Life in Jamaica has been interesting to say the least but this morning was just a classic example of what it means to rough it!
As some may know, I’m in the process of building a house. My Dad and I relish the day when we just lay in our rooms and just enjoy the fact that we have no rent to pay, no mortgage to deal with and the house is ours to do whatever we please. There are some who will never really know what it feels like. That’s the part of the American Dream I knew I wasn’t going to have in America.
Because the house is in “flux” we don’t have proper electricity or water yet so we’ve had to make do and have been granted help from some of our neighbors who are really pulling for us to get this done. One of the major obstacles is water.
Now Jamaica, as a developing country, has not grasped the concept of “water is life.” There are some communities where people have not had proper water for months and have had to schlep miles to get a few jugs a few times a day. My view is that instead of burying people under paper pushing and perennial circumlocution, make the process simple and easy.
In any case, we had permission from our neighbor to use her pipe to get water for drinking, cleanliness, cooking and you know, we have been grateful. Then yesterday, my father says they are complaining about us using the water because water is expensive. So they are, in essence, rescinding the invitation because really water is expensive.
In reality it is but had they come to us about helping with the cost since we needed to use it, there would have been no problem. We would have happily, gratefully contributed to the pot because we really appreciate it. But that was not the message. Now, this is the long line of “grievances” we’ve had with this family because they give me the impression that they are above it all, pious and even sanctimonious in their existence because well, they live in America.
Yes, well, let’s just leave that last one alone, shall we?
So yesterday, we walked over to the community water pipe which is not too far away from our house but far enough that we realize it and got our water. But this morning, we were tired and thought, you know, we need water, we had a lot to get done. Why don’t we hit it one more time IF the circumstances are right.
That was the beginning of Operation: Water-More
Here is a picture of the dog Sheila. Just a little background on her and her “role”:
When my father and I rented the house next door, we met Sheila. She acted like a vicious yard dog but seriously, she’s just a sweetheart begging for belly rubs.
She would get scraps from us and sometimes that’s all she would have to eat for the day because she wasn’t being fed properly. She’s STILL not being fed. Sheila just had her second set of puppies about two months ago. There were about six or seven in the litter and that little one just beneath her belly is the only one left. The rest died. We would feed her, she would feed him but her owner would leave for days at a time. Sheila would get no food, her ribs were (and still are) sticking out, she’s loaded with fleas (so’s junior) and when she saw me or my Dad with food, it was like we were saving her life. Her head would be down in the pot licking every last morsel. We know this because we watch her.
So to start of this not-so-military operation, I took some food for Sheila. My job was recon, to see if her “caregiver” was around. We hadn’t heard anything all morning but wanted to make sure.
I went with the pot of food and Sheila was just chomping at the bit for it because in all likelihood, she hadn’t been fed too much yesterday. When I saw the coast was clear, I called my Dad:
Me: The pigeon has flown the coop. Repeat. The pigeon has flown the coop
Dad: *silence* I’ll be right there.
So we filled up our bucket and waterbottles and went our way.
Now, I laugh at this scenario even now because seriously, we had to go (pseudo) military to get an essential item we as humans need. But at the same time, I think I now have a better understanding of what some Jamaicans are feeling.
My father was telling me about how Jamaica used to be when he grew up here. The idea of neighbors helping neighbors didn’t burn so much. Something as essential as water was not a bargaining chip. It’s because this country has been burned so many times by corrupt politicians that were more about their status and bank accounts than about helping the nation that people have to beg, borrow, steal, wheel and deal.
Jamaica used to be a rich country. It already has a rich history but I meant it was a country whose growth was spectacular. Then in just a year, it took a hard 180 and has yet to come back. Trying to recover from that left it vulnerable to predatory practices like scamming. Its name is being dragged through the mud as it slowly become the Nigeria of the Caribbean. The country is descending deeper and deeper into illiteracy, unemployment, poverty and ignorance.
Where I am, a few miles outside of Montego Bay in the mountains we are seeing some of that and it’s growing. I question whether the country will ever recover but after seeing the changes that Brazil made, I’m a bit hopeful. The question is whether Jamaica is ready for that kind of change.
Dianne Dixon, CAPM, Entrepreneur, Farmer, Blogger and Author of the Jamaican Foods Min-E-Book. She writes on a variety of subjects including Health & Wellness, Personal Development, Career & more! Follow her on Twitter: @Transitionyte