Fruits: I have come to like in Jamaica

Jack Fruit, Hmmmmm.. I remember my husband showing me how to cut this huge fruit apart and eat the sweet pods with my hands. No way were my taste buds which are generally way open  to new taste handling this new “Jack Fruit”.
Fast forward 4 years later I found myself yesterday being most upset that my husband ate (nyamed as is said here)  all of this precious fruit which I purchased from a man on the street…
Nothing stays the same for sure.

Guineps another fruit I have acquired a taste for.

Paw Paw ( papaya) & Water melons. Fresh fruit is a true treasure to be had  on the Island year round and they are plentiful..

Kingston Rocks: Bob Marley

Happy Birthday Bob Marley

I remember being age 12 in New York City, and absolutely loving his music. Many of the kids on my block wanted to dance like Bob the Rasta as we sang ” I Shot the Sheriff”. Fast forward some 30 years later and my visiting the Bob Marley Museum here in Kingston was awesome, as my love for his music continues. Hearing his 15mins voice interview was amazing as well. Your memory lives on Bob

Work Permit: Update From Jamaica

I recently read the attached article in the newspaper about Work Permits, and since I get several emails about this topic, I concluded I would share this with you the readers.

Please note that most people arriving for employment to the Island generally need to secure a job and have the future employer apply for the work permit before arriving to the country. This new rule however should now give  persons some additional  time.

Please do your research wisely, as the unemployment rate in Jamaica is extremely high and most jobs generally go to locals first. Unless  you have a skill that is needed for a particular job, the going could be tedious… read more:

The Jamaican Gleaner

January 30th, 2011

The Jamaican Government has removed the need for a work permit for overseas technicians required to carry out urgent work on the island not exceeding 30 days.

“If your machine is down and you need a man from anywhere in the world, you won’t have to wait six weeks anymore to apply and to get medical and police records. In fact, you are authorized to get him by computer – technology can bring him here instantly,” said Labour Minister Pearnel Charles.

“If you need the person for more than 30 days, you are going to have to apply for a work permit. Now this time, you are permitted to apply for that permit while the person is in Jamaica; under normal circumstances you would have to apply while he was at home,” he told the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association.

He urged employers not to exploit the system.

Persons seeking employment here are required to obtain a work permit by making an application to the labour and social security ministry.

– CMC

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20110130/business/business10.html

TedxJamaica – Bruce James on MVP’s World-Beating Success

Recently, the first TedxJamaica was conducted here in Kingston. The event was a stunner, as you can see from this video recorded at the event.

Eight Years of Living In Jamaica

John Casey a great pal of mine has been living in Montegobay Jamaica for eight years now. He is retired and has been writing about his life in Jamaica for the online forum,(Jamaicans.com) for several years now. Ever so often I enjoy sharing his stories with my readers, as he is always great about answering questions for people who move to that side of the Island.

Read On

My Eight Years In Jamaica by American Retiree in Jamaica

Jamaicans.com

Before I begin let me give you a little background.  My wife and I honeymooned at the then Sandals Inn in 1994.  I fell in love with Jamaica right from the beginning.  The love grew deeper and deeper each time I came back.  At the same time, I also knew I was approaching the age of retirement and had to start making plans.  By the year 2000 that desire to retire to Jamaica was overwhelming.  With the help of a few of the Sandals staff, we found several real estate agents to show us properties, a lawyer to handle the sale, and a custom broker to assist with the move.  Just about every house we saw had helper’s quarters for either the maid or the gardener to live in.  We didn’t find it necessary to hire help for the house or the yard which left few homes to choose from.  The first home we liked and put a deposit on didn’t work out because the owners decided not to sell after all.  This turned out good for us as we found a house that we liked better and was actually in a better area.

Now that the house was all set, the next thing to do was to start the moving process.  We packed two twenty foot containers with everything we owned.  And off we went to Jamaica to meet up with our goods and to start enjoying our retirement years.  Well, it wasn’t as easy as I thought.  Unknown to us our containers were delayed because of miscommunication within the shipping company.  No problem!  We had booked Sandals for a week figuring it would take that long to get settled in the new house.  Because of the delay we extended our stay for two more weeks.  If I had to get stranded somewhere in Jamaica, Sandals would be the best place.

