Admiring thick green lawns and solid houses while walking on a leafy residential street in Washington D.C. recently, I spotted a Caribbean paradise. No, it wasn’t a mirage stirred by a desire for warmth and sun at the onset of autumn, nor a restaurant with a tropical grass shack and palm tree theme. Occupying the lawn of a typical house on Kalmia Road was a fifty-six-foot-long and fourteen-foot-wide concrete replica of the island of Jamaica surrounded by lucent blue water. The cement isle featured lush greenery, mountains, beaches, and a rough hewn coastline. It depicted cities, railroads, airports, and winding roads.
Stunned, I paused for several moments and absorbed the intricate detail rendered with such unbridled devotion to a distant place. But this unapologetic promotion called “Jamaica Gateway,” didn’t so much transport me to the tropics or make me long to be “down the way where the nights are gay and the sun shines daily on the mountain top.” Rather, I was gladdened to be exactly where I was, in a place of singular creativity where I could be startled beyond my drowsy expectations and find something wonderfully unexpected on such an ordinary day.