Mission Jamaica Day 13 – July 30th

I fell fast asleep last night and woke up feeling renewed. Norda joined us again for breakfast, which consisted of calaloo with fish, boiled green bananas, bread and grapefruit. I experimented with mixing the food together and made open face sandwiches. The softness of the bread, the saltiness and savor of the calaloo and fish, the denseness of the bananas, and the sweet and sourness of the pineapple set off fireworks in my mouth. I don’t usually mix flavors, but then again, I find myself doing things on this trip I never thought I’d do.

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After breakfast I got ready for the day and opened my gift from last night. I got a handcarved wooden mask and a black, yellow, and green skully with “Jamaica” written on it. Now I really feel like a Jamerican.

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Arden drove us around town and Norda and Miguel came with us. We went to the flea market and it was wonderful. We met Arden’s mother and aunt, and they, as well as everyone else, was so friendly. It was hard to turn people down, but I got everything I needed: gifts for my family and a fedora for myself. I can’t wait to swag it up tomorrow. The man who sold me the fedora was surprised when I said I was from the US. He thought I was a born and bred Jamaican. I may have to research that. Others have said the same thing.

It was off to Flavours Beach for the last time, at least for this trip. I had so much fun. Fred let me borrow his snorkeling mask and it was amazing watching the underwater action. X said I’ve become the black Aqua Man. I loved floating facedown on the surface and gazing at the bottom of the ocean, the fish, the coral pieces, and the seaweed.  I got my doggy paddle on and even taught myself to turn around while I’m swimming. I’ve come a long way. Pastor Frankie from Word of Life just so happened to be at the beach, too, and he spent time with us. Meeting him was such a blessing. X and I had to come to Terri’s rescue when she was knocked over by a large riptide. She couldn’t get up and almost drowned, but we got her to safety. She lost her glasses, too, but Don found them.

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We visited a local bishop who works with Pastor Hibbert. He lives in a swank mansion in the mountains, over looking Ocho Rios. This guy is bling-blingin’. The view was so breathtaking, I had to use my panorama option on my phone when I was up on the balcony.

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We met up with Dwayne and Jason, who happen to be sons of the bishop. It’s a small world. The mansion was beautifully furnished and had wonderful landscaping. Jason said it’s used for hosting visiting preachers that come to the area. Much to Rebeka’s delight, there was a guinep tree that reached the front balcony. They were ripe and good to eat, so Cody and I picked a whole bunch for everyone. How’s that for an appetizer?

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Dinner was a Grade A smorgasbord. We had shrimp, lobster tail, chicken, fish, breadfruit, roasted potatoes, yellow yam, macaroni au gratin, and boiled green bananas. The macaroni au gratin was made with mushroom soup. It tasted light, salty, smoky and savory. The potatoes were lightly seasoned, with crispy skins and a soft, fluffy flesh. The shrimp was in a light sauce, and tasted spicey. The peppers and tomatoes added sweetness. Usually I don’t eat shrimp,  but if it’s made like this I’ll be more open to it. The lobster tail was lightly charred and had a smoky flavor. It was very tender. This is another food I abstain from, due to a bad experience I had ten years ago. It tasted much better this time. The breadfruit was grilled and it had a char like the lobster tail. There was a slight crispiness, similar to the fried breadfruit from yesterday. The chicken was barbecued and cover in a sweet and spicy sauce. It was fall-off-the-bone tender. The fish was well seasoned and crispy on the outside, and juicy, soft, and flaky on the inside. The bread was soft and fluffy and I used it to gather the juices from the other foods. It was great mix of sweet and spicy.

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For dessert we had a raisin coconut cake. It was sweet and chewy, and the coconut gave a great textural element.

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We engaged in conversation with everyone. It started with Jason’s experience in the army as a black person in Canada being recognized by African-Americans from the US. They went on to discuss food: fried chicken, collard greens, and watermelon. Then it lead to goat head soup, cow head soup, and cow tripe and beans. It sounded interesting. I’d like to try it. I found it interesting they could only make goat head soup with with a male goat head. Maybe it’s a better flavor, the same as a fish head adds more flavor. We then moved on to politics and guns and Cody’s contribution was quite interesting. I learned more about guns than I ever thought I would.

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We had a late night birthday party for Clarke. Norda cooked and made curry chicken, stewed chicken, chicken wings, and rice. The curry chicken was spicy, tender, and juicy with a hint of sweetness from the carrots and onions. The stewed chicken was well seasoned, savory, and creamy with a slight sweetness from the carrots. I ate both with rice which provided great texture. The chicken wings were crispy and spicy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.

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Then we brought out a chocolate birthday cake. Clarke was so surprised. It was also bittersweet since this would be our last hangout together. I will miss these moments.

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