Sat | Oct 20, 2018

New US ambassador at home in Jamaica

Published:Friday | January 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

Luis Moreno is a huge fan of Port Royal and makes no bones about it.

The new United States ambassador to Jamaica looked quite at home when The Gleaner visited his official residence.

Located not in the one time "wickedest city" with which he enjoys a special alliance or even the Paddington Drive dwelling, once inhabited by his predecessors.

The diplomat's home is situated in the upper crust Jacks Hill community - and he is revelling in it all.

The US Senate confirmed Moreno, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, as ambassador to Jamaica on November 20, 2014 and he has been on local shores since December 29.

Like a kid with a new toy, Moreno regaled us with the technical trappings of his new abode.

The jocular diplomat said since he arrived in Jamaica, he has rediscovered the wonders of absorbing technical paraphernalia usually enjoyed by the eager young.

"This house is a technical wonderland," beamed the diplomat.

"They have different types of sound systems that allows you to put different music in different rooms, all sorts of kind of neat stuff, so I can surprise someone, like I was going to play a joke on you."

Added Moreno: "I am enjoying playing with some of the technical things."

It was in this rather cool ambiance that I had a chat with the man who will be leading the charge at the United States Embassy in St Andrew.

It's not the career diplomat's first trek to Jamaica in his over 35 years trotting the globe on behalf of his country, and it was on this venture that Port Royal, the place made both famous and infamous by pirates, caught his fancy.

Moreno recalls that prior to his November 20, 2014 appointment, he was in Jamaica to sort out a couple of non-related matters.

He came to Jamaica in the mid 1990s to negotiate the rights for a United States naval vessel to park in the Kingston Harbour when a torrent of Haitian refugees flooded local shores.

The Americans had put the hospital ship, USS Comfort, in the Kingston Harbour, and Moreno was on hand to lend his expertise in more ways than one.

"I was on the negotiating team, and as luck would have it, I was assigned for six weeks on ship while it was docked in the Kingston Harbour," Moreno recalls. "I had a wonderful leisure shoot to Port Royal, I remain partial to Port Royal."

The diplomat obviously plays as hard as he works.

family life

When the noticeably proud father of two daughters - Denise, university student and Sabina, a newspaper columnist and author of three books - ventured to Jamaica a second time, for his three-year sojourn, his wife Gloria accompanied him and stayed for a week.

He said he also basked in the pleasure of having Denise beside him. She had taken the fortuitous Christmas respite from the University of Texas.

"My wife came with me, and we are going to see how things work out for a start, my wife will be coming and going, and once things settle down and a routine is established, then she will be here full-time."

Asked what he is doing whenever he opts to take a break from diplomatic circles, the animal lover has set his sights on getting his beloved dog to Jamaica.

"I have a dog back in the States and he is a therapeutic dog, so I am hoping that he will be here one day."

Moreno is also keen on being on the back of a galloping horse. "I love riding horses and a photography nut," he asserts. "Hopefully, I will find a place in Jamaica to ride."

The veteran said when he was younger, he played basketball, baseball among the range of other sports, loved in his homeland - even soccer (football) at one stage.

Moreno quipped that he played ball with marines assigned to the embassies in the US diplomatic services until he was 52 years old and was a marvel - at least by their questionable standards.

"I now subsidise the time I spend on sports, but I still run on the treadmill and do a lot of walking with my photography," said Moreno.

When he is not traversing the outdoors, Morena says he has a book in hand. "I read an incredible number of books per week."

But even with his captivating home with its fascinating paraphernalia that has arrested his attention, his books that cannot be ignored and his round-the-clock job in challenging diplomatic circles as the representative of the most powerful country across the globe, Moreno has set his sights on just another goal - traversing the length and breadth of Jamaica.

He has three years to do it.