‘Ow mi look? Jamaican Style in Ochi

Fi yuh yaad clothes dem muss stay ah yaad. When you head out in Jamaica, you had better be sure that you look your best.

Neatness is a virtue in this country, and that is absolutely reflected in the way that people present themselves when they’re away from home. That being said, Jamaicans tend to love flashy, bright colors, and many of the young people here don’t shy away from sporting outlandish ensembles.

I recently went to Ochi (Ocho Rios) to meet up with my friend Audrey, have coffee in a nice coffee shop and get some work done. Of course the internet wasn’t working that day, but we managed to occupy ourselves with plans for a Peace Corps Jamaica cookbook instead. It’s nice to visit touristy areas like Ochi sometimes because modern conveniences (like prepared coffee drinks) aren’t available in the rural areas.

Urban areas like Ochi also provide lots of great photo opportunities. I wanted to showcase some of the interesting fashions that people displayed on the streets.

This man is an artiste (like many) and I snapped this photo while he took a break from shooting his video
This man is an artiste (like many) and I snapped this photo while he took a break from shooting his video
Those tropical shorts are fabulous
Those tropical shorts are fabulous

Fashion and personal style are our most obvious displays of self-expression.

My absolute favorites of the day
My absolute favorites of the day
This woman lives outside of Ochi. I want to steal her style!
This woman lives outside of Ochi. I want to steal her style!
He was visiting from England and didn't even give one "are you crazy?" look when I asked for a photo
He was visiting from England and didn’t even give one “are you crazy?” look when I asked for a photo

Lessons learned: approaching strangers is challenging. Ochi, being a touristy area, is a prime location to be targeted by pickpockets, so I had to be extra careful about where I stopped to talk to people.

A vendor sporting his "I'm a rasta" wear
A vendor sporting his “I’m a rasta” wear
The Bob Marley shirt was probably intended to attract tourists.
The Bob Marley shirt was probably intended to attract tourists.

Using my Patwa also really helped people to warm up to me. Sharing a little extra about my story and about why I was asking for their photo was also helpful.

About half of the people I asked declined. Apparently not everyone loves to have their photo taken!

This woman told me she was embarrassed by photos
This woman told me she was embarrassed by photos

I found it easier to ask men for photos than women. I think it might have something to do with the fact that men generally talk to women on the road who they don’t know. Something cool came out of the catcalling!

Typical street style, lots of matching and color coordination
Typical street style, lots of matching and color coordination
Digging that graphic tee
Digging that graphic tee
Clean and basic
Clean and basic

Turtle Park, a large public park and garden in the middle of Ochi, attracts people of all sorts and generally serves as a great setting for photos. We ran into this group of teens who were there specifically to take pictures of their outfits. Better still, they were delighted to pose for my camera.

Caught in a candid moment
Caught in a candid moment
the coordinated outfits and poses crack me up
the coordinated outfits and poses crack me up
giving some 'tude
giving some ‘tude
color-coordinated friends
color-coordinated friends
all in the details
all in the details

Ochi can be a very strange place because of the mixing of tourist culture and Jamaican culture, but I always walk away with a story of sorts. Without many interesting buildings or wide-spanning beaches in the city itself, the people are often my favorite sight to see.

Of course I had to talk to a roots man
Of course I had to talk to a roots man
All type ah dut
All type ah dut

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” – Rachel Zoe

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8 thoughts on “‘Ow mi look? Jamaican Style in Ochi

  1. Kevin and I were driving back from the North Coast and on one of the more curvy, sidewalk-less roads we saw a woman wearing neon green pants with a neon pink blouse. I commented aloud on what chutzpah it takes to wake up in the morning and put on neon green pants…let alone think to yourself “hmmm…which top will I wear? I know, my neon pink one – that will look great together!” kevin thought instead maybe the loudness of colors on the street is self-preservation…given the bad traffic and walking on the road, he said she looked more like a human traffic cone! You definitely couldn’t miss her. ☺

    _______________________________________________________________________________
    [image001]Jennifer E. White • Country Director • Peace Corps Jamaica
    8 Worthington Avenue, Kingston 5 | Phone: +1 876 929 0495-8 | Mobile: +1 876 371 0590 | jwhite@peacecorps.gov

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