Our house 1

When our goods finally arrived, customs advised us to go to immigrations in Kingston to prove that we were actually going to live here.  The next day we flew to Kingston to straighten out our difficulties.  When we left immigrations in Kingston to catch our flight back to Montego Bay, we encountered another problem.  The taxi driver asked us where we wanted to go and I said, ‘To the airport.”  For anyone familiar with Kingston they would know there are two airports but not us.  After awhile I started to wonder if we were being kidnapped because I didn’t recognize any of the places we were passing.  Timidly, I asked the driver where we were going.  When he said the airport I said, “I didn’t remember coming this way before.”  He then asked where we were flying to and he got a little upset when I told him Montego Bay.  By this time we were half way to Norman Manley airport when we should have been going to Tinson Pen which is on the other side of town.  When he dropped us off at the correct airport I made him happy by giving him a big tip.  I’m sure he now questions his passengers before going to the airport.

During that trip to immigrations they informed us that we needed to go back to the Jamaican Consulate in Boston to obtain a single entry visa.  This wasn’t too much of a problem as we intended to head back to Boston for a week shortly after moving to Jamaica anyway to tie up loose ends.  When we arrived back with the visa, immigrations would only allow us two weeks to go to Kingston to apply for permanent residency.  We hired a driver to take us to Kingston to begin the process for becoming permanent residents.  Immigrations gave us a list of requirements and an explanation for the process.  Each year we were required to return to immigrations for our yearly renewal and get a multi-entry visa.  This had to be done yearly until permanent residency was obtained.

We finally moved into our retirement home but it took some time for the dust to clear.  My wife had a million things to do in the house and I had almost as many projects in the yard.  The former owner had so many bushes, shrubs, and trees in the front yard it was hard to see the house through them.  One thing I found out from the beginning is if you want to get rid of anything growing you have to take it out by the roots.  Even that isn’t a guarantee it will never spring back.  When I finished all my projects I was surprised I had lost about 15 lbs.  The yard and I were now in good shape.

Our community

Getting adjusted to this new culture was made easier because we had spent a lot of time and energy exploring the island all those years before we moved here plus reading many books.  The hardest change to make was adjusting to the endless long lines wherever we went.  These lines could be found just about everywhere like the bank, utility offices, and even downtown traffic.  What amazed me back then was all the patience the Jamaican people had.  My stress level went way down in no time by following their example.  I have since learned that most of my bills can be paid online or on the phone through a service provided by several different banks.

Grocery shopping was another adjustment that took some getting used to.  Most of the grocery stores say they are wholesale and retail but that is far from my understanding of what wholesale means.  Wholesale in Jamaica means if you buy three or more of an item you get a small discount.  Another difficult area I had to overcome was the numerous out of stock of basic goods for weeks at a time.  I combat this now by keeping my pantry well stocked of things I know have a tendency to disappear from the shelves frequently.  One such item is 1 liter boxed milk which is the most popular way to buy milk.  Another product is dried prunes, no snickering please.  Prunes were recommended to me by my family doctor to help maintain my healthy heart, as well as the other well known advantage to these dried prunes.

About a year later we decided to find a church to attend.  Before long we became directors of the church’s Mission of Mercy program.  This was and is an outreach to one of the squatter communities in town.  The church provides much needed food items to over a hundred families on a weekly basis.  Used clothing is also donated frequently.  During the Christmas season a huge party is given to the community in their courtyard where toys are distributed to all the children.  In addition to this outreach there was also a school lunch program.  Through the generosity of a local businesswoman, the church provided over 500 lunches to seven different schools in Montego Bay every Friday.  We were truly blessed in this ministry by seeing all the happy faces and hearing all the thanks and we knew that we were making a difference in the lives of those people.  An added blessing that came out of the school lunch feeding program came to us by way of one of the school’s principals.  He told us the less fortunate children often didn’t attend school on Friday because they didn’t have any money for lunch.  So these children not only got a full belly but also another day of education.

