Friday, June 5, 2009

Last Details on Kingston

I've had breakfast, I'm not leaving for the airport for another hour so this is a good way to pass the time.

Wednesday there was an excursion to the Institute of Jamaica which is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year. IJ is the publisher of Jamaica Journal, and I realized I've been indexing it for HAPI since 1979. I enjoy reading JJ. It may not be a peer reviewed journal but the articles can be appreciated at all levels. Over the years it's featured articles on history, art, natural history and the environment, and belles-lettres of Jamaican authors. I met editor Kim Robinson who was pleased to hear of my long-term relationship with JJ.

We went to the Institute to view its exhibit "Xaymaca, Life in Spanish Jamaica." The curator took us through explaining it was a small exhibit due to the lack of documentation on the first Spanish settlement of Sevilla la Nueva. There were a few Taino statues on display as part of the background of the island, along with displays on Columbus' time on the island and the fact that it was ceded to his family.

A major part of the display included the font of the church in Sevilla la Nueva. There were also any number of fragments of statuary from the workshop of an Italian on the island who built the church. They think he also employed some of the remaining Tainos in the workshop. The remainder of the exhibit traced the eventual demise of the Spanish colony as the English set about taking over.

Our excursion tickets included lunch which was served in the IJ's green and yellow courtyard. The IJ is close to the waterfront and eating our lunch in the midst of some sturdy ocean breezes was somewhat of a challenge! Amazingly I ate my barbecue chicken with no spills and discovered the Fruta line of juices from Trinidad they served as our beverage. I can find Jamaica's grapefruit soda Ting in Miami grocery stores (Don loves it, not me) so now I want to see if I can find the wonderful Fruta mango/passion juice I drank!

It's often a small world. On the bus to the IJ, I met and talked to a young woman completing her Ph.D. in Public Health at the University of South Florida who's had extensive field work in Jamaica. Amazingly she went to Emory for her MA in Public Health but was gone by the time I got there. We shared experiences about Atlanta life, the names of faculty we know, and swapped stories about finding the best Mexican taquerías on Buford Highway!

It's been a busy week but I managed to get to a couple of bookstores. One was really more of a school supply store with children's books but there were a number of 'Miss Lou' books (Jamaica's premiere storyteller who passed away a couple of years ago) and some Jamaican cookbooks. Bookland was closer to the hotel and is a full-fledged bookstore. It primarily carries US books and magazines but it also carried the requisite books on Bob Marley, some UWI titles and some local publications on other Jamaican topics. I walked up to the 2nd floor since the sign for it indicated a 'bargain books' section. Alas, that corner had nothing on the shelves so there were no bargains to be had. I browsed their extensive children's literature section (mainly US) and noted they had every book possible on President Barama and his family in the non-fiction section. If there's a book on the new White House puppy out, that was probably the only one they didn't carry!

Time to finish packing, and then off to the airport. I've still got to buy Blue Mountain coffee for Don so wish me luck!

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