First Full Day — morning
I am attending to a sunrise in Jamaica. Rightly I am not awake yet. Waves, waves, dolorous waves. Peltering shores at dayfall.
Why is it getting light in the west before it gets light in the east? The east is dark, blue. A tiny boat out ripping the water is black.
Last night a jumbo airliner flew in from Costa Rica, I’m sure of it.
Brett got a taste, Pat a tree. I put a tiny leaf in my pocket & smiled at the smell.
There is apparently no café ready yet.
A little to the east,
A little to the left,
A little bit of morning,
Before the grackle wakes,
Only a palm tree sways.
Not blasted, not stumbling.
A dove is cooing, asking, “Who cooks for you?” I awoke to, Was it a baby crying? No. Just the wind, whipping through the walls. What a relief to discover, not to have been bothered by. So I stayed awake, to see what of a sunset to see. It got light first in the west. Still today it is overcast, but it is clear to the south & west. Maybe that clearness is what’s to come. The gaggle of quiet Jamaicans below disperses. Security guards? Four guys w/ satchels slung. One has a blue umbrella.
It must have rained more overnight. There is water standing in many places, there as if a surprise to the building. What is this wet stuff?
Sprinklers kick on, it is seven o’clock. By my watch anyway.
I smoked some grass last night & horked some wet yay. Also did a numbie. People were high. And tired on a travel day. I thought I grabbed one of Pat’s 1.5ers but now I can’t find it. The coffee in the rooms is 100% Jamaican.
Second Full Day, morning
I passed out way too hard, way too early last night. Today I will ask my friends: Where all did you go last night? I could not find you in my dreams…
Things move slowly here. The clouds are a good example. Getting water at breakfast is another. I have that hollowed out but tight feeling, hollowed out from booze, tight in the lungs from the fat one.
My joke is that I performed a one-act play last night. Entitled How Not to Spend a Night in Jamaica. E.g. dead as a rock. So I’ll have to be on probation today. Beer only, when I get my thirst back.
Yesterday we were in Pat’s room blowing the fat one. B knocked over a glass and Brett said he was too high to help. “THTH,” I said. It was something Roy would have found funny.
I woke up at 3:30. Had that terrible taste of death in my mouth. It is the dry residue of drinking. I did not know where I had gone, what I had done last night. I was worried that I had done too much coke & made a mess of many things. What a relief to know that there was a reason I had no memory post-sunset: Indeed I has been asleep the entire time. My body cut me off, laid down the law. Thank you, body. I must be good to you, body. Do you believe me, body? The body does not believe, it only perceives. The body is no fool.
Second Full Day, afternoon
There is jerk chicken at a hut on the south end of the resort. The hut is called the jerk hut. The chicken does not look like what I knew to be jerk chicken. The bones are still there. Jerk chicken I knew was like pulled pork. This chicken is barbecued and smoky. Someone asked me where the jerk hut was and I said, “Follow the smoke.” Drumsticks are the best but no one’s guaranteed to get one.
Besides chicken there’s paella that cooks in an enormous skillet. I watched it bubble until it wasn’t bubbling anymore & then it was ready. It has shrimp, pork & mussels in it. There is sauce for the chicken, one hotter than the other. Today the hot sauce was really hot, hotter than yesterday. After I went over my chicken for the first time (knife & fork) I ate the paella & it had some of the sauce in it & it was very hot. I think it would have been plenty hot on its own. With the sauce it was really hot. Then I went back over the chicken a second time ‘cause I knew there was more on there. I had to use my hands & gnaw on it to get the rest, which turned out to be a lot.
The fella who sold us some things wanted me to bring him some of the chicken. I did but then I couldn’t find him. It was a huge disappointment, walking around w/ a plate of chicken for him nowhere to be found. Then I haven’t seen him at all today.
He looked to me like Alfonso Soriano but he had a goiter-like thing on the right side of his face under the jaw. He wore rubber boots and carried a machete in a wooden case. He used the machete to trim bushes & edge grass. In hindsight I figured someone w/ a machete isn’t the guy who you want helping you with illicit things.
On sailing. The guy said we weren’t going anywhere because I was not giving the sail enough slack in low wind. In high wind he said you could flip if you set the sail too tight. He talked about giving the sail belly.
Our maid is Donnette. I left her a note that said ‘You are the best!’ and under it I lay $5 US. But later I tore it up, left a note saying ‘Thank you!’ and under that $3 US. Just now I realized she isn’t very good at sweeping cause we haven’t been at the room since it was cleaned and just walking around for a minute I had sand & dirt on my feet. I thought, Damn next time I’ll pack a swiffer. The people in the room below are outside under our balcony and a bit loud right now. Alas, I am too easily disturbed…
The door to the balcony is now closed. I am twenty minutes from the last paragraph. I have our music going now inside here. There are rudimentary iPod docks. Our maid’s name is Donnette. Everything else looks real good but I guess the toilet doesn’t get a daily cleaning. There are a lot of rooms for one person to do. No teams of two here.
