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Hey Mom, I’m Moving To Kingston!

Port Royal beach jamaicaAn American in Jamaica

Submitted by April D. Thompson

So it didn’t quite go down like the title suggests. In fact, I didn’t even tell my mother I was moving to Jamaica until after I actually arrived. Not that I don’t love her, but she, like many others, just wouldn’t understand. I’m a firm believer that it’s always better to ask for forgiveness than permission and I’d rather have her just deal with what I did than spend weeks giving me a million reasons why I shouldn’t go.

So why Jamaica?

For a while, I neglected the Caribbean. In my mind, it was nothing more than a bunch of islands with crystal blue water and white sand beaches. Once you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all (so I thought). So after numerous trips to Puerto Rico for work, Christmas in the Bahamas and a visit to the Dominican Republic, I gave the Caribbean a break.

It wasn’t until I received an invitation to a good friend’s wedding that the Caribbean was back on my radar and this time my sights were set on Jamaica.

I brought my mother along for the 5 day wedding events held at the RIU in beautiful Ocho Rios. Outside of the ride from Sangster airport to the resort, I felt like I had been transported from Jamaica to some other destination. Yes, there was the beach and crystal blue water, but it just felt sterile. It was so crazy to see the hordes of visitors dressed head to toe in green, gold and black, but complaining about the accents, turning up their noses at the already very limited Jamaican food on the buffet among many other complaints and proud to not set foot outside of the resort walls until their transfer to the airport.

On the third night, I finally broke free and took a 15 minute ride to a beach party recommended by a new Jamaican friend I met through Couchsurfing.org. I hung out on the beach, ate the best fried chicken with rice and peas ever and enjoyed the vibes. The DJ was doing his thing and despite the numerous requests from guys vying to be my “Winston” or offers for me to take hit of their spliff, I had an amazing time and didn’t want to go back to the confines of the resort.

ocho rios jamaica view

The next morning, I awoke my mother and dragged her down to the center of Ochi for breakfast: Ackee and salt fish, boiled banana, dumpling and yam. Instead of heading back to the RIU, I asked the driver to take us around for a bit. I rode around and walked Ochi, drove up to Fern Gully and neighboring communities and talked to anyone who didn’t think I was crazy.

In just those short hours, something just clicked. I don’t really know how to explain it. I’m not sure if it was the friendly smiles and conversation, continuously being called empress, queen and princess or maybe I was just delirious from a lack of blood from the mosquitoes feasting on my poor little legs. Whatever it was, something about Jamaica was different. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, so a few short months later, I came back to do Jamaica my way.

bob marley mausoleum
I dragged along one of the homies and we crashed at a friend’s guest house for the duration of our stay. No room service or wrist bands, but probably one of the best trips I’ve ever had. We rented a car and drove along the north coast sampling a bit more of what Ochi, Mobay and Negril had to offer. Over the next 18 months, I continued to return, again and again for quick trips and even a 3 week stint.

This time, I’m happy to be here a little longer. For the next three months (maybe longer), I will call Jamaica home; Kingston to be exact. I moved into a quaint apartment a short walk from the busy Half Way Tree transportation depot and look forward to my new life. So far, so good. Christmas went off without a hitch and I look forward to checking out all of the events I typically miss on my shorter trips to the island, like Jazz and Blues, Maroon Festival and so much more. I’m dying to explore the south coast and head east to Port Antonio to explore the more of the other treasures of my new (albeit temporary) island home. I can’t wait to really dig into the live music scene… and then there’s the food ….*Homer Simpson drool*….So much to do, so little time.

marcus garvey montego bay

I’m incredibly grateful for all of the posts and stories on Jamaica My Way and Chronicles of a Shipwreck in Jamaica for confirming that for one, I’m not crazy and two, that I can really make this all work with a little thought and planning. I just had to.

If you are in Jamaica and want to link up, let me know. I would love to connect with the JMW crew because it is truly the people I’ve met in Jamaica that have made this little island one of my favorite places on earth!

Cheers to the next adventure!

