July 7, 2009

Getting to (and from) Edna Manley

My three daughters, Tatiana (8), Soraya (8), and Raymi (5), are finally in summer camp! We arrived in Jamaica on May 28, and the Jamaican children were still in school. So, we had to wait until now to get them enrolled in camp. We were lucky to find out about the Kaleidoscope summer program at the Edna Manley College for the Visual Arts.

The question for the first day was how to get them to camp. The campus is about a 30 minute walk from our house, and thus a bit too far for the girls, especially in this heat. My first idea was to take the easy route and call the taxi driver we have been using. However, as can be expected, he already has a morning run.

Figuring there must be some form of public transportation, Nando, the girls and I set out yesterday morning at 8:00am, towards Knutsford Blvd, which is about four blocks from our house. As we were approaching the boulevard, I saw a bus leaving from the bus stop. I tried to flag it down, but realized that it was a company charter bus. Then, I noticed a taxi driver calling us over. There was a woman in the front seat of the car, meaning that this was a route taxi. I told the driver we were going to Edna Manley College, and he said he could let us off nearby. We squeezed into the back seat, and it turns out he was kind enough to drop us right at the door, for JA $150 (US$2) for the five of us.

Once inside the camp, we had to wait in line for registration and then listen to orientation. We finally were able to leave at 10:30. Nando and I decided to walk home, to get some exercise. Once home, I stayed in to get some work done, and Nando went out to the market to buy some vegetables.

Around 2pm, I set out again towards the camp to pick the girls up. I decided I would walk. It’s easier to walk sometimes than to figure out how to take a bus or route taxi. Plus, I need to get as much exercise in as possible. I arrived, hot and sweaty, and the kids seemed as though they had enjoyed their day.

As we were leaving, several girls told Tatiana they like her hair. Tatiana told me one girl had asked her if her hair was real or fake. I am not sure how to explain to Tatiana why her long, straight, brown hair draws attention. On the one hand, it is nice that she develops a positive self-image. On the other hand, she also should learn that all hair is beautiful.

Soraya asked if she could invite a friend over. I told her to get the girl’s phone number and I would talk to her mother. Overall, it seems as though the first day of camp was a success. Now, we just had to figure out how to get home.

It took about ten minutes to walk from the campus to the street. So, by the time we were on the main street, Raymi was already complaining. However, we still had to cross the street and walk another block to the bus stop. I firmly told her that we were almost there, and she just had to keep on walking.

When we finally made it to the bus stop, the kids sat down on a ledge and a route taxi pulled up. One woman got inside. I asked the driver if he was going up Knutsford Boulevard. He was, so we piled into the back seat. It was very hot, so I was surprised the girls didn’t complain. Instead, they played with the cold water bottles I had brought with me.

Turns out this route taxi goes all the way to the corner of our house. He told us this is a regular route, and that we should be able to find a taxi right on the corner every morning. This was great news. We paid him JA $100 for the four of us, and made our way home. After a hot walk and taxi ride, I was more than ready for a refreshing dip in the pool. It also felt good to have figured out how to take the public transport to and from camp with the girls.


  1. This is sort of a tangential response, but have you heard of the research of Carol Dweck, or did you possibly read the following article in NY Mag? http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

    Maybe you could say to Tatiana something like, "You're patient with letting your hair grow, and get brushed, and you take good care of it. Other people's hair grows much slower, or so curly that it hurts to brush, or very dry so that it can break rather than grow. The work they would have to do to get hair like yours would be much different than what you have to do."

    I told you it was tangential. :)

  2. Great article, Emily! It lines up well with my philosophy - the idea that ppl can't be divided into smart and stupid, but that you usually become good at things you do often.

    I suppose I could take that kind of tack with Tatiana. It sounds easier then trying to explain Western Beauty norms and why people prefer lighter, straighter hair...