Articles By Gord
As I see it... Jamaica

January 2006 issue of Vibrant Magazine, view the actual article (including images).

The way I see it... Jamaica

How come we've got the Thirty Thousand Islands of Georgian Bay and the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence and not one of them is in the Caribbean?

Doesn't the U.N. have some sort of time share agreement where Canada could cough up the likes of Wolf Island or Manitoulin for say... Jamaica?

JAMAICA. Irie. Jamaica. Hot. Sunshine, beaches, palm trees and music. Reggae music is everywhere.

Within a few minutes of arrival you'll walk softer and find smiling easier. And everything in Jamaica is “No problem”. A perfect cure for the winter blahs. Ready to pack your thong and go? (Now take a moment and try to envision your pasty white, but finely sculpted figure squeezed into your favourite thong. Irie! Oops that should have read “Aieeee!!!” Probably best not to do this “envisioning” trick before you eat.)

I think if you've decided to do that Caribbean get away thing, Jamaica is a great choice. Lots to do even if your interpretation of “lots” means lying naked on a beach. The seven miles of Negril are the most accommodating for this lack of attire. You best check with your hotel complex first as not all of Jamaica embraces the ‘au naturelle'.

Catherine and I have vacationed in Jamaica three times, each occasion a different region and each time the locals have offered up sure-fire cures for my blindness; some I needed to drink and some I needed to smoke, but alas…

The most interesting remedy came when Catherine and I visited the world famous Dunn's River Falls. Tourists carefully pick their way over rocks and through rushing waters. Our guide, Roy, is blown away by my determination to do this and in that spirit of adventure Roy assures me he can provide the cure. He takes my hand, I take Catherine's and she takes the next in line and so we are linked and we begin. Roy is very attentive, his grasp of my hand strong and sure. There was no way that he was goingto let me tumble. My grip of Catherine's lacked that same assuredness. My thinking, as we climbed ever upwards, was the first little tug on my hand from one of those losers trailing behind me and I was wrenching myself free. There's no point Roy and I dying for the sake of those deadbeats. Besides, the cops would need to know how all nine of them perished. I figured Roy and I would be able to fill in those gaps over a couple of cans of Red Stripe.

So, back to the remedy part of this climb. We make it to the top and in this natural pool carved among the rocks and the fall of water cascading down, Roy directs me to sit beneath the falls and with great sincerity he says, “Now open your eyes, man. Ya, jus like dat. You keep dem open like dat for a little while. You got to believe man… Can you see anything, man?”

“NO. Nothing. But my head feels kind of soggy. Maybe I should have had another Red Stripe before we tried this. Or maybe we need larger falls. You ever tried this cure at Niagara?”

I absolutely love the idea of doing nothing for an entire week or two. Waking up each morning to warm, sunny weather. Where pulling on shorts and a relatively clean golf shirt is viewed as a chore. Where walking out to a shaded pool side table, pulling out your chair and fumbling through mounds of fresh fruit and eggs is considered your exercise routine. And for your cool down, try napping in a beach chair or floating down river on a raft. (Makes you tired just thinking about it.)

On one of our trips, Catherine and I went on a day of sailing, leaving from Montego Bay. There were about ten of us glistening white couples all stinking of sun screen and after only two days on the island we are all trying to look and sound more native than the Jamaicans. “Irie this man and Irie that. Irie, Irie, Irie.”

As we come aboard the Captain greets us with a rum based island concoction. (It's basically rum mixed with rum with just an added dash of rum, plus a pinch of rum and then I think they just wave a slice of orange overtop.)

“Yahh man. I hope dats not too fruity. You drink da whole ting, man. It'll make you see.”

“Ahh, yes thank you Captain. You got a brother Roy?”

It was a terrific day of sailing out on the open sea. Sails full and our ship charging through tremendous waves. The ultimate sensation came from crawling out onto the bow sprit, the constant wind and spray, and the amusement ride-like feeling of plunging down into the next trough and a second later you're being heaved skyward, and all in brilliant sunshine.

Our Captain anchors in a quiet cove where we're invited to don swim fins and snorkels, play about, explore a coral reef and eventually swim to shore where a local lunch is ready.

It's fish. Not fish sticks. Not even Erie Beach breaded perch like fish, but like real fish. It's just laying there on our plates. Head, tail, fins, skin, all that junk. No celery bread, just a fish. And to help wash this delicacy down, “Here is a special Jamaican rum concoction. I hope it's not too fruity.”

Another occasion we stayed at a resort on the eastern end of the island, near Port Antonio. Weather, food and swimming just as great, but I felt a tremendous difference in the local people. They weren't constantly hounding us to buy something. Maybe not quite as touristy as Montego Bay, but everybody just seemed so much calmer, more relaxed (calmer, more relaxed? Is it possible?) Lots of shopping… well, bartering, but there was none of that: “Hey Man, you come take look. Just look. You like, I give you good price. No problem. How much you give me?”

We don't barter enough here in Canada. And maybe we should. Barter for gasoline, barter for our home heating fuel. Everything's up for grabs... “Yah, man, how much you give me for Mississauga? Irie! Irie!”

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