Ms. Bathtub

Musings from Carye Bye of Portland, Ore.

My Photo
Location: Portland, Ore., United States

I may be Ms. Bathtub, but I hardly ever take baths.. I do shower that is, so don't worry!

I am the director of the Bathtub Art Museum and also run my own printing card & novelties business under the name Red Bat Press. I live in the great bike fun-friendly city of Portland.

I'm always up for a good adventure; however anything goes here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

99 Impressions of Jamaica: Part IV Finale

To see all 99 photos of my Jamaican experience.

Biking in the rain in Jamaica is fun, It's so humid & hot most the day, that getting soaked through is just the ticket. No need for rain clothes that's for sure. However, having unknown boys on bikes follow you in the rain, is not fun. For awhile Matt was biking ahead, leaving me back with the boys, as I grew more and more uncomfortable I decided to bike ahead to get a little distance. At the main road, I turned left, and looked back. Ah finally it was just Matt, the boys did not continue. Whew! I said, and Matt said, they asked him for 10 bucks at that was all, but didn't give them anything. Later that night I was reading a chapter in a book about a couple touring on bikes around the world, and the writer spoke of children attaching on to them as they toured from place to place. At first they had fears echoing what I had, but after awhile, they just realized the kids were just curious, and maybe looking for a little money, but overall nothing to worry about. I felt better reading the chapter, I think next time I won't let fear take over, but one must learn things themselves I guess.

The last bit of road into town was quite the adventure - heavy rains filled up giant potholes along the side of the road [where we were biking!], and flooded, so you just never knew where they were. That plus giant trucks zooming by splashing us more. Oddly enough, it didn't scare me half as much as the boys did.

In the evening we mostly enjoyed the hotel area - played ping-pong & eight-ball, chased cats in the dark, had an overpriced drink special (Two drinks for happy hour - the catch is they had to be the same kind, and were poured into smaller glasses!), a sunset and another delicious all veggie meal with a little pot-smoke added in streaming from the back of the restaurant. (Ah Jamaica!) It was our last night on the Cliff, since the next day we were changing hotels and would be living on the beach side with the wedding party.

In the morning, we went to a new place for breakfast where we met 'Blondie' and waited over an hour for our food. Blondie was an American who had lived in Negril for about 10 years, and knew everyone. She wasn't shy, she was just hanging out the porch, calling out to all the men passing by asking for a cigarette or bulla cake. She was in her 50s, bleach-blonde hair, but looked older with sun warmed wrinkles. She dressed in a bikini with hip sarang. Talking to her passed the time as we waited for our food - not enough kitchen help that morning apparently, and as you know Jamaican Breakfast comes with a variety of 6 foods. Blondie did the talking, and we did the nodding. It was interesting, she said she was pretty tired of living in Negril, but had no money, and was pretty much homeless there. The Jamaican men seemed to like her out-going attention on them, and often came back with a cigarette or bulla cake (heavy enough to be a full meal she said). When our breakfast did arrive, I realized they put salt-fish in some of it, so I offered what I couldn't eat to Blondie, she graciously lapped it up. We thanked Blondie for all the insider Jamaican info and were on our way. Before we could leave Blondie just couldn't help herself. She asked us for some J [Slang for Jamican Dollar]. We declined, but again I felt that our whole conversation was just using us - warming us up, so she could panhandle us. I know it wasn't that simple, I think we both enjoyed the conversation, or I at least enjoyed listening, and I was happy to share my food, and so glad for it not to go to waste. But asking for money made it all not seem genuine. Again, I felt the Jamaicans and Exiled Jamaicans only see American's as possible J in their hands. Sad.

