Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chapter Ten: Jamaica – Cruising In The Caribbean

Chapter 10 of the Autobiography... Letter J. Jamaica.

Chapter Ten
Jamaica – Cruising In The Caribbean

  When I was seventeen I went on a cruise with my family in the Caribbean Sea. It started off when we drove to Milwaukee to board our flight to Louisiana only when we entered the plane I found someone else sitting in my assigned seat. I’ll admit I was a little panicky at that moment, thinking I wouldn’t be able to take this flight with my parents. But luckily the staff was kind enough to let me fly in First Class and gave me a few thousand frequent flyer miles to use later on. After the transfer of our flight from Louisiana to Miami, we took a short shuttle ride to the port where we boarded the largest ship I’d ever seen in person before. We went through the standard boarding procedures where they informed us of the rules. Next, everyone on the ship had to participate in a drill demonstrating the standard procedures of evacuating a potentially sinking ship. That took about an hour then we were under way. It was a five day cruise but it only seemed like it lasted a day or two. I had so much fun that the time seemed to fly right by.

  The first stop we made was in the Cozumel, Mexico. We spent the day on a beach swimming, snorkeling, and jet skiing in the ocean. Later on we toured the city and went to small shops and stores. My Dad also bought me my first tattoo there in an interesting tattoo parlor. It was located in an upper-balcony level above a bar. I’ve never seen another storefront designed anything like this was. After we left Mexico we headed to the Cayman Islands. I don’t remember exactly what city we went to port in, but do remember that everything there was unreasonably expensive. There was a seven mile white sand beach you could walk from one end to the other on, and my brother and I walked a good deal of it trying to get to the interesting part of the city. It seemed like the beach went on forever. My brother and I met a crazy guy riding a bicycle down there. We asked him where we could find some weed down there. He automatically became so suspicious of us, and asked how much we wanted. I said just a little, and gave him twenty dollars but told him we needed some kind of reassurance that he was coming back. He told us he didn’t steal, he killed. Reluctantly he left his backpack there with us as collateral and was sure to warn us that if we looked inside, he would kill us. I’ll be the first to admit, I was a little scared of this guy. I was completely out of my element in this place, so in all actuality, he was calling the shots. It took him nearly an hour to return with two small cupcake wrappers twisted around some buds. He gave them to us, we gave him the backpack back, and we were on our way. Now our problem was how the hell we were going to smoke it. We managed to come across some rolling papers in one of the shops along the way, so we took everything back to the ship with us to smoke later on. I remember the weed being much stronger than I expected it to be, and after smoking it I went searching the ship for some good food to feed much munchies. 

  Sometime through the night I walked into the casino on the ship and although I didn’t have much money, I still sat down at a slot machine and started playing. It didn’t take long before I lost what money I did have. Then I walked around the casino some more, just looking around, when I spotted a guy at the cashier withdrawing money from his Carnival Cruise Card. So I walked up and asked him how it worked. He said I just had to tell the cashier how much I wanted and she would withdraw it from my account and I just had to sign a receipt for it. It sounded easy enough. Well, it was too easy. I withdrew one-hundred dollars in dollar coins to play the slots some more and since I had more money, it seemed to enter the machine even faster. I don’t know how long it took before I was broke again, but it wasn’t long. So this time I went up to the cashier and asked for a few hundred more, but in chips this time. Once I signed for it and walked away, I wandered around until I saw a roulette table running. I didn’t exactly understand the game at the time so I just stood there watching the other people play it until I though I had it figured out. So I started laying money down on the table randomly and of course, I kept losing it. No one told me that roulette was so hard to win. So when I was down to my last few chips, I put them on a number and crossed my fingers. That day I was reminded there was a God, because he stopped that spinning wheel at the exact moment that the ball landed on my number! I don’t remember the exact dollar amount, but in my eyes at that time, I won BIG! So I cashed out immediately and went back to our cabin on the ship and woke everyone up to tell them the good news. I wasn’t able to go to sleep until the early hours of the morning. 
   When I finally was woke up mid-morning by my parents, they said we were going to be docking in Ocho Rios, Jamaica in about an hour. So I got up and took a shower and got prepared for my day in Jamaica. The very minute we left the ship my family and I had a few dozen Jamaican guys coming up to us asking if we were looking for any weed, smoke, or sumteen fo dee pahtee. I knew I was going to have a good day. I decided to take care of what I could of the tourism costs and found a decent tour guide/taxi driver. He was a nice guy who agreed for a full day on the island for a set price. He took my family to the storefronts in the village and let them do a little shopping while him and I went on a separate tour. We first got some gas then we headed up into the mountains along a small dirt road he took me to a small shack. Inside the shack was what I considered a personal sized bar. It was about the size of something you would find in someone’s basement. Behind it was a small kitchen too. First thing he did was sell me a huge bag of weed for one-hundred and ten US dollars. Then we went inside and sat down and ordered a couple of beers. We each had a couple of Red Stripes and then he rolled me up a classical Jamaican cone spliff. When we went out back to smoke it the bartender came with us. After taking a couple of hits off this extra potent skunky tasting weed, the bartender asked me if I like chicken. I told him I did of course. Then he responded with, “You pick a cheeken mon” and pointed to a small chicken coop at the rear of his makeshift bar. As soon as I picked out a chicken, he put his hands inside and snatched the chicken I had picked out. The chicken did it’s best trying to fight free of the man’s hands, but in a flash he had broken the chicken’s neck, cut off it’s head and feet, and was gutting it out right there. It was forty-five minutes and a couple of Red Stripes later and I was eating the best Jamaican Jerk Chicken I’d ever eaten in my life still to this day. The cabbie and I smoked one more spliff before we headed back to the town to pick up my family. I made sure we stopped at a store that I could buy sunglasses at, because after that weed and a couple of beers, the sun was brighter than ever. 

  It didn’t take us long to find the rest of my family and have them pile into the cab, then we headed up into the hills on some of curviest roads I’d ever seen. In Jamaica it seems like the cab drivers just go faster to get around the curves faster, so it only scares the hell out of the Americans more. They even passed in the oncoming lane on the outside of a turn, not knowing what is about to come around the corner, using their horn as the only warning to oncoming drivers to not hit them. It was nuts! We made a few stops along the way to take some pictures, but the main stop at the end was the real reason for this part of the tour. They were waterfalls that you could hike up and ride down like waterslides. Unfortunately I didn’t even make it up them to see how it looked from the top. I was distracted by all the little huts placed around the entrance that sold all different types of authentic souvenirs. I bought all kinds of stuff while I was there. I left with bags full of hand carved gifts for my girlfriend back home and to remember my trip by. I will say, that although I don’t remember bits and pieces about this trip today, it comes back to me the more I think I about it.

  This was the most enjoyable family trips I ever went on and I hope we can enjoy another like it while we are still all close. Next time I will be taking many more pictures and thinking about the event of spending the time with my family, rather than partying.

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