Over the last four months, I’ve been going to the Rockfort mineral bath almost every week. I decided this was excellent therapy for my unconfirmed chik-V. I’d been advised not to lift weights because of the stress on the joints. So exercising in the mineral water was my way of compensating for missing the gym.
The $300 entry fee for senior citizens is a bargain. It gives you 45 minutes in the pool. When I asked about the time limit, I was told that the Ministry of Health had recommended the restriction because of the potency of the minerals. I have absolutely no confidence in the facts and figures coming out of that ministry. So I usually take some ‘brawta’ minutes. I have to drag myself out of the pool.
The mineral bath is an underused resource. It’s next door to the cement factory, so I know that’s an issue. The risk of industrial pollution puts people off. Sometimes, I’m the only person in the pool. But I think the benefits of the mineral water outweigh the risk of inhaling cement dust. And since it’s the Caribbean Cement Company that’s maintaining the bath, one does have to take the sour with the sweet.
One of the lifeguards encouraged me to write about the healing power of the mineral water so more patrons would come. I selfishly felt conflicted. I really wouldn’t want to be in the pool at its full capacity of 50 persons. One week, as I drove into the parking lot, I heard the screams of children on a school outing enjoying themselves. I didn’t even make it to 20 minutes that day. I just couldn’t take the noise.
There are private baths, but these have not been open for quite a while. I gather that they are to be refurbished soon. The last time I used the private baths, several years ago, I was disappointed to see how rundown they had become. So I’m not surprised they’ve been closed.
I certainly missed my soothing mineral bath while I was away. I had gone to King’s College, University of London, to have a public conversation with the Martinican zouk singer Jocelyne Beroard of the band Kassav. We spoke about Caribbean popular music and dance. And we expressed our love for the Creole languages that have been created in the region.
Kassav is the French Creole word for cassava. The band chose that name to signify nutritious local food which, like music, nurtures body and spirit. And they sing in Creole to affirm the value of the language. It’s a political issue – reclaiming the power of our shared African heritage.
Billed as a ‘Moving Conversation’, the event was part of the ‘Modern Moves’ research project directed by Prof Ananya Kabir of the Department of English. This energetic project tracks the movement of African rhythms across the cultures of the diaspora.
The very first morning I came home, I made a move to the mineral bath. I needed to thaw out from the London cold and the Paris tragedy. I was waiting at the intersection of Windward Road and Michael Manley Boulevard to merge with traffic on the highway when a youngish male driver hit my car in the rear.
We both got out of our cars and our conversation went something like this. He asked me, “So what we going to do?” And I said, “How you mean? We going to exchange information.” I suggested that he pull in behind me out of the traffic. He said there wasn’t enough room so he would park ahead of me. Well, you know what happened. Mr Wrong took off at such a speed I’m surprised he didn’t crash.
All I could do was laugh. It was completely ridiculous. And I did understand why Mr Wrong made a dash for it. He took one look at my relatively new car and decided he was not going to take any responsibility for fixing it. He probably didn’t even have a driver’s licence, much more insurance. It made no sense to run him down. Looking for Mr Wrong would be a complete waste of time.
There are so many of these incidents every single day. Hit-and-run driving is a common offence. We really have to do something extraordinary to bring order to the chaos on the roads. Taxi men are a special case. I have seen a taxi man in the right-turn lane move to the left, across two lanes of traffic, and turn left just as the light is changing! Driving is clearly a daredevil sport.
I’m convinced that a high percentage of drivers are not literate and so they haven’t read the road code. And even those who are literate do not seem to understand the language of the code. And if they do understand, they are certainly not obeying the rules. I think the minister of transport and works needs to commission the Jamaican Language Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona to produce an oral version of the road code translated into the heart language of the Jamaican people.
Until we get drivers to ‘feel’ the meaning of the road code, we are not going to get compliance with the rules. But, I suppose, some of us would rather die on the road than acknowledge the power of the Jamaican language to influence behaviour. That’s a high price to pay for downright ignorance.