We packed up and took a taxi to our new home: Nirvana. Matt's best friend Jason was to be married in just a couple days to Shana. Jason & Shana had already been in Jamaica for a week, and were tanned, adorned with beach jewerely, and had a few bob marley tees. The hotel was a few little cabins and a lot of garden/sandy palm grounds with beach access and we were pretty the main people there. Both sets of parents plus Jason's sister, Shana's brother, and Shana's best friend had all arrived. I was a bit of the odd one out - no one's best friend or family - but everyone made me feel welcome and everyone pretty much did their own thing. A lot of lounging around under a thatched Beach hut, Mixed drinks in coconut halves (3 of the party are or were bartenders), looking for tree frogs at dusk or trying to get a glimpse of the baby kittens running around, Short swims in the crystal clear water, reading on the hammock. We had a kitchen, so the families bought food, and had the hotel staff make some Jamaican food for us to eat during the week. Whenever we went for a swim, and some guy tried to sell us something, the hotel's guard swiftly gave the no-no, leave my people alone. I began to understand why most visitor's Jamaica just hang around the hotel, and don't venture into the 'Real' Jamaica. Who wants be bothered while on vacation. But for us, I think it was wonderful to have our Cliff experience first, so we didn't feel just like tourists in Jamaica even though that's all we'd ever be seen as.

The Wedding day arrived. Jay and Shana decided to not to see each other until the ceremony. The boys went off to play golf, and the girls went to the spa. I went along, after my massage I ended up staying around the waiting room, and had a long chat with Jason's younger sister (there was only one person, so we each had to wait). She lives a very different life from me, but I enjoyed learning about her life.

The ceremony was to be at sunset on the beach. Palm leaves and candles were set out. A local photographer and minster came. Jay & Shana stood in the middle and the rest of us circled around them. It was short but very nice ceremony. I was standing right behind them in the circle, and every time the photographer took a photo, I was trying to move out of the way. I did not want to be in their vow or kissing pictures. I got out of a few, but not all! The one person not that connected to the couple in all the pictures, how about that! Afterwards, everyone walked down the beach to a fancy restaurant, and we dined and had a lot of champagne, while watching Jamaican entertainment (i.e. just think ladies with their hairs in scarves wearing big flouncy patterned dresses, singing folk songs). Jay & Shana heard reggae music down the beach so after dinner most of the group walked down to check it out. It was a lot further than we thought, and a lot more expensive than we thought - and in my opinion kind of lame. But the wedding couple, dressed in white, were having a good time dancing and drinking, and that's all that matters.

So at last we come to the end of this travel report. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

99 Impressions of Jamaica: Part III

After an amazing Jamaican breakfast with an Irish Moss - a brown foamy seaweed health drink that is delicious, Matt and I walked the other way on the one-town road towards the lighthouse we saw on the map, ignoring the attention like the night before as much as we could. Down at the lighthouse no one was about, so we just hung out on a couple of swings and petted the resident lighthouse dog. After awhile an old man appeared and asked if we wanted to see the lighthouse. He hurried off and another man came to give a short tour, talking in a bored monotone the whole time. He didn't ask for anything, but in Jamaica everything costs so we paid him, more than it was worth. Then the same old man came back, telling us to come look at the turtles. Ooh I want to see turtles was my first impression but soon I found myself in a tourist trap! He brought us to a ledge where he had lined up about ten hand-carved wooden sea turtles and bird souvenirs, and asked us to buy something.

While I ended up with a cute sea turtle for my friend Sue - a feeling of real pity for Jamaican arts, at least in Negril began to grow. This man, looked me in the eye and told me he carved these creatures himself. While I didn't yet have my proof; I didn't believe him. But as I suspected the same wooden turtles and birds showed up at other "Real" Jamaican Arts stands that we passed the rest of the day. There may have been 1 or 2 local artists in Negril, but the art was not original and frankly really bad, and all the rest made in China. Later in the day, we made the grave error of stopping at the Arts & Crafts market we saw listed on the map. Suddenly I felt like I was in a horror movie, with these fake artist zombies reaching out and trying to grab Matt & I and force us into these 3 x 2 ft booths that all carried the same Rastafarian fake dreds, red, gold and green flags, and wooden turtles and birds. 'RESPECT MON' they'd each say as I firmly said "No Thank you" for the 100th time.

