Bajans greeted by smiles in Jamaica
Nothing but welcoming smiles!
That’s how the Jamaicans on the planes, at the airports, on the road and at the track have greeted the Barbadians here at the 40th LIME CARIFTA Games in Montego Bay.
Despite international tensions between the two countries, this sports-loving island seems to be totally focussed on welcoming their Southern Caribbean neighbours while sharing licks on the track.
“You are carrying a team to the mecca of track and field?” one man with a strong Jamaican accent asked coach Wendy Barrow-Smith while the place was still on the tarmac at Grantley Adams International Airport on Thursday morning.
“We’ve done it before and dominated,” Barrow-Smith said.
Looking in disbelief, the man told her Jamaica was going to win the CARIFTA Games again.
More warm smiles and offers of food and drink were made as the team was briefly hosted by LIME at the Norman Manley Airport in Kingston.
“What is the reason for your visit?” one customs officer asked this journalist at the Donald Sangster Airport later that evening?
“I’m here for the CARIFTA Games,” I replied.
“Enjoy,” she said with a smile, “’Cause we are going to beat you.”
At the track Friday morning, one Jamaican male asked for a Barbados tee-shirt.
“I’m supporting both Barbados and Jamaica. I am a Jamaican, but he is Barbadian. He was born in Barbados,” he said, pointing to a little boy who was nearby.
“And I live in Barbados. I am supporting both countries.”
A woman with them extended her hand in welcome, smiled and said: “You need to travel with your Barbados tee-shirts.”
Michael Worrell, head coach of the Barbados team said they had received a warm welcome from their hosts.
“Everything is great,” he said with a smile.
“We had a lot of fun at the Kingston airport with the customs officers. They were funny about certain things and they asked a lot of different questions. Some of them thought certain things were being blown out of proportion.
“Everything is ready right now and I feel sports will win over any disagreement between the islands.”
Relations between Barbados and Jamaica have been strained following allegations of finger rape by Jamaican national Shanique Myrie against Barbadian customs officials when she visited the island last month.
However, it remains to be seen how the crowd will react when the children start to compete and win medals.