Heather's Monthly Articles
Tea Time in Jamaica
October 2014

 

Tea Time in Jamaica
Prime Minister of Jamaica Portia Simpson-Miller
greets Prince Harry in Kingston, during his visit on behalf
of his grandmother's Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

After weeks of pondering, contemplating, measuring, re-measuring, Googling, aisle traipsing, comparison shopping, and countless days spent in big box appliance stores to seek out a replacement dishwasher and refrigerator, I finally made a decision. Jamaica. Or to be more precise, a 4 day 3 night stay at an all inclusive resort. A third the price, a jillion times more memorable. A no brainer, for no matter how spiffy a new appliance is, it doesn't come with sun, sand, sea and an endless supply of refreshments that included the best cup of tea I've ever drunk outside of England.

Tea Time in Jamaica
Prince Harry races Usain Bolt
in Kingston, Jamaica.

Neither too hot, nor too tepid, too strong or too weak, like the Three Bears' porridge, the tea I was served in Jamaica was "juuuust right". It was so very, very British tasting. But then so too were the resort employees with their British-English sounding dialects and vocabulary. The resort itself, with its potted palms and outdoor tables set with fine china and crisp white linen tablecloths that seemed to laugh in the face of the ocean breeze, reminded me of a time when little biddy England was an Empire. When a world map boasted more pink parts than a convention of Windmill Girls.

It's not surprising though because, until it gained independence in 1962, Jamaica was a British colony for over 300 years. Queen Elizabeth II still resides over the country as its monarch and head of state; a job she performs pro bono. Only during a Royal Visit, or when donning her Queen of Jamaica hat abroad, do Jamaicans have to dip into their pockets to cover the costs Her Majesty might incur in the performance of her duties. As Jamaica is just one of 15 countries the Queen rules over, she can't be everywhere at all times, so she is represented by a Governor-General, whose job it is to represent The Queen on ceremonial occasions, such as the opening of Parliament and military parades.

Tea Time in Jamaica
Queen Elizabeth II visits Sam Sharpe Square in 2002
while on a visit to Montego Bay

The day to day governing of Jamaica is left to a freely elected Prime Minister. Current Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, who was re-elected for a second non-consecutive time in 2012, declared herself to be one of the Queen's biggest fans. "I love the Queen", she said at her swearing in. "She is a beautiful lady". Simpson-Miller then promptly laid out plans to celebrate the country's 50th anniversary of independence by dropping Her Majesty like a ton of hot bricks in favor of making Jamaica a republic.

Tea Time in Jamaica
A 1956 stamp of Jamaica overprinted for Independence in 1962

Simpson-Miller's "it's not you, it's me" tactic failed, but she insists she'll try again. Lest you think the people of Jamaica are calling for the Queen's head to be served up on a platter a la Marie Antoinette, they seem to want nothing of the kind. In fact, it appeared to me that Her Majesty and her country's traditions are respected and celebrated to such an extent that it's almost as though the Jamaica people go out of their way to be more British than the British. In fact, a poll conducted in 2011 showed that 60% of those surveyed felt their country would be better off under British rule. Only 17% thought things would have been worse had Jamaica remained a colony and I suppose the remaining 23% are still thinking about it. Life in Jamaica is after all rather relaxed.

The general consensus, however, is that should a referendum be held - which the Jamaican government has promised it will do before reaching a decision - "the monarchy will prove to be the most popular choice". Let's drink to that. One lump or two?

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