It took only a few hours in another CARICOM country to realize that we’d been living in a bright bubble. I hit the shores of The Bahamas. Jamaicans are treated to a little social ostracism: planes coming laden with all manner of folk from Jamaica are given extra treatment as bags get the extreme check over. We get it traveling to the USA but it chafes when we get it within CARICOM. Even when the flight is at least half filled with Bahamian students headed home for Christmas.
The man dressed as a pirate covered all the bases with his greeting, seeking to hail all and upset none. I glared at his stubbly face. “Enjoy your visit!” He ordered.
On exiting the airport, I got a sense of distraction as the waiting greeters grinned and waved at arriving passengers. Clumps of American and Canadian tourists were wheeled away into cars and vans. The little chatter I could hear was about the weather: “No risk of snow here…”
Soon, I was in the bosom of my in-laws, and the focus was on birthday celebration. We admired how a new home was sprouting grass clumps and small fruit trees. No mango tree yet, but avocado and sea grapes. A little garden showed off beets, tomatoes, basil and peppers. A little bowl of baby jalapeño peppers was waved proudly. Three months can produce wonders in the sun.
We started to catch up on recent events. That’s when we got the bombshell. “I saw a lady on the plane reading a Jamaican paper and say ‘That’s my girl!'” said one of the just-returned children. “Who is this Tessanne Chin?” Well, you could knock me down with a feather. This was a true “Rahtid!” moment. We started babbling excitedly about our obsessive interest of the past few weeks. Faces were blank.
The Voice? You know: Adam, Christina, Blake, Cee Lo… Voting on iTunes… Phoning… Magic Jack… Vote early and often… More blank stares.
Could it really be that just a few hundred miles from us, people we thought had similar interests were unaware of what had been driving Jamaican daily life? Yes.
I felt the air ooze out of my bubble. I’d thought that a tidal wave of interest had overtaken the region, but signs were that it was a solely Jamaican thing? The massive that had started in the land of wood and water was barely a ripple.
All the yelling and pot beating seemed trivial. I didn’t like the feeling. I had no way to put the past few days in front of people as a huge hologram and say “Look! Listen! ‘Like a bridge over chubbled wata…’ Go, Tess!” Blasted CARICOM! Waste of time!
I know I have it in me to change, but for the moment, I have to regroup and ponder that ‘No man is an island unto himself’ thingy. We’re not all one global village, just a click away. We’re alone in the sea and our shore–even stretched by our migrants–is still just ours. Many rivers to cross? Try getting over an air bridge!