Why does Negril's people lack creativity or the will to do something that is not like everyone else? Many are poor and have to most their energy to make ends meet - but why sell the same thing - why not do something different and unique. I feel like when I make less money, I'm more creative - instead of going to a store with money and buying what I need, I make it. Perhaps in places like Kingston, the capital, there is real art. Sadly I was not to find any on this trip.

Wheels is what we desired on the third day. We could swiftly pedal past the roadside ruckus and get off the one road and small city centre hub and explore beyond. We rented a couple bikes for $10 each from a man with one arm who was reading a prayer book upon our arrival. The man, shaded in a small hut, asked for a couple minutes to finish his page before setting us up - and of all the characters we met, I liked and trusted this man the most - he was genuine and not up to any tricks.

Off we went - see you later marijuana, papaya, Red Stripe (Jamaica's national beer), wooden turtle sellers. But we forgot that others on bikes could keep up with us - but that story comes later.

Our first road ended at a rocky pebble beach with goats off in the distance. Next we pedaled up into the hills into real neighborhoods away from the beach tourism. While it is usually recommended to stay in touristy areas for safety reasons, I felt totally comfortable riding around off the beaten path. It was a hot and humid day, so biking in the heat sucked up most my energy, but an afternoon heavy rain was on the way to give relief. We made a loop back to city centre, then headed north to visit a place called the Palm Reserve we saw on the map, stopping briefly for another amazing home cooked veggie meal at a roadside stand. As we turned to pedal down the road to the Reserve, a bunch of kids asked to be our Guide. we said no thank you and were on our way. The sky was darkening, and we knew the rain was on it's way. An afternoon heavy shower was almost as expected as the nightly sunset. Each day the humidity would rise so high that by 5 pm, the sky just had to open up and give something back. A $10 admission each was asked to visit the Palm Reserve. No one else was there to visit, and we decided the price was too steep to pay as well. So we checked out the surrounding banana tree, lizards on the shutters, and 'watch out for alligators' sign as we pedaled back passing white birds sitting on cows in a strange marshy land with tall palms as a backdrop. We briefly met a strange (crazy?) man on a broken bridge on our way out.

This is when our bike ride of two began to grow. A young boy on a bike asked to be our guide. We firmly said no, but the boy kept biking our way, sometimes rushing in front to do bike tricks (ie. popping a wheelie). On our map we were following a road that would take us around to meet up with the beach side of town. Soon there were two boys. The scenery around us was breath-taking - Little houses along this mountainside, lush greenery, woman washing clothes in the river. I loved it, despite the persistent company. We passed a quarry, and the boys stopped. Thank goodness I thought, they are finally going to leave us alone, but Matt called me back. The boys told us that we should not pass the quarry - that robbers hid in the woods. Quite a dilemma. Do we go on or do we listen to these boys? If we didn't meet them we would have gone ahead around the bend, but maybe they know something. We turned around. As we rode back I started to open up to the older kid and asked him how old he was, seventeen he told me. I thought he was 13 or 14. More boys on bikes joined our gang. An uncomfortable non-trusting feeling started to develop. My mind began to race with some rather ugly thoughts - maybe he's leading us back to a trap, and we will be robbed. this kid's no kid, he's up to something. I was wearing my purse with my camera,money,and credit card across my back. I started to worry that boys would cut it off and grab it. Between these fearful thoughts, I also wondered if these were just a bunch of bored kids looking for a little dough or an adventure. I hoped for the latter. Finally the sky got heavy enough, and buckets of water started pour down on us, soaking us instantly. We biked on, and so did the two first boys.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

99 Impressions of Jamica: Part II

In the taxi, hot sun beat down through the window and our week of humidity began. Scenes of Island life blurred passed us on the way - school children in uniforms waiting for buses, hand lettered signs for electronic stores, a sea of black faces and color.

