Dec. 31 , 2012

Dec. 30

Posted this morning on Facebook:

My writing style is defined as “asserting opinions in a doctrinaire or arrogant manner.” It’s called Opinion Writing; editorials are the main form of this highly dogmatic genre. That said, don’t forget my blog is out there, arrogant, frequently offensive, and undertaken solely for my own pleasure.

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Enjoying enormously being at Peter’s casually elegant house in the hills overlooking Kingston, Jamaica. The wind has blown furiously since early morning.

It’s very nice to have seen several social classes’ lifestyles here in Kingston. Today I return to Cass’ house right next to the Downtown “Parade” area, in Fletcher’s Land. I honestly can’t say I prefer one lifestyle to another. It’s like this for me everywhere I go: all the different ways of living have something wonderful about them.

My name is Karen Ann Marie Marguerite John Hankison Hawes Boswell. My mantra is: “That doesn’t bother me.”

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Dec. 31

At the Kingston airport, waiting for my 1 pm flight to T&T (Trinidad and Tobago). I got here three hours early. Noisy house last night at Cass’ (night crowd of music fanatics) and I couldn’t sleep. On the bright side, I was able to leave at a decent hour after a cup of tea and nice chat with Yvonne (whom I absolutely adore). Walked down King Street to the Park, ate a few tangerines from a food stand, went to Mother’s for a beef and cheese pattie; then, I went to the print shop above Woolworths’s and got the crucial “onward ticket” printedt: from Mexico City to San Antonio, Texas on March 5. My money came in a day early so I could buy it last night.

My New Year’s Resolution is to take better care of myself. I have to protect my heart. I’ve been looking for my ONE True Love throughout my whole life. I am (as I have said) a true believer in this…still. But the Spirits will have to take over: I am through giving each guy who I feel may be my Soulmate a chance. I’vedone it enough. “What’s love got to do with it?” Nothing. I may not even LIKE my Soulmate; he could be an unevolved soul and/or a young, naive, egotistical man. Maybe I’ve met him, maybe not. I am past caring ; I am over trying to find him; I’m letting go of the search. Let go, and let God, as they say.

I would love to find that my Soulmate is a guy I really like, but he is CRAZY about me! He constantly pursues me, but he never “achieves”me. He never gets me. Not in this lifetime anyway.

The nice, young man at Jamaican immigration asked about my plans after T&T. When I gave him my itinerary, he said (in a most kind and loving manner),  “Why do you want to put yourself though all that?” When I told him (“I love to travel!”), he was happy for me and encouraged me to go on and be happy.

The police/military equation (who are the good guys? How much do they get paid?) is different everywhere I go. In Jamaica, the police are bad and the military are good guys. In Brazil (Cass’ new CS guests, Marcello and Fabio, are from Sao Paolo), it’s the opposite. (I may have gotten these backwards.

Yvonne Brown, my friend and Cass’ “girlfriend” was really hurt and angry yesterday. She came to Cass’, but he was off with a gal from French Guyana whom he is bedding down with for four days. Yvonne asked me about this and about a gal who was here the other day (and ended up in Cass’ bed); Cass lies to her about these women and certainly wouldn’t approve of Yvonne having lovers on the side.

Some of the Jamaican men I have met (as well as those men who admire and emulate these men) talk endlessly about RESPECT and sing righteously about PEACE and LOVE. Unfortunately, they know nothing about any of these things. Give all these guys a few dozen years to mature and learn the lessons of love, and then we’ll see who these guys are and how they treat the people who love and care about them.

Yvonne told me about women in Jamaica. Many (most) are still not independent, and the men use them shamelessly. Women are still living traditional lives: taking care of children, houses, and men; men are denying the women equality and liberty, but giving themselves all the pleasure and freedom they want.

There’s no welfare for single moms here in Jamaica; there’s no social security for old folks. A woman with little kids who is dependent on a man is really up shit creek anywhere, but especially in a culture like this where men expect to be free and superior to women.

A woman Downtown said to me: “We (Jamaicans) don’t take things seriously.” She meant this in the most serious, critical manner. Jamaicans are becoming serious about their culture (or perhaps they always have been).

I went walking around Cass’ neighborhood yesterday with Marcello and later with Fabio. We talked to people and bought beers in a bar; Fabio played a little soccer and discussed the economy with some men. I was stoned and relaxed; an enjoyable time! Jamaica is very much a street culture.

After our walk, Marcello (who is an upper middle-class Brazilian) said to me, “What was that man saying to you?” I had forgotten (stoned!). “Were there double meanings?” he asked. “In this neighborhood,” I said, “everything has a double meaning.” This is true among the poor; I know this from my Dad (who was raised very poor in Berlin, Germany), from my ex-husband, Hank (also raised poor in southern Ohio, USA), and from my own experiences after my 1974 divorce, when I chose to hang out with poor people on the streets of several California cities. The underclasses are skilled in the double entendre because they are the most likely victims of crime (from the police and from their neighbors) and social repression.

