Just back from Jamaica. First time. Lovely.
As I was sitting down there in 30 degree heat, sipping on a piña colada, it occurred to me "Jamaica is the spit of Newfoundland and Labrador"!!
I know, I know. You don't believe me. You are thinking, it must have been the heat. She was overcome. Or the piña colada. One too many. I understand. It took me awhile to get there too.
From geography and culture to language and food, we actually have a few things in common.
Geographically, although there are some obvious differences (snow!!!), there are actually quite a few similarities. The most obvious being that we are both islands. And, in fact, we were both British colonies at one point.
NL was a British colony until 1907 whereupon it became a British dominion. NL finally joined Canada in 1949. Jamaica gained independence from Great Britain in 1962. Like Canada, it remains in the Commonwealth realm.
While island cultures are often distinctive, I think island nations have some things in common. The most noticeable in my travels is they tend to be quite friendly and gregarious. And, when they party, they party hard. A good thing, in my books. Maybe it is a result of being cooped up on an island? I can't say for sure. But when the hair comes down, it usually comes all the way down.
Language-wise, NL and Jamaica share regional distinctiveness. Jamaicans speak English, quite well in fact. But they also speak patois (pronounced patwa), which, by definition, is a regional form of a language; a dialect. For Jamacians, this is a regional form of English creole with West African influences. It was quite interesting to listen to the Jamaicans talk among themselves. I didn't understand a word!
Newfoundland and Labradorians speak English too. And, arguably, we have our own patois on the go. Sometimes called Newfaneese. We are well know to be hard to understand and we have enough of our own words to fill an entire dictionary of NL English. Sounds like patois to me!
We also have a similar expression that identifies us quite clearly.
"Yeah mon" and "Yis b'y".
Jamaicans say "yeah mon" all the time. It rolls off their tongues and slips through their lips in a relaxed fashion. Just like Jamaica itself; relaxed.
NLers say "yis b'y" all the time. In a relaxed fashion? Not so much. Quite fast, in fact. Perhaps we have to say it a bit quicker here to ensure it isn't blown away by the wind before it reaches the listener. Hard to say.
Finally, Jamaicans and NLers share the same affection for rum and salt cod.
Historically, we have exchanged salted cod for rum for many decades.
In fact, the national dish of Jamaica is ackee and salt cod fish.
The texture of ackee reminded me of the brewis we use locally in fisherman's brewis, although it tasted nothing like it.
Ackee is actually a fruit and has the potential to be quite toxic. Check out the Time article that lists ackee as one of the 10 most dangerous foods. Impressive!
Yup. Jamaica and NL. I think we have a lot in common. And each one is a lovely island to visit.
I didn't bring my DSLR to Jamaica. It was a hard decision but, for a myriad of reasons, it made sense.
All my shots were taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 and my iPhone. The Lumix is a decent point-and-shoot camera that served me well. And the iPhone...genius!
And finally, back to reality...
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