After zipping through Jamaican customs, settling into a Red Stripe Light, and ushering our bags to the shuttle van, our adventure truly began. The reason they ply you with alcohol at the airport is so that you are able to tolerate the ride to the resort without fearing for your life. Through an alcohol induced buzz, it all seemed like good fun, if your idea of fun includes risking your life for 90 minutes. But I digress.
I watched languidly through the humid haze as no less than 6 strapping Jamaican men hurled my 47.5 pound bag (American Airlines limits you at 50 lbs) effortessly into a van and then turned to us, palms extended. "We take care of you, you take care of us." [Very white, partially toothed smiles beamed at us. It was clear which side of their mouths they put their weed in there.] We happily gave them two bucks ($120 Jamaican), knowing that it would be our last tip for the week and clambored into the van. Mike and I chose two seats together and began to plan our week excitedly until...
"You sit here!" our driver pointed Mike to a seat across the aisle from me and continued to balance the van by weight so that when he took sharp curves at 55 mph we wouldn't actually tip over. Clever, really, if you like that sort of thing. I decided to go with it if it would get me to the resort faster. That's when the driver decided to play the coveted role of Shady Tour Guide. He pointed out bars, XXX bars, and strip bars. "Lemme get a big Yah Mon from the guys!" he shouted, pumping his fist into the air as we passed several scantily clad prostitutes. "YAH MON!" roared the men, glancing surreptitiously at their wives without the driver seeing them to smile and shrug. The driver then told all the men that since they were in Jamaica, their wives couldn't call the cops on them, so they ought to do whatever they wanted. Then he told us all how to score some ganja. Really going above and beyond the duty of shuttle driver, if you think about it.
We drove through miles and miles of plight and poverty until it began to rain. It's really sad to see how poor the majority of Jamaica is. The people who work at the resorts have the best jobs and they work 13 hour days 6 days a week for just peanuts. As you pass by ramshackle structures and partially built shacks, hand lettered signs alert you to the business of a particular establishment. Some of our favorites included: COLD BEER JOINT, BRAIDS, and the best one, JERK CHICKEN "BOSTON STYLE!"
At about 4pm everyday, there is an absolute downpour that lasts for about 20 minutes. It's lovely, except when you're in a van driven by a horny maniac who is possibly high and who is flying through tight curves on the wrong side of the road and passing anyone going slower than he is despite oncoming traffic. That's when the rain is a little scary. I closed my eyes and held my breath until it all passed. At last, we arrived in rainy paradise:
That, my friends, should cover title numbers 9 and 10. Stay tuned for the continuing saga of my Jamaican Adventure. Tomorrow we will delve into numbers 1, 2, and 8. I know you are on the edge of your seats!