Posse (n) – from the Medieval Latin posse comitatus, literally power or authority of the county:
1) a large group often with a common interest
2) a body of persons summoned by a sherrif to assist in preserving the public peace usually in an emergency
3) a group of people temporarily organized to make a search
Back in 2005 a very sage van driver put a name to a group of people had been living up to – he gave that name a tag that was fitting as well. Up until that point we were simply a group of friends from all over the world that converged upon the island of Jamaica at the same time – and enjoyed the hell out of it. The driver of course had some inside info…he’d been driving this group of people all over Negril for a month or more and their behavioral eccentricities did not stop when they got on the bus – quite the opposite as a matter of fact.
The Rotten Posse is dynamic in range and spans generations. It consists of people from all over the United States, Canada and Jamaica. We either live in Jamaica full time, come down for long term visits or even for short term ones – our common interest is our love for the place, our love for each other and our commitment to create random acts of fun. At times our numbers drop to six or eight – at peaks we can build our posse up to eighteen strong. The more posse the more fun. The more fun, the more noise. The posse, if nothing else, is enthusiastic about having fun and dedicated to sharing that with everyone we encounter. The fun could be a simple night out at one of our favorite watering holes or as complex as filling two buses to go off to an all night concert in St. Elizabeth.
An integral part of the posse experience is the van that carts us around and her driver – Niah. Early on in one trip the van was hurting people – well, they were hurting themselves. Some bumped their heads on the doorway or ceiling of the van – “watch your head” became the entry cry. Depending on the condition of any posse member at any time, the van could be tricky to get out of – “watch your step” Niah would say each time. A song was born… Posse on the Bus
“You gotta watch your head –
When you’re gettin’ on the bus…
Gotta watch your step –
When your getting’ on the bus…
Watch your head! Watch your step!”
It’s kind of a “you gotta be there” song but we could riff out on it for HOURS – to the pleasure or annoyance of anyone who might be around.
The true beauty of the Rotten Posse is that anyone can join in on the fun – you are a member of the posse as long as you can “hang” with the posse. Starting mid-December this animal started to sprout wings…friends and family were arriving and departing on a somewhat constant basis – one goes, another arrives – one person is celebrating their first day/night in Jamaica, another their last. It’s that way right up to the second week in January…
…the posse ebbs and flows as people come and go.
What we are really is a community – a family. Having this new and large house accommodated many communal meals, afternoons checking emails, hanging by the pool, swimming in the sea…while we might have seemed really busy none of us forget that we are there for a chill time and to take the time to pay attention to the natural beauty of the place, the magnificent sunsets, sunrises, moon sets and stars. We pay attention to the movement of the earth and we revel in the moments together.
I am not blessed with children of my own. I am blessed though with a community of children that my friends have and share with me.
One of the greatest gifts you can give a kid is an experience, a turn-on if you will. Eight years ago my friends brought their fifteen-year old daughter down to Jamaica with them. We were all staying at SamSara at the time. It was their first visit but more importantly…her first visit. It was the first I had the unique experience of seeing Jamaica through a teenager’s eyes.
Six years ago I flew our goddaughter down and lived and loved the island again through her eyes…it’s so special I can’t even describe.
In subsequent years we’d have the whole passel of kids there, ages ranging from 17 to 23. They are mostly on their own, doing their own thing, staying in their own places but considering we are “old fogies” they are more than happy to hang out with us. We are so blessed by that and I am so pleased that these young people WANT to hang out with us. Their energy and their youth is contagious…in exchange for that vibrancy they get the benefit of our experience in this place and they get to see stuff that had they been on the “Spring Break” or “tourist track” they never would have seen. My husband at one point made the comment that “we used to party with our friends…now we party with our friends kids…” Well, we still party with our friends but we ALSO party with our friends’ kids.
It’s always neat watching the “experienced” Negril travelers show the “newbies” around town, hip them to the cool things to do, turn them on to different food…again, that gift, the gift of experience being handed down from one generation to the next.
They are good kids, their parents did a marvelous job. Respect and manners come second nature to all of them. They know something special when the see it too.
We mix up the traditional and not so traditional with them. They are with us for New Years and were always with us for the Full Moon Celebration…but we also do a Wild Thing Cruise with them. We take them to Alfreds – for a “regular” Sunday night groove and to see the great Toots Hibbert in December 2009. We rent dirt bikes with them – and ride with them off road to Lost Beach.
It is a great mix of being with them and not being with them…it was always great to gather in the evening for sunset or a meal and hear about everybody’s day.
In the end we know these kids have found “their place”…Jamaica is their place, the place they will always come back to, bring their friends to and continue the gift of experience down the line.
The gist of our posse is this: Some people have an adventure of a lifetime. We have a lifetime of adventure.
That’s how we roll.