Day 18, Kingston: You don't know who I am? Dancehall practice and a country where everyone is an artist.
Almost the end of the holidays in JA and I realized I haven’t told you yet about the dancehall lessons that we (mostly J but also me) have taken. On the first week I went with J to the Dance JA -school for two classes and it was so much fun. Dancehall comes from Jamaica and the moves and steps have been invented by the local dancers. Dancers who give classes are really the best ones, they do it for a living and are known in the dance hall circles all around the world. When for example Europeans travel to Jamaica to dance, they don’t come here to show what they can but to learn from the best. Thus it is considered something extremely cool to meet the dancers here and take lessons from them. But this, of course, only amongst the dancehall community. Funny enough, I had never done dancehall before so I had no idea about this. So first class we go to, taught by someone named Colo Colo. I casually go to him like “Hey, what’s your name?” and he gives me a look that clearly means: “Really? You don’t know who I am?” Well sorry I didn’t! He was a good teacher though and by the end of the class he got friendlier with me. And now I can say I’ve met someone famous. :) The second class with Damion from BG Dancers was even better I think, and overall I liked it a lot. And I’m also super happy because now it’s been three months since my accident and finally I feel like I can do sports again and it doesn’t hurt my head, ankle or back (well a little bit but that’s fine). So that’s very good news!
This last week we went to an even better dance class, with dancer Shakespear. It was outside, where he lives, and everyone from the neighborhood came to watch or dance with us, even the smallest kids. This is real Kingston, this is how the Jamaicans spend their time. And seeing how the children move it’s not hard to imagine why there are so many good dancers here.
Take a look and fall in love with Jamaica:
Thanks for the class! Don’t forget to like @shakespeartv on Facebook and Instagram.
By the way, another funny thing about Jamaica: everyone here is an artist, and every artist has an artist name. So when you meet someone they may not tell you their real name but introduce themselves with their artist name. Then they start telling you what they do, they can be dancers, singers, writers, DJs... What is somewhat amusing, is that often being an artist means more that they would like to be. Or even if they do dance, sing or write, no one has ever heard of them. Talk about being self-confident! We have learnt not to take them to seriously so usually when meeting “an artist” we don’t really care and mostly make fun of them. Then it is a little bit embarrassing when they actually turn out be someone well-known and good at what they do. Like our friend T who we met on the bus and then in Ochi, he has actually made some good songs! Check @tnitro1 on Instagram. So I guess I can also say that I’m a true multitalented artist because a) I write (mostly to myself though) and b) I sing (mostly to myself although I did do Karaoke in Port Antonio). And J is definitely a dancer. So we have to come up with artist names now. :)
Of course being back in Kingston means that parties are back on. I did it one more time because I hadn’t yet seen the party called Uptown Mondays. After that one I gave up and these last days I’ve been watching J debate whether to go out or not. I mostly just chill at the hostel and sleep, write, tan and plan my trip to Cuba. And hang out with other hostel guests, something that I still find extremely interesting (except when they come to talk to me right when I’ve just got going with writing, and won’t stop). I don’t know why but Jamaica seems to be a destination where there are people from all over the world, it is a lot different than traveling to European cities. Some of them have simply came here for holidays, like plenty of people from Finland, because they have found some great last-minute flight deals. It’s so strange that our hostel is full of Finnish-speakers. In a way it is of course nice to meet people from our country but both me and J feel that it is a little bit hard to speak Finnish with people we don’t know. Even if we speak Finnish (or our weird Finnish-French mix) to each other and with our family and friends back in Finland, it somehow seems more natural to speak English or French with new acquaintances. Complications of being multilingual... Anyway, some people are here only on holidays but I’ve also met others like me who are traveling around and planning to go to many countries. I love speaking with those who have already done world tours and been pretty much everywhere, like my Spanish friend M and one Australian woman R. I’ve never seen that many stamps on anyone’s passport! I find it so interesting to listen to their stories, compared to them I haven’t been anywhere yet. Also, even if we just spend some days together and then go to separate ways, it is nice to have contacts all over the world. I hope one day, somewhere, our paths will cross again.
This week I have also made friends with this French-Moroccan lady, F, who needed my help in finding the French embassy in Kingston (she doesn’t really speak English) because her credit card didn’t work. It was amusing because when she left for the embassy she was desperate and about to go crazy because she didn’t have any money. When she came back she was smiling like never before. Not only had they been very helpful at the embassy but also, the officer who took to handle her case was a very handsome French man who gave her his personal number and suggested a meeting over lunch the following day. To thank me for her sudden change of luck, F gave me a bunch of home-made (with a secret Moroccan ingredient) cosmetics, scrubs and creams, that I have been testing now. I swear my skin already looks and feels so much smoother and cleaner than before. I’ll keep testing and if they really work I have promised to help her launch her own business to sell them. (This was a small piece of advertising for her, I’ll keep you posted and soon I hope you will all be able to order her products!)
Guys noticing us is still going on but I have gotten used to it. It is funny how everyone wants to show us something or take us somewhere. Taxi drivers give us their numbers so that we can call them next time we need a taxi (or call them for any other reason), and everyone wants our Facebook and WhatsApp even if they know we are never going to meet again. It is starting to get hard to keep track, all the time a new number is calling or texting and we look at each other like “Who’s this? Did I give my number to someone again?” And the same guys keep appearing from somewhere all the time, even if we sometimes wish we had lost them. But ok, let’s enjoy being popular while it lasts. Life could be worse.
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I'm Emilia, Finnish-Parisian, a recent Master's graduate. I'm currently traveling around the Caribbean and on a volunteering mission in Colombia. I'm passionate about writing, music and different kinds of sports. I can't wait to discover new places and cultures - and share my adventures with you!