Settling In Or Moving On?Settling In Or Moving On?Settling In Or Moving On?

Settling In Or Moving On?

I’m not going to lie.  Settling into life in Jamaica been without some bumps and bruises.

As I write, the little bar across the street has been blasting the same song over and over and over for the last hour.  Intermittently, someone is blasting an air horn, honking a car horn and blowing a loud whistle.  I wish I could capture an audio recording of it for you.  It’s a Monday night, no special event, no holiday…just a random gathering of people drinking and living it up.

Yeah, I could go over and cause a stir.  I could call the cops.  Instead, I chose to close my door and do my own thing until it stops.  Such is my life in Jamaica.  I either learn to roll with it, or I have to leave.  Besides, I’m making a lot of friends here and, who knows?  Next week, it might be ME blasting the music and blowing the horn (but it won’t be me playing the same song over and over and over again.  I promise!)

Meanwhile, I’m learning the ropes.

I’ve now spent close to six months in Jamaica so far in 2017 and it’s been mostly good.  The house deal I thought we had nailed down suddenly hit a wall.  It wasn’t just a small collision either.  It was more like running a freight train into a huge rock cliff side, nearly causing me a mental collapse.

I have an elderly Jamaican friend, Angus, who watched the entire incident unfold.  At 80 years of age, nearly deaf and partially blind, Angus is a man of few words.  So, when he speaks, I’ve learned to really listen.  His favorite saying is “Nuh-ting madders ‘cept duh black an white!”  (Nothing matters except getting it in writing.)  Too bad he didn’t speak up early on!  Ha ha.

Nope, I didn’t get it in writing.  Classic mistake.  I believed what I was told, which was “Don’t worry.  I’ll make sure it all works out for you.” The problem was, my idea of “things working out” was different from the other parties idea.  We were worlds apart in our realities.

This is why you haven’t heard from me in a while.

I’ve been ruminating, doing a lot of research, making a lot of contacts and carefully contemplating what my next move will be.  I’m finally finding my footing again, and a lot of it came in the form of letting it all go.  I decided that if this “project” wasn’t going to be a good fit, then there must be something better down the road.

I decided to return to Jamaica, figuring that I’d be packing up my mountain of personal belongings and moving on.  Where?  I didn’t know.  When?  I wasn’t sure.  I just figured the door was closed on this project so I had to start over.  If only it was that easy.

I flew back down in late Sept and started reconnecting with my friends and acquaintances.  I knew that I was going to need help and “the grapevine” to figure out a new situation.  This isn’t the kind of place where you pick up a newspaper or call a rental office and see “apartment for rent.”  Well, you DO, but those are high-priced vacation rentals, not long-term gigs.

No, figuring this out was going to be all about “who you know and who knows you,” the stock in trade of Jamaican life.

To make just about anything happen here, you have to KNOW people and they have to like you.  It’s all about recommendations, word of mouth and relationships.  That’s not a foundation that one builds overnight.  It takes time and effort.

Luckily for me, people are, by and large, quite friendly here.  If you are friendly back, relationships are built.  Your new friends introduce you to their old friends, and before you know it, you’ve developed an intricate web of contacts…all of whom know even MORE people.  This is how you find a plumber, start a business, buy a car, find a property and so much more.  This is where these impromptu parties, like the one currently raging across the street, often come into play.

For example, let’s say you run into your friend, Josh, while walking down the street in the afternoon and you invite him to come over in the evening.  Josh doesn’t have a car, so he asks Ralph to drive him over.  While driving Josh to your house, Ralph sees Joe along the side of the road, so he offers Joe a ride.  And so it goes.  By the time Josh arrives at your gate, he’s got four or five people in tow, and a party is born.

Eventually, Joe calls his brother to come pick him up and the brother stays for a drink. Ralph’s girlfriend gets out of work and joins in. Then a random guitar player that somebody knows passes by, is invited in and starts jamming, joined by a few singers.  By the end of the evening, what started out as a chance to chat with Josh has turned into an event that connected you with 10 new people.  It’s actually pretty cool.

