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.

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. :)


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