Hey my Sno Flakes! It’s been a minute. I swear, I intend on writing to you more than once a year, and each time I say I am going to do better, I don’t. We have a lot to talk about. A lot has happened. This past year has had its ups and downs. The last three years have been rough in itself, but that’s for another time. I got some tea for you. Well, come on in, take a seat.
So let’s get into it. The last time we talked, I relocated to Jamaica after Freddie, my husband passed away. (Go back and read the last three blogs.) Since January of 2022, I have been occupied between getting situated, helping a local tour company, and I started a cleaning service. I am exhausted just thinking about it. It took a little effort, and sometimes disappointment, but it all worked out in the end.
Upon arriving in 2021, with a little help, I found a great place to live, Sea Castle by the Sea. A nice one bedroom, with a pool, nice landscaping, directly on the sea. However, it was rather expensive for Jamaica. Most one and two bedroom apartments only run $300 – $600 a month. There are luxury options, but I have never been a luxury girl. I like comfort on a budget. When I returned to JA after Christmas vacay in February of 2022, I finally found the perfect apartment, through a friend’s suggestion with amazing views and cheap rent. It’s only a bedroom, with my own private bath, inside an elderly man’s home. But it is immaculate, furnished with all utilities included. A natural born Jamaican, he has dual citizenship with America, and Jamaica. Most of his time is spent in New York, with his family, which leaves me with the entire house to myself. I love it! On the plus side, there is a huge garden in the back, with every Jamaican fruit and vegetable you can imagine! There is also a pool in front, with a view of the sea. Although it was very comfortable, I had to share the (extremely) large kitchen, and living room. There wasn’t any wifi in my bedroom, so I had to watch tv and social media on the veranda. At this point, the tenant downstairs moved out. I now have an entire one bedroom apartment, same location, same view, with the same responsibility to watch his home when he is away. I am excited to be able to just relax in my own living quarters, cook in my own space, and just do me. God was truly looking out for me!
Adjusting to the Jamaican culture itself was not that hard for me. Because I come from a larger city, Birmingham Alabama, it wasn’t much of an adjustment. Birmingham is known as the ghetto to some people, or, as those who live there call it, ‘the hood’, short for neighborhood. Jamaica is one big ghetto. You must remember that this is a third world country. Although for me, it feels like home. The people of each community know each other personally, and they look out for one another. When I walk out to catch a taxi the guys on the corner all know my name and make sure I get home safely if it’s after dark. It can be scary for those who are unfamiliar with this kind of living. Especially if you watch the media and the News telling you that everyone in Jamaica is a scammer, a robber or a murderer. But that’s just simply not the case. If you’re friendly with them and open your heart and your mind up to accept them and their culture, they will look out for you and you’ve made lifelong friends. Of course there are those out there just like anywhere else in the world, who don’t mean any good to anyone but themselves. We can’t go around worrying about other people. As long as we keep ourselves in safe situations, pay attention to your surroundings, and be respectful and kind, we can enjoy the world around us.
So once I got settled into Jamaica, I started going around business to business, handing out my business cards for a cleaning service. Snow White Cleaning Services offer services to airbnb, residential, and Commercial offices. The biggest hurdle in opening a business was getting people to not only trust me in their space, as a white ‘foreign’ but also being able to charge what I need to cover the overhead and pay myself at the same time. Because so many Jamaicans are struggling, and looking for work, trying to make a dollar just to survive, they’re willing to work for little to nothing in order to feed their family. Most people here would rather hire someone from Jamaica and give them an opportunity to make a dollar than to pay the higher prices that I would have to charge. So my cleaning services only lasted about 6 months. When I had to leave Jamaica to go home to America, because of immigration in July, my clients hired locals to take over the job and stuck with them because of the price difference. It wasn’t about who did the better job, it was about saving the dollar and helping someone in need. And I get it.
The other business I started was a tour company. I named it after this blog, Snows Adventure Tours. I got the idea from what I love to do. I love to tour the island, and I love to show other people paradise, it’s Beauty, the waterfalls, just everything about Jamaica. What better way to do that then to get paid to do what I love? The obstacle, again, is that when foreigners come to Jamaica on vacation they don’t want to see a white female. And it never occurred to me, rather funny now that I think about it, what was I thinking? Most people who come to Jamaica on vacation desire an authentic Jamaican experience with a Jamaican driver or tour guide. So I reached out to a few local tour companies. I now offer my recommendation to these tour companies and help them get business. In return, they give me a commission for each time they get a booking and it follows through. It works out for both of us in the long run. The money is still staying in the Jamaican community, but I’m still making a living enough to build a life here.
My point to all this is, that if you have something you want to do or that you dream about, just do it! You’ve thought about it long enough, you’ve planned it out in your head. “What if it doesn’t work? What if this goes wrong? What if …..” But what if it all goes right. What if everything you’ve planned turns out exactly how you wanted? Oh sure, it’s going to be a little bit of work. Maybe even a struggle. But my mother always told me, anything worth having you have to work for. Life isn’t easy no matter which road we choose. But life is short and you only have one. So live it to your best ability. Don’t worry about what anyone has to say, or about what you should or shouldn’t do. Don’t worry about leaving people behind. Those that truly support you will go with you, if not physically, in spirit. Believe me when I say, if those people that are feeding you negative energy had the money or resources to do what their dream was, they wouldn’t think twice about you. They would just do it. It’s time to get up and put your plans in motion. What are you waiting on? it’s time to think about you and put yourself first for once. It’s not being selfish, it’s about self-preservation.
Moving to Jamaica was the best thing I’ve ever done physically, mentally, emotionally. I lost over 60 pounds, naturally, just by the food alone, and touring the island. Of course I struggled at times, I had roadblocks. but I did what I came to do. I lived in Jamaica for a year and a half and I’m still standing. Successfully.
Until my next adventure, love yourself a little bit more. Be blessed, stay southern sweet, and I’ll have the tea waiting for you.
All Photos Taken By Me, Snow Wilson.
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