One Week

DECEMBER 16, 2010

A week ago, beautiful Jamaica, temps hovering around 75 everyday. Kingsley drives Cynthia and me from the airport. Goats are running free along the road. Not seeing any goat-road kill I ask him, “Are the goats okay running along the road like this?” He answered, “Goats are smarter than people, Mon.”

What hit me first second and third about the place is the nature of the light. I never saw such light and color in my life.  Living there, I was sure, would change my art.  I think it did in the week we spent there.

What you see when you look at a chair.

Looking at a cup.

On the side of a road.

In Negril, where we stayed, there are cliffs overlooking the sea. People dive off them.  Others just love to look at them.

Stairs are carved into some cliffs. You can see the bottom of the cove, but it’s nowhere near shallow.

It really looks like this.

The Jamaican understanding of light is integrated into their lives. The use of paint is a vibrant prayer to the god of color. This is common but made me gasp all the while.  That and the constant sense of ganja smoke.  Hey, how did that get in here?

The best of Jamaica is, by far, the people. Warm, very friendly and seemingly untouched by the pace and anxiety of the world. A craftsman like this can still get along selling what he makes.

Also the food. And you can get the best along the road at various Jerk stands.  We never got a bad meal.  Welcome to LeRoy Red Wood Kitchen and Jerk Chicken, the sign says.  LeRoy, the chef, and his large family, serve you at the only table. The night we came, there was no waiting.  He told us his process of marinating and cooking the chicken slowly all day.  The proof was in the eating.

Behind the shacks you can see brave chickens roaming free. The dog seemed a master of discretion.

That was the night of the Reggae concert at Negril Escape.  The headliner was Queen Ifrica, but there were many opening acts.  For example: Gairy Cooper. Great. Yep, Mon.

This guy got up from the audience and played a mean harmonica.

Very cold that night.  Down to the 60′s!

Mark Irie.  No kidding.

You see a lot of dreadlocks.  This one on somebody Cynthia said looked like a Rastaman from Long Island.

There was also The Wiseman.

We were not far from the Negril Lighthouse, the most western point in Jamaica.  The lighthouse keeper took us to the top.  We asked him about hurricanes.  He matter of factly told us about one at another lighthouse where his father worked, where he was moving his family one by one from a safe house to the Lighthouse.  You must only move when the wave is moving back.  His sister had left something behind and moved in the wrong direction . . .  and slipped away from their grasp. Lost forever.  He told us this story with an unchanging, almost pleasant expression.

There’s too much to draw. Start somewhere.

Sea grape trees have beautiful disk-like leaves.

When you go into a town like Negril or Sva Lamar, or on the roads between them you see kids leaving their rural homes in the morning, walking to school, in neat uniforms.  The girls wear skirts, ala private school uniforms you see here.  Boys are in a kind of military khaki.

The sea on our last morning at about 6AM.

The last night.

Back home to a windchill of about zero.
Both are beautiful. Happy to move in climates that know their business.