Another school, Jamaica Christian School For The Deaf, invited us to attend a graduation ceremony one year, but we only went because we felt obligated to.  I had never been around handicapped children before and was apprehensive about attending this function.  Boy was I in for a big surprise!  During the program these deaf children signed to a song being played on a CD and later danced a complicated number to perfection.  I was totally dumbfounded.  I learned then that their school motto was, “Not disabled, but differently abled.”  That was then.  Today we are strong supporters of the school and sit on the board of directors.

Continued next month.  Later….  See Jamaicans.com

Jamaican Yams ( Roasted vs Boiled)

I remember seeing yams for sale while driving around the Island  on several of my initial road trips in Jamaica. For some reason I was never eager to try them, until one day we stopped  in a place called Mandiville where they sold them roasted at outdoor stalls.

It was amazing  to witness the roasting process, as the process was clearly not one I had experienced before.  The yams were sold with a piece of roasted saltfish, which is basically salt cod. From that day onward I was hooked on yams, and have since found that I prefer them boiled. When they are good, they are nice, soft and not bitter, with a texture similar to that of a boiled potatoe.( Its’ been rumored that the worlds fastest man Usain Bolt, grew up eating these very same Jamaican yams)

This past weekend I was able to eat yet another prize winning piece, which I purchased at a small country market after purchasing 4lbs of the best tuna steak ever. So our dinner consisted of yams, freshly broiled Tuna steak, fresh cucumbers & tomatoes with basil….Divine indeed.

I encourage all newcomers to the Island to explore  the various yams, and you will learn  that there are several different types as well. The food in Jamaica is good when one is creative.

Yam in pot
Yam Unpeeled
Yam Cooked

INGREDIENTS :

  • 3 lbs. Yam Teaspoon
  • Salt or a small piece Salt fish (cod fish)

METHOD:

  1. Put gloves on your hand as touching raw can will irritate the skin and cause it to itch.  If you do not have gloves rub oil on your hands.
  2. Boil water in pot on a high fire.
  3. Peel the skin off the yam. The peel should be approximately ¼ inch
  4. Cut yam in small serving portions
  5. Rinse the pieces in cold water.
  6. Place the salt or salt fish in the boiling water
  7. Add the pieces of yam
  8. Cook for approximately 32 minutes until tender
  9. Serve warm

Multinational Companies & The Hiring Of Expats In Jamaica

I saw an interesting article in local Gleaner newspaper about a multinational company who’s expat director quit his position, after being in a new position for less than three months.  According to the article, “he was well liked and was doing a good job here, but I don’t think his family really settled here and there was an opportunity which came up for him in South Africa”

Read the entire article by Susan Gordon a business reporter at the Gleaner newspaper:

http://www.gleaner-ja.com/gleaner/20081001/business/business5.html

There is currently a rule in Jamaica that says, any job being offered to an Expat will eventually have a local replacement,  and once the individual has been trained by the expat and is ready to take on the responsibility, the expat will be replaced. l fully endorse such a plan, but I also see the need for the expat to be able to understand the cultural challenges that may come into play as he the expat moves to a new culture.

His or her being here on the island could create new skills for others in an environment where many locals who get trained in specific fields on Jamaican soil, choose to migrate. I think that training for export is leading to a brain drain in several areas, so if Expats can  come in and provide training then great. ex.( Cubans arriving to JA to take  up nursing  or Medical positions)

Large Multinational companies recognize  that as things currently are in Jamaica Re: skills, they need to hire  individuals with certain skill sets to fill vacant positions across the island. My question then lies with what processes do these companies have in place to support an Executive and his family as he considers moving to Jamaica for a job opportunity from as far away as India or Malaysia?

The hiring of an expat as every Human Resource department is aware of, is no simple matter. The process can be timely and extremely expensive, as expat packages involve work permits, flights for interviews, housing for the family, schools for children etc. etc. Where are families supposed to get such information and assistance with settling if they do decide to relocate.

If this relocation function is mismanaged at any stage, a company may risk what I call a “relocation gone buss” which happens very often for no particular reason. I have been in Jamaica for three years and I know of at least half a dozen cases of people I know whose relocation’s went sour in less than a year. The entire process of hiring expats needs a structured plan or process to yield  win win situation for all involved.

