Proud and unified are two words that best describe Jamaica and its people.
The country relishes any happening or sporting event that brings attention to Jamaicans while the nation comes together to actively follow and support their countrymen.
I found this out first-hand when I travelled to Jamaica last weekend to cover the Caribbean Circuit Championships at Dover Raceway. My first trip to the country was a three day sojourn in which I came away with a wealth of knowledge and experiences.
The following is a snippet of my first day:
I had a very early start Saturday morning for the 7am flight to Kingston.
After checking in I met up with a few of the Cayman race team supporters. Among them was Denny and Minroy Hydes.
It took less than an hour to arrive at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. The rest of the guys took a connecting flight to Montego Bay. Meanwhile I met up with Frank Williams, Barry Mirage and Jeff Larmond for an impromptu tour of the capital.
We made our way through the narrow streets in Barry’s V6 Toyota Racing Development Toyota Tacoma with over 250 horsepower.
The Jamaican trio are no strangers to Cayman and the local race scene. Williams and Larmond used to compete in Cayman Autocross back in the days of the old Lakeview Raceway (where Jay Bodden’s marl pit now sits).
Mirage has been a steady supporter of the scene for more than 20 years from the days when he worked at Cayman Business Machines.
As we passed notable locales like the Terra Nova hotel, the Prime Minister’s residence and Bob Marley’s house, I was amazed with how friendly and open the guys were.
Considering the fact I just met them, it was as if I was a long lost buddy of theirs. They readily showed me points of interests around town and talked non-stop about some of Jamaica’s sporting greats. To top it off I would get to see their family members and businesses.
Many more miles would be racked up on the day as we made our way to the town of Mandeville along the highway.
When we got there our first stop would be at Jeff’s heavy equipment company: A One Equipment Rentals.
From there we travelled to Jeff’s home to set down our things for the night. While there I saw a Mitsubishi Evolution III sitting in his yard, which seemed odd considering he was an older man with a business and a family. But for Jeff it was a source of escapism.
‘That’s my fun car, my toy,’ he said. ‘Every man needs some form of excitement in his life or else his is joy gone. When I have spare time I drive it, otherwise it stays there.’
Later in the evening we headed out to arguably one of Jamaica’s best seafood spots in Little Ochi for fresh lobster and shrimp.
As the night drew on and we readied for bed at Jeff’s it dawned on me how similar the guys were to the older generations of Caymanians.
The overwhelming sense of national pride and the feeling of brotherhood from those guys was a carbon copy of the friendliness and togetherness that exemplified Cayman’s ancestors.
However, I couldn’t take too long to ponder the link that night. Making the hour and a half trek through the hills to St. Ann’s Bay and witnessing the action at Dover Raceway lay ahead of me the next day.