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.
Fashion and personal style are our most obvious displays of self-expression.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” – Rachel Zoe