January 4-5, 2019

As this is just a short trip to Jamaica, I was not going to blog at all. But the first day and a half have been so amazing that I thought I’d better give it a try, even if I don’t follow through on the rest of the days.

Carol and I have come to Jamaica to visit with our good friend Kay Osborne, who we met when she lived in Chicago. We flew through Fort Lauderdale so that we could have lunch with our friends Len Oshinsky and Elyse Etra, who kindly came out to the airport to meet us and spend a couple hours with us over lunch.

From Fort Lauderdale, we took the relatively short flight to Kingston, where Kay picked us up at the airport and drove us to her lovely house that overlooks the lights of Kingston and the nearby mountains. In fact, the area is called Beverly Hills. Here are photos of our wine glass on the table on Kay’s veranda overlooking the city, and the scene over breakfast in the morning.

January 4-5, 2019

As this is just a short trip to Jamaica, I was not going to blog at all. But the first day and a half have been so amazing that I thought I’d better give it a try, even if I don’t follow through on the rest of the days.

Carol and I have come to Jamaica to visit with our good friend Kay Osborne, who we met when she lived in Chicago. We flew through Fort Lauderdale so that we could have lunch with our friends Len Oshinsky and Elyse Etra, who kindly came out to the airport to meet us and spend a couple hours with us over lunch.

From Fort Lauderdale, we took the relatively short flight to Kingston, where Kay picked us up at the airport and drove us to her lovely house that overlooks the lights of Kingston and the nearby mountains. In fact, the area is called Beverly Hills. Here are photos of our wine glass on the table on Kay’s veranda overlooking the city, and the scene over breakfast in the morning, plus a view of Kay’s living and dining room from the veranda.

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To introduce you briefly to Kay, she is an MBA who was a marketing executive with Abbott in Chicago in charge of international marketing relations. She became the head of TVJ, the largest TV station in Jamaica. Kay is a playwright who has had plays produced in Chicago and London, a talented painter who is in the middle of writing a novel and, oh yes, did I mention, a former Miss Jamaica and a former member of the Jamaican women’s national cricket team. Other than that, she doesn’t have much going for her (other than the fact that she’s a delightful and very kind person, and a good friend). We visited Kay a number of years ago and went with her to the Calabash literary and music festival in the southwest of Jamaica. Pretty-much everyone in Jamaica knows Kay because of her various activities, primarily as head of TVJ.

Kay has talked to us about the weekly dominoes games that she plays, so we were very intent on going to watch. We left after dinner for the house at which the game took place, at the home of Omar, a former MP and government minister, now retired, and his wife, who turns out to have been a classmate of our friend, Susie Kiphart, at the Erickson Institute in Chicago. Go figure. It was great fun to watch the dominoes gam, about a dozen or so people playing a very competitive as spirited, but friendly, game of dominoes. It turns out that there is a whole lot more to that game than those of us who played it as children would think. Everybody was very welcoming and receptive to our looking on.

We crashed back at Kay’s and then got up early in the morning to have a quick breakfast and go to a Saturday morning ritual on the veranda of a former famous director here in Kingston. Each Saturday he and his wife host a group of people (there were about 40 this morning), who bring along some food and who perform their various specialties, singing, poetry, just talking. It is a most interesting group of talented people. Kay convinced Carol to bring one of our books along so that she could read a few poems from the book. En route to the veranda, we stop to say hello to Abigail, a young woman from New York, who is living in the basement apartment of Kay’s house and was walking to a nearby coffee house to study and write proposals. Abigail has a Fulbright and is studying inter-generational storytelling in Jamaica. At Kay’s invitation, Abigail hops in the car and joins us for the morning.

The morning was great fun. At the end, Kay, without warning me, invites me to come up to “perform“. I told the group that it had been a pleasure to witness all of the talented people this morning and that I was there to represent the group of untalented people. I told them that I thought we were in the majority and that it was time that we organized and took charge. This met with a very favorable reception and many people came up to me afterwards to sign up for my new group.

At the veranda meeting, we met a woman named Ruth who is a community organizer in a rather rough area near Kingston called Rosetown. She was there with a young friend of hers, Penny, who had worked for UNICEF in countries ranging from Thailand to Myamar, and currently, South Sudan. We got into a discussion with them and Ruth invited us to come downtown for her to show us some of the public art that is being created by artist to revitalize the community and to give support to artists. We walked around to look at some of the murals.

We had lunch at what was formerly a very large and fancy jewelry shop, which currently is part jewelry shop and part restaurant. We were joined there by Denise who is originally from Iowa, but who has lived off and on in Jamaica and who has worked for USAID in various different countries. It was a very good lunch and discussion with this group of six interesting people.

From there Kay drove us to see Bob Marley‘s house and museum in Trenchtown, the seat of much Jamaican music, we visited two different places, in one of which we were guided by a fellow who seemed to have had a bit too much weed. In the other place we were guided by a very enthusiastic young man who had an excellent and quite funny patter that he had developed. It is fun to see the historical Bob Marley stuff and to be reminded of what an incredible icon and hero he was.

After this we drove back home and I got in a bit of a nap before dinner on Kay’s veranda and then going off to a concert with Kay to celebrate the 44th anniversary of a band called We the People—a large crowd, dancing and singing to very loud music, with lights that glared in our eyes, with a range of singers who had been accompanied by the band over the years. We spent two hours there, which, for me, was at least an hour (maybe more) too long. I did play around with photos affected by the colorful lighting.

Afterwards, we sat on the veranda and I had a couple beers on Kay’s veranda, while we debriefed the concert, which was at least as interesting as the concert itself. It was after 1AM, by the time Carol and I retired.

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