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Letter of the Day | Jamaica, a nation of kind and understanding people

Published:Tuesday | June 6, 2023 | 12:44 AM


An odd thing, isn’t it? The young are often terrified of looking back, while the old cherish their memories. One tries to escape its own mistakes; the other has learned to forgive them, and itself. These are the lessons of time.

Point to be made, let me share one of my most special memories of you, with you…

I was standing on the porch of Ms Vie’s house there on the curve, up on Spicy Hill just inland from Duncans, in the parish of St Ann. There was no moon that night; I was looking towards my homeland far to the north; the stars were up there hanging like bright lanterns. It was late; I could see the cruise ships far at sea, moving slowly along the horizon towards Ocho Rios.

Now I love Jamaican music, but I was a little homesick and had just, finally, gotten the house I was renting electrified and fixed my eight-track to run on Jamaican current. I popped in a Crosby, Stills, and Nash tape and played Teach Your Children (1970) through a set of small speakers I’d brought with me.

I was then a young, 23-year-old, Peace Corps Volunteer, a ‘BA generalist’ we were called, who had joined his country’s foreign services with my degree in psychology, I confess, instead of having to come home from Vietnam in a black plastic bag, as had some of my friends. At the time I thought it was a viable alternative. Today, we can all see why.

Tears flooded my eyes and, on that porch, looking out, listening, that night I think for the first time in my life I felt truly alone. My own country had thrown me away. To this day I’ve never forgiven it, perhaps I should. Still, there I was, and for all the time I was there on the island, I remember feeling like at least I’d been taken in and given refuge by a nation of kind and understanding people.

Somehow I knew even then it would be a very long time before I found my way home. How I envied, oh how I envied, all the young Jamaicans who were kept and treasured by their own.


Bokeelia, Florida

United States