The Tale Of Two Cities: Town And Country
When you speak to many Jamaicans, they will describe Jamaica as having one city (Kingston) in which they refer to as Town and everywhere else is described as country. Having the opportunity to live here, I’ve had the privileged of experiencing both the Town and the Country, St. Ann’s Bay and Kingston and from my perspective the differences are notable;
In the country there are fresh food markets everywhere which was great because we were never without our daily supply of fruits and vegetables. Grocery stores were also plentiful but most of them were little shops and they usually only had the very basic things. Because of that, we found ourselves in Ocho Rios often for the big Supermarket which was 15 minutes by bus for some of the things we could not get at the shops. As for eating out, again, limited options outside of Ocho Rios so we rarely did unless of course it was a patty, in that case we had one of those almost every day and never once got tired of eating them!
In Town, the food options are limitless. We live walking distance from a grocery store and can get almost everything we need. Unlike St. Ann’s Bay, we do not have access to as many fresh food markets so the amount of fruits and vegetables we consume has decreased. Eating out took a huge turn as there are endless options of places to eat which include restaurants in every corner offering different flavours of food from all over the world from Jamexican (my favourite) to Greek, or even Japanese. There is literally everything and for a foodie like myself, that made me very happy.
In the country, public transportation was …an adjustment. We travelled in either route taxis or mini buses. In order to get a taxi/bus we would wait on the side of the road for a driver to pass by calling out the stops in the direction he was going and when we found one going in our direction we would wave it down. Upon entry, we would find that the bus is already full but the concept of full here takes on a completely new meaning. What appears full was never actually full and we always found ourselves literally being squished every time we rode in one. After months of doing this, the shock wore of and it became normal to be squished, we actually expected it, and were pleasantly surprised when we were able to travel in our own seat and maybe even with a seatbelt.
In Town, there are taxi services that you can call to pick you up at your door for an affordable price, but if we wanted to take a cheaper route, we could take the city bus or even walk. There are also route taxis here but nothing like St. Ann’s Bay/Priory. We have many options so we usually opt for the more comfortable way of travel.
In the country, there wasn’t much to do except party. All other activities took place in Ocho Rios, which wasn’t too close and a bit expensive to get to if we chartered a cab. When we did, we went to karaoke on Tuesdays, the movies on Mondays and the beach on the weekend, which was great.
In Town, the amount of things we could do is too long to list here but what I was especially excited about was the opportunity to participate in physical activities like Socacize (Dance/Exercise to Soca music), run a 5k race and hike Blue Mountain.
Working in St. Ann’s Bay was quiet, we didn’t have many colleagues and we mostly just kept to ourselves and traveled a lot to Town for meetings.
In Town, we are able to attend meetings, panel discussions, events and networking opportunities which enriched my experience here.
Overall living in both Town and Country has been great. In the country, I got to experience a completely different way of living that took some time to adjust to but I think that is, in part, the goal of this experience, so I welcomed it. In Town, I felt more like myself and comfortable which I feel has prepared me in some way to return home. No experience was better, just different and I am happy I was able to experience both.