Do you believe in ghosts? This is one of the fundamental questions you were faced with as a child. Well we all know growing up in Jamaica that duppys was one of the most fundamental things that faced us. Especially while growing up in the rural areas that usually had lots of miles between street lights. This is probably one of the reasons that Jamaicans are such fast runners because as a child walking at night actually meant sprinting between street lights.
Now what happened one time was that we had to go on the back roads and this meant passing a cemetery. A Jamaican cemetery is a different case not just because it’s more open and it’s usually in a dark place where there are no houses or lights close by. So we set out and we walked through the back roads coming from primary school after a nice evening of playing cricket which was exceptionally fun except that it made us stay late.
Being that this was Jamaica you had to go home by foot only and being this late it was good we had a group of about 4 people together and this motivated us to go the back route. Otherwise we would have had to run on the main roads. I had never seen a duppy before but my friend shane had said he saw them multiple times. I even had my friend junior say he saw a rolling calf once. Like who even know what that is? I had never seen that before and to this day I still don’t know what it is.
When we were passing the cemetery being the open nature (no gates, no walls) we could see the mass graves and the bushes, and being that there were NO and I mean absolutely NO streetlights we were a bit scared. It was one of the few times you’d see boys running away scared from something because they thought they saw a ghost. Man I tell you… those were good times.
A way to tell if a person is a “bushman” (Jamaican slang for someone who was raised in the countryside) is to learn more about some of their experiences growing up. Caves are found in hilly areas and these places are usually rural areas. If a Jamaican person tells you that they have knowledge of caves then they are probably from the country and it’s an exceptional place to be because, cave exploration can be incredibly fun and yet test you on so many different levels.
I can remember clearly those days when I would hear stories of people getting trapped in the cave because they were too fat to fit through the rocks. The funniest of the stories is one where a friend was in the cave with some other people and a bat flew and landed on him and he ran out of the cave screaming and fanning the bat away. Imagine a gigantic man running out from a cave with a baseball bat in hand screaming like a little girl. If that is not entertainment then I’m not sure what is.
Some of my fondest memories can be traced back to me walking with a kerosene lamp in hand with the wick slowly burning and a baseball bat in the other hand for protection against bats. It used to be that cave exploration was a scary thing but after a while you would get used to it and you could just enjoy the scenery as you climbed on your belly through small pathways underground. Usually you’d end up deep down until one of your friends screamed Jamaican patwa“woooiiii mi ago ded!!”(I’m going to die), only to realize that there was nothing ahead of them.
A few tips for cave exploration if you ever plan on going through caves. Never go alone, because if something happens to you then it’s you, yourself, and you whom are left to figure it out. Always carry a torch even at daytime because it can get dark and scary. That’s about it. If you are doing it Jamaica just have fun and go try to go too far.
One of my all time favorite pass times in Jamaica was spear fishing. For the people who don’t know what that is it’s simply when you have a gun and you shoot fish. That’s the simple way of putting it but you know a good thing about doing it in Jamaica is that there are many places where you can do it. That is because there are many rivers in Jamaica and you can make equipment to go hunting for the fish very simply. Now you might think that it is overly difficult to go in the river and shoot a fish but it’s rather simple. First all you have to do is gun a spear gun, find a river and go shoot fish.
I happen to remember the gun a few friends and I built from a carved wood, a few nails and a medical tube. Those medical tubes were hard to come buy but they were incredibly strong flexible and were used for all our builds. The procedure to build these guns was simple and needed basic wood cutting skills.
Now the best time to go is during the summer when the water is nice and warm and also the rivers are as clear as the sea. I would definitely suggest going to ST Elizabeth for spear fishing also as there is one main river called Black River (not to be confused with the city/town) of black river. There is sure to be joy for all who decide to take the trip to Jamaica and whom decide that spear fishing is something they would want to do there.
I’m a proud country man and it’s because of that, when the debates come up about who sounds better in Jamaica in terms of their accent or slang I say the country man has a finer tuned accent that showcases what the real Jamaica sounds like. However if you are visiting you should know that Jamaican patwa is like any other dialect or language or slang whatever it is referred to as.
There are fundamental differences in the different parts of Jamaica with city life being very different from rural life and because of this there are more varied mannerisms and different scenery. This creates two distinct types of Jamaican accents as you’ll be surprised to know. You may be asking, how can such a small country have different accents, but it’s true. Any Jamaican knows you can tell another Jamaican’s city of origin based on how they sound. People from the country well tend to do more “low brow” things and that is the main way for you to find out whether the Jamaican person if from the city or the country.
Spear fishing in Jamaica is much more fun and dangerous than other places because the guns are typically home made. The guns are made from simple materials you can find around the house wood that is shaped, nails, and tubes. This however makes Jamaican spear fishing more dangerous but if proper precautions are taken then there shall be no problems.
One of the best things about growing up in rural Jamaica is that you have both requirements for a fun fishing trip. This includes massive rivers with nice fresh water and also the tools needed to build the equipment. As it turns out this is one of the major advantages of rural Jamaica. You can find anything you need and it puts you in a place where you have to live simple and use your brain to create solutions to your problems.
The best thing about spear fishing however is the fun people have when they come together. Many a times you see people running getting freaked out because they thought they saw a crocodile but then it turned out to be a branch or a piece of wood. The funnier times though have been when you see people running out of the water scared as a little child because they thought they saw something. Even more when people have tried to swim across the massive river and thought they saw something in the water thus causing them to swim like they were in a cartoon.
Spear fishing is an amazing thing too because of the home made guns the spectacle of diving in the river with only goggles and the fun and in few minutes coming up with a fish at the end of the spear.
It is times like this when you sit back think and realize that Jamaica is just more fun!!!