**You can read many more of April’s world travel stories on her blog called Absolute Travel Addict**

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27 Comments

  1. glad things are working out for you.

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  2. Bummed that I missed you before you left, but so happy that you are living your dream April! That’s really what life is all about… so get it girl, no regrets, no looking back, no worries, just have a ball! I’m sure deep down your mom is proud to know that she raised such a dynamic, independent, adventurous woman as her daughter!

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  3. CDA what a heartfelt comment :-)

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  4. Thanks for that CDA! I’m sure our paths will cross in the near future! And yes, I know she cares and I appreciate her concern. She’s doing what moms do.

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  5. April, I just “met” you, but you sound like my kind of girl!

    I pulled a similar stunt on my mom when I decided to move to Europe. I didn’t actually travel there without telling her, I just showed her the plane ticket I had bought. To say she wasn’t happy is an understatement. She ranted and raved, but she got over it. And this Christmas she gave me one of the best compliments she’s ever given me. She said, I love you because you’re my daughter, but I admire you as a person because you have the balls of ten men. LOL It’s perhaps the nicest thing she’s ever said to me. Your mom will be fine and no matter what you do she’ll always have your back. I guarantee it. It’s just a mom thing.

    I really wish I was in Jamaica now. Your post inspired a wicked bout of homesickness for the island in me. It’s freakin’ cold, wet and icy as heck here in Norway. I hope when next I’m there we can link up. You seem like a whole lot of fun! :)

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  6. LOL @ balls of ten men Shelley. My mom didn’t quite understand when I fled Canada to be in JA but when travel calls, you should obey!

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  7. So true, JC. I’ve always had wanderlust. Personal struggles in the past few years resulted in me not travelling as much as I would have liked, but running into amazing, trailblazing black female travellers like Oneika and April gave me the kick I needed to get back on the bandwagon. My home loving, security seeking mom have never been able to understand my wandering ways (sometimes I feel a little bad for her, that God should bless her with a wild woman of a daughter like me), but I love her for loving me anyway.

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  8. Congrats, April! Glad you’re settling in well and that you’ve had a chance to link up with Kristi. I’ll keep checking on both of you via your blogs and who knows…maybe I’ll even make it down there to hang with you both in person!

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  9. LOL we must have the same mother. Mine doesn’t really “get” why I need to do what I do either.

    Shelly are you in the tribe? I’m trying to figure out who you are lol…cuz I know Arpil and Oneika because of the tribe.

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  10. LOL I was in the tribe offline, meaning I’m a black female frequent traveller. I’ve just never thought to document my escapades online like the others.

    I joined the online tribe by pure coincidence. I came upon Nicole’s (of Nicole is the new black) blog which led me to Oneika which led me to April which led me to a whole host of other black female travel bloggers. It’s been awesome! All this time, jetting off here jetting off there, I thought I was alone! So happy to find out that I’m not! I love that black women (Jamaican women) are spreading their wings far beyond their comfort zone because having travelled (though I’ve only been to 15 countries) has enriched my life so much. The internet is an amazing tool to bring us all together! I’m loving it.

    The ladies also inspired me to stop slacking about and actually POST something on my own blog! Travelling and film making are my two greatest passions, and blogging is a great way to share these passions with the world. And it can be darn therapeutic too! LOL Check it out if you like by clicking on my name.

    It’s great to “met” you. What’s your story? Do you have a blog?

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  11. LMAO this IS my blog! I just posted April’s story on it! This blog is 3 yrs old now, I’ve been doing Jamaica my way for a long ass time.

    Ain’t it interesting who you can meet along the way? April is a random connection I made because she’d been reading this blog for a while and when I announced last year I was fundraising for my documentary she was the FIRST person who contributed. I had no idea who she was but soon after that we were on skype talking about her plans to move, since I had just come back from 2 months in JA.

    I’m gonna check out your blog too.

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  12. Oh right! Sorry about that … LOL For some reason I thought the blog owner was named Kristi (is that you, only posting as JC?).

    Anyway, its great that you’re into film making as well. I’ve been longing to connect with film makers with ties to the island for a long time.

