Its been a while since I did a WordPress Photo Challenge and I’ve missed them! Here’s a few of my favourite nature camouflage pictures:
It was interesting to me when we first arrived in Jamaica in 2015 that there would soon be a general election. We arrived to a similar situation in Nepal in 2013, but the circumstances were a lot different. In Nepal, free elections were almost a brand new concept and the country was still struggling to stop tire-burning demonstrations,molotov cocktails being lobbed on street corners and spontaneous rioting. Efforts were underway to prevent illegal voting and the city was transformed into a ghost town on election day, with all moving vehicles (except for official vehicles) banned from the street. Voters had to walk to polling stations in an effort to prevent bussing.
Here in Jamaica they have their own history of election violence, but in recent years it has been much less prelevant. Part of the tactics used to prevent election unrest includes control on the display of party materials, which was explained to me when I asked why there were so few political posters around. Instead of the usual visual blast spread all over a city during elections, Kingston only displayed a modest few. Close to the election date, we did see bus loads of orange-clad (PNP) and green-clad (JLP) supporters – the two main parties — as they headed off to rallys, and we watched their orange and green litter blowing down Hope Road on the days leading up to the vote. On 26th February 2016, Andrew Holness of the JLP was elected Prime Minister with very little civil unrest, and the Jamaican world moved on.
These experiences bring me to the US election, with primaries starting just as the Jamaican election finished. I feel that my whole time here has been one long — one very long — election season. Most Jamaicans that I know have access to cable TV with CNN and BBC coverage of what has been going on in US politics and are remarkably informed on the issues as well as the latest scandalous outburst. In fact, its kind of shocking how closely they follow — its clear that they are not listening to only one media source — and know the ins and outs of each new shenanigan. There’s an overwhelming disbelief that US politics could be going so badly and that rules, precedents and established norms are being so openly flouted. I wonder how they feel about what they see in contrast with Jamaican corruption and I can only feel deeply embarrassed from where I stand, which appears to be somewhere in the first twenty minutes of a disaster movie.
I only feel more disheartened for my dear Filipino friends and what it must be like to live in a country that now openly murders people in the street, just a few short years since I lived there. Democracy is never to be taken for granted.
Before I came to Jamaica, I read there were a lot of churches on this small island and, boy, they weren’t wrong; the Guinness Book of Records states that Jamaica has more churches per square mile than anywhere in the world other than the Vatican. They range from tiny little churches in small communities like the one above, to pretty Victorian stone chapels that might have been transplanted from England, to large, modern open-air domes full of swaying arms and bodies. On a Sunday, its a common sight to see older ladies in their Sabbath best: conservative mid-calf dresses, sensible shoes, fancy hats and handbags on their forearms. Running ahead are their adorable grandchildren, all dressed up in lacey fineness with matching shoes and ribbons. I want to take their pictures but its not appropriate. It can feel like I just stepped back into 1950. The children are adorable but something in me feels uncomfortable….I think it is the religious messaging I see.
Unlike most other Caribbean nations, the vast majority of Jamaican Christians are Protestant, with a relatively high percentage being from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, nearly a fifth of the entire country—18.5 percent—is evangelical and another 11 percent is Pentecostal and growing rapidly.
I am not a religious person, although I do respect the religious beliefs of others. But these statistics explain a lot of about the “fire and brimstone” religious messages that are so common here.
I don’t particularly like the warnings of a vengeful God that I see relayed everywhere. I don’t like the hateful LGBT messages published in the newspapers. The church and its warning to sinners show up everywhere in daily life.
Books stores I’ve visited seem to sell mainly religious books. There are religious pamphlets on every store counter. Its all a bit much for my secular eye and I like to believe that if there is a God, it is a loving one. I know there are religious groups here that do so much to help those in need, but I don’t see them, they are in areas deemed too unsafe for me to visit. So what is visible to me is religious fury and I don’t like it.