Dwight had a nightmare that forced him to flee Babylon, the name given to the capital, Kingston, by many Jamaicans, and move to the countryside. With no capital to invest, he decided to “try something” and established a cooking shop called “Taste A Yaad Restaurant” on the sandy beach of White Bay in Trelawny, Jamaica.
Walking the length of White Bay from the Breezes hotel in the west, I passed rows of couches littered with bodies baking in the morning sun before coming to a small complex of craft shops jutting out of the mangrove forest towards the edge. south of the beach These shacks are typical of those found near tourist centers throughout Jamaica. A couple of vendors greeted me, trying to start a sale with something along the lines of “Good morning, Mon! Take a look at my…”, but I kept walking as I’d seen and heard it all before, and had an appointment. meeting Brian, an instructor, for my first kite lesson later on on that fabulous white sand beach.
After another hundred yards, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of Dwight, his hair combed in a row of canes, raking the beach in front of his establishment, the “Taste A Yaad Restaurant.” My curiosity overcame my enthusiasm for my kitesurfing lesson, and I stopped to talk to Dwight, who gave me a tour of his place of business, which was built in the shade of tall trees in an area that sloped away from the beach into a clearing between the mangroves
As I followed it, weaving in and out of the sunlight filtering through the branches above, I noticed that the main building materials were branches cut from the mangroves and pieces of used wood and plywood that Dwight had collected and recycled. . Chairs and benches were made from mangrove branches, bent and nailed in place. An old rusty sheet metal was turned into a table and a drawing board pattern was painted on it.
The main building was the shop and kitchen with a gallery containing two dining tables and chairs, all covered with zinc and blue plastic sheeting to keep out the rain. At the rear of this building, out of sight of his patrons, Dwight had erected a stand for a large plastic jerrycan to gravity feed the kitchen water supply. Further back and to one side was a very small building with walls made of sticks driven into the sand. Dwight opened the door to show me an amazingly functioning porcelain toilet, whose water supply was also gravity-fed from another plastic drum elevated to the rear of this structure. He had also installed a running plastic bowl and faucet as a sink with running water.
With a little paint, mostly in the bright colors red, yellow, and green, Dwight decorated his store and hand-painted his sign. He also used painted shells and bottles that he partially buried in the sand and hung from strings. And for the kid in all of us, he tied a piece of wood to the end of a rope and hung it from a tall tree, providing simple fun in a fabulous setting. From everywhere in Dwight’s “Taste A Yaad Restaurant” there was a fabulous view of the turquoise Caribbean Sea at White Bay.
Dwight’s hard work, attention to detail, and care for his customers were vividly displayed in his clean and tidy place of business. That he could create such an attractive environment with so little was truly remarkable and a joy to behold. I could have spent the whole day there talking to Dwight, but my kitesurfing lesson called so I booted up and promised to be back for lunch.