Imagery of the true Jamaica
By Mary Ann Melchionna - Peace Corps Volunteer, Jamaica (2015 - 2017)
The people in Jamaica eye you and wonder
Who is this whitey from over yonder?
They want to know why you have come here,
You smile, tell your name, go to their church, share a beer.
Windows open air, mosquitos, spiders, creatures all around;
Their homes are not fancy, goats and chickens abound.
Running water only sometimes, electricity is sparse;
Hand washing the laundry makes life kind of hard.
The best thing to do is adapt, feel at home,
Because the people just want to love you, make you their own.
So callalloo, chicken feet, and curry goat become your meals,
Taxi fares, fruit pricing, learn how to get the best deals.
Black, gold, and green represent pride the Jamaicans feel;
They want the world to understand their culture deep and real.
So know their flowers and the fauna, their land, and their seas;
Know their mountains, their rivers, and the different kinds of trees.
Jackfruit, bananas, pineapple, mangoes just the best;
Honey, sorrel, scotch bonnets, a limes’ zest.
And who needs more fun than the market place there,
The vendors, the music, the people’s wild hair!
When I tell you Jamaica needs to be seen,
To be felt and experienced, it’s truly a dream.
Don’t think only Marley, ganja, and rum,
Once you learn of its people your heart will be won!
So if the joining the Peace Corps is not your kind of jive,
Still come to this island where life is alive.
Be it winter or summer it’s sure to be warm,
Cause the folks in Jamaica make it the norm!
This poem was entered in the Volunteer category for the 2015 Peace Corps Poetry Contest. The contest received more than 1,000 submissions, representing over 50 years of Peace Corps service in more than 100 countries.