NAPPO Pasquale is on his fourth trip to Jamaica.
The stocky, 31-year-old Italian is blind, but his Jamaican friend leads him through the iconic gates of 56 Hope Road in St Andrew — the former home-turned-museum of Reggae King Bob Marley.
Dressed casually in walking shorts and a T-shirt and carrying a backpack, Pasquale, better know as Matthew, takes mincing steps as he navigates the constant human and vehicular traffic which bustle about the narrow driveway of the venue.
It is February 6, and he has come all the way from Portland, his base while in Jamaica, to pay his respects to Marley on his birthday.
How did you first hear about Bob Marley, the Jamaica Observer asks.
In heavy patois, tinged with that unmistakable Italian accent, he responds:
"Mi cousin give me a tape, a cassette, and tell mi listen to this. That was 14 years ago, and I was 17. Mi listen and mi seh a what kinda strange riddim dis. I was into rock music that time. But I listen and seh it nuh soun' so bad," he says, rocking to the Marley music playing in the background, his blonde, waist-length locks swaying to the reggae beat.
That one cassette of Bob Marley music led Matthew on a journey and discovery about reggae, Rastafari, and the land from which these two institutions came.
At yesterday's 68th birthday celebrations Matthew is happy, his smile widened into a grin as he described how he felt being at the Museum on Bob's birthday.
"I am so happy, I just love Bob Marley music, 'cause it's all about peace, love, unity, and good vibes. It's a good feeling to be here," says Matthew.