Happiness is like a kiss. You must share it to enjoy it. ~ Bernard Meltzer
My happiest days spent in Jamaica were the result of lighthearted strangers including me in their daily routine, and sharing their way of life with me. It wasn’t often someone wanted to interact with a foreigner other than to sell you something or demand a donation, but every so often I was lucky enough to run into a relaxed local, excited to share their thoughts and impressions on their beautiful island.
Richard showed us around Negril one afternoon. We ran into him at what seemed to be his usual hangout spot, a vacant bar overlooking the sprawling Caribbean sea on the outskirts of town. Apparently the bar opened at night, only on certain days and was more of a local watering hole, but we never spotted it in use. We meandered down Negril’s small main road with Richard as the groups of gift shops, hotels, and jerk stands where gradually replaced by homes and grazing goats. He pointed out random plants, such as the delicious and widely used akee fruit tree, the historic lighthouse, and his favorite spot for Jamaican patties where we shared lunch together.
Further up the road, Fire Starter’ was asleep in his chair, head bowed down to his chest as my friends walked by. Just as I passed him and entered the neighborhood store he jerked his head up and slurred, “sugar i’ve been waiting my whole life for you!” His timing was impeccable, and the giant smile on my face was all I could do to keep from bursting into uncontrollable laughter. His comedic and jovial disposition made him entirely un-threatening as he made his way over to the counter where we were buying rum and an arrestingly sweet banana soda. We served him up some of our fire wata’, gave him his nickname of Fire Starter, and he was happy as a clam.
The generosity of those you encounter along your journey and the stories shared with friends once you return home are in part what make travel so fulfilling. Travel, like happiness, like a kiss, and like so many other things in life is best shared.