Soy su camerara is what the maid in Pat’s room said to us yesterday when we were thanking her for helping clean up the broken glass. She said it very matter of factly but in English, I’m your maid. Like, Yes, this is what maids are for. She got us a broom & we swept up while she went looking for a dustpan. She was gone for about 10 minutes. The champagne. That’s what did me yesterday. Forgot about it all until now.
I am growing out a Hemingway stache. The maid came back with a frisbee as a dustpan. A frisbee! I did a double take. Yeah, you could put the big pieces of glass in there, but you can’t exactly just sweep the little stuff right into it. A frisbee! It just about broke my heart.
Second Full Day, night
Dinner was good but long. My back hurt at the end, talk was scattered. Basil, our waiter, brought coffee at the end. For mine he apologized that there was no cream in it. I don’t take cream so it didn’t matter a bit. We tipped him $12 US.
Besides the coffee, I liked the smoked marlin, served as part of a salad bar along w/ some good cheeses & grapes. We went back to Brett & Tab’s room to partake of things. Brett had the lead. I do not know any baseball scores. Today was a Monday. Brett said that his drink for the rest of the trip is piña coladas, Nice & easy.
B points out someone who is writing on a moleskin. We are in a little lounge area. Pleasant but hot. It is time for couples photos.
The music is modern lounge music. I am not too burned. Snorkeling was a workout. As I was stroking out to a dive spot my shoulders felt strong & right. But I don’t know how hard I could have swum without the snorkel. Now Pat & Anne are taking fake butt photos with their elbows.
There are frogs going at night. A high pitched chirp, Bee-Balm, Bee-Balm, Bee-Balm, endlessly, slowly but never stopping. Or, stopping for awhile & coming back out w/ Balm… Balm….
Third Full Day, morning
Anne said to us, You guys are on vacation. You need to be really high. But I haven’t felt really high yet, even with all of the grass we have. We have no way to smoke it of course except as in a joint. Pat tends to roll too tight. When he makes a small one he calls it a pinner. The big one he made yesterday we called a torpedo. It was a real fat fatty. If you want the quickest drawing joint in town, though, Tab is your girl.
It is Tuesday today, which means the only full day we have left is Wednesday. Thursday our flight to America leaves at 12:37 pm. We have to be on a bus at 8:30a. Cars drive on the left side of the road. There are no lane markings. We were talking about taking a half-day trip to Negril, which is south & a bit west of here. That sounds good in theory. Negril has a very nice beach & a stellar view of sunsets, reportedly. But I want to loaf hard-core today.
Third Full Day, afternoon
Last night we were looking at stars. In the northern sky I saw for sure the Big Dipper. Using that as my starting point, from there I also thought I had: Cepheus (west), Draco (weaving in the north sky amongst the Big & Little Dippers). I debated Tab a bit about where the Little Dipper was. I could not find Cassiopeia. A very bright star in a group of four stars I thought was Sirius in Lyre. Then the other brightest star was a reddish star straight up, west of the Big Dipper. B thought it might start with an A. I also saw the Corona Borealis straight up. Tab & I thought we could see the blurry wisp of the Milky Way until it floated east. That was a big disappointment because it was full of a million stars.
It was one of the best sky views I have ever seen, comparable to the Mojave. Even with resort light blaring 20 feet away. West of the Big Dipper was a big cluster of stars, sort of shaped like a Cylon bay ship. Just east/north of the Big Dipper’s ladle were a bunch of distant stars, too. I am kicking myself for not bringing my star chart. I did not foresee us looking at stars. But when you are down on the beach w/ a torpedo and the stars are right there on top of you, they are irresistible. We saw several shooting stars. Pat & I were the only ones who saw what I thought at first was a missile b/c it burst into smoke and left a trail. It was the most blatant asteroid I have ever seen.
I did remember to bring my compass/thermometer. I did zero research on Lucea/Grand Palladium before the trip. I am usually above such a load of nonchalance. When we got here I had no idea which way was north, or which way we were facing when we looked out over the ocean. I told Tab south was north and vice versa.
An oil tanker on the horizon I told Brett was coming from Mexico or even Brazil (PBR). But it was really passing between us & Cuba. It could have been coming from anywhere. This morning B & I saw a cruise ship, big as bertha off to our NW. When we looked again a half hour later it was already gone.
