Wheels Down: The President Arrives, and We Are Floored

Air Force One has landed on our little island.

At 7:31 p.m. this evening President Barack Hussein Obama of the United States arrived at Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport, where media representatives gathered on a platform. On Twitter, excitement had been mounting, with most of the journalists tweeting photos and comments. I thought I would share with you a few of the funniest and sweetest messages as the presidential plane arrived. The hashtag #ObamainJamaica was liberally sprinkled by those who were there and the vast majority of us watching on local television. Even before the plane landed, some of our friends to the west of the city cried excitedly on Twitter: I waved and screamed at Air Force One as it flew by my house. Amazing! Another tweeted: Was that Air Force 1 passing just now?!!!! Omgggg! Another went “all caps”: OBAMA JUST FLEW OVER MY HOUSE FJDKDKDKDDKDKDK Just hilarious stuff!

As evening falls…Helicopters await. (Photo: Jacqueline Charles/Miami Herald/Twitter)
As evening falls…Helicopters await the President’s arrival. (Photo: Jacqueline Charles/Miami Herald/Twitter)

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A Secret Service man as President Obama arrives in Jamaica. (Photo: Stephen Crowley/New York Times/Twitter)
A Secret Service man as President Obama arrives in Jamaica. (Photo: Stephen Crowley/New York Times/Twitter)

As the plane taxied on the runway, a ripple of awe and wonder crossed my Twitter timeline. So huge. So…glossy. We were all suddenly overwhelmed with that “this is a historic event” feeling that sends little chills down your back. Someone tweeted: The most powerful man in the world, a black man landed in Jamaica. You have to respect that.  Indeed.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller gets ready to give the President one of those hugs. He knows he can't escape, so he gives in. What puzzles me is - is that a tissue in her hand? (Photo: Twitter)
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller gets ready to give the President one of those hugs. He knows he can’t escape, so he gives in. What puzzles me is – is that a tissue in her hand? (Photo: Twitter)
Rep. Yvette Clarke accompanies President Obama down the steps of Air Force One. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Rep. Yvette Clarke accompanies President Obama down the steps of Air Force One. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

The U.S. Congresswoman of Jamaican heritage Yvette Clarke accompanied the President, alighting from the plane in a gold and white suit, beaming broadly. She tweeted: I am honored to join @BarackObama in the beautiful Nation of #Jamaica! A Brooklyn native, Yvette succeeded her mother, the pioneering, St. Elizabeth-born Una Clarke, as a New York City council woman. She looked thrilled to bits.

And National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice, who is also in the President’s party, tweeted: As the granddaughter of Jamaican immigrants to the United States, I’m especially proud to be here #Jamaica…

The look on Jamaican broadcaster Dervan Malcolm's face is just classic! (Photo: Twitter)
The look on Jamaican broadcaster Dervan Malcolm’s face is just classic! (Photo: Twitter)

So many wonderful connections, eh!

The jokes and play on words came thick and fast. It’s official – the POTUS is every Jamaican’s putus! said one. (“Putus” is a Jamaican patois word meaning “sweetheart”). Perfect! Another complained: Obama left the airport quick while me affi spend bout 30+ minutes a go thru immigration. Not fair!

The television coverage was enjoyable. Now, in Jamaica, everything (no matter how important) stops for the lotto draw every evening. But today was a very special day, as one tweep observed: Jamaica feels power of real world boss Barack Obama; cancels perennial Cashpot draw on the day he arrives in Kingston. #Unprecedented Meanwhile, some of us confessed to waving back to the President Obama on the television screen…

The U.S. Embassy’s Facebook page had asked the question: Where should President Obama visit if he has the time? One of my friends suggested the Bob Marley Museum (which happens to be a few minutes’ walk from our house) and guess what… The very first stop he made after his helicopter landed at the Jamaica Defence Force camp was… You’ve guessed it. The former home of Bob, now a museum, at 56 Hope Road.

The President at 42 Hope Road. (Photo: obamadiary.com/Twitter)
The President at 56 Hope Road. Natasha Clarke is his guide, looking somewhat awestruck here, and who can blame her. (Photo: obamadiary.com/Twitter)
Bob and Barack. (Photo: theobamadiary.com/Twitter)
Bob and Barack. “I still have all the albums,” said the President. (Photo: theobamadiary.com/Twitter)

Waves of happiness filled Jamaican Twitterland. It was the icing on the cake for us Obama fans. Someone tweeted approvingly: First place as him land is to go to the house of a rasta man. Not portia yard. Not GG yard. Rasta yard. Memba dat. Another tweet read: My heart is full. Maximum respect di man show wi. Maximum. Reach Bob Marley yaad first. Ambassador Rice tweeted: Bob Marley is a legend and I love his music. Great fun to visit his house in Kingston with President Obama. And Rita Marley simply tweeted: Thanks Mr. President, One Love.

 

PS. I just came across this quote, and somehow thought it appropriate. This is rather how “our” President made us feel this evening as soon as he arrived:

“Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery.” –  Warren Bennis

Yes, Mr. President. I think you have stolen our hearts. Again. Just like when you were first elected.

It’s a good feeling to be in Kingston, Jamaica, with you. Have a great visit.

And National Heroes Park is looking spick and span for the President's visit tomorrow. (Photo: Marcia Forbes/Twitter)
And National Heroes Park is looking spick and span for the President’s visit tomorrow. (Photo: Marcia Forbes/Twitter)

 

And President Obama arrived just in time for the golden pouis, just shedding their flowers...
President Obama arrived just in time for the golden pouis, just shedding their flowers… Here is a scene from the University of the West Indies campus, which the President will also visit tomorrow for a Town Hall meeting. (Photo: Twitter)

20 thoughts on “Wheels Down: The President Arrives, and We Are Floored

  1. What dizzying fun! Thanks for this recap Emma. I came to your blog specifically to get your report. Was wondering if you would get to actually meet him actually. Keep enjoying the high. 🙂

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    1. Yes, we did enjoy the high but we are “coming down” today and my last post notes that we are going back to the routine. No, I didn’t meet him but watched the whole thing on traditional and social media… In fact when I was working at the Embassy I had the opportunity to work at the Trinidad Embassy on the President’s visit to Port of Spain at the Summit of the Americas there in 2009. I was just a few feet away from him but still didn’t actually meet him! Ah well. Thanks for visiting my blog specially to read about this historic occasion. It was amazing. In my “wheels up” post I added the YouTube video of the Town Hall Meeting with youth yesterday… Take care.

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