The Cliffs of Negril became our home for the next three days at Hotel Samsara. I was delighted with our gardenside hut sorrounded by tropical greens - a simple unconditioned circular room with a front porch, soon to be inhabited by a trio of teenage cats.

Our first meal in Jamaica enlightened us to a week's worth of amazing home-cooked vegetarian food. I have never eaten so well on vacation. In the US, especially when traveling in mid-america, I often fall prey to fatty cheese & bread at every meal, and my body hates me for it. In Jamaica, my body and the food I put in it, got along very well. Because of the Rastafarian movement, that gained popularity with Bob Marley, almost every mom & pop cafe (which there are hundreds), offers a pure vegetarian meal. On this first night we ate at a Rastafarian restaurant near the hotel. Jamaican eateries are often simple stands or shack houses with an outdoor eating area and the cook just makes up huge pots of food, and you can choose a mixed plate or one or two things. We eagerly went for everything at this vegan cafe. I ate Callaloo - a spinach/greens-like veggie, Peas & Rice - peas refer to any kind of lentil or bean, Ackee - a yellow fruit that kind of tastes like scramble eggs, steamed vegetables, and lastly some kind tasty fake meat. We paid about $5 a plate for dinner and were completely satisfied.

The sunset in Negril, on cue, is amazing every night. Most nights we missed the previews, but always caught the final showdown of reds and yellows lighting up the sky. Sometimes with dramatic clouds or little boats in the foreground. After dinner we explored the seaside portion of the hotel. The open-air circular bar and expansive line of beach chairs and umbrellas was almost void of people. The tourism season was either low, or people were choosing other places to go than Jamaica. Little crabs entertained us as they wobbled back and forth along the edge of the cliff that drops into the sea.

There was a single (barely) two land road separating the two sides of the hotel. You had to quickly sprint across because the cars zipped past at unsafe speeds, and drove on the left side of the road instead of the right. Matt & I decided to take an evening walk towards the central town along the road. There is no sidewalk, so we walked as close to the side of the road as possible - and it wasn't until a few days later, that we trusted the fact that we probably wouldn't get hit even if we felt like each car that night was close call. Jamaicans are mad drivers, but seem to have the hang of it. In the night propietors of bars, shops, an illegal drugs called out to us in the darkeness. 'No thank you' we yelled back. Taxi drivers honked every two minutes, and a peaceful walk was not in a future but we were learning the lay of the land.

Back at our gardenside room, the kitty three-some made their first appearance: Blackie, Brownie, and Orangie as we referred to them. Being a fan of orange cats, I immediately preferred the orange one, but the orange one was so shy and nervous and always running away. Brownie was the most friendly and would sit on my lap.

Monday, May 21, 2007

99 Impressions of Jamaica: Part I

Well, 99 photos at least. I never in this lifetime imagined I'd ever vacation in Jamaica - that's for beach people or those who love Bob Marley. But when Matt invited me to be his guest at his best friend Jason's wedding at the end of April & early May 2007, I went shopping for sandals. Actually, I procrastinated, and only went shopping for sandals in a last week frenzy before leaving. In fact I was under the impression that the resort town of Negril on the west end of the island was going to be upscale. It was actually a lot more down-to-earth and casual - and I only realized - a little too late - it was a mistake to leave all my shorts for skirts. Ah well the skirts were fine, and the extra breeze on the hotter-than-usual days was welcomed.

The last hours before leaving for the airport, are ones I'd like to forgot. The week up until our trip was busy and it all converged into a hectic run-around pack-n-move chaos in the last two hours. Matt had to be out of his house by the end of April, so my roomate Devon & I decided to absorb him into our household - conviently next door. So all week we (and about 16 friends) worked on remodeling the garage into a live/work space - well that was half way finished, and since all the energy was put on that project, moving and packing got delayed. As I hurridly moved boxes, and tried to slim my wardrobe choices down for the trip, all I could think was that only in a few hours I'll be stuck on a plane, only able to sit, eat, talk, or sleep.

