I was lucky enough to be able to travel back to London for a while to connect with family, it was the longest it had ever been that we’d been apart, and returning to London in a post pandemic world was a very different city to what I left behind back in March. In a surprise twist, I had to head back to the states via Jamaica due to travel restrictions… and it was the unexpected detour I’ll cherish forever.
for 15 days, I quarantined by myself in the quiet resort town of Negril. And Negril, well.. it’s paradise. A beautiful part of the island with both gorgeous clifftops and deep turquoise water with coral reefs, to calm peaceful beaches where the water is crystal clear, warm and shallow.. I met wonderful people who all showed me such amazing hospitality. I felt at home in Negril, and being a traveller during the pandemic was a trip.
I saw how well Jamaica’s airports were dealing with processing incoming visitors in comparison to the UK, who barely checked people as they entered. I learned from people in JA that the pandemic had hit them badly. They had a small stimulus check, but it did nothing to help people with mounting depts. The travel & tourism in Jamaica accounts for 34% of the country’s GDP. And with all the travel restrictions due to the virus, no tourists have been a huge financial blow for many on the island. For comparison, in the UK tourism accounts for 9% of the GDP, and in the US, it’s even less, at around 3%.
I felt completely safe and at ease in Jamaica. People were taking COVID precautions seriously, because a pandemic like this means something a lot different to smaller countries and islands like this, than hugely wealthy countries like the US for example. In London while I was there, people were actually protesting, in large groups, about their right to not wear masks… the attitude is starkly different, and honestly – that kind of blindness in the face of something so indiscriminate as a virus, is scary.
Jamaica was a breath of fresh, covid-free air in the face of all of that. I did a lot of work and healing during that period, and spent some much needed time with myself. I got inspired again, I detoxed from social media, I created, conceptualized. I came back energized. This has been a hell of a year, don’t we all know it. Don’t forget to take time for yourself, and remember, recharge is necessary.
I call this “Today, I Choose Joy” and it’s intended to exist as a reminder for healing and time to oneself. I know it’s hard at the moment, and not everyone can escape to an island somewhere, but hopefully these soothing visuals and words by the late African American poet Lucille Clifton will help carry you in some way.
“Come celebrate with me, that every day something has tried to kill me, and has failed”.