As I move around Jamaica, I love to see the little stories unfolding. I often try to catch the images, but driving and taking pictures is not safe, and if I cannot stop to take my pictures, I have to hold the images in my head. Outside of Kingston, the country has few traffic signals, so I cannot use those created stops to give me a chance to stop, stare, and snap.
I drove home from Manchester, yesterday, in a pretty happy mood. I’d played golf at the sneaky little course and not been humbled this time. No blood on my clothes.
As I neared home in the late afternoon, I saw the usual clutch of vendors on Olivier Road, near two schools. They usually sell pears and some other fruit. A woman was cutting a man a slice of pear on the street. In Jamaica, that’s not such an odd site, but outside, it’s something maybe never seen. In other countries, where the fruit is an exotic import, it’s not sold by the slice. Maybe, people only know pear as the thing that’s used to make guacamole, not the essential side to accompany almost any meal.
Last week, my friend and I were eating lunch in a small restaurant in Mandeville. He asked if they had any pear: “Not today…” came the reply. It never occurred to me to ask. That’s the price for growing up outside the island. I have to learn that pear with everything, anywhere is the norm.
Buying a slice of pear makes so much sense. If you are going to eat alone, or you need just a piece, why buy a whole pear and have to worry about what to do with the rest?
I remember sometime last year, asking for the price of bananas: “$30,” the lady said. I was shocked: so cheap. I had paid $250 for a hand just a few days ago. I’ll take it, I told her, and she handed me one. Oh. I see. “Miss, how much for the bunch?” I then asked. “$300,” she now told me. I took the dozen or so bananas, having seen how the maths worked.
My money stretches to buying a whole bunch of bananas and my household’s stomach can eat a bunch and not blink in a few days. Again, if you need just one, then that’s what you buy. Why let the rest spoil?
I’m more in tune with this breaking down now, and I can understand people asking to buy one cigarette.
I have no trouble just buying one patty. Well, I do. I need one coco bread, too.
I now settle for less than a full tank of gas, especially if I know I will be heading to areas where the prices are very low, so want to buy just enough to get me there and enjoy the stretching of my wallet.