Photo Credit: Courtesy: Leah
Day In The Life Of An Expat In Jamaica, St. Thomas
Meet Leah, an expat in the beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica, more specifically in St Thomas. When Leah moved from London to Jamaica, her lifestyle and environment shifted massively. In 2 years she has developed a way of living that enlivens her and brings much peace. From supporting the community with nourishing dishes, to teaching her child to embrace island-living, there is much to admire.
Here is the life of an Expat in Jamaica:
I live in the rural agricultural district of Albion, St Thomas, Jamaica. St Thomas is ideal for those who want to live closer to nature. In St Thomas we have a wonderful natural ecosystem ideal for, surfing, hiking in the Blue Mountains, camping under the stars, bird watching, sailing, fishing, and diving; and it is not far from the capital, Kingston.
I moved here from London in November 2020 after birthing my son in July. Honestly, I always knew I wanted to raise my son away from the turbulent South London I grew up in. I decided to venture off to a sunnier climate in Jamaica. Overall, St Thomas parish offers a safe, unhurried and friendly environment for raising children.
I live right by the Caribbean Sea near a rustic fishing village called Cow Bay. Reluctant to work online to make a living, I began co-partnering in fishing on the beach as a means of making income. Co-partnering involves buying fishing equipment, making fishing rigs, mainlining the boat and going out to sea. It’s a male dominant environment I am one of 3 women involved in fishing on the beach. My co-partner became my lover which is a bonus as he has a seafood restaurant – Cow Bay Seafood Restaurant & Bar. He’s ‘Jamaican Jamaican’ so has no desire to move to the UK which is great. Admittedly we have many cultural differences to navigate but it’s all good!
My background is in arts and humanities and attending yoga, fashion and beauty school- as well as gaining a social work degree – gave me transferable skills needed to set up a small business here after a period of maternity. I opened LIV+BE Cow Bay in March 2022, a holistic beach house and café, where I teach Smai African Yoga and an African tai chi called Hudu. We included a veggie café/tea room where I serve fusion vegetarian food, herbal teas, juices and coffee. I also created space for a remedy room for reiki, crystal healing and beauty treatments. There is also an office for attempting to organise my life.
I wake up to look out of my window and watch the 28 footer boat go out to sea in search of fish. I usually light a candle, open the windows burn some patchouli incense and give thanks to ancestors and nature. My son Jett and I like to have fresh local fruits for breakfast.
After getting dressed, I take my son to his learning centre which is about 10 minutes from my home. He attends a few days a week so we have time together on my days off. We usually go to visit an attraction, river, beach or farm to learn something new about the island. We recently went to visit Hope Zoo, he loved petting the animals!
My day continues with what is a fairly quick and cost effective walk along the coast to work. It takes about 7 minutes to arrive at the beach house. When I arrive I usually open the café, make teas and juices for local fishermen, residents and visitors. I like to share insights about Cow Bay and its history as well as sign post visitors to local things to see and do – community eco or wellness tourism is my thing!
By lunch time I start looking out for our boat to arrive back to shore, usually 3 fisher folk go out in the boat catching fish in pots, on the line and lobster in nets if the season allows. We catch snapper, parrot, grunt, and goat fish in pots, line fishing attracts bigger fish like king fish. Once the fish arrives at shore, we weigh, clean and sell the fish by the sea. I am a seafood lover so as long as it’s in season I make sure I get my grub on, often trying new ways of cooking conch, lobster and crayfish – roasting or grilling is my favourite. On Sundays over 100 customers come to the beach to buy fish for their evening meal – it means a lot to be able to supply families with responsibly caught food at affordable prices. On Sundays we show movies on our 20ft outdoor screen too.
After lunch I get ready to teach yoga or tend to a client. The yoga I teach comes from the Nile Valley in Egypt. It is a rhythmic and soulful practice allowing the elements of nature and bring balance to mind and body. I offer one to one sessions and classes. My business is fairly new so I deliver most of the offerings at present but soon I will be looking for a team member or an intern.
After I have picked up my son, we usually play, walk and explore, searching for shells and throwing stones by the beach. My weekday evenings include putting my son to bed, spending time with my lover and volunteering.
I am the secretary for our local fishing groups and the public relations officer for our local community development committee. Community work is time consuming but rewarding. I have been able to meet more people and embed myself in the community I live in by arranging beach clean ups, fun days and awareness raising projects.
Self-care is a thing for the weekend; aromatherapy meditation, bathing and washing my hair in the river! I love watering my plants and attempting to look after the fruits and vegetables I am growing – it’s a work in progress. So moving here was a challenge from a beauty perspective , products I was used to getting in the UK were not available to me – my keywords have been ‘accept, align and adapt’! I have learnt to make my own products using natural ingredients like aloe’s, turmeric, soursop etc. I make a shot every morning with sea moss from our seaside, turmeric, ginger, local honey & apple cider vinegar (I now sell this shop at the café). I make face masks in clay from a mineral spring in Bath, St Thomas. To me it felt important to source makeup that is sun-proof, a good SPF product and a budget proof mascara and lipstick are part of my daily routine too.
Lastly, when I can, I love to travel the island. I like to have a weekend in another parish, visit a caye island near Jamaica or go on a road trip. There is plenty of contrast across the island making new discoveries and celebrating life with good food, company and a crisp cold glass of dry rosé