The Living and the Dead in Jamaica

A friend once told me, as we drove together over the Blue Mountains from Kingston to the much more pleasant North Coast, that Jamaicans treat the dead better than the living.

The notorious Nigh Night, a massive party involving dancing, food, drink, music, and in some cases I hear, shots fired into the air, is the culmination to a long period of mourning and partying before a deceased person’s soul is finally sent on its way.

Graves in Jamaica can range from the modest and tradition to the perhaps distastefully outlandish. This cemetery in St. Andrew, on the way to St. Mary, told a million little stories, from the memorials scratched in a grave while the cement was still wet, to the trash on the ground, the rum bottles and cookies laid on a loved one’s shrine of a grave, to the elaborate mausoleumof a final resting place.


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