A police car cruised by us as Marcello and I were walking around Cass’ neighborhood, drinking beers. I stopped and spoke to them. “How are you doing?” I said.” Is everything OK?” They said they were fine and asked if I was passing through; I said yes, I was. Marcello asked me if this question about passing through was motivated by prejudice (eg., are you a Gypsy and going to be gone soon). I don’t know how these police men perceived me, so I wasn’t really able to answer him directly.

I have questioned many times whether loyalty to the masses of poor (and other groups of) people precludes talking to the police in a friendly manner, and I do not believe it does. Compassion has no boundaries, and certainly not all police men and women are prejudiced against poor people or racial minorities in their areas. I am certain that some of the neighbors who saw me speak to the police suddenly developed a negative attitude toward me. I am not a social worker who has to adapt her life to the perceptions of any special interest group; I am a traveller, and I talk to the police for my own well-being and the well-being of my group: Gypsies. It doesn’t hurt to respect people and cultivate friendly relationships with local authorities, as long as they don’t want anything from us (eg. loyalty, service, money, information, etc.).

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Chickens freely wander the backstreets of Kingston, Jamaica. In Puerto Rico, a free chicken was a great surprise to people on the street, and they tried to find out who the escapee belonged to.

My CS host, Peter, told me Jamaica has more churches per square mile than any country in the world. (That’s a statistic, he said). And right next to every church is a rum bar and a gambling joint. (Not a statistic.) 50% of Jamaicans believe in the Obeah religion; it’s African (like Voudo). They use oils for every possible thing (luck and blessing) and candles.

from Wikipedia:

Obeah (sometimes spelled Obi, Obea or Obia) is a term used in the West Indies to refer to folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices derived from West African, and specifically Igbo origin Obah is similar to other African derived religions including Palo, Voodoo, Santería, rootwork, and most of all hoodoo. Obeah is practiced in Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Guyana, Barbados, Grenada, Belize, The Bahamas and other Caribbean countries.

Obeah is associated with both benign and malignant magic, charms, luck, and with mysticism in general. In some Caribbean nations, Obeah refers to folk religions of the African diaspora. In some cases, aspects of these folk religions have survived through syncretism with Christian symbolism and practice introduced by European colonials and slave owners. Casual observation may conclude that Christian symbolism is incorporated into Obeah worship, but in fact may represent clandestine worship and religious protest.

During slavery Obeah was directed against the European slave masters. However, with the rise of Christianity, Obeah is considered a taboo, and the term has pejorative associations.

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Jamaican greeting: press thumbs together. There are subtle variations and meanings involved in this greeting.

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I am interested in the subject of remittances since Tricia, my CS host here in Port of Spain mentioned it to me.

(from Wikipedia:)

A remittance is a transfer of money by a foreign worker to his or her home country.

Money sent home by migrants constitutes the second largest financial inflow to many developing countries, exceeding international aid. Estimates of remittances to developing countries vary from International Fund for Agricultural Development‘s US$301 billion (including informal flows) to the World Bank‘s US$250 billion for 2006 (excluding informal flows). Remittances contribute to economic growth and to the livelihoods of people worldwide[citation needed]. Moreover, remittance transfers can also promote access to financial services for the sender and recipient, thereby increasing financial and social inclusion[citation needed]. Remittances also foster, in the receiving countries, a further economic dependence on the global economy instead of building sustainable, local economies.

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Exerpts from Jamaica-Gleaner.com (Jan. 12, 2012):

ON REMITTANCES iNJAMAICA

The Jamaican people may be many things, but not fools, and in a time when the world is indeed a global village, most Jamaican families have some member living in a First World country, and exposed to information and behaviour patterns coming from the developed world via these personal contacts, cable television and the Internet.

There is no definitive source to determine the size of the Jamaican diaspora. Many claim that there are as many ‘Jamaicans’ living outside Jamaica as is the current 2.8 million population. However, statistics provided by the Migration Information Source and the Planning Institute of Jamaica for the periods 1970-2008 indicate that 915,371 people emigrated from Jamaica to the US, UK, and Canada. This, however, does not reflect those entering these countries legally but remaining illegally, those entering illegally, and others immigrating to other countries.

Remittances account for approximately 15 per cent of Jamaica’s GDP and are the main barometer of the impact the diaspora has on Jamaica. According to Bank of Jamaica statistics, remittance inflows were US$1.598 billion for the first 10 months of the 2010-11 fiscal year. The focus now is how the country can get some of these remittances into an organised programme to serve the productive sectors and contribute in developing Jamaica.

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And another exerpt from Jamaica-Gleaner.com (April 9, 2012):

Remittances pick up as recession rebound continue

In line with World Bank predictions, remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean have strengthened as economies continue to recover from the global economic milieu which peaked during the two-year period, 2008 to 2009.

In Jamaica, remittances crept to their highest calendar-year level in a decade last year, according to the Bank of Jamaica in its December 2011 remittance report, with more than US$2 billion in inflows to Jamaica.

And, inflows have continued to increase with remittances to the island in January improving by four per cent, compared to the corresponding period in 2011. The greater portion of inflows in 2011 was due to improvements in inflows through remittance companies.

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