

As long as the book is still open, time will tell.

À la prochaine,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

“Move to the back! Nope, nope…keep pushin’ back!”

Shadowing the Group Bus

Shadowing the Group Bus (Photo credit: Mr_Stein)

So this past weekend was another little adventure within the bigger adventure: after surviving in the jungle for two and a half months, my body finally decided to give out for a bit and succumb to a small virus.

Of course I am no doctor, so the only option that would settle my mind and possibly my sickness was a trip to the doctor’s office.

And what a trip it was!

My day started off bright and early, leaving the station at five in the morning to catch a boat that would lead the station manager and I to a bus that would lead us to town.

I can’t say I didn’t prepare for the trip, but I can say I didn’t prepare that well. For some reason I assumed the town we were going to (Cariari) was only a few waves beyond the station – that was incorrect.

I was also not prepared for the doctor to inject some medication in my butt; yes I said it – my butt. The last time I can recall having that done to me was when I was about six years old in Jamaica, crying into my father’s lap, and having him comfort me with the bribe of a nice crisp patty and soda to drink after the doctor was finished.

Then when it was time to leave Cariari and head back to the station, lugging all our freshly-bought groceries and tupperware, the bus was so packed that we had to wait about an hour for another one to arrive. And one thing I learned while waiting in the somewhat bus line is that it doesn’t matter if you place yourself in the somewhat bus line; people will push and move in front of you anyways.

Something else that I learned as I endured the (still) packed bus ride back to the station was that the world, in the grand scheme of things, is just one really large global village. And yes, we can thank technological advancements and such for making that a possibility, but even those with the fewest of resources can still find similarities among each other’s cultures as if the borders separating our nations become, at certain moments in time, invisible.

It is also quite interesting to compare our differences as well. Discovering new cultures is what makes traveling so fascinating and, in my opinion, if the world actually became one global state, I’m not sure that interest to wander would still remain.

So as I sat on my newly bandaged bum wound while squished between a Tico on one side and a foreigner blindly discovering the hillsides of Guapeles on the other, I realized that no matter where you are, whether in Jamaica hanging on by the door handle in the old country bus or in the middle of Costa Rica finding your way via el autobús, it will always be a full ride.

Pura Vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

Man fi get kuff

Jamaica airport immigration, 1971

Jamaica airport immigration, 1971 (Photo credit: rickpilot_2000)

Travelling, I find, helps one discover, not only the world outside, but also the world within. And as this discovery develops for me, I’ve come to realize a few things about myself and my identity when mingled with so many others.

I was born in a little, but very well-known, island called Jamaica.

I lived there for the first 8 years of my life, then moved a lot more north with my family in the hopes of gaining a more advanced education which could provide me with a better future.

Now, while I appreciate my life to the fullest, and there isn’t a day that goes by when I am not so very grateful for the life I have been provided with by my parents and their hard work and dedication, I am constantly in an identity battle with myself and others around me.

I identify myself, essentially, as a Jamaican since that was my place of birth, where my roots have been sowed, and I am very proud of it.

Yet, every other day, it seems, I am being told that I am not a Jamaican (mostly by those that are not even of Jamaican descent).

They use stereotypical characteristics like the accent with which Jamaicans speak, the attitude with which all Jamaicans are supposed to exhibit, and certain activities all Jamaicans are supposed to partake in to classify a Jamaican’s true authenticity.

As a Jamaican thrust into the frightening diaspora of the young North American life, I could do nothing but adapt to my surroundings. Adaptation, which was subliminally imposed on me by some of my new neighbors and fellow classmates after I moved, seemed like the most plausible key to survival.

Still, what one comes to realize as he or she grows older and is exposed to so much more, is that when you adapt, you lose something that was once there before.

So a lot of my Jamaican habits and mannerisms that would give me a “better hand” at the Jamaican-authenticity test, were lost as I tried so desperately to fit in in order to feel comfortable with my new home and myself again.

And with that comes my ongoing frustrations with my identity and its unnecessary importance to people who really shouldn’t be all too concerned about it.

It’s amazing to see how swiftly stereotypes glide over seas and beyond borders, without so much as a question of their truths.

Still, I must remind myself that I shouldn’t worry about what others think, because they don’t do it too often.

I am who I am, and as Shakespeare says, “This above all: to thine own self be true.”

The world is how the world is, and as I lose my innocence yet manage to gain some wisdom, I must learn to accept and move on from the things I do not have the power to change.

Pura vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment: