Ricky and Miss Chin collect water from Mas Dickie Pond. -
Ian Allen Staff/Photogrpaher
This is number 2 in the countdown of the top 5 editions
of Roving with Lalah over the past year.
'Clapow!' When I heard the explosion I was about to launch myself head first into a heap of leaves by the side of the road. But luckily, the chuckling woman next to me noticed my bulging eyes and stopped me. "No young man, it's not a gunshot. Hee Hee. It's the sound bamboo makes when it's burning. Hee Hee." I got myself together and put on my best "I knew that" expression. "Remember you're not in Kingston. You're in Mocho," said the woman, having far too much fun at my expense.
But yes, I was in Mocho. Mocho, St. James. The little known district in the hills of the parish. It's about a mile and a half away from Garlands and down the road from Jointwood.
Photographer Ian Allen and I were standing with a small group of residents in the middle of the road. We had got there only a few minutes earlier. In fact, the minute we arrived, a small crowd descended upon us. But their pleasant smiles and cheerful greetings made us feel welcome.
It was a very bright day and up there in the hills there was a coolness that was extremely relaxing. Other than the intermittent sounds of the burning bamboo exploding in the distance, the place was almost silent. The only sounds were from the birds and every now and again a cow would interject with a hearty moo.
The community expert
We first met a man wearing a blue shirt and no shoes. He told us to call him Ricky. He was something of an expert on the community and quite a nifty carpenter as well. Other than the few persons who came out to meet us, there didn't seem to be anyone else around. "Where is everybody?" I asked the community expert. "Oh, most
people gone a bush," he replied. A couple other people walked up closer and joined the conversation. "Them out in the field. Other
people gone work and some at school. But is not many people live here anyway," said Miss Chin, whom we later found out was Ricky's wife. "The best person for you to talk to about the community is Miss Matie," said Miss Chin, and everyone, even the weird guy who kept whispering to himself, agreed. "I wonder if she come out pon di verandah yet?" Ricky told us to follow him to Miss Matie's house just down the road. "She kinda hard a hearing so you haffi shout," he warned.
Miss Matie's unfinished house was about fifty feet from where we were. We had to go down a few steps to get there. Indeed, she was on the verandah. Miss Matie was a wrinkled, pleasant looking woman wearing a hat and socks with sneakers. "Howdy Miss Maiti!" shouted Ricky. "Hello please" responded the woman, looking off into the distance. Ricky went on to tell Miss Matie that we wanted to know about the community. "Oh yes man. But you have to bear with me. Mi right eye bad and the other one dark," she said. The woman said she was 86 years old and lived in Mocho since she was a child. "I used to chop banana grass. It was hard work but it was good," she said. She recounted tales of days when the entire community was an estate and belonged to one man. "Dem days was good. Even now too. Everybody live loving just like first time," she said, squinting. Miss Maitie said that back in the day most residents worked on the banana plantation. She said that as a young girl she would get excited watching the activities on the plantation.
Now the woman may be getting up in years, but her memory put mine to shame. She went into such intricate details about the different activities on the plantation, that I don't think I'll ever look at a banana the same again.
We soon shouted our goodbyes to the woman and headed off. Ricky told us that there was no piped water in the community. "The last time I drink chlorinated water was 1988. I was in Montego Bay," he said, looking off into the distance as if reflecting on the grand experience. "So where do you get water from now?" I asked. "Down a hole." I raised an eye brow. The man was referring to 'Mas Dickie Pond' which is a tiny spot down the hill where most people get water. With Ricky and Miss Chin leading the way, we started the tiring trek down to the pond. We were walking through knee high bushes for a few minutes before we finally got to the pond. It was tiny indeed. "Some people use the water to bathe, but you have to put bleach or Dettol in the water," said Miss Chin, who was basking in the shade of an overgrown bush. They say the area has quick sand, but some believe that was only a tale to keep the children away from the water. The water was cool and seemed clean enough.
After hanging around for a while, we went back up to the road. Another tedious journey. Up there, we met 'Brother Goodly' who is married to 'Mommy Goodly', who is a teacher at a nearby school. He was decked out in boots, and hat and was wielding a machette. He spoke of his neighbours as if they were all his family members. "This place is alright man, no problem." Like Mr. Goodly, many of the residents are proud farmers. There are several acres devoted to yam, corn and potatoes. The roadway and all the homes were spotless. Even the smallest of homes were decorated with beautiful flowers. The view from up there was also spectacular. You could see forever. Or at least until tomorrow.
Now about the stigma attached to the name Mocho. Well, these residents seemed not to give a you know what. Everyone we asked about it just chuckled. "Dem nuh know the place man, dem only a talk," Ricky said.
When we were leaving, it was like the entire community came to see us off. They all waved and wished us well. Fine people. Now I'm hunting for an excuse to go back.
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