OK. So I’m working backwards here, but who cares?
I knew about violence in Jamaica, but was unprepared for the number of machetes that are in this country! EVERYBODY AND THEIR MOTHER (literally) has a machete! And they use them often. There are practical uses such as slaughtering an animal or chopping coconuts open, but unfortunately, they are also used in acts of violence.
For the most part in my family, people were using their machetes for cracking open coconuts. As I mention in another post, Jamaicans hardly ever use coconuts anymore. This, thanks to a pesticide spraying program that killed off the majority of the coconut trees. But also because Jamaicans like other people in the 3rd world, are ashamed of their heritage and instead of eating coconut oil and drinking coconut water, they use processed vegetable oils and drink some crap called bag juice— just what it sounds like, juice (or rather drink) in a bag.
My daughter loves coconut water and it was interesting to see her, the American kid introduce all of her cousins to this delicious drink. Even now, many of these kids (I am told) are asking their parents for coconut water whenever they see coconuts nearby. So much healthier and cheaper when they can get them in their own backyard!
My cousin had been complaining to me that she was having some knee pain. In fact, her brother suffers from the same problem. He uses bee stings for temporary relief.
After talking to me, she decided to start using her own coconut oil that she makes. Ever since, she has been raving about how none of the pain has ever returned. But darned if she can her brother to at least try it! Now she cooks everything in coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. She saves money and is pain free!
The other place we saw the machete used was in the slaughter of a goat. In honor of our arrival and the gift we had given to my younger cousin, they slaughtered one of their many goats which provided many, many meals going forward. It is not easy to watch an animal get slaughtered, but it is a very sobering experience. I think that if more people in our society saw this process, they would be far less wasteful of food and meat in general.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a person throw out meat because they are a vegetarian or would rather eat dessert. It is a disrespect that I cannot understand. Even the Dalai Lama eats meat out of respect for the animal as well as his hosts. Who among us thinks of themselves as better than the Dalai Lama?
The saddest machete story came from a friend of an Aunt who lives in Portland — the northeastern part of the country. We were walking in his neighborhood where he was thinking of doing some rafting trips for tourists. He saw a friend walking from the cemetery and told us that he had just lost his son in a bank robbery. The man’s son worked as a security guard in the bank and was “chopped up” as we were told by guys with machetes wanting to rob the bank.
Talk to Jamaicans and they will tell you that this type of violence only happens between gangs and that everyone else, especially tourists, is left alone. Not so, one week after returning to the U.S., we were told of a tourist who was murdered (not sure if it was machete or gun) in the resort where he was staying.
So if you go to Jamaica, you have to look out for more than the MSG, but the violence there is still very real!