Friday, December 16, 2005

O Christmas Tree

Last night we kicked off our Christmas celebrations and we really started to feel Christmas in the air. We attended the 3rd Annual Portmore Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony which was hosted by our office. It was a very lovely event and the tree was gorgeous. However, at times you thought to yourself how weird it was to be in Jamaica sitting under a 30 foot evergreen tree. The tree was plucked from somebody's yard in Portmore which was a pretty strange in itself considering the dessert like conditions of the area. The setting of the event was also very ironic - it was held by the Portmore Mall on a traffic island that is situated between 3 busy roadways. I'm not sure if traffic island is really the right word but it was a large triangle of green space where the 3 roads come together. Unfortunately, in a few weeks it won't be there any more because it is also the site where the Highway 2000 Project will connect Portmore the the new Causeway. These sorts of green spaces are really as close as you get to parks in Portmore. But it was well groomed and in addition to the tree there was a stage and some potted palm trees decorated with lights . Around 200 chairs were set up in front of the stage to accommodate the community members who came for the ceremony. The scheduled start time was 5:00 but in typical Jamaican fashion things got started around 6:30. While we were waiting the Christmas breezes were blowing all around us and making it quite chilly for Jamaica. Then finally things began with the JUTC choir taking the stage. JUTC is the bus company that serves the Kingston Metropolitan Area, I'm not sure why they have a choir but according to their schedule they will be doing several Christmas performances. Their big hit was Feliz Navidad which they did twice. They really got into that one, dancing and waving. It was very entertaining. Then there was the customary prayer and greetings were given by the Mayor, and by two other people on behalf of the MP (Member of Parliament) and Senator who for whatever reason couldn't attend themselves. The funny thing is that each time someone new comes on stage they have to acknowledge all the important people who are present. Which ends up taking up half their time. And you end up hearing over and over again the names of all the important people who are present. Last night it was: His Honorable George Lee, Mayor of Portmore; four Councilors for Portmore; the Mayor's caretaker (the opposition candidate for mayor); Miss Portmore 2005; the Administrative Manager of the Portmore Municipal Council; an important Reverend; Asst. Supt. of the Police; the Mayor's wife; and a few more of lesser importance who I don't really recall. After they got through all that each greeting was pretty much about the current hard times in Jamaica, the sharing and caring of the Christmas season, and hopes for a prosperous 2006. Then the Mayor, the Councilors and Miss Portmore all gathered around the switch and lit up the tree while Christmas music blared in the background. Afterwards we mingled a bit waiting for the refreshments to be served but they had forgotten the plates and it was taking too long so we left. But all in all it was a fun time and it will be exciting to drive by the mall and see that giant tree all lit up!


1 comment:

Adrianna said...

I've never been to Jamaica but I reckon it'd be much more interesting to actually live there than to have gone on a cruise and spent the night in there or spent a week at Club Med.

Well, being a tourist, a traveller and a resident are all different experiences. Being a non "expat" resident is going to one of the best things about Peace Corps for (althought not due to depart till June).