July 23, 2013

visiting Negril, Jamaica - the spirit of life

"It is clear and evident that the body of mankind in this day stands in dire need of such members and organs as are capable, useful and active, so that their movements and activities, their bearing and behavior, their tender feelings, lofty sentiments and noble intentions may at all times reflect heavenly virtues and perfections and become the expressions of divine attributes and saintly characteristics, thus breathing a new life and spirit into all the dwellers of the world and causing the inner ties and spiritual relationships to be fostered and fortified in all fields of human endeavor."

while the Zimmerman trial was in its final days, our family was enjoying a vacation at a Sandals resort in Negril, Jamaica, making friends with the workers and spreading that Baha'i spirit of genuine love to all of them.

we were there with my husband's father who had arranged the trip.  he is a Jamaican who left when he was a youth to make a better life for himself.  his entire life has been dedicated to working long and hard to ensure that his children were able to grow up with opportunities he never had.  at the age of 87 he wanted to make one last trip to see his aunt of 92 years and bring her along with us to a resort for a week of holiday together.  when it was too hot for him to be outside he was lounging in his room watching the trial.  we heard the latest updates from him each day, discussing the intricacies and history of race and justice in America.  our children were soon drawn into the discussion with many questions whether we were by the poolside or wading in the ocean.  on the final day, we all laid on our bed together anxiously waiting for the verdict.  when we returned from dinner that night we had missed the live coverage of Zimmerman's acquittal, but we watched CNN's coverage for the next hour with shock and disappointment.  we felt the legal system failed to protect yet another African American from a crime that happened because of racial profiling..

the trial served as a constant reminder of reality while we were served and catered to in a beautiful environment of harmony, safety, luxury and abundance..where people from all racial backgrounds were enjoying the trimmings of an upper middle-class vacation.  what made it special for me was being able to have my love received by so many of the hard-working people at the resort.  i felt that warm African heart in every face, with smiles beaming even when tired and over-worked.  there was never a problem for them -- 'evryting was alright' and 'no worries' for any request we made or trouble we created (like spilling a drink or breaking a dish).  i often felt myself on vacation to make other people's lives better or happier.  my consciousness of other people's lives is what fills my heart -- it is very hard for me to think of only myself.  i truly am striving to live only to serve others, even if it is just treating them with dignity, respect and conveying the love of God to their souls.  in this way, my time at the resort became very meaningful and significant beyond the joyful memories we were sharing together as a family.

the one aspect of the resort that we really didn't like was the inappropriate way in which many Americans dressed, danced and spoke.  it was a family resort geared for children yet many adults acted in such degrading ways that we all felt invaded with too much immorality at times.  it served as an opportunity to discuss what is respectful for us as human beings who want to grow nearer to God in this life..

these pictures tell the rest of the story:
enjoying time on the flight, Ayana and Gichan
Miss C, our great aunt, who touched everyone's heart with her bright smile & loving kindness

ackee on the side of the road while we were driving from Kingston after picking up Miss C

Dashiel, Ayana & Dyami para sailing for the first time in their lives..and lovin' it!

relaxing after eating at one of the restaurants, our favorite being the buffet where we ate exactly what we liked best

Gichan full of joy to be with his grandchildren

Domani and Dyami building sand castles in the rain :)

Dashiel and the kids having the best time laughing and playing in the rain while i sat with Gichan under a thatched roof area

Dyami waving to me when he saw i was taking photos

life vests for the water sports -- we used them for snorkeling, jet skiing, kayaking & paddle boarding

my beautiful family -- playful and joyful

they swam to the edge of the water for me to capture a close up shot of them

Dashiel and the boys shootin' hoops while we had some down time from the pool and ocean

the water slides were a lot of fun!

Ayana coming out of the tube slide which goes very fast

Mr. Douglas and Dashiel enjoying the pool while sharing some good talks together

Gichan and Dyami waiting for a performance to begin

Vennesia, the most vivacious server at the Cafe de Paris - she was full of that radiant spirit from joy within

Asha and Vennesia at the cafe where we hung out every day for ice cream, crepes, pastries and good coffee

Domani Biko with his snorkeling gear on :)

Ayana paddle boarding

Domani waiting for his turn to ride the jet ski

Dashiel taking Dyami for a ride

the boys played basketball in the pool everyday

being by the beach in the late afternoon before sunset was full of beauty and calm for our family

building castles and wading in the water while we sit together with gratitude for our family and the blessings of life

we had a lot of fun laughing with Gichan whenever we were together -- it was the best of times!

Ayana relaxing - happy to be hangin' with her parents :)

hangin' out in the room - this is where a LOT of silliness occurred, thanks to Dashiel :)

Dyami and Domani enjoying a game of basketball in the pool

one of the kids' favorite things to do was order sweet drinks for themselves..whenever they wanted!

the boys met a very nice boy, Brendan, and played with him most of the week.  this evening was karaoke; Ayana sang Breakaway & gave another stunning performance :)

Dashiel and the kids before para sailing

Miss C - Gichan's aunt who can no longer walk, enjoying the ocean on a portable wheelchair for water and sand

Vennesia, Stacy & Asha bringing us much delight one evening

Domani eating a pastry while Vennesia poses :)

eating dinner with Vennesia one evening

Stacy and Dashiel - she left the cafe to come visit us at the restaurant

we were so happy to share moments like this with some of the lovely people who work there

our family's footprints in the sand -- we've done this wherever we've visited a beach :)

saying goodbye to Simone, the children's crafts person -- she embodied the Jamaican spirit fully!

last family photo by the ocean before leaving

Sanjay - one of the restaurant servers; he started calling Dash's special drink order 'the Dash'

on our drive back to Kingston there was a long avenue of bamboo trees along both sides of the road

meeting with Gichan's nephew and niece in Kingston back at the hotel

Gichan and Dyami were buddies by the end of the trip, sharing a lot of laughter together :)

saying goodbye to Jamaica

waiting to be picked up at the airport in the US, Gichan and Dyami kept patting each other's shoulders
Junior Reid's song, One Blood