I have one of the coolest, down to earth, kind, generous, LOVING boyfriends. We met unexpectedly on the last night of a Royal Caribbean cruise a little over a year ago… My best friend and I took a girls week and Kevin was with his family. From the night we met, through the months of us talking, to his traveling to see me in my home state of Pennsylvania so he could take me out, and eventually me caving to his asking me so many times to be his girlfriend… I realized how many presumptions and assumptions I had about his country.
But these presumptions and assumptions only came to light as I began to get to know the man pursuing me. The man pursuing me LOVES his BMW, knows more about American football than I do (and I worked for a prominent collegiate football team), and when we are together he tries to take me out for date night every night. He’s educated. Flew planes for six years in Miami. Played soccer (football) on the same field that Usain Bolt trained for running. And! …He pays for my Netflix!! Well. I just use his because last year as a student I wasn’t trying to spend extra money on frivolous things like TV shows.
Getting to know Kevin has opened my eyes to what I thought I knew about Caribbean culture and as a third world country. You see, had I thought Jamaica needed to be rescued. Oh, I knew it was a gorgeous tropical island with great beaches and rum. But only for tourists at resorts. Locals had to deal with crime and danger at every turn. To be honest, before Kevin I hadn’t really met anyone from Jamaica and my closest encounter with the country was the missions trip my childhood church went on to save the poor country from itself. (I wasn’t allowed to go. Tells you how close I got to Jamaica before this spring).
When I finally got to visit Kevin this past spring, my island guy introduced me to brunches and coffee shops in the mountains with views, local business shops with trendy styles, resorts with endless food buffets, impromptu ballroom and beach dancing, friends who called me “queen” and “empress”, and nights in the city complete with bottles of wine.
Like anywhere, Jamaica is full of so much to do see and experience. People are kind and fun. There are beautiful homes, churches, schools and lush scenery everywhere you turn… Like anywhere, there is crime. Poverty. And more to be done to help others less fortunate. You don’t need to travel to a third world country to give to to those in need. You don’t need to stay in a first world country to drive a BMW. Jamaica isn’t perfect, but as I write these Travel Tuesday posts I have yet to find a perfect country in any way. And as Ziggy Marley says, “When people come to Jamaica, we don’t want them to think about the problems of Jamaica. So let them come be in their paradise.”
I’m grateful my island guy drove me all over his home country those two week this last year, taking pride in all that he showed me. He’s passionate about where he is from, and wanted me to experience the best of it when I was there. And thanks to him, Jamaica’s paradise became a little bit of mine.