Independent Lens


Taxi Ride from Kingston to the Jamaican Countryside | Ep. 1

Twin brothers Don and Ron Brodie travel to Jamaica to reconnect with their roots, with first stop the bustling city of Kingston. While all-night dancehall parties are a main attraction for tourists and locals alike, the Brodies link up with a local taxi driver to get a feel for life far outside the city, where the temperatures are cooler and the fish are plenty.

AIRED: September 21, 2020 | 0:10:37

-This isn't a pothole. What do you call it?


-I'm like, clinched.

[ Thud, rattling ] -Ooh.

-Ooh. -Okay.


-We're Ron and Don Brodie, first-generation Jamericans.

When we were little, our parents would bring us to Jamaica

to learn about our heritage.

-You think this one is good? -Yeah!

-Now we're back to navigate our own route,

with help from local drivers along the way.

This is "Driver Radio: Jamaica."

[ Indistinct conversations ]

-When I come to Jamaica,

as soon as I touch down, whether it be on the north coast

or down here in Kingston, I feel this instant calm.

[ Mid-tempo music plays ]

I think if you go straight, there's a shopping center

where there's a Tastee's patty. -All right.

-In the urban, urban areas of Kingston, in a little bar,

or it could be out in the remote country --

I get the same vibe when I come here

just because I know where I'm coming from.

-Jamaica is a place that exists with real people, good culture,

good food, beautiful beaches, amazing music,

good weed smoke -- everything.

-It's a good starting point to get ideas flowing

and things off the ground.

-Kingston's completely different from where I grew up.

-You have that density, the traffic.

-I've driven in Jamaica before, but, man,

it's kind of a terrifying thing to think about doing again.

With the appropriation of Jamaican culture

around the world, we wanted to catch Kingston's city vibe.

To get out and explore,

we radioed for a driver to take us downtown.

[ Air horn blares ] -With dancehall becoming

one of Kingston's biggest attractions,

our first stop was to the Dancehall Hostel.

We learned about culture from the inner city

that's continually growing more popularity throughout the world.

-I'm Ron. It's a pleasure to meet you.

-[ Laughs ]

They call me Orville Xpressionz or Dancehall Professor

And you are presently in the Dancehall District.

-Growing up, we would visit family in Kingston.

However, they never dreamt of taking us

to this part of the city.

-This is our chill spot.

We have a bar here. -Yes.

-I think we can hold another four bunk beds inside.

-Are you seeing a lot more people

coming to places like this in search of authentic experiences?

-Yeah, definitely.

They go to the five-star hotels,

but to really get a true slice of Jamaica,

they have been coming into different communities.

We've seen people

from so many different places around the world,

all learning more about not just dancehall

but the whole Jamaican culture.

-Taxis were often thought to be unsafe or unreliable

by tourists and locals alike.

Now this downtown market has become actively competitive

with the rising thirst for an authentic dancehall experience.

-I don't think there's anywhere else in the world

that does what Jamaica does where party is concerned.

You can go to at least three parties a night

every night in Kingston.

We went to a function, and we called for a cab.

The guy drove up and stepped out of the car

and opened the car door, and he was absolutely on time.

There was Wi-Fi in the vehicle and he said good afternoon,

and he gave us his card.

We don't see this much in Jamaica.

I didn't know people love serving people

as a taxi driver that much.

[ Mid-tempo music plays ]

[ Engine revs ]


[ Tape rewinding, air horn blares ]

-With plans to develop the city's harbor,

authorities are looking to crack down on these street parties.

However, many see these gatherings

as relief from the city's daily struggles,

or, as a Jamaican would say, sufferations.

-If people know the history of Jamaica parties

feed the community --

the man who sell the soup,

the man who sell the peanut on the rack,

the man who sells him herb, the taxi drivers --

Everybody can benefit, and everybody can feel like a part

of this tourist industry that we have that's booming.

[ Cymbals clanging, music continues ]


-Yo, yo, yo, yo.

[ Pump humming ]

-I just want to make sure we have enough headroom.

-After spending a full day in Kingston,

we radioed for Casper to get us out of the city.

-Looking for an escape, he seemed like the perfect person

to start an adventure with.

[ Mid-tempo music plays ]

-There goes the belt. We're in good territory.

We can relax. -[ Laughs ]

[ Indistinct conversations ]


-We reached the parish of St. Elizabeth,

a mainly agricultural community stretching from the island's

mineral-rich western center to the south shore.

The higher elevation leading back down to the coast

provides a cool breeze

and welcomed escape from the city's heat.

-Oh. Gut River. -There it is.

It's right here. -Yes. We reach.


[ Birds chirping ]


[ Goat bleats, chicken clucking ]

[ Pig grunting ]

-All right. [ Laughs ]


Bredren! We reach. We reach.

-Yeah. This is Tingle.

-Gut River is a little-known oasis

off the beaten tourist path.

We wanted to understand the main differences

between city and country,

so we asked a group of local taxi operators

for their perspective.

-It's late night.

Where are you gonna take a passenger

who wants to get something to eat?

-It would seem that the general consensus

is Jamaica's KFC is much better

than whatever is manufactured in the United States.

[ Laughter ]

-How much power is behind this spear?

-Check it. I got the perfect thing.

We're gonna take you swimming.

You can wear this. [ Laughter ]

They'll match the socks, man.

[ Laughter ] -Yo, your face was priceless.

[ Mid-tempo music plays ]



-Oh, yay!

-Hey, hey, hey, hey!


-Seems like you can't take the yaad from out the yaadie.

-For a city driver like Casper,

a trip out to the country was just what the doctor ordered.

Sometimes you got to treat yourself,

because moments like these can be so far removed.


-Greetings in the name of His Imperial Majesty,

who reveals himself

in the personality of Emperor Haile Selassie I.



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