Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2012

Christmas in Jamaica. Street parties and music all night long and into the morning. Reggae and traditional Christmas songs.

People press their thumbs together here when greeting each other. This is probably just among a certain crowd.

It’s not so much about presents here, I think, but neighborhood partying on Dec. 24. Today, Christmas Day, is about family. Tomorrow, Boxing Day, is about public concerts, etc.

The doves are huge here in Kingston. Big ring-necks with loud, full voices. In San Juan, Puerto Rico the doves were small and brown.

Drinking Calypso Jack Rum Punch, and thanking my lucky stars I’m not trapped in some house in snow country with a bunch of people I don’t like. Ha ha. The windows and doors are all open here, sounds of Christmas are coming from the various houses in this little middle-class suburb of Kingston, and I’m very happy to be here at Sunny’s friendly, peaceful, harmonious home.

I am drinking rum punch–Sunny’s gone out for Christmas Day lunch with friends–and a big trash truck is making its way, thorough the neighborhood. It approached our apartment building infinitely slowly, its horn low, almost as though the truck is groaning. People come out to their gates and, with a little conversation, hand over their small, plastic trash bags to a young man who throws them up onto the truck. Up there, another young man (whose shorts hang over his underwear, well below his butt) stacks the bags onto the truck bed, making sure they won’t fall off.

I am undoubtedly witnessing the usual Tuesday trash pick up (which doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas). Jamaica is so small, and the people are so peaceful and neighborly to each other that I can imagine them appreciating this slow parade of the trash truck as a satisfying and unobjectionable part of the Christmas ritual.

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I am tweaking and fooling around with dates and peregrinations on the rest of this Caribbean and South/Central American trip. I am realizing that I don’t take trips; I let trips take me. I don’t  impose myself onto trips or places or people; I let “the road,” the place, the people decide what’s next.

I’m on this journey to see what life brings me, as Benoit “Hompaya” Hansen said. From now on, I’m consciously changing my style, forgoing my rigid, detailed, day-to-day planning in favor of looser, braver, messier adventures.

After getting stoned, Sunny and I walked uphill for about a mile up to Petrina’s house (she’s a lecturer in art history at the University). We had a lovely  dinner and more rum punch with Wesley (from the US; he knows Ned well!), Pet, and Joan. A good day!

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