Life in a Jamaican Community (Jamaica)

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Jamaica Primetime

Life in a Jamaican Community

Published Aug 1, 2009
Community view

For those of you who want to live in Jamaica, it is important to find the right community. Homes can be found all the way from the ghettoes to the exclusive homes with swimming pools and can be found from the city into the country. There is a community for everyone’s taste and budget.

I chose a middle class community about 4 miles from the center of Montego Bay after looking from lower to upper middle class neighborhoods. This community is situated on the side of a steep hill with little to no flat areas and contains approximately 50 homes. Most of them are single family homes but there are many two family houses scattered throughout. The only three family apartment house in the neighborhood is soon to be completed. All but a few of the lots have houses on them. The surrounding communities are all residential areas. Access to this and most communities in this part of town is from a main road which is void of commercial interests with the exception of a few homes close to town and a couple of widely scattered businesses.

Community Home 3

I often wondered what the name of our main road is but have never been able to find out. While walking early one morning in a neighboring community I came across a sign intersecting the main road with the neighboring community. I was all excited at the prospects of finally finding out the name of the road I drove into town daily. My hopes were shattered when the top name on the sign indicated the name of the street for the community while the bottom sign simply said, ”Main Road.” My information tells me this is typical throughout Jamaica. So how do you direct someone to your house? It is really quite simple. If the road goes from Pumpkinville to Bananaville, the folks traveling from Bananaville call the road Pumpkinville, and vice versa. Thus the road is called both Pumpkinville and Bananaville. It all depends on where you’re coming from.

My community is made up of blue collar workers, professionals, entrepreneurs, and retired people. A little more than half of our homes are owner occupied while some are investment properties. A few of the remaining are vacant but will be future homes of the Diaspora living in other parts of the world. There are two roads in this cul-de-sac community. The main road goes from the bottom of the hill to the top with one small dead-end street off of it. Anyone entering or leaving this neighborhood does so on one road. A benefit besides the low volume of traffic is the safety factor. Most criminals would not venture deep into a community with only one way out.

This community, as well as those around us, has their own community government. Our meetings are run following proper Parliamentary procedures with duly elected officers. We meet once a month to discuss situations that affect all of us. Through this body we get faster response on critical issues than if it were left to each individual homeowner. Oftentimes we have invited guest speakers from the government, utilities, or anyone with community enrichment programs. In the past, this body has organized work programs to beautify the area and social activities complete with food and drink all prepared by members of the community.

My house is located near the end of that short dead-end street. Needless to say, it is very quiet here with the exception of the occasional taxi with its loud music and noisy mufflers. My immediate neighbors all have different work backgrounds. One man worked in the UK as a painter before retiring back to his native Jamaica. His house, like many on the island, has “helper’s quarters” where the housekeeper lives full time. This trusted neighbor has a spare set of our house keys which we have had to use a few embarrassing times.

Community Home 2

Next to him is a woman who is a law partner in one of the better firms in Montego Bay. This house has a small apartment which she rents to a long time friend. The lawyer has a full time helper but not a live-in one and a weekly gardener who keeps her property well manicured.

On the other side of me is a widowed lady who also spent her working years in the UK. It is amazing to see the energy this late 60’s woman has. She does everything herself from housework to yard work even though she could well afford to have both jobs done by someone else. The house next to the lawyer’s is one of the investment properties and is a two family house. Tenants come and go in this house never staying more than a year or two. We have been very lucky over the years to get good mature people as neighbors in this house.

The other house next to me is vacant which is the white house pictured above. This house is owned by a Jamaican woman living in New York. The house has been empty since her brother died a few years ago. The owner has a problem others have about moving back to Jamaica. The big issue is employment. It would be wonderful to move back to their native land but financially very difficult. This is the problem that faces most of the empty houses in the community. Many of these owners just come for their annual vacation. Each one of them has someone taking care of their property so it doesn’t become an overgrown jungle and an eyesore in the community.

Socially my neighbors are completely different from those of my native New England. They are all very friendly but missing are the weekend barbecues with neighbors or even family and friends. No afternoon teas for the ladies of sporting activities for the men. As for the folks who have lived in the community for decades, the social interaction is restricted to talking over the front gate or over the phone.

Jamaican communities may not be like those in the states but I know each one here is very genuine, sincere, and honest. I couldn’t ask for better neighbors and friends as I have in this Jamaican community. Later…. 

