I dreamt years ago that I would travel to Paris to meet someone I loved. In the dream I  wandered through crowded Parisian  shops and abandoned buildings trying to find a way to some unknown place. Finally I arrived at a beautifully lit garden and there was my person. My dream ended without a face or body, and left me with a feeling of relief, warmth and comfort.

Unsuprisingly, I met one of my best friends in Paris this summer. A lot of tears , maniacal laughter, and dancing would ensue. The picture taking was scarce . One of my most memorable moments was our long train ride into the suburbs to have a post Ramadan feast with my friend Aminata and her beautiful family.

Like all of my close friends, I love Janine because she is free.I love her because she is my friend, a sister, daughter, and fighter. Yeah, I also love her because she’s great at reading maps and without her I would have ended up in Kazakhastan.

I might bore you to tears with more stories about my friends, though they are very few. The importance of sisterhood has definitely been stressed this year and I am beyond grateful.



Grandma the Healer: Pain

My Grandmother was a  Maroon born in Trelawney Jamaica who  later settled in the parish of St. Thomas where she raised 4 children with her husband. Over the years she would  become a local healer, diviner, and washerwoman whom people affectionately called “Mother Marks”.  Neighbors would visit her in the hopes of curing weakened limbs, rashes, and sick spirits; they were rarely disappointed.


Centruroides gracilis, a species of scorpion found in Jamaica(The Scorpion Files)

Grandma’s remedy for pain was a tincture created by soaking scorpions in Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum. The venom extracted  from the scorpion would act as a numbing agent which would bring relief to her arthritic joints after it was rubbed on. Although it seems an unusual cure, my friend Lamar who lives in Jamaica says “Yea, dem still use it. De real country Granny  yuh find with dat.”


In Patricia-Kaye Aaron’s commentary  Belief Kill and Belief Cure she recalls some of the Jamaican home remedies she’s heard , ” Soak a scorpion in white rum and use the mixture to cure menstrual cramps ( I’m not sure if you’re supposed to drink it or sop it )”.


It wouldn’t be farfetched to say that the scorpion remedy may have originated in Africa. In Madagascar: The Eighth Continent: Life, Death and Discovery in a Lost World by Peter Tyson 2011, “He’d been bitten by a fat tailed scorpion; in rare cases, people have died from the sting of a thin tailed variety. The Malagasy in camp told him there were three things he could do to staunch the pain. He could put the scorpion in alcohol, then apply the brew of dissolved scorpion juices to the wound. He could mix the local Malagasy rum with local tobacco and rub that in, or he could take his live scorpion, boil it for 20 minutes , and guzzle the juice.  Dean settled for a beer. ”

To each his own.