Ms. Bathtub

Musings from Carye Bye of Portland, Ore.

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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.

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.


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