Yes, its late July after all, but that knowledge provided little comfort at downtown's Conference Centre as the 55th Independence Anniversary edition of the Diaspora Conference got underway in earnest.
The numbers revealed a slight drop in participants from last year's North Coast edition in Montego Bay. But one wouldn't have known it from the bustle of activity through the cramped corridors - cramped as they were lined with booths from the various exhibitors, everything from the full gamut of Government agencies to financial entities JN Bank and VMBS, and many points in between (specialty T-shirts for couples, latte and espresso samples, and clay models from master craftsman Scheed Cole's Jamaica 360)
Grace was, as expected, out front in the hospitality department (kudos to the attendants for their warm disposition) serving everything from hot chocolate to "tun" cornmeal (not turn, nor turned, and certainly NOT polenta, thank you) with (canned ) mackerel to traditional bun and cheese.
In between all that, attendees sought refuge form the sweltering heat (the Conference Centre is an interesting combination of quasi-open air set-ups), decamping to what generally serves as the Lounge to cool off, and to marvel at the panoramic view of Kingston Harbour, from the airport with its own "busyness" to the southeast all the way around to the Digicel headquarters at the opposite end, with pelicans and frigate birds doing their daily sorties over the aquamarine waters and foamy white breakers, mindful of the cargo ships making their own presence felt in the Harbour.
Over the next three days, its expected that discussions will centre on investment opportunities in Jamaica for overseas Jamaicans, even while some complained that local moguls were not offering more than token support for some critical areas, especially in the social sphere. The new Charities Act is also a matter of concern to some, a relief to others.
No relief though, from the torpor of midday. Perhaps the organizers need to set up a swimming pool or even a fake beach downtown for these events. One suspects a lot more deals might get done before the curtains come down on Wednesday.