My experiences and references of Jamaica were mostly through stories and food. Growing up, we heard all of the childhood tales of Old Harbour, St. Catherine’s that my family could remember but we never visited. After my grandmother passed away in the late 90s, several plans were made to bring my cousins, sister, and I back home, but none of them came to fruition. My London-born Jamaican father still hasn’t been back to the island since he left with his family for the United States as a teenager. We’d been to the UK several times but never to Old Harbour. We visited cousins in Toronto but still hadn’t been back to the beautiful place from which they’d came. The role of family matriarch defaulted to his youngest sister who has made infrequent return visits and kept in touch with our family members spread throughout the rest of the world, but my sister, my cousins and I had yet to experience our familial home in a deeper way.
In the summer of 2017 I finally made that trip alone. I wasn’t able to visit Old Harbour—I decided that I needed my father with me for that—but the 15 days I spent in Kingston, coupled with the people I met and formed invaluable bonds with, made for my most transformative experience yet.