Diary of a Ghetto Priest | Jamaica, yu good!
By the kindness of Butch Stewart, we have been allowed to use Dragon Bay in Port Antonio, Portland, for our annual holiday for about 10 years. It's just perfect for us. It's on a large property hidden away from the public road, maybe about 200 acres, filled with ferns and majestic trees. The buildings are about 70 years old, all stretched out on the edge of rocks that rise up from the ground sloping to about 50 feet high.
The cottages and apartments are Spanish style. They seemed old-fashioned and are surrounded by moss, baby ferns and royal palm trees. There are also many vines curling around the rocks and the vegetation. There is also a large stretch of white sand for about five acres between the sea and the buildings. That made enough space for the brothers to play football, volleyball and cricket.
The sand slopes into the sea - half of it is full of rocks, corals and seaweeds; the other half is virgin sand, so you can wade in the water without the menace of sharp stones or sea urchins. Flowing from the hills through the sandy beach, there is a thick stream of fresh water which flows into the sea.
The brothers romp in the sea as they catch fish - most of them the size of sprat, occasionally one or two might be big enough to weigh a pound. There are crabs, eels and octopus, all of which the brothers are prepared to eat, whether dead or alive.
We met a most extraordinary man named Lance Moore, who was pretty ordinary; a poor simple man who has Jamaica written all over him. He is perhaps 45 years old, a little less than six feet tall, rangy, slender but not 'maaga'. He wore a gentle, mannerly smile on his face and had a dignity about him. He was at the corner of a shop actively chatting with everyone - the higglers, the customers, the passers-by and the onlookers. He was so congenial, everyone talked with him.
We approached him and said, "Hey sir, we want some yellow heart breadfruit, we can't get it anywhere."
Lance replied, "Being that it is Sunday, sir, most people stay home or gone to church, including the yellow-heart breadfruit. But you is a good man, and all of dem breddas do good work. We see you pon TV. I will get you some bread fruit. Tell me how much you want."
"We want 10 good roasting breadfruits, we going to roast dem, then fry dem. We going eat dem with small fried fish we catch dis morning."
"Two minutes, Faada, just give me two minutes," he replied.
Lance jumped on the bicycle with a smile before the brothers or myself could say anything.
It was a Jamaican two minutes.
His wife Valerie told us, "Him soon come. Just rest off, breddas. Him gone pick breadfruit here and there."
Lance came back two hours later with a big smile on his face. He brought nine big bread-fruits in a see-though onion bag.
"Here, Faada. All of dis is for you. Enjoy!" he declared.
"How much this going cost we?" I asked Brother Vincent.
"Cho bredda man, me can't charge you anything. You so good helping all a we poor people," he answered.
We protested. He protested. We protested and had to force him to take J$1,000.
KINDNESS, CHEERFULNESS, GOODNESS
When we drove back to Dragon Bay that morning, we were full of wonder at this wonderful Jamaican man: a poor simple man, with a wife, Valerie, and a daughter, Novistka. Kindness, cheerfulness, goodness are his very self.
The brothers all remarked on what a wonderful man he was and added that this is so typical of Jamaica.
Two days later, we decided to go back to town to get another 10 breadfruits and some of the purple avocados.
There he was in the middle of the market people at the shop fronts and sidewalks, chatting with just about everyone.
He waved to us.
"Hey breddas, hey Father. I hope you praying for me and my family," he hailed.
"Lance, we need 10 more breadfruit and 10 avocados - the butter avocados," we told him.
"Yes, Faada, it won't take so much time. This time is really two minutes."
Well, it was 30 minutes.
"Here, Faada - 10 yellow-heart breadfruit and 10 avocados. All the market people know you and donate dem to you," he said.
"Here Lance, take this $J2,000."
He walked away from us with tears in his eyes. We insisted on giving him a box of food supplies. This he hesitatingly took.
Two days later when we were returning from our holidays from Dragon Bay to Junction and Fern Gully, we met him when he waved us down.
"Here, breddas, I have plenty of ackees. Now, don't bring any argument to me. You know that I did not plant no ackee seed. Someone throw it down ina me yard. You know when ackee grow up, me never water it nor send down sunshine pon it," Lance told us.
"Now di ackee tree ina me yard and it full of fruit. Is not me dat bear di ackee. But is God alone dat bear de ackee. So nothing come from me, but only from God. So mek me give you all of dis for free. God bless you!"