Sleepy, quiet Rock Hall
A sign at the entrance to the quiet community of Rock Hall in rural St Andrew. - Photo by Robert Lalah
It's the start of a new day and Egland, the carpenter from Rock Hall in St Andrew has just stepped out of his small, but well-kept home on the hillside to greet the day and all its possibilities.
"Yes fadda God, aneda day again! Weh mi shoes deh?" he said, walking out the front door.
He spotted me just then, standing at a wire fence that separated his yard from a dirt road.
"Ah who dat? Wait! Ferris? Come here man! Come shake mi hand! I glad fi see yuh!" Egland shouted, running my way. "Ahh ... I'm not," I got no further than that before Egland had taken hold of my hand and started shaking it with the vigour that a hungry man shakes a loaded mango tree.
"Is long time I hear seh yuh deh back ah yard, but I never see yuh until now," said the man, smiling.
"How Miss Gem? I must go look fi har one day."
Now I almost didn't want to tell the man I wasn't Ferris, whoever that was, but eventually I did.
"Yuh sure?" he asked. I didn't answer.
"Bwoy, yuh ah mussi him twin! Miss Gem big bwoy weh migrate. Mi hear seh him deh back ah yard, so when mi did see yuh mi think ah did him. Lawd have mercy," he said, shaking his head.
Egland was muscular, but as short as the average 10th grader. He had wide eyes and pointed teeth. He told me he lived on a road called Poor Man's Lane, although I still don't know if he was joking, since there was no street sign around.
I asked him what he did for a living.
"Well, I train as a carpenter, but due to how things tough, mi will juggle any work mi get," he said.
His latest foray into the world of work was cleaning Aunt Dila's one-room shack from top to bottom, just before Christmas.
"In deh mowly yuh see man! Mi nearly fall down," he laughed.
Offensive odours aside, Egland is proud of his work. "Any place mi clean, well clean! And if is a dresser mi ah build or table, once ah me meck it yuh know it well sturdy," said Egland.
I asked him about Rock Hall, a place that seemed, for the most part, pretty quiet.
"Nuh meck di silentness fool yuh!" Egland warned. "Dem bwoy love give trouble when dem ready. But to be fair, it nuh too bad," he said.
Egland was actually Born in Kemps Hill, Clarendon but moved to Rock Hall more than a decade ago to set up his own place to work on his carpentry. "Mi like work inna quiet. Dem bwoy ah Clarendon inna man ears like mosquito, so mi come here since dat," he said.
Life in Rock Hall, according to Egland, isn't exactly a bed of roses, but it's all he requires.
"Dis place suit a man like me. Di young people dem might nuh too enjoy demself, but di old foot dem will like it. Is a place where yuh can do yuh ting in peace and nuh too have no crowd ah nega nega inna yuh ears. Mi alright man, Rock Hall alright."