    The Norwegian Film Council is offering 500 000 euros in production funding to developing countries so my production company wants to take advantage of this opportunity. Our latest project is one that we’ve been developing for some time. Hopefully now we’ll get the money to make the film. I’m optimistic that we will.

    I’ll chronicle my journey to come up with a shootable script on my blog so if this is of interest follow me for updates.

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  13. LOL yah my name is Kristi, I’m just so used to being called JamCan, JC, Jammie, etc. I shuold change my display name.

    Hey I read a comment on April’s blog that you have a Dudus script?? I would LOVE to hear about that sometime.

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  14. Wow, sounds exactly like my mom too. Minus the balls of 10 men comment. LOL She doesn’t get it but loves me just the same. The even shared my post this morning on her Facebook page.

    It is amazing how the love for travel, or Jamaicaor whatever commonality can bring total strangers together! The universe is awesome like that!

    @Shelly — Go ahead and get that blog updated

    @Nailah — Haven’t officially met JC yet, but it feels like we have from the tribe and the blog. Can’t wait to finally connect in person, hopefully in Jamaica!

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  15. Great! Follow my blog then as that would be the easiest way for me to keep you up to date on how its coming along. But keep in mind it’s not really a “Dudus” script . Though the scandal surrounding his arrest and extradition will factor into the main story arc, it’s not his story.

    I don’t want to make a film that glorifies drug lords or violence, enough of those type of films have come out of Jamaica already. I want to make a Jamaican love story, with the exploration of universal themes that affect the individual, the average Jamaican just trying to live their lives the best way they can. Love, betrayal, trying to make it against all odds, forgiveness … I’m hoping to make a film that will have some cross over appeal.

    It’s a long shot, but I’m even writing one of the lead roles with my idol and dream man Idris Elba in mind. Hey, he did Legacy which was a super low budget film by a first time director so there’s a chance he’ll say yes! I remain optimistic, God help me!

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  16. You go girl!

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  17. April,
    You are truly a free sprit; enjoy came up on your blog by accident looking for pictures of Jamaican schools!

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  18. Hey I’m Elijah I will be goin to jamica soon an was wanting to get intouch with you to get some info. It would be greatly appreciated. Thank youu!

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  19. Hi Elijah, I will email you!

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  20. Hello there! I ran across your blog because I am currently dealing with the same emotion of not being able to put my finger on it feeling. I have been to JA twice in three months and I cannot shake the feeling and need to move there. Naturally, my entire family thinks I’m crazy! I would love to connect with you on your experience since it reminds me of my feelings also. Do you have an email that we can connect on?

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  21. Elizabeth, I got your message on my FB fan page and have sent you a reply. Email me any time.

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  22. i would absolutely love to know how you did it? I wish to move to Jamaica but so much to know & learn.

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  23. I am also thinking of moving to Jamaica with my teenage daughter. Any advise to what areas/part of Jamaica? Thanks :)

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  24. My advice (if you don’t know which area you want) is to come to Jamaica and do your research. You should get familiar with the different areas of the island before you do something big like move there.

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  25. Hi there, I am going to Kingston from the USA to meet my online love. I would love to talk to you or meet you!!!

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  26. I am so happy I found this blog. April u inspire me. I am also a black female traveller. I will be moving to Jamaica next month for two months. We should get together for drinks when I’m there! It’s good to see black woman doing the damn thang! Looking forward to reading more posts from you. Keep up the great blogging.

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  27. WOW! I just got back from Jamaica about a month ago, after suddenly deciding to go. I had dreamed of visiting for most of my life but I kept telling myself it would probably be”just another island in the sun”. I had an epiphany there, a sudden awareness, of joy, freedom, connectedness, simplicity…Im planning to go back very soon and like you, rent an apt. for atleast 2 or 3 months, get to know what life would be like spending long periods of time there, and hopefully, move there and open a business. You ve definetely given me inspiration and a vote of confidence with your story, maybe we can link up next time i go? I would love to meet you and share our love for Jamaica:) Stay Blessed!

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