Fourth full day, morning
B & I retired early last night. We said ‘To Hell’ with another long dinner (it would have been my second, her third) and delighted in snappy burgers & fries in the sports bar. The rum runner I had there knocked me for a loop.
We came back to the room and watched “JEOPARDY!”. The FJ question was: “Ayn Rand is said to have said, ‘I did not know that The Fountainhead’s destiny was complete until you told me of your admiration for it.’” Or some such thing. I did not know it but B did: Frank Lloyd Wright. The lady who tore up DJ guessed E Hemingway. She lost. The guy who won spelled Lloyd with only one ‘l’.
After that I flipped around for a while until I became transfixed by this beautiful French movie (w/ English subtitles) set in Indochina in what must’ve been the Fifties.
It was a French platoon that was not doing so well along w/ their non-Viet Minh Viet associates. The French were lugging around four on stretchers, two of whom died while I was watching. The captain was smoking cigarettes. The French went from village to village. One village chief said that the French upon their arrival must hurry up and leave (taking any rice they wanted) b/c the Viet Minh had just been there & would be back. There were at least two river crossing scenes.
In one, a body on a stretcher was dumped & washed downstream. So too downstream went a machine gun. The captain got very upset. The movie was in black & white. It reminded me of Malick’s “The Thin Red Line.” TRL as me and Roy call it is set in the South Sea, during WWII. Some have said it is based largely on the battle for Guadalcanal. The pathos & struggle in these two movies had the same tone & break. It was a splendid picture & I shall endeavor the name of it when I return home.
I fell asleep w/ the movie still going. I don’t recall turning the TV off so the power must’ve gone off at some point within an hour or two of me falling asleep. Brett called from the A&P to say they were hanging out there. But B & I were asleep. I told Brett I didn’t think we’d make it.
I like these mornings here, writing w/ coffee, waves lapping up in Coral Cove. The sun already formidable on my forehead as I face northeast.
I can see what I guess are mountains to the distant south. I suppose they are blue. B remarked that she did not realize that Jamaica was so mountainous. Driving here it seemed that much of it was also hilly. B tells me now she’s gonna go get some photos. The sun is sprinting up the eastern sky. Workers below talk softly. This is our last day here.
B & I were going to fire up a J last night. At least until we realized that we had no light. At some point this week I had a small black lighter. I guess I gave it back to someone. Pat was even telling me to take a black lighter that was sitting on his table, but for some reason I didn’t. I guess I was momentarily confused b/c the one on the table was also a black lighter but not small like the one I had. So I thought, ‘Maybe I didn’t give that little lighter back.’ And I figured I shouldn’t take what would be a second lighter. Ah well. I suppose we did just fine w/o the J. But perhaps I would’ve stayed up & written a bit more, which makes any facilitation worth it. I still suspect I have that little black light around here somewhere ‘cause I don’t remember handing it back to anyone.
Fourth full day, Speed Round
Carts that talk; carts that will run you over; Real Rock; wata; daily rain; daily sun; flounder; sore neck; catamaran; Coral Cove; who cooks for you?; aloe; the painting of the smiling Jamaican girl w/ a basket of bananas on her head; fruit at the buffets, specifically mango & papaya; in-room coffee the best I’ve ever had; robes; slippers; breezes; the cyber hut; wristbands; Tab bambleefled by things; nooks & crannies of the resort; columns; open air lobby; DJ in Boogie Woogie Bar who couldn’t mix salad (thank to Pat for that one); but then later as we passed I heard ‘Like A Prayer’ and wanted to run in there and start dancing; No End and No Beginning.
Fourth Full Day, night
Solar Eric said it was seven miles to the horizon. Based on the curvature of the Earth. I didn’t dispute him. It sounded right, looked right. He wouldn’t say how far to the cumulonimbuses lowest to the horizon. “The sun needs clearance there, though,” he said, “right at the horizon.” Then, Pat I think it was, no Eric said that when there were real bad fires in Arizona a few years ago it shown up red in upper New York State.
So that’s it, all I wrote on the trip. Looking back, I wish I had writ more. I thought I was going to finish off the moleskin I was writing in; I was on pace; I don’t know what happened. I got too uptight. I wasn’t feeling the group. Maybe I just gave up.
That’s what a Jamaican would say upon getting a good tip. It’s a good saying, one I’d like to work into my repertoire. When someone did something thoughtful for me. The saying Keegan shared with me is, “One hand washes the other.” That’s a good saying to apply to being neighbors or friends.
Before I forget, here is info about the resort where we were:
Grand Palladium Hotels & Resorts, A member of Fiesta Hotel Group of Spain
The Point, Lucea, Hanover, Jamaica W.I.