Community home 1

For those of you who want to live in Jamaica, it is important to find the right community. Homes can be found all the way from the ghettoes to the exclusive homes with swimming pools and can be found from the city into the country. There is a community for everyone’s taste and budget.

I chose a middle class community about 4 miles from the center of Montego Bay after looking from lower to upper middle class neighborhoods. This community is situated on the side of a steep hill with little to no flat areas and contains approximately 50 homes. Most of them are single family homes but there are many two family houses scattered throughout. The only three family apartment house in the neighborhood is soon to be completed. All but a few of the lots have houses on them. The surrounding communities are all residential areas. Access to this and most communities in this part of town is from a main road which is void of commercial interests with the exception of a few homes close to town and a couple of widely scattered businesses.

I often wondered what the name of our main road is but have never been able to find out. While walking early one morning in a neighboring community I came across a sign intersecting the main road with the neighboring community. I was all excited at the prospects of finally finding out the name of the road I drove into town daily. My hopes were shattered when the top name on the sign indicated the name of the street for the community while the bottom sign simply said, ”Main Road.” My information tells me this is typical throughout Jamaica. So how do you direct someone to your house? It is really quite simple. If the road goes from Pumpkinville to Bananaville, the folks traveling from Bananaville call the road Pumpkinville, and vice versa. Thus the road is called both Pumpkinville and Bananaville. It all depends on where you’re coming from.

My community is made up of blue collar workers, professionals, entrepreneurs, and retired people. A little more than half of our homes are owner occupied while some are investment properties. A few of the remaining are vacant but will be future homes of the Diaspora living in other parts of the world. There are two roads in this cul-de-sac community. The main road goes from the bottom of the hill to the top with one small dead-end street off of it. Anyone entering or leaving this neighborhood does so on one road. A benefit besides the low volume of traffic is the safety factor. Most criminals would not venture deep into a community with only one way out.

This community, as well as those around us, has their own community government. Our meetings are run following proper Parliamentary procedures with duly elected officers. We meet once a month to discuss situations that affect all of us. Through this body we get faster response on critical issues than if it were left to each individual homeowner. Oftentimes we have invited guest speakers from the government, utilities, or anyone with community enrichment programs. In the past, this body has organized work programs to beautify the area and social activities complete with food and drink all prepared by members of the community.

My house is located near the end of that short dead-end street. Needless to say, it is very quiet here with the exception of the occasional taxi with its loud music and noisy mufflers. My immediate neighbors all have different work backgrounds. One man worked in the UK as a painter before retiring back to his native Jamaica. His house, like many on the island, has “helper’s quarters” where the housekeeper lives full time. This trusted neighbor has a spare set of our house keys which we have had to use a few embarrassing times.

Next to him is a woman who is a law partner in one of the better firms in Montego Bay. This house has a small apartment which she rents to a long time friend. The lawyer has a full time helper but not a live-in one and a weekly gardener who keeps her property well manicured.

On the other side of me is a widowed lady who also spent her working years in the UK. It is amazing to see the energy this late 60’s woman has. She does everything herself from housework to yard work even though she could well afford to have both jobs done by someone else. The house next to the lawyer’s is one of the investment properties and is a two family house. Tenants come and go in this house never staying more than a year or two. We have been very lucky over the years to get good mature people as neighbors in this house.

The other house next to me is vacant which is the white house pictured above. This house is owned by a Jamaican woman living in New York. The house has been empty since her brother died a few years ago. The owner has a problem others have about moving back to Jamaica. The big issue is employment. It would be wonderful to move back to their native land but financially very difficult. This is the problem that faces most of the empty houses in the community. Many of these owners just come for their annual vacation. Each one of them has someone taking care of their property so it doesn’t become an overgrown jungle and an eyesore in the community.

Socially my neighbors are completely different from those of my native New England. They are all very friendly but missing are the weekend barbecues with neighbors or even family and friends. No afternoon teas for the ladies of sporting activities for the men. As for the folks who have lived in the community for decades, the social interaction is restricted to talking over the front gate or over the phone.

Jamaican communities may not be like those in the states but I know each one here is very genuine, sincere, and honest. I couldn’t ask for better neighbors and friends as I have in this Jamaican community. Later….

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