To say that I wasn’t ready to leave Kingston would be a lie. I was ready. My daughter was ready. You see our faces on the way to Costa Rica above. Our flight was ready. Jamaica was too emotional for me. Zi and I barely went anywhere that wasn’t in close proximity to the hood and sometimes her grandma would get a little pushy.
One of my biggest pet peeves is being forced to eat and because she saw that I was skinny, she did what any Caribbean parent would do, put a lot of food on my plate and made threatening comments that I better eat the food. There was also an incident that caused for her and Zi to get into a verbal fight, and I stopped speaking to her for several days. I also lost a good friend while I was out here and I just kept hearing stories of loss. Loss of life, loss of respect for women, and children losing their mothers because they decided it was too much for them.
The night before I left Kingston, I met Zi’s grandfather, her father’s dad. To get to his home we slid through what appeared to be a crack between two concrete buildings. The alleyway was very narrow, muddy, and filled with black water. I felt like I was entering another world when the path opened up to the lampposts and another section of a neighborhood with children and teens talking and playing among their age groups.
We passed men playing dominoes, throwing dice, and faces wondering who I was, until they saw Zi’s cousin with us and went back to their activities.
They call him Foot. He is a Rasta man, a little taller than me. Thin framed with long locks in different widths. He talked with a branch in his mouth, or maybe it was a toothpick. It was too dark to tell. It’s so ironic how Zi’s dad did not grow up with his father, but still they are very similar. I wonder how much absence contributes to the growth and trajectory of a child being like their absentee parent.
I could barely get a word in when Grandpa Foot spoke because he went on and on about guns, violence, and drugs. How he was a shotta of sorts and had traveled all around the Caribbean, Europe, and America. He told me about his litter of children and how Zi’s dad was his first and that he doesn’t call him except that one time he was looking for a connect. I just tried to look like I wasn’t bored or surprised that he could talk at such great length about something so absurd. I mean, I just met you. Why not ask questions like “what are your hobbies? How did you meet my son?”, or the many other questions one asks when you first meet someone. Before we left, he gave us a key chain of a foot.
I was so ready to get to Costa Rica because it was the part of my trip that was neutral since I didn’t know anyone there and no one knew me. I felt like I could unpack a lot of the feelings I was feeling about meeting the other side of Zi’s family.
The trip to get to Costa Rica was long and hard. There were some challenges that Zi and I faced. One was that we had a gap in our reservation, so we had no place to go. Two was that we took three planes to get to Costa Rica because there is no direct flight from Kingston to San José, so the day was extra long. And three, I traveled with two big suitcases, a backpack, and Zi’s carry-on.
We were lucky enough to find a place to stay in Chiriqui, Panama, which complicated things in terms of distance, but allowed us to have a place to crash.
My daughter is a trooper. When I say she gave me no problems when we traveled, she gave me no problems. We had a layover in San José because we arrived in the late night and the next bus to Panama wasn’t disembarking until the early morning, so we had to sleep in the airport.
The bus ride was about eight hours long. It was nice because I got to see how lush Costa Rica’s landscapes are. We rode through mountains and small towns and I got to see an array of brown faces. It was also nice to hear Spanish again. I felt like I was home.
I didn’t know what Panama had in store for us. After spending over 24 hours traveling, I was excited and exhausted. A woman named Lisa met us in Panama and opened her space to me and Zi. We traveled to the Pasos Canoas border and met this bronze woman from Brooklyn. I felt like I was back in New York. We laughed so much because she hadn’t heard much of the NY vernacular in years. She moved back home to her mother’s land, tired of that New York strife.
I didn’t know what was in store on this trip. We dragged my heavy luggage from Costa Rica to Panama, and then did all the customs and immigration stamp business. Next, we hopped into a van to the last stop, and then took a taxi to Hooked on Panama, which is a fishing lodge on the Pacific Coast. It is definitely a luxury resort off the beach, with its own boats, swimming pool, basketball courts, horses. It is like heaven on earth literally. I was blown away when I got here.
I thought, “wow, God is working in my favor…” But, remember what I said in my last post about being in paradise–it is not always nice.