I miss it. I was comfortable enough there, even though I was uptight too often. I liked the spacious room we had. All of our rooms had meritable views. B& I had just a piece of the ocean, which elated me b/c I’m used to a nothing view. Brett & Tab had a bunch of ocean & the sunset. From their balcony, straight down, a pot plant was growing. A & P had plenty of ocean and an expansive shot of the resort’s courtyard, pool, the bar & restaurant ‘point.’ Quite a tremendous view. We had the cove & the mountains to the south.
I miss the state of mind I was in that allowed me to write what I’ve written. I miss those mornings most of all, getting up rather early, the sun pouring in. Making coffee, screwing around with the room’s electricity b/c the coffee maker kept going on & off.
The floors in the house now feel so clean. The coffee we make here is not as strong. I miss the quizzical weather, the illogical movement of the clouds. I miss the sports bar, w/ pretty good burgers, good fries, & a plate of cheesy nachos afterward. Rum runners. I’ve been meaning to look them up in my bar book.
The transfer bus from the hotel back to the airport somehow left w/o us on it. Even though B & I checked in at the bell desk fifteen minutes early & told them what travel group we were using. So we all took a taxi that turned into an adventure all its own. Our driver just about killed a guy. We hopped off of the main road briefly (construction) and saw roads shaped by torrent. Pot holes aren’t that big. But we got to the airport in due time & tipped well ($70 for the ride, normally $75?) We gave $80+.
B bought coffee at the airport. I worked on sudoku. She got me some really pricey Wendy’s while I watched everyone’s bags. Then I had most of a “beef patty” B got for a much better price than the Wendy’s.
The flight to Atlanta was fine. Going through Customs & Border Protection was stressful but uneventful. I brought back a few things. I got some pizza from Sbarro’s during the half hour or so we had free before the flight to St. Louis. The ATL airport was very busy. I hate layovers. They are to be avoided at all cost — easy to say traveling out of STL.
Unbeknownst to us, the plane back to STL carried the remains of a soldier killed abroad — Iraq or Afghanistan I don’t know. As we were preparing for landing (tray tables up, seats in an upright and locked position, ceasing use of any portable electronic devices) the captain says he needs to ask a favor of us.
Immediately I roll my eyes & figure he’s gonna ask us to stay patient b/c a la Lambert Airport there’s a plane occupying our gate & we’re gonna have to taxi for just a few minutes. But then he says, “There are two military personnel on board escorting a fallen comrade home.” And would we please all stay seated until they have made their way off of the plane.
Whoa. Yes, we can all do that. So when we get to the gate, we are all seated (except for one douche bag who just had to get up & fish his iPhone out of his carry-on stowed overhead). And sure enough two uniformed personnel come up the aisle from behind me & there is some applause. I manage a few clammy claps but I’m thinking, “This is a funeral. We don’t clap at funerals. We should not be clapping. We’ve got this all wrong. We need to be somber, we need to be quiet. That is how we can best pay respect.”
They disembark and Pat says, “OK, you can all go back to being assholes now.” Which was accurate but not funny.
I had a window seat, a few rows in front of the right wing. Row 20-something. Up ahead is the usual logjam of passengers gathering their stuff & filing out.
I look out the window the luggage team as it pulls up to our plane. Sometimes if I’m waiting to disembark I’ll watch as the luggage conveyor sets up & the luggage starts coming off of the plane. I’ll see if I can see my bag.
But then I see the two uniformed personnel out by the luggage conveyor & tram. The lead military guy, a short, stock red-haired fellow has an airport employee come up to him, explain something. The red-haired soldier quickly looks away, appears to bite his tongue. Then he looks up at the little windows. One, two, three, making his way down the line. And then he looks right at me. I can see the pain in this man’s eyes and the anger in him and also the humiliation he is feeling right then.
I avoid his gaze. Seconds later a rectangular white pine box starts its way down the conveyor. I can read the goddam piece of paper stuck to the top of the box identifying who, what is inside.
A crew of airport employees/pall bearers grab several straps attached to the bottom of the box. They have a hard time transferring it from the conveyor to the luggage tram and for a second I wonder if the box is going to fall to the ground. I cannot believe what I am seeing.
Not too long after that, the way off of the plane has cleared and I am getting off of the plane. I don’t know who else has seen what I’ve seen, how many other passengers. I didn’t hear anyone say anything about it. Fresh off of Jamaica & traveling, I did not even think about the fact that Memorial Day Weekend was nigh. It’s as close to either war as I’ve gotten, which is to say not very close.
We all crammed into one taxi and the driver left us off at the local A&P. I couldn’t wait to go get our dog. The next day was work, and what do you know? A three-day weekend after that.