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My blog this week is a little bit off the travel path. It is about a man I met . Theatre rehearsals have begun again for our youngest daughter. The first rehearsal of any new production involves a parent meeting. Of course being the need to know mother that I am, I was in attendance.

Since the rehearsal was only scheduled for 2 hours and one-way to the theatre is a 30 minute drive, I had already made plans to wait in the lounge after the meeting. I figured I’d catch up on some Facebook and brought a book to read. I had begun to play with my phone, settling in on the couch, when a father came out of the theatre and began to speak with me. At first, I thought maybe he just had a question, but soon realized he wanted to engage in conversation. At first, I was a little irked because I had to put down what I was doing, but soon relished in his company and conversation.

He like myself had a long drive one way and decided best to wait. He told me, he doesn’t normally get involved in this, but had to fill in for his wife tonight. Seeing that he was dying to speak, I soon pushed my phone and book aside and gave him 100% of my attention. I started asking more about him and his family. To his delight, we discovered that we both had kids of similar ages and as parents spent the majority or our free time driving from one practice, rehearsal, or event to another. I was so drawn in by his effervescent personality, I continued to ask more.

I soon discovered that he and his wife had moved here from Canada about 10 years ago, but were still getting used to US customs. They were both Jamaican, but met in Canada where they married and began raising their family. It was his wife’s job that brought them to the Memphis area. She is a nurse and her skills were sought out by several of our large hospitals. She has ended up with St. Jude. I was thoroughly intrigued being a transplant myself, and also having been here about 10 years now. It turns out that he is a mechanic by trade wanting to finish his schooling, but truly has a passion for cooking. I wanted to know more. His personality, smile, and casual “go with the flow” take on life were contagious.

I couldn’t resist knowing more about this happy person and proceeded to dive deeper. I started to ask more about where he grew up and how he ended up in Canada. It turns out he grew up outside of Kingston. In fact, he actually grew up with Bob Marley. Bob Marley was a few years older he told me, but they played in the same fields and along the same beaches. He said he wanted to visit Nashville at some point since he heard Bob had been there once. It was funny to hear him describe Marley as a tall, skinny boy. He said they lost touch when his mother decided to take him, his sister, and his grandmother to Canada due to the uprisings in Kingston at the time. He has never been back since. Made me kind of sad.

I told him that I had visited a few areas in Jamaica and it was one of my favorite islands to escape too. I said I really love the vibe and food items such as conch, meat pies, and curried goat. I told him I love to try what the locals eat. It is one of my favorite must do’s when I travel. He got so excited and started to tell me about how he cooks traditional Jamaican cuisine at home and for his friends and kid’s friends. In fact, if he ever gets to follow his passion to cook he would open a restaurant with Jamaican fare. He said it is hard to find the right spices here and that the price of goat is outrageous. However, he did even share his tiny secret about making the perfect rice and peas. He said, “Oh my, I’ve never shared that before and swore me to secrecy.” Sorry! He truly made my day and in the end I made his when he discovered what I did for a living. “Oh I must have your card. We have been wanting to plan a vacation and don’t know where to begin.”, he said. Then he commented that our meeting was meant to be. That the universe had brought him there that night. For me, it was a lesson about disconnecting from the electronic tethers of our life and engaging in good old fashion conversation. I encourage you next time someone approaches you to give them your undivided attention and see what you can learn.

For fun, try your hand at some Jamaican cuisine. Visit Eat Jamaican.

Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslIRIE

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