top of page

a true

Well here I am in warm sunny palm-tree rum-punch country.  Kingston, not the one in Ontario.  I am here on behalf of an NGO called CODE.  Yes, I am doing good for a change.  Caribbean kids need more good books by local authors, and I am here to help.  I know.  I'm blushing too.   But it's a cause I have no trouble getting behind.  I love kids and stories, and am happy to bring them together.  So far I have had a wonderful (can not stress this too much) time with people from various literacy organizations -- CaribLit, Bocas LitFest, and others I can not now remember or find in my emails.  The two days of workshops were fun-filled and funny.  There are some really good authors here, with wonderful story ideas.  I have made jokes and friends, elicited a few snorts and spit-takes -- and more than a few startled shrieks. For all the ganja-reggae-irie stereotype, Jamaica is a fairly conservative place.  Family (especially Mom) and politeness and the 10 Commandments are all big deals, not to be made fun of.  Oops.  Midway through the first day, the workshop organizer (she was one of the spit-takers, bless her) tweeted that I had made 4 nude references and dropped 6 f-bombs (including a mother-f-bomb that made a well-dressed older lady raise her hands and say, Lord have mercy! aloud). She warned everyone to hang onto their hats.  Despite all the fun I've had, and despite the lovely weather, my overall response to the city of Kingston is, well, disappointed.  It's so darn unfriendly.  Driving to and from festivals and bookstores, walking the couple dozen blocks around my upscale hotel (more blushing - that's it in the picture up there), I can not help noticing that residential streets are all lined with high walls, many with razor wire on top.  Like this

All right, that's an extreme example, but the walls are everywhere.  This shot was taken not a million miles from my hotel.  In sober fact you walk on a narrow sidewalk, street on one side and 10-foot wall on the other.  And these defences are not to protect the American Embassy or the Anthrax Animal Testing Corp -- behind the walls sit regular middle-class two-deckers and bungalows.  You see them through the gates. Jane Jacobs would sigh.  This is a scared city.  Tomorrow, I head for Guyana, where I am told the mosquitoes are bigger than I am.  Speaking of scared....


bottom of page