The Carribean is so beautiful from the sky. Strange land amongst bright blue waters. Such a different place from what I know. Upon landing in Montego Bay, the local hustling for tourist dollars began - and didn't stop until our departure. I slipped into the bathroom, noting that the toliets and bathroom fixtures are just the same as the US. Meanwhile the taxi drivers were surrounding Matt - One guy would not leave, no matter how many times we asked him to. We'd read up on prices, and knew about negotiating, but still it's a very hard custom to adopt for the set-price Americans. We ended up paying $50 total for a taxi ride for just us to Negril (1 1/2 hours away). Which was a bargain from what we had heard. When the man lead us to his taxi, which was actually a van able to seat 8 our more. I felt guilty being a "rich" tourist and having our own catered ride to town by ourselves ( On the way back, we actually figured it out and took a ride share for $14 each.)

To be Continued. Stay tuned for Part II.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell was recommended to me by David of Portland Walking Tours. I got a copy from the library and cracked it open Saturday afternoon and finished it this afternoon (less then 24 hours later). It's a well-written book about how epidemics happen - how fashion, crime, disease, news etc make their way from a few select to mainstream. Filled with tons of interesting scientific and sociological studies. Be warned, don't crack it open until you have time to read it. I didn't have time, but decided that reading a good book was worth putting few things off.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yurt Raising & Plantains

I've had so many adventures lately, but sadly have not written about them. Such as the awesome day a couple weeks ago that Elly Blue and I biked to Oregon City - meeting so many interesting folks along the way or that for a week I was a part of a PSU study on biking in Portland, where every where I went was recorded by Satelite and mapped out, Or that my Bunny on a Bike ride was pretty awesome this past Easter.

On Saturday I attended my first Yurt Raising for Kelly Peach. I have never seen a yurt, but I knew they were round hut-like temporary housing - many of the state parks in Oregon have them. Kelly's is more a less a giant tent - less wood, more fabric-tarp. The stucture is 14 feet in diameter, but packs easily into the corner of the garage when not in use. Kelly and a friend made it a long time ago when they lived in the woods in Washington State. She even sewed the fabric sides - bright orange. I wish I had pictures since I'm not very good at explaining what it was all made of - but once up it looked like a tent out of the Chronicles of Narnia movie. However, it needed a waterproof roof, so the last step was put on a silver heavy duty tarp - The sturcture now looked like the martians had landed.

Since Matt & I were the first to arrive, we left before the final touches of the Yurt to find food - we were starving. We decided to get burritos on Alberta Street nearby, but luckily my eye caught a little food stand in the Alberta Co-op parking lot. The only word I caught was Plantains. I rung my bell for Matt to pull over, and told him what I saw, and wondered if there was more food. Matt said that the lady came over to his house that week to pickup some free sawdust he advertised, and that he remembered her telling him about her food cart and that she does sell rice and beans. So we circled back. The sun was out and we had the most tasty, perfect lunch of all organice rice & beans, a side salad and a paperbag of plantain chips for $5. The lady's name is Blue, and she's super friendly and interesting, and sets up in the parking lot Noon until dark Saturday and Sunday and on Last Thursday Art Walks. You could also get a large plate for $7 and share with a friend.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My Letterpress

Here she is. I'm gonna fix her up with new rollers & de-rust her. In fact, this little letterpress has been sitting in my garage for about 3 1/2 years. Now that I'm out of my downtown studio, and working from home, and attempting to wean myself from the IPRC's presses, I am in need of a letterpress. I was thinking that the this one I had was heavy and awkward - and though this one looks like it was built like a ship and once served a lifetime at the Bede-Hibbit Mortuary Printers, I think she'll serve Red Bat Press just fine. Her handle is light with wood, easy to grab, and all in all this press looks like it's in good shape. I'll be printing in my garage by June, I'm sure of it.