Sat | Dec 9, 2023

Underused market, Jonkonnu and a new post office

Published:Saturday | January 22, 2022 | 12:05 AMPaul H Williams/Gleaner Writer
Tony, a yam vendor in the Port Maria market.
Tony, a yam vendor in the Port Maria market.
Residents buying meat at the Port Maria market in St Mary.
Residents buying meat at the Port Maria market in St Mary.

On the day before Christmas Eve in Port Maria, St Mary, there was initial silence inside the unflattering meat shop. People, some with their jaws resting in their palms, sat still. Others stood staring. A Gleaner news team appeared, and a butcher ran from his meat section, not wanting to be captured by the camera.

The market nearby is a modern structure, recently built, it seemed. It was clean and well kept. Yet, there were more vendors than shoppers inside, and not one iota of Christmas mood. Nobody paid any attention to a young woman who went around selling sorrel. So, this writer opted to patronise her.

A male yam vendor from Trelawny had a medium pile of yellow yam which he said was the remnant of what he had brought over. There were no takers around.

Across from him, there was another male vendor at a stall loaded with vegetables, and other produce. He said he was all right, but he was not happy with what was going on in the market. The paucity of shoppers, he said, was because vendors on the streets in essence were luring them away.

On the way back from the market, the meat shop was now crowded. More meat vendors had arrived and people had surrounded them. There would be choice cuts for Christmas.

In the street, in the vicinity of the market and the St Mary Municipal Corporation compound, Jonkonnu masqueraders were having a merry time, in contrast to the low morale of the vendors in the market. But, it seemed they were more interested in collecting money from motorists than in entertaining onlookers. Did not even have time for a group picture.

Over in Oracabessa, there was more joy. The seaside community has once again got its own post office, opened on Wednesday, December 22, the day before The Gleaner visited. Prior to that, residents had to travel all the way to Boscobel, where it was sharing space. That set-up caused much stress for the residents of Oracabessa and its satellite districts.

When The Gleaner visited there were not many patrons as people did not know that a post office had returned to Oracabessa. Natoy Lawrence-Palmer was one of the few people who turned up while The Gleaner was present. Her husband had gone to Boscobel earlier in the morning only to be told to go to Oracabessa.


Lawrence-Palmer turned up at Oracabessa, and was “really grateful and appreciative” for the return of the post office, which was closed “for a good while”. She exclaimed, “Everybody must glad, wen yuh nuh affi guh too far and spend too much money!” Travelling to and from Boscobel was time-and-money consuming, according to Lawrence-Palmer and Kadian Wedderburn, acting branch manager for the post office.

“It’s a good feeling, because our concern is for the residents. They are very happy and have been congratulating us about the building,” said Wedderburn, who used to travel from Islington to work in Boscobel.

The ‘building’ is actually a retrofitted container that used to be the constituency office of Member of Parliament Robert Montague. It is a full-service, temporary space that deals with regular mail, pension, Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education and National Insurance Scheme matters, Zip Mail, etc. The staff of four now have their hands full as, according to Wedderburn, Oracabessa is a big district of many communities.