“Make everything an adventure. Otherwise, it will suck.”
― Nita Morgan
December 22, 2012
We got home from Bath and recounted our experience to everyone at the Villa over dinner. We had a good laugh; Blue shook his head, telling us none of it would have happened if he’d been with us. After we finished Bigga and Anesta invited us to come with them to a party at the Old Marina in Port Antonio and after a little thought we agreed.
We arrived at 8:30pm, early for a bashment in Jamaica. The place was not yet crowded, and, as per usual, there wasn’t anywhere comfortable to sit. The sound system was outside at the front entrance and it was loud, living up to Jamaican decibel standards; that being if the music isn’t distorted, it isn’t loud enough. The four of us grew bored within an hour and disturbed by the number of police walking through and around the place. The smokers wanted to smoke and that was not going to happen anywhere within the confines of this party. We grabbed Blue and headed outside of the Marina, into the night time streets of Port Antonio.
We stopped at the end of the drive where there was a small building that housed the Port Antonio Marching Band and a small art gallery/studio. We hung out in the shadows, even ventured in and around the gallery and admired the art. We knew not much would have changed at the party so we continued on into the city.
We mostly absorbed the vibe; even after 9:00pm the streets were crowded and car sound systems were pumping. We kept up with Blue’s pace, wide eyed and people watching, catching the scents of the barrel chicken and checking out the wares in the market which even at this late hour was jammed with shoppers. The fruit on display was magnificent and I enjoyed seeing and touching stuff we could not readily get in Negril. No one said anything to us and even in the market we weren’t hounded by anyone to check out their stand and buy something. We just blended in with the rest of the crowd best we could.
After about an hour we headed back to the Marina. More people had arrived, some of them was dancing and the music continued to blare. We found our group who were well into their booze at this point, having a great time. We were pretty tired out from the day so we bid them goodnight. Blue drove us back and I was asleep before my head hit the pillow – must’ve been that River Massage.
December 14, 2013
I shook myself awake early, wondering if I’d just had some bizarre dream. A quick count of the number of parked motorcycles assured me I had not.
When we’d returned from our day we found Thing 2 at the kitchen table swilling from a bottle of rum. I’d gone and taken a nap and when I emerged for dinner there he was, face down on the table an empty bottle of rum beside him. Going against common sense Bigga shook him awake for dinner.
In a repeat performance of the night before Thing 2 proceeded to alternatively rant and close talk each person at the table. Les and I and Ron and Peg managed to escape and head to bed, leaving him, once again, to the Germans.
At around 2:00am I was awakened by a gravelly French accented whisper:
I lifted my head off the pillow – there he was, Thing 2, in our room standing a few feet away from the bed. I shook “Lezzzzz” awake as it was asking for him but engaged with it anyway while Les looked on.
“What? What’s the matter, what’s happened?”
He began to pace in little circles, speaking rapidly, “NeeeKeee! I have to get out of here. My daughter’s been shot – my baby daughter’s been shot! I have to get to MoBay and be on the first plane out to Montreal.”
What? Wait…his daughter, the one who just bought a house, the one whose house he was going to help fix up when he returned from Jamaica the following week?
“She lives in a bad area,” he continued, “they broke into her place and shot her…” he broke down in tears, sobbing “My baby! My baby!” He went on to say how he’d just gotten a phone call with this terrible news.
What could I do? I comforted him, telling him everything was going to be OK. I tried to get him to go to Kingston in the morning rather than ride all the way to MoBay tonight – no dice. He calmed down and explained he just had to leave right now. He put 3000JMD on the nightstand. “I know this isn’t enough,” he said, “but I’ll pay you guys back when you get back to Negril.” Then he was gone – the motorcycle roared out of the driveway.
I stood there for a moment wondering what the hell had just happened. Why us? Out of everyone we were traveling with he knew us the least. Phone call? None of us had any signal, Digicel or Lime, at the Villa – the best signal was out by the gate. As far as the money it didn’t need to be said that this would be Thing 1’s problem – the guy was his “date” afterall.
Assured this wasn’t a dream, I told everyone at the table what had happened. In the light of day the story became even fishier. Thing 1 filled us in on what took place in his room right before Thing 2 came into our room. Apparently in the course of rambling with the Germans, Thing 2 discovered that he and Thing 1 were paying slightly more for their room, something that disproportionately upset Thing 2. Thing 1’s theory was that the guy split because he was disgruntled. I just couldn’t imagine someone lying about his daughter getting shot. Either way, he was gone – we were down one rider but on our way to the Blue Mountains.
As we were leaving the driveway and hitting the main, we lost Thing 1. He was worried about Thing 2, felt he should go back to Negril to see exactly what was going on and hoping not to find his friend mashed up on the side of the road. That left just the four of us…and it was just fine with the four of us.
December 23, 2012
Over breakfast we discussed the route to the Blue Mountains with Bigga, Anesta and Blue. We took our time packing the bikes, settling our bill and bidding farewell to our hosts and fellow guests, in other words, our new friends. Ron and Les hopped on, Peg and I prepared to walk down the hill. All the right sounds were coming out of Ron’s bike – and nothing out of Les’ bike except for a “click click” when he turned the key. Thinking back on our repair in Runaway Bay we started to check off what could be wrong – not the battery, we had a brand new one. The Startex? “Click click”. Immediately all phones came out of the pockets and phone calls were being made to auto shops in Porty and to our bike’s rightful owner. Les jumped into a route taxi to try to track down a part at that auto store while Ron, Peg and I retreated to the kitchen “checked back in” to Rasta Villa and waited for Les to return. We were hopeful that Les would come back with the magic “thing” that would fix the bike and we’d be on our way.
