Dwight had a nightmare which compelled him to flee Babylon, the name given to the capital, Kingston, by many Jamaicans, and move to the country. With no capital to invest, he decided to “try a ting” and established a cook-shop called “Taste A Yaad Restaurant” on the sandy beach at White Bay in Trelawny, Jamaica.
Walking along White Bay from the Breezes Hotel in the West, I passed rows of lounge chairs filled with bodies baking in the morning sun before I came upon a small complex of craft shops jutting out of the mangrove forest onto the South edge of the beach. These shacks are typical of those found near tourist resorts all over Jamaica. A couple of vendors greeted me, trying to initiate a sale with something like “Good morning, Mon! Take a look at my…”, but I walked on as I had seen and heard it all before, and I had an appointment to meet Brian, an instructor, for my first kitesurfing lesson further along on that fabulous white sand beach.
After another few hundred yards, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of Dwight, with neat cane-rowed hair, raking the beach in front of his establishment, the “Taste A Yaad Restaurant”. My curiosity got the better of my excitement for my kitesurf lesson, and I stopped to talk with Dwight who gave me a tour of his business place, which was built in the shade of tall trees in an area receding from the beach into a clearing among the mangroves.
As I followed him around, moving in and out of the shafts of sunshine filtering through the branches above, I noticed that the main building materials were branches cut from the mangroves and pieces of used timber and ply board that Dwight had collected and recycled. Chairs and benches were constructed from mangrove branches, bent and nailed into place. An old rusted sheet of metal was converted into a table top and a draught board pattern painted on.
The main building was the shop and kitchen with a veranda containing two dining tables and chairs, all covered with zinc and a sheet of blue plastic to keep out the rain. To the back of this building, out of sight of his customers, Dwight had erected a stand for a large plastic drum to gravity feed his water supply to the kitchen. Further back and to the side was a very small building with walls of sticks planted in the sand. Dwight opened the door to show me an unbelievable functioning porcelain flush toilet, whose water supply was also gravity fed from another elevated plastic drum to the back of this structure. He had also rigged up an ordinary plastic bowl and tap as a wash basin with running water.
With a little paint, mostly in the bright colours, red, yellow and green, Dwight decorated his establishment and hand-painted his sign. He also used conch shells, and painted bottles which he partially buried in the sand and hung from strings. And for the child in us all, he tied a piece of wood to the end of a rope and strung it from a tall tree, providing simple fun in a fabulous setting. From everywhere in Dwight’s “Taste A Yaad Restaurant” one had a fabulous view of the turquoise Caribbean Sea at White Bay.
Dwight’s hard work, attention to detail, and care for his customers showed vividly in his clean and tidy business place. That he could create such an appealing environment with so little was truly remarkable and a joy to behold. I could have spent all day there talking to Dwight, but my kitesurfing lesson called, so I tore myself away and vowed to return for lunch.