Through these connections, I’ve found several different “possible” options.

A number of times, I’ve started gathering my belongings, looking for boxes to transport them in and talking to friends with cars about helping me move.  But each time, I’ve returned to where I’ve been, still feeling the desire to make it work right here where I started out.  Can I say that I still feel “called” to this house?

Interestingly, each time I spoke to friends about calling the hardware store to see about returning the piles of building supplies still sitting in the house garage, supplies I purchased to rehab the little shop out back so it could house my business, I’ve been told, “Just wait.  It’s all going to work out.  I feel it in my gut.”  When I first heard those words, I sort of laughed and told them that it just wasn’t meant to be, and yet I never seemed to get around to actually making that call.

Last week, knowing I was scheduled to head back to the States this week, I finally bit the bullet and took the taxi ride up to the hardware store to have that chat.  The owners know me by name, having spent so much time up there during my “building” days earlier this year.  They had no idea that my “deal” had fallen apart so I had to fill them in and ask if I could return the rest of my building supplies.  Again, I got the reply, “Well, sure you can, but these things have a way of working themselves out, so maybe you should just hold out a bit longer.”

So, six weeks after I came down to move out and move on, I still sit here in limbo.

A few new developments have come about that seem to have cracked the door back open towards us being able to stay in this house and eventually move forward with our original plans, but it’s still a long shot.  I know that my friends here are pulling for me. They have the faith it will all work out for my good, even when I don’t.

Honestly, I’m open to whatever happens with this property.  Whether I settle in or move on, I know that I’ve now got a huge support system in this town and it’s where I’m supposed to be.  I can’t go anywhere around here without somebody calling out my name, making a place for me at their table or giving me hug.

They say that home is where the heart is.  I don’t have to think for even a second as to where that is for me.

This place is my home and that’s all that really matters.  Where I lay my head at night and where is build my business are just pesky details.  My Jamaican family will help me sort it all out in the days to come.  I have no doubts.




I'm a wife, the mother of ten children, a retired dairy goat farmer and cheesemaker, and I love to travel, write and take photos. My favorite hobby is walking the beach and searching for sand dollars.

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  • Sharon Ebert
    October 31, 2017 at 7:21 am

    I am so sorry that you are having a problem purchasing your property. We ran into a similar situation twice. The first property we tried to purchase the woman needed help to clear her title before she could subdivide so we could purchase a quarter acre. We had our attorney help her clear her title and of course once it was cleared she decided not to sell to us. We figure she got a higher offer. We didn’t have it in writing either…so it go. The second piece of property we tried to purchase we did have our attorney write up a contract. We saw that he had clear title…at least what we thought was clear title. Our agreement was he was to build the road up to the property. He came to us and asked if he could have $7,000 USD as down payment so he could buy the compressor. We agreed and gave him the money. Each week was a different problem why he wasn’t starting our road. Then we began to see he was using the compressor on road work close to where we were renting. We went to our attorney and he began to check into it. We thought we might just close the deal by not paying him anything more as he had already defaulted on the the time limit to build the road. We started to check into having the road built and were told if someone said $25,000 USD laugh as that would be the tip of the iceberg. So of course we decided that property wasn’t going to work. We tried to sue him for the $7,000 but ran into a problem that he really didn’t have clear title. It was government land that he purchased and it was titled to him from the government but never registered. We finally gave that up because it was going to cost us more than the $7,000 we gave him. Through all this the gentleman that came to look at the property to build the road told us about a development he was building roads for. We went out to look at the property and really liked it. The property was already subdivided, roads almost completed, water brought to each property and electricity poles in waiting for JPSco to turn on the electric. We were able to purchase that property without as problem. In the long run it has been a much better place for us as the property is level which is good for my husband who has a balance problem, It is close to the main road in Lucea so it is easy for me to catch a taxi if I want to. The only thing is we really wanted to be like you and live closer in with the local people. The first 8 years we were the only ones living there. There are now 14 houses built out of 43 lots. Most of the people are returning Jamaican. The young couple that built next door both have grown up in the Lucea area. He drives to JUTA and she works for the government. They have two children 7 and 10. They are the most wonderful neighbors!!! If there is anything we need they are always there to help us.
    It takes a lot of patients to do what we want to do but it is all worth it. Just hang in there Jah will provide. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers that the purchase of the house you are living in will work out.

