I met Marshall in Jamaica. I was spending a couple of nights at the (formerly known as) Breezes Rio Bueno. At the time Marshall was one of many pool maintenance workers on the property. He would gather empty cups, re-arrange the pool chairs into rows, sweep the deck and generally keep the whole pool area very clean. Now that ownership of the property is up in the air, I hope that Marshall is able to keep his job.
To describe Marshall on a superficial level, he is tall – my best guess would be six and a half feet. Being from Jamaica, he has black skin, although not so black where he might look like a smiling shadow if the lights were dim. He has short hair that is starting to turn grey, skinny legs and knobs for knees. Actually Marshall is generally a pretty lanky dude. Most importantly, Marshall has a great smile!
Shortly after arriving at the resort, I found Marshall sitting on a ledge in front of some bushes by the pool, hunched over a dried and hollowed-out gourd. With knife in hand, Marshall was carving through the dehydrated green skin of one particular gourd. Whittling away to create beautiful designs of flowers and foliage, Marshall definitely caught my attention. I stepped forward to ask what he was doing. He looked up at me like he was in trouble and then gave me an embarrassed smile (he might have even blushed, but his dark skin worked as excellent cover). He passed me the gourd he was working on and in that wonderful Jamaican accent I love so much, he said, “I make dem myself. Just as a hobby, but I sell dem too.” Then Marshall reached behind and pushed aside a branch of the bush, and there hidden in the garden were about five other gourds that Marshall had embellished. Of course I immediately asked if he was working the next day and he assured that he would be. I told him I would find him later and buy one of his gourds.
I kept my word the following day and bought a piece of original artwork from the one and only Marshall. He was nice enough to carve my name into it for me, and when I pulled out my camera he gave me another of his bashful grins.
I still have the gourd and it’s one of the few souvenirs from Jamaica that I really love. Thanks Marshall!