Author: Jewel Delcastillo
I ease my water shoes into the chilly water, trusting our leader to guide us safely through the Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Our excursion group stayed together as directed: holding hands in a human chain, relying on one another’s help to shuffle, swim, and climb up the slippery rock. As we climbed up the roaring waters, we did not worry. No, we took a lesson from the Jamaican people and remained as calm as the rocks under our feet.
A short screech and loud splash erupts behind me as someone falls into one of the many shallow pools. Our leader, Brian, looks back, his dark, black face alert. Cameraman Fabian picks up the woman that fell and speaks to her. Then he gave Brian a thumbs up. “She’s alright, mon. Keep going, I’ll help her.” His accent is richly thick in its laid-back way. I glance at the American woman and catch sight of her wincing. I smiled softly as we continued through the waterfall. “Don’t worry,” I sang softly. “About a thing; ‘cause every little thing; is gonna be alright!” My family, hands holding mine, joined in. By the time we reached the chorus of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” our whole group was singing. Every face forgot the difficulties we faced at home, the tension of the past, and the uneasiness of holding strangers’ hand. For a few minutes, we felt the culture of Jamaica course through us. We felt that as a team, we can do it. When we work together, we can overcome our troubles and make the best for ourselves. From my visit to Jamaica, this is what I have learned.
Jamaica is everything you have every heard: while poor, they have a beautiful island and an even more beautiful culture. Everyone seemed to know everyone, and they spoke to each other with warm kindliness. It was if they all lived on the island just because they wanted to be together. Their artful carvings are made of fish bone or wood, but one look at them, and you would think it for a mueseum piece that somehow found its way in a small hut. Wooden fishes and little families, along with instruments and animals, decorated tables and shelves in a harmonized clutter. Jamaicans selling wares readily recommend one another when tourists are looking for something specific. If every country was more like this, we would live in a much happier world.
As I climbed the scraped limestone rock of the Dunn’s River Falls, I absorbed as much of the Jamaican culture as I could. I took note of how Jamaicans treated one another and consciously made the decision to spread that kind of one-love feeling. I loved Jamaica for the curtain it opened for me, and I will always treasure my time there. But most importantly, I will teach that kind of respect and unitedness to those I know in life.