*This piece was written on Monday, July 11th
We flew to Montego Bay, Jamaica with a hurricane on our trail. All I knew was that I wanted to get there. I didn’t think much about anything else. I was a woman with a plan and a new country to explore.
We landed beneath a dry sky; the late afternoon sun was brilliant.
Hurricane- what hurricane?
Nestled inside our secluded eco resort on Green Island, we grabbed a coconut curry dinner and enjoyed the saltwater infinity pool just feet from our cottage as the late afternoon gave way to evening and eventually night.
The next morning, the sound of roosters and peacocks called us to action. The sun illuminated the sky. Piercing white rays filtered through our window marking the beginning of a promising new day.
After a hearty breakfast of salt fish, callalou and dumplings, it happened. Sunny skies rolled out in place of gray ominous ones. The lapping of the ocean intensified.There was the unmistakable growl of thunder and the clanking of bamboo reeds as they slapped against each other in the wind.
Raindrops as thick as my fist burst like water balloons on the rocky road. The lightning joined in and we had ourselves a full-fledged and uninhibited cyclone, the result of the passing hurricane off the coast.
I came to Jamaica with a plan and a promise. I planned to finish Americanah, the novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I’ve nursed slowly during subway trips. I planned to read Sahara Special (summer reading for work) by Esme Raji Codell. I planned to blog for several hours every morning. I planned to continue working on my social media campaigns.
I made a promise to myself when I joined the National Blogging Month challenge that I’d blog daily for the month of July. I had posts planned and prepped. The plan was to rise at 5:30 am, work until 9 on the blog and social media before Ohm and Mark began to stir in competition for my attention.
I made a promise to my readers, a readership that has been growing and expanding by the hundreds. I do not take lightly the fact that people have voluntarily signed up to explore the world with me. It is humbling and inspiring and I am so grateful. In turn I feel an enormous sense of duty to be present, to show up, to put forth my best.
I came to Jamaica with a plan and promises.
I came to Jamaica and got a reality check!
Beyond my control was the cyclone that knocked out the rickety rural Internet and later the power. Busy tracking entrants for my latest giveaway, I needed the Internet. I had writing to do. There were photos to label, size and organize, and social media campaigns to manage. In short, I was helplessly disconnected.
That’s the catch with travel blogging daily. Even though you’re away, you’re still connected to your creation, tied to the act of chronicling. When you’re not writing, you’re editing, when you’re not editing you’re posting and sharing via social media, organizing photos, it’s the promise you’ve made to yourself, it’s the promise you’ve made to your followers.
I went into full panic mode. I questioned the hotel staff incessantly and stood in the open field near the internet hotspot with my laptop in the pouring rain praying for a signal. I attempted to arrange transport to Negril (the closest town with wireless internet) but crazily enough, no one was willing to drive to town during a cyclone and in typical Jamaican fashion I was told to “take it easy, it will come back, maybe this week sometime…”
THIS WEEK?!? SOMETIME??????????
That’s when my husband Mark stepped in with a mini-intervention, the one where he pointed out ever so calmly that it was I who was the “crazy” one, attempting to organize a ride into town during a cyclone- what?!?
A rum and coke was placed in my hand, a massage was given and I was ushered onto the veranda to the right of the wide umbrella like leaves of the banana tree, directly behind the sinewy mango tree, where I learned that sometimes you have to just let go and give in to the moment- after all, isn’t that the point of travel in the first place? It’s easy to do this when things are going well. It’s easy to do this while swaying in a hammock beneath two palm trees or back floating in the salty ocean, but when things become interesting and go awry as they often do while traveling, it isn’t always so easy to let go and just be.
Summoning my inner Buddha, I released my expectations (at least I really really tried to and succeeded at intervals in achieving a blank slate-ish existence).
I am now seated beneath the same veranda. I’ve been here all day. The rain falls in melodic sheets. Lightning colors the sky. Here I sit in a sturdy wicker chair sipping rum and coke, enjoying the cool air. Peacocks scurry around the large mango tree, their oddly human-like calls sounding a lot like “Nooooo!!!!Ouch!!!!!”
About an hour ago, I took Ohm for a barefoot walk in the rain until the lightning sent us scurrying back to our cottage for shelter. Our day, easy, has been spent snacking on bananas and almonds, watching movies on our laptops, and being entertained by the interesting and complicated relations between the chickens and peacocks who stare down at us from the mango tree as mongoose play tag at its base.
I’ve given up swatting the mosquitoes away. It simply is what is happening right now. I have no way to upload today’s blog post; my daily blogging attempt for the month of July is simply not going to happen. I may or may not be in the position to announce my contest winner tomorrow; I can’t give my contest a final homestretch push via social media. I simply have to let go and be-
Irie man, Irie. Everyting is Irie!