The  above article, is a clear example of a relocation gone sour. Could this particular director and his family have benefited from some early intervention steps such as a pre- arrival trip? and if such a trip is impossible, did this family have any true knowledge of what day to day life would look like here in Jamaica?  I can only guess.

What I do know, is companies lose a great deal of money and productivity each time a relocation goes sour. I continue to get daily emails from individuals thinking of relocating to this beautiful island in the sun, and the reality is Jamaica’s image is large, so the work must begin to support people who are willing to move to the Island.

I often say to friends that Jamaica has a great potential, as once you leave Kingston the city it can be an amazingly beautiful country.

Kingston: Downtown Part II> Done 2007 by Ria Bacon

Cultrual Things to Do In Jamaica >See “YardEdge”

I have been meaning to post the following link  to my blog for sometime now, as many  considering a  move to the Island  may benefit from seeing some of the  many cultural things the country has to offer.

http://www.yardedge.net/

Jamaican culture

I often advise people who are considering a move to Jamaica, to make several small trips exploring the entire Island if possible before saying yes to a final move….. These trips may be beneficial and can often times prepare you  culturally for what to expect from this Island in the sun….

Another tip is to read everything you can possibly get your hands on, the more information you have the better prepared you will be for your move…..

picture by http://mobaydp.blogspot.com

The two and a half miles ‘avenue’ of bamboos on the main road between Lacovia and Middle Quarters is said to have been planted by the owners of Holland Estate in the 17th century to provide shade in the heat of the St. Elizabeth savannah. Today, it is a south coast attraction for tourists and locals alike. “

Jamaicas’ Festival “Music”

Jamaicans’ Independence Festival, see the following link for the history :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica_Independence_Festival

The following song was the winner for the 2010 Competition and is what I would describe as very positive, uplifting music about Jamaica.

Rainy & Dry Seasons in Jamaica

In Jamaica we have Man rain, Woman rain, and Pickney rain.

What exactly does this all mean to a non-Jamaican?

It may mean cool temperatures in the hills and mountains ( December Christmas Breeze), van eating potholes  (hurricane season/rainy season), brownish water from the taps( dry season), watery fruits and vegetables(rainy season) and a damn good reason to complain about unrelenting and inexplicable daily water lock-offs.

And soon enough, the harsh and heavy long awaited “Man rain” will pass away until next year, to be replaced by mostly Pickney (child) rain, with a little “Woman rain” now and again. This is a good thing, because with all the Man rain has come destruction and dislocation. Pickney rain means that parties and social gatherings can go ahead without the fear of being totally washed out. Frommers notes on Seasons

Climate Jamaica has one of the most varied climates of any Caribbean island. Along the seashore, where most visitors congregate, the island is air-conditioned by northeasterly trade winds, and temperature variations are surprisingly slight. Coastal readings average between 71°F (22°C) and 88°F (31°C) year-round.

The Jamaican winter is similar to May in the United States or northern Europe; there can be chilly times in the early morning or at night. Winter is generally the driest season, but can be wet in mountain areas; expect showers, especially in northeastern Jamaica. Inland, temperatures decrease by approximately 1°F for every 300-ft. (about.55°C for every 91m) increase in elevation. Rainfall is heaviest along the eastern edge of the island’s North Coast, with Port Antonio receiving the most intense downpours. The island has two rainy seasons: May, and October through November.

The Hurricane Season — The curse of Jamaican weather, the hurricane season, officially lasts from June 1 to November 30 — but there’s no need for panic. Satellite weather forecasts generally give adequate warning so that precautions can be taken. If you’re heading to Jamaica during the hurricane season, you can call your local branch of the National Weather Service (listed in your phone directory under the U.S. Department of Commerce) for a weather forecast. Another easy way to receive the weather forecast in the city you plan to visit is by contacting the information service associated with

The Weather Channel. On the Internet you can check www.weather.com to get the forecasts. We currently need rain now in Kingston, as even today I need to bathe using a bucket of water. Hmmmm!!!