It didn’t, so we were “stuck” in Long Bay for the time being. Our hosts and fellow guests, while sorry our trip was interrupted were openly happy about having us around for a while longer, which took the sting out of our current situation. Bigga put a call into a repair guy that he knew that might know something about Honda Shadows. In retrospect we realized that we’d not seen one Shadow on the road on this part of the island. When we rode through small towns our bikes drew a great deal of attention, people coming out towards the street to “see” the sound of the “big” hog rolling by. This amused us but now this “novelty” that was our mode of transportation was biting us in the butt. No Shadows – no Shadow mechanics. No Shadow parts.
After re-settling in, we headed out on foot to explore Long Bay. Bigga’s brother owned a restaurant down the road about a quarter mile so we decided to stroll on over there. It was Sunday and all was quiet except for the church which was filled to overflowing, praise songs ringing out. We paused for a moment to listen and watch. Church in Jamaica is indeed an event and this was the Sunday before Christmas, so churchgoers were doubly enthusiastic. The door was open so I could see in to the palate of colorful pastel dresses and hats, even the men sported color in their three-piece blue and purple suits. Even though the ceiling fan looked to be going at its highest speed, fans moved to cool down the faces of the faithful in time with the hymns.
The restaurant was a simple wooden building, with uncomfortable (read: Jamaican) seating all around. There was even more uncomfortable (read: Jamaican VIP) seating in the back on the beach. It was windy but we sat there and enjoyed our chicken lunches.
I’d been observing the other visitors to this area and took note of their youth. Portland seemed to attract young people, just as Negril used to. There were young backpacker types, lots of young surfer types and from all over the world, especially Europe. It was refreshing to hang out with our new friends, young Germans and a young Swede. I enjoy watching the surfers at home so it was a nice change to watch them here. The sea was far too rough for me to even think about venturing into it but I enjoyed watching these dedicated souls with boards navigate each set of waves, riding in the curl and landing on shore with huge smiles…and not one of them in a wet suit!
While the others busied themselves with a spliff I took a short walk up the beach. Things were still in a bit of a mess from the hurricane. I came upon the ruins of what used to be “THE” spot in Long Bay. Weather, possibly even Sandy had the place pretty much trashed so I couldn’t tell how long it had been closed. Based on what I saw and heard though the place was “it” for any type of nightlife in this area and its closure was fairly sudden and suspicious. It stood there now, like the temples in Greece, fading paint and chipping stone as a monument to what once was.
When we returned home, our hosts and fellow guests were gathered around the kitchen table. Two new guests had arrived; a young American couple who were on their honeymoon. The group was discussing a little off-property adventure and we were down to join in. We’d split up between the German couple’s rental car and Anesta’s truck. Where to go? After much discussion we put it to Blue, Anesta and Bigga and they unanimously agreed that we should check out Reach Falls.
December 14, 2013
Amidst the roar of the bikes we said goodbye to our friends and made them promise to keep us in the loop and let us know where they landed after New Years. Anesta got teary – between our dramatic entrance this year and our dramatic departure last year I’m sure she was a bit emotionally overwhelmed. At the end of the road we ran into our old buddy Blue – we had not seen him at all this time around so we paused to catch up for a few minutes. Then we were off – continuing our adventure from the year before.
The German couple was also heading to the Blue Mountains so they trailed behind us in their car; our initial idea was to share the road trip with them. Just before we hit Port Antonio however it started to rain so we ducked into the same place that we had on our way to Long Bay two days before. We were detained for about a half-hour; the Germans decided to forge on ahead without waiting for us. We understood; they weren’t psyched to stop for every drop of rain that we needed to stop for, it could get pretty tedious.
After a pit stop in Porty to replenish mostly medical supplies we headed towards and stopped in St. Margaret’s Bay to meet up with the mechanic. We were in the “town square” about a half-hour later. I was reminded once again how nothing goes fast in Jamaica so while the boys worked with the bikes Peg and I mosied about. We took a look in THE store which carried everything from monkey-wrenches to pig’s feet. I love reading the signs in stores such as these, listing the stuff for sale and their prices: Chicken Back, Chicken Feet, Oxtail, Turkey Neck. Every Jamaican cook worth his or her salt can take these “strange” ingredients and produce a work of delicious art. We crossed the highway to look at the shore. The shoreline was all rocks, very little sand, of all sizes and colors. As the gentle waves lapped up and then descended you could hear the sound of sand being made: tikka-tikka-tikka.
Striking out on new territory, we turned off the North Coast highway and headed through Buff Bay. It was still morning, not too hot and town was busy with people going about their business. Pretty soon the road started to narrow, conditions got a bit worse and on our right a beautiful river rattled and flowed over smooth rocks and reflecting the few clouds in the Cobalt sky. Ron signaled for a pull-over; we hadn’t gotten very far but we were more than ready for our first stop and smell the roses moment.