Visual · April 29, 2018
My Journey: Jamaica
As I hide under a soft cotton blanket from the vicious mosquitoes that attacked me the night before, it’s my first physical reminder I made it to Jamaica. Waking up to the soft hum of the country wind, roosters crowing at the crack of dawn, and the unbelievable fresh smell in the air. It restores me with so much comfort. I have made it to Trelawny, laying in my boyfriend’s childhood bed in his mother's beautiful home. Several months earlier, I was in the wrath of my own thoughts constantly. Comparing and contrasting everything, overthinking how to even wake up the next morning, and compartmentalizing where I would go after a failed career move. After one creative conversation with my homegirl Sam, I knew I needed change and some type of self-rejuvenation. I needed to remove myself from the energy of New York that gets toxic when you lose yourself in your self pity, your ideal thoughts of success, and the imbalance of realizing life isn't about seeking perfection -- It is about seeking EXPERIENCE.
I started working on a project that would take me to Jamaica for thirty days at the beginning of 2018 mostly solo with limited funds, but limitless excitement. I made a business plan, reached out to people in hopes of collaboration, and researched the island's every adventure. Every morning NY buzzed around me, holidays breezing by - and I, worked vigorously on my plan to travel the coast of Jamaica from Negril to Portland. Each day, I made mood boards, daydreaming and planning what I thought was every detail of my adventure to come. Can you even plan the unknown though?
The answer is no. Back in Jamaica, I forgot mosquito repellant. Rookie move, but I was here, and the forty-plus bites along the trip were survival marks. My first two days in Trelawny were blissful, yet equivocal. They helped me get acquainted, and make my well-needed critiques of my temporary home, before engulfing on my four week excursion: first up was Negril. This would be my second time to cliff-filled edge of this luscious island - my first, two years ago with two of my close girlfriends. This time though. I was SOLO. I checked into my cottage with my "burner" phone barely working, and no wifi for my laptop or iPhone, yet somehow these are the most beautiful elements to get me all together.
As my first morning began, I awoke to a new environment. All of the garden's beautiful and unexpected wonders greeted me as I opened my window blinds. There I was secluded in the middle of a mini jungle of sorts with dogs barking in unison, reggae music filling my ears, and the fresh breeze creating a melody of sorts with the trees. I finally felt present and aware of my surroundings. Though a bit uncomfortable with the unknown, I was ready for experience! I cascaded across the road to rick’s cafe, and jumped! Jumped from their infamous cliffs into the beautiful ocean erasing all sense of fear. My first sensation of renewal splashing on my skin, salt water filling my pores, and the ocean taking my breath. Jamaica felt so sensationally.
Taking it Easy!
My seven days in Negril blew by. I woke up every morning listening to the birds hum, feeling the breeze, and cooking on my small stove with ingredients from the local market. I grounded myself living within my means and reflected on my past decisions, and my future intentions. I selfie timed a lot of photos, and connected with local airbnbs creating content to advertise for their future guests. I went from being a tourist to a little woman knowing her way around town. From the market to the beach, and from the beach to dinner, I created a schedule planned just enough to feel grounded, yet loose enough for spontaneity. My late nights in my tiny cabin included reading and filling my journal with short entries. As my last day emerged, I felt ready for the next adventure, but bittersweet leaving the quaint lifestyle I adapted to so quickly.
Book. Rum Punch. Cliff-side view. (Curry Chicken not pictured)
My cozy cabin at the beautiful airbnb, Banana Gardens.
Peace of Mind
After a week in negril, I drove along the countryside back to Trelawny. Taking in the beautiful landscape, and seeing the cities buzzing away. Woman selling fresh fruit and vibrant vegetables, men scaling ocean caught fish, and children playing cricket. Shortly after, I made it back to the community of Duncans, Trelawny, this time for a little over a week to really acquaint myself. In Duncans, the community was very close knit, and family oriented. I spent my time reading while goats passed down the road, hanging out at Aunt Cassie’s beauty salon, and watching my boyfriend’s nephew, Cashawn, zip up and down the hills of the neighborhood. There I took long walks exploring the various tropical plants that weaved through the community. I learned how to make dumplings, drank fresh coconut plucked from the backyard, and built a bond with the neighborhood.
Commerce & Community
While in Trelawny, I left the quaint neighborhood of Duncans, and went to the historic city of Falmouth with Kimberly, my boyfriend Shadaine’s cousin. There, we went to a market called Bend-Down, where I really took in the commerce of the community. From sneakers to Clarks, to hand made clothes and fast fashion, Bend-Down had everything. So many busy people buzzing around making a way to a means. The market included vendors selling fresh produce: yellow yams, ackee, callaloo, and Jamaican apples to name a few. I bought beautiful green, yellow, and black vintage garments and small woven goods for my home back in Brooklyn with Kim’s great assistance helping me bargain with my true American accent, and her quick wit. After my shopping spree, we spent the remaining evening in a beautiful beauty salon conversing about various cultures of black people around the globe, and I, learning and understanding patois more.
