Yes, K has to be for Kingston.
I have no clear memory of what I expected of the city before I moved here. Arriving in a new place, knowing its going to be home from now on, I look around with fresh eyes and wonder when I will ever start thinking of all the sights as normal? The people, the streets, the noise, the traffic….figuring out where you are. Processing it all takes a while and there is no defining moment when the new becomes normal, it just sort of sneaks up on you.
As our time here comes to an end, and by way of reflection, I asked myself some questions. Mainly I was looking for something new to say that I haven’t already covered earlier.
What were my first impressions? This one’s easy. I did a post on it earlier. I remember thinking how calm and clean Kingston was after Kathmandu. I also didn’t expect it to be so green. Looking down on the city from high up, buildings are nestled between trees and it all looks quite charming. The northern suburbs especially, where the birds and flowers make the city look pretty attractive. I enjoy looking out to the mountains also, which are mostly visible with dramatic clouds. Compared to the chaos of Manila and Kathmandu, the roads seem relatively orderly, there are traffic lights and drains that work.
What did I like most about living here? From my first few months to my last few, my favourite things haven’t really changed. I love the greenery and the mountains, walking around Mona, and sitting in my screen porch writing and listening to the wind blow through the palm leaves. I can add that I have made friends with Jamaican colleagues, who have been some of the kindest people with a great sense of humour. Jamaicans know how to laugh! I’ve also read and learnt about the Caribbean and its history, and –wow– does it have some history, although there is little left to see these days.
What did I dislike most about living here? I have felt trapped and dependent on others my whole stay. The dangers of crime, vulnerability of being a foreigner, health issues, lack of realistic transportation options and not being able to go out at night have made exploring the city close to impossible for me. And there just isn’t that much to do for the unconnected in Kingston. Colleagues with small children have loved it here, as its a great outdoor city and there are nice beaches less than an hour away. But I’m so ready for a safer city with a public transportation system and urban events that will make it easier to meet people. I’m looking at you Belgrade!
What do you think you’ll take away from your time here? In each new place we have lived, each comes with its own challenges and benefits. And I’ve always believed its up to me to figure how to make the best of it. We chose this life to experience the change and learn from each new place and, perhaps, leave it a little better (however small) than when we arrived. This time, its got me. I don’t truly know what my takeaway from Kingston will be. Right now it just feels like its an acceptance of “you can’t win them all.” Hopefully time will teach me there’s something more.
So, I’ll just end with a few random photos of Kingston not covered elsewhere:
Curlers! Many Jamaican ladies have no problem going out while they are still fixin’ their hair. Always makes me smile!
Street scene near Papine.
A post-apocalptic scene from the downtown.
View from the Northern suburbs of Kingston way out to the Port.
And finally…From the dock of a cruise ship out to the “giraffes” of the dock that I see from pretty much anywhere in Kingston. Kingston port is still an important harbour in the Carribean and the heart and soul of this island’s economy.