When it came time to leave, Alton pulled up in a newer looking crossover and invited everyone in. Connor and Deon decided to stay in their own car, but agreed to follow behind. As we made our way to Negril, we passed through a number of a number of villages and hamlets. I was surprised at the similarities the architecture had with New Orleans. Some places were so familiar looking that I could place them in a parallel space back home. Magazine street here, Poland street there. It was uncanny. People who came from or traveled to the Caribbean often told me that New Orleans was the northernmost Caribbean city, but I never had proof. They were certainly right in some respects–others than the fact that people from the African continent often said New Orleans was an African city and Europeans said that it was European. My takeaway is that my home is all of those things and none of them at all. I’m sure that someone is frying butter and eating it wholesale somewhere at this very moment in the city. In that way, we’re all American. I shared some of these insights with Alton as well as showed him some pictures of New Orleans. He was intrigued at the similarities himself and expressed an interest to visit.
This street in Jamaica could almost be cut and pasted in New Orleans and no one would blink.
On more than one occasion, guys came wheelying down the road on a their standards and dirt bikes without helmets at literal breakneck speeds. I asked Alton why this trend was so popular. “I don’t understand”, Alton said. “They drive with no helmet because they’re stupid. They die every day. Every day.” I nodded and there was some silence. “I was like them too”, Alton said quietly. “I could ride like them, better than them. Last year I was riding at a high speed and hit a turn bad and feel off. My friends found me and told my mother. I almost died. I have not been on a bike since”. I was stunned at how matter of fact Alton was about being thrown from his bike. He wasn’t one for drama or embellishment, but he wasn’t necessarily shy either. This was the truth. “Will you ride again?”, I probed. He gave an imp’s smile. “Of course”, he replied. “I might go tomorrow”.