    • Jamerican
      October 31, 2017 at 7:31 am

      Thanks for the encouraging words! I feel certain that if it doesn’t work out, something better will. Makes me feel better to hear your story. I have felt so silly for spending money on a property that wasn’t mine, but you know what? I learned from the experience and when another Jamaican said, “You can fix up my cottage and apply the money you spend towards rent,” I backed away. He didn’t want to put anything in writing…said it wasn’t necessary. Ha ha! When it comes to my business, it seems like I’m in the best possible spot right now. I guess time will tell.

  • Clover Batts
    October 31, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Hi, I enjoyed your writing and feel your uncertainty. Your attitude is so positive that I am one of those who feels it will all work out….hang in there and believe in the friendship and goodwill you continue to experience. Good luck and blessings

  • Ingrid
    October 31, 2017 at 8:44 am

    I enjoy reading your posts, except I hate the way you make this little “backward village” on the island appear as though its how the entire island operates. When you say things like “That just how things happen in Jamaica” or any such phrase, its not really an honest picture of life in Jamaica. Perhaps you should try another town or at least travel the island a bit more and spend time in other area. Good Luck!

    • Jamerican
      October 31, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Ingrid, as I’ve mentioned before, I write about “my Jamaica.” I write about my experiences, not yours or anyone else’s. I have traveled all over the island and really don’t find too many differences outside of the larger cities. I feel it becomes repetitive to have to “qualify” everything I say with “where I live.” 99% of the comments I get are from people who totally relate to what I’ve written because their own experiences are so similar. Perhaps it’s not “an honest picture” of where you live but I’m not writing about that. I’m writing about my little corner of the island. Most people understand that and make those allowances. Thanks for your insights.

  • Michelle
    January 9, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    It sounds like you have been on an amazing adventure! I wish you the best of luck in making the choice that’s right for you!

    • Jamerican
      January 9, 2018 at 10:10 pm

      Yes, it’s been pretty crazy. I know it where I’m supposed to be. It will all sort itself out eventually.

  • Jill Spinelli
    January 9, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    I can truly feel your both your frustration and your love here. I’m so sorry to hear that your deal fell through, but it does seem you’ve surrounded yourself with the best kind of people. Youve built your community and there is so much to be said for that. If a place feels so much like home and you cannot pull yourself away from it, well, there really is something to be said for that. I hope your friends are right and that everything does work out for the best. I’m rooting for you.

    • Jamerican
      January 9, 2018 at 10:48 pm

      Thank you, Jill. I’m hopeful that it will all work out eventually. I just keep plugging along, making new friends and enjoying my time there.

  • Doreen
    January 10, 2018 at 4:37 am

    I can relate to some of experiences I’ve encountered in my country Zambia, like getting things done only if you have connections otherwise you are stuck. All the best! Thanks for sharing this great post.

    • Jamerican
      January 12, 2018 at 11:09 am

      Oh my goodness. Connections are the lifeblood of these countries. Sometimes, it gets really frustrating but at other times, I find it works in my favor. Thanks for your empathy, Doreen!


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I have traveled all over the world and fallen in love with many places in my lifetime but none of them grabbed me as intensely as Jamaica. During my first visit, years ago, I felt as if I was coming home for the first time in my life. I look forward to sharing this journey with you as I begin the long process of making Jamaica my actual home. These are my experiences and observations. I hope you can see Jamaica through my eyes, and love her the way that I do. I am Jamaican at heart.

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