Before leaving to Portland, I marveled at the idea of having a photo-shoot with a beautiful, young model, Sienna; another member of Shadaine’s family. The morning of my last day, I woke up early, walked up the dirt road to wake Sienna to undo her hair with Aunt Cassie, and choose several looks that I could capture her timeless beauty in. Though quite shy in the beginning, we journeyed through the neighborhood picking places for our backdrop, and choosing family members' homes as our changing place. Sienna beamed with pride, shy from the community’s noisey eye but all the more excited to learn and pose. We created photos both her 13-year old self and I prideful of.
Traveling to Portland was beautiful. I let the air kiss my skin as we drove along the coast to my next parish. While in Jamaica, it rained sixty percent of the time, but today the weather was perfect. we drove through the parishes of Saint Ann and Saint Mary to Port Antonio, Portland playing every reggae tune imagined, from Chronixx to The Tennors. While en-route to my next adventure, I enjoyed the humid, breeze pushing along the winding roads. In Port Antonio, I planned to stay for the remaining two weeks, with my two girlfriends tagging along for the last.
As I got settled in my air-conditioned bungalow at the beautiful location of Great Huts, I started the countdown until my girlfriends, Sam and Sade, touched down for their birthday extravaganza while beginning my discovery of this beautiful lush parish. After my first two days turning down men’s advances for either themselves or overpriced Jerk Salmon, I was off-kiltered. Portland was showing me it’s colors, and the ones I painted in my mind were not matching. That moment I knew I would have to change my perspective. I decided, I would explore every aspect the resort had to offer, and take my adventures with the girls when they landed. On Great Huts, I took in their private beach, as my own, asking the beautiful brown bartender for just ice to make my own Wray & Nephew’s conjunctions. As the day breezed by, I lounged by the beach feeling God there every instant. As I felt the soft mist of sea water brushed against my sun-kissed face, I felt proud. I felt loved. I felt centered by myself. I was my own amusement, and guidance. I gave my self-intuition the confidence it greatly needed back, and I listened more.
Bikinis and Red Stripes
The day finally arrived, and my two beautiful friends made it to Portland. Them ready for the adventure, and I for their much needed company. As they striped off their New York winter layers exiting the taxi, I greeted them with exhilaration, and finessed themselves, and over-packed bags into my one person quaint room. Shortly after, we journeyed through the jungle showing them around the grand resort like I owned the place. From King Solomon’s room to the breathtaking cliff views. The ladies landed in paradise, with me as the gatekeeper. We made our way back to the room, changed into our bathing suits, and drifted down to the beach.
As Sade and Sam settled in, we planned our next four day excursion, even with the unknown bumps to come. Everyday different, we explored the Blue Lagoon, smoked enough spliffs for our lifetime, and enjoyed the best escovitch fish there was at Soldier’s Camp. As our trip flourished, our bond strengthened, and we adapted to the different complexities and challenges of our stay. We switched airbnb's twice, lost electricity in one, and still enjoyed the free range of this small bay. On Sam's last day, we journeyed to Winifred Beach guided through the winding dirt road by a captivating horseman. As we drifted towards the beach, he told us stories of his childhood, and his found memories in the ocean. We reached the hidden treasure as our feet hit the thick sand and eyes captured the calm waves. We enjoyed the final afternoon singing Solange tunes, and setting intentions for the year.
Finding Home in Myself
As my trip came to a close, I spent the last few days back in Trelawny. With Sade, we enjoyed together the close knit community I grew to love like family. We walked the neighborhood planning our hopeful business ventures, and discussing our well need life changes in New York. As our trip came to a close, we chose our last creative activity, to paint Aunt Cassie's beauty salon a beautiful, bright yellow and soft pink. Our day started with just us and reggae tones, and ended with the whole community singing and covered in paint. As the day came to a close, we treated the family to "A Last Supper" meal at a local restaurant with the best Escovitch Fish and Coconut Rum in Trelawny. We drunkenly ended our night with roadside karaoke singing Mary J. Blige tunes until the sun rose.
Reflecting on my trip, I found myself again. I found my home and happiness within me, and learned to trust my innate abilities to get me along my complex journey.
As told by
Mecca Williams is a New York-based creative and stylist with an impressively notable range of experience, and the founder of It's Apt 4—a brand that focuses on interior design, conscious living, and creative cultivation. She infuses her cultural experiences and travels into her daily art and work. She has traveled globally, styling and creating work for various publications and tailoring her innate eye to create work that uplifts the culture and ethos of black people. Using styling and home decor as her mediums, her work sparks well-need dialogue, and elevates perception.
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a theme that the Black Girl Magik collective explored and invited the community to investigate with us through a practice of communal healing and coalition building.