Jamaica June 2009: 4 – Kingston (party!)

T and I decided it was time to head back to Kingston as one of T’s roommates was having a birthday party at the house and T wanted to be around to help get ready.  A friend who lives in Negril was on his way to Kingston on business that day and detoured through Runaway Bay to take us along.  We restocked what we’d used from the kitchen at the local grocery (L&M is a great little store, if you ever need a supermarket in RB), packed up our stuff, paid the cleaning person, said goodbye to the really nice security guys who manned our gate, and hit the road.

We took the main road to Kingston, I can never remember the name of it but it’s the one that goes over Flat Bridge and through Spanish Town and all that.  I have photos of it from last trip and some more from later in this one.

Truth is, I have very few photos of my time in Kingston. I love the fact that I can move around there without being immediately pegged as a tourist, and carrying a camera just messes that up completely.  So I have only a few shots from this couple of days.

As I said, there is to be a birthday party in a day or so, for T’s roommate – let’s call her Holly. Holly is Scandinavian and works for an environmental group that is part of the UN. She’s been in Kingston for at least a couple of years but will probably be moving on to another assignment  this year (and as of this writing almost a year later, she has).  She’s planning a party at the house for her birthday, and a couple of others (Martin and Jeff have their birthdays that same week), and when we arrive in Kingston she is already making arrangements.

T takes care of invitations and stuff, Holly is handling food and drinks.  On shopping day she invites me to come along to see about what’s needed for the party.

First stop is a local market/caterer/bar to order appetizers and such. We have lunch here, and when the order is finalized and delivery arranged, we head on.

Holly’s heard of a soup guy. He’s made soup for parties around town and is recommended, so we set off to meet with him.  We meet at a Popeye’s Fried Chicken and discuss what kind of soup he’ll make.They agree on terms and soup (fish tea) and we head out with him to shop at an open market in the vicinity of a large superstore somewhere around Halfway Tree.  They get all the veggies and other ingredients he’ll need, he’s got a fisherman for the fish and will bring that the next day.  But his actual soup pot and burner is at the site of his last engagement – Freddie MacGregor’s house. We pile into the car and head over there to pick it up.

We are somewhere in the low foothills vaguely east of town…through residential streets that wind around, turn left, turn right, turn again….eventually with SoupMan’s guidance, we arrive. As you might imagine his home is a large one, gated. Out front there is an American guy, security? friend? Hard to say. But we are admitted to the courtyard and while SoupMan goes off to get his pot, we sit with a dozen or so guys hanging out in a covered gazebo. There’s his tour manager, his brother, his cousin, I lost track as we were introduced to everyone. Mr. MacGregor himself is not in.  It was an interesting hour or so we passed there, chatting with the guys. Finally SoupMan is back with the pot and we load it up and say goodbye.

SoupMan doesn’t just make soup. he’s also a singer (of course) who does studio work. He’s got to meet someone at a recording studio nearby about a gig and we drive him there and are invited to come in. Again we are on a tiny street I couldn’t possibly remember how to get to….seems little goes on in Kingston on the main thoroughfares.

We meet some studio musicians who played on this or that cd with this or that artist, have a look around. On our way back to the car we see Etana walking into the studio.  Just another day in Kingston….

That night we hang at the house, some people come over but we don’t go out.

When I wake up the next morning party preparations are full-on…house cleaning, getting the decks ready, setting up SoupMan….boy that’s a production. He does some prep work in the kitchen and then, after much discussion as to the best location for day-long fish cooking,  sets up his propane burner under a large shade tree in the yard and gets cooking.  Apparently fish tea takes hours to prepare because he is at it all day.

Meanwhile soap and water are running off the side and roof decks as they are cleaned, the house is being mopped and picked up. I go out for a hike around the neighborhood and  when I return we begin moving furniture. The main dance floor and buffet will be upstairs on the roof deck, sitting areas will be on the 2nd floor decks and the roof deck sides, the living room is made cozy, the bathrooms cleaned….parking valets of a sort are hired as space in the very steep driveway is limited and no one wants people to be trapped behind cars.  The DJs arrive -Alric and Boyd from FAME FM, as it turns out, and they set up their sound system on the roof.

One (of many) cool things about this house is that roof deck. It’s huge, and loud music just floats away to the sky, we do not anticipate any issues with neighbors and noise.

I’m helping get food upstairs, get guys to help unload the ice delivery, setting up the bar…it was alot of fun.  Finally everything is set, we shower and dress for the evening  and people being arriving.  The guests are a very diverse group and I enjoyed meeting lots of new people.  The early part of the party is sitting, talking with new people, dinner. The later part is pretty much all dancing 🙂

I did get my camera out for a bit, and captured the cake(s) and flouring.








Whew! the party went on all night long, it was a LOT of fun. It was extra cool to be staying there as all I had to do when I got tired was walk downstairs into my room.

Thoughts? Questions? I'd love to hear them!