Where else could you hear housekeepers singing at the top of their lungs while cleaning resort rooms? Where each market vendor tells you a story about the item you are considering taking home with you? Where each server treats you as though you were the only person on the planet, anticipating your every request? Where everyone stops what they are doing, shakes your hand and welcomes you to their country? And, where guests immediately lighten up and relax into the laid-back culture, leaving all their worries behind for a time?
That would be Jamaica, mon, the land of no worries. Where everything's "irie," which means that everything is okay, it's first class, or excellent. Certainly everything was made irie and worry free for the guests. One only has to set foot off the resort property to see the shacks many Jamaicans call home. Could everything really be all that "irie?"
Discovered by Columbus in 1494, Jamaica is the third largest Caribbean island. Jamaican culture includes a rich blend of British, Spanish, African, Chinese and Asian Indian influence. The local language is English Patois or Jamaican Creole. Jamaicans seem especially proud that their country won its independence 50 years ago. Their flag is comprised of the bold colors of black, yellow and green with black representing the people who live there, yellow the sun and green the verdant fields. They are fond of reminding visitors that we are all of one blood.
Breakfast became an amazing experience each morning as Kumar welcomed us to our special spot in the sun with a pot of steaming coffee and a huge smile. Our biggest decisions each morning were which bathing suit to wear, whether to start out at the pool or the beach, or whether to go on an adventure off the resort. We used our breakfast time to contemplate these matters.
One morning, however, we walked to breakfast in the pouring rain. Sure enough, a table in our favorite area was waiting for us, along with a big smile. Our big problem of the morning … rain. So, we asked Kumar: Did he think it would stop raining? His reply … "I don't know. God has not told me yet." We were asking a question of a human that could only be answered by God. Wonder how many times we do that in a given day.
Kumar confided that he did not especially appreciate the rain either, as he had to walk to work in it. Leaving at 4 a.m. each morning to arrive at work by 7 a.m. was his routine. He had injured his toe and getting his feet wet at the beginning of the morning was challenging since his job required him to be on his feet all day. But, it was "no problem, mon." He would just think about something else all day. He showed us a picture of his precious 2-year-old daughter, and explained that he was proud to be able to support her, along with the seven members of his birth family who depended on him.
We continued to ask folks about their "no problem" attitude. A taxi driver explained it this way. "In Jamaica, we don't have problems, just situations." Seems like a play on words, but the folks we met and interacted with were apparently making a conscious choice about how they viewed their circumstances. A big lesson from an underdeveloped island to take home to our over developed country.
While shopping in a village near our resort, I ran across a little banner which seemed to say it all.
12 Things to Remember in Jamaica
- The Value of Time
- The Pleasure of Working
- The Obligation of Duty
- The Improvement of Talent
- The Success of Perseverance
- The Wisdom of Economy
- The Virtue of Patience
- The Influence of Example
- The Dignity of Simplicity
- The Power of Kindness
- The Worth of Character
- The Joy of Originating
Our Jamaican adventure was brief, but packed full of wonderful memories. We experienced extraordinary hospitality, and vowed to return for a longer visit.