Jamaica’s Burmese community, I am told, is about 300 strong now. When my friend Jo arrived about 18 years ago, there were fewer than 100. Initially drawn by the availability of professional medical jobs in Jamaica (the island suffers from aÂ chronicÂ shortage of highly skilled medical professionals), friends followed friends, and families followed families, and the community is now quite successful.
Recent developments in Burma have sparked new hope for real change back home for this group. Many of them tell me of their support for the National League of Democracy, the political movement of Aung San Suu Kyi, back in the 1980’s, and about how the government violentlyÂ suppressed the peoples’ calls for more democracy.
Now, for the first time in a long time, the NLD is being allowed to contest elections. Today, Jamaica’s Burmese community held a potluck fundraiser for Suu Kyi and her bid for electoral office in Burma.
I forgot Â who recommended So So Seafood, on Chelsea Road, but the claim that they had the best steamed fish in town just may have to be declared true. I’m pretty sure a planted suggestion did not become a self fulfilling prophecy – my search for the best steamed fish on the island has honed a reliable judgement for the stuff. This one was really good.
I just now had a sudden inside-burst of excitement for what is speeding toward me down life’s path. Jamaica has been a joy, for sure. But the prospect of a year in Washington doing nothing but studying language and seeing old friends makes me smile… And then, the move to china is so absolutely unknowable and full of opportunity – I can’t help but just smile with anticipation.
Biking through the posh neighborhoods, and gully communities, which seem to pass one into the other so abruptly in this bifurcated city, on a quiet cool Sunday morning can be a wonderful thing. Especially when there is rum to sweat out of the system, and the church choirs are just picking up steam in the omnipresent jamaican churches.
Destination: my favorite coffee shop, to check the morning’s news and views and to recaffeinate for the ride home (unfortunately it is all up hill…).
One of their morning’s first customers, I am privileged to witness the opening group prayer, what I assume is a daily ritual performed by the crew of pleasant young women who always serve me the lovely Blue Mountain coffee with a suggestive smile. Not simply a prayer, though, as much as a five minute plunge into song and hymn, holding hands in a tight circle, eyes closed, oblivious to the cafe patrons who continue to file in, patiently waiting for their own chance at redemption through ritual… Though their sacrament of coffee is not quite the same…