Rolling With the Big Dogs

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Ambassador Ricardo Allicock and me…tee hee!

Yup, me reach…me buss.  I’m rolling with the big dogs now.  I met an ambassador.

OK, maybe I haven’t actually reached, but meeting the ambassador was fun.  Let me tell you how it happened.

Two Fridays ago, I was busy working when I happened to check my email.  I saw a message from the secretary of the Consul General of Jamaica in Jakarta, inviting me to dinner at his house in honour of a visit of the non-resident Ambassador of Jamaica to Indonesia.  The ambassador was visiting the country in order to present his credentials to the president of Indonesia.

OK, all of that’s a diplomatic mouthful, so let me break it down for you.

Jamaica doesn’t have an embassy in Indonesia – that’s understandable because there are hardly any Jamaicans here.  However, there’s an Indonesian man here in Jakarta who acts as Jamaica’s representative in Indonesia.  So, for example, if any Jamaicans here have problems, (if the Acehnese immigration people had lost their minds and sent me to immigration jail, for instance) they contact him to help them sort themselves out.  He’s the Consul General of Jamaica in Indonesia, and he was hosting a dinner at his house for Jamaica’s ambassador to Indonesia.

The Jamaican ambassador who’s responsible for Indonesia doesn’t live here – he’s non-resident.  He lives in Tokyo, Japan.  That’s because he’s actually responsible for 7 countries, Indonesia being just 1 of them.  He has to go to each country for which he’s responsible to present a letter signed by the queen (uh huh, apparently we’re still a colony; last I heard we were “independent”) saying that he’s the ambassador and I guess a bunch of other stuff (like his qualifications, maybe) to the head of that country.  That letter is called his credentials and he was coming to present it to the President of Indonesia.

So while the ambassador was here, the Consul General was having a get-together at his house and he invited all of the Jamaicans in Jakarta to attend.  “All of the Jamaicans in Jakarta” actually turned out to be 4 people: The Jamaican, 2 other Jamaicans who head UN offices here, and me.  I didn’t hesitate to say yes.  As much as I don’t miss home, I was really looking forward to having a conversation with people who easily understood what I was saying and for whom I didn’t have to speak slowly.

The dinner was scheduled for last Tuesday so guess what I did on Saturday morning?  Yup, I hoofed it to the mall to find a nice top to wear; I didn’t want to go to the mall on Sunday because I was taking my 36-hour my mini-break and had no intention of stepping foot out of my hotel room unless the hotel was on fire.  I knew exactly the top I wanted but I spent about an hour and a half not finding it in about 6 different stores.  Just when I was about to give up and head back to the centre (I had a meeting to get back for), I happened to see the perfect top in a little boutique window.  And I got it for a steal!  Thank You, Lord!  Outfit, check.

Dinner was at 7 pm so I booked my taxi to pick me up 5:45 pm because it was raining and it was rush hour.  I got there in about 45 minutes, so 30 minutes early, which was fine by me because better early than late.  I was the first Jamaican to arrive so I had a nice chat with the Consul General, his secretary and his family while we waited for everyone else.  It turns out that it was also his birthday and he was turning 76 years old, so he dropped some knowledge on me while we chatted.

The Jamaicans started arriving just before 7 pm, with the ambassador arriving a few minutes later.  Of course, I already knew The Jamaican.  The Consul General introduced me to the other new Jamaican arrivals, as well as the ambassador, and the evening got underway.

It was a cocktail type of function – relaxed, no formal dining, and constant chatter over glasses of wine (I had 2, 1 glass of Balinese wine because I didn’t even know that Bali produces wine, and another glass of red from Australia, I think).  I found the new Jamaicans easy to converse with so I chatted with each of them, and they gave me their contact information.  Then the ambassador, making his rounds, came over and asked me how I ended up in Jakarta.  Well, I spent the next 15 minutes or so, with a few interruptions of course, giving him the condensed version of things.  I also asked him how he came to be ambassador and he gave me the condensed version of things.  It turns out that the ambassador is a man of God (a real one…yay!  Great to know Jamaica has at least 1 of those out there representing us officially).  All in all, we had a lovely chat, ending with him giving me some words of encouragement for my future endeavours.

As the evening wound down just after 9 pm, The Jamaican offered to take the ambassador back to his hotel and invited me to ride along, then stop by his house for coffee before heading back to the centre.  I said sure since it was still pretty early, and we continued having a lovely chat on the drive to the hotel.

By the time we got to The Jamaican’s house, it was just after 10 pm and he offered me his guest room for the night.  What do you think of said?  YAAAAASSSSSS!!!!  Of course!  I didn’t have a toothbrush with me, and I had no idea what my hair situation would be the next morning (yes, I know it normally looks crazy, but I don’t just wake up that way).  But I couldn’t turn down the totally unexpected opportunity to spend the night in comfort.

I slept like a baby and awoke the next morning, had a hot shower and slapped on some handbag lotion.  After another lovely chat over breakfast with The Jamaican, at about 9:30 am, I headed out because I had an 11 am Skype meeting for which I needed my laptop.

As I sat in the back of the cab on the way back, wearing last night’s nice clothes and contemplating the last 15 hours or so, I felt really good.  I’d had great conversations, made a few connections, and got so much more than I ever expected to receive from attending a 2-hour dinner.

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