Day 55 – Braided hair & da Ganja

I totally forgot to write about the last stop on my cruise.  So far we’ve relived killer barracuda’s, a jelly fish attack, severe drunkenness, stingrays and a post office in Hell…  now we’re off to Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Before I got off the ship I met a Jamaican man who worked in customs.  He said his brother, Garfield, owned a cab and for a flat rate he would set me and my friends up with an all day personal cab and tour guide.  I don’t remember what the cost was but we did it, refusing to pay until after we we were finished and back at the ship.  The customs officer telephoned his brother and set it all up.   Upon exiting the ship I noticed that the beautiful island I saw from the sea looked like a scene from Lockup Raw- Extended Stay!! No joke. There was a reeeaally tall fence that separated us from Jamaica. On my side was the ocean and the ship and on the other side it was a kabillion Jamaican men dressed in navy pants and short sleeve, light blue button-ups and they were hanging all over the fence.  As we got closer these men were reaching for us and calling out, “Preh-teh laydeh.. come, lemme dreye-ve for ya mon.” They were cabbies and they were way too eager for American dollars.   As soon as we crossed through the fence a man came and took my arm.. “Ey-m Garfeeeeld. Come dis way.”  So my friends and I walked to Garfield’s cab- which was a minivan so we all fit comfortably.  After we climbed inside he drove us around the island and explained a lot of going on’s around us. At one point he hopped out of the cab, plucked some leaves from a tree and told us to taste them. Seemed legit. I don’t remember what it was or what it taste like but I do remember that it was tasty. It was something common-  dang it I wish I could remember.

Garfield pointed out hummingbird nests, a house made of conch shells, coffee bushes, and then took us to a marketplace where I bought a bird carved from a tree trunk and had my hair braided (Shrugs) seemed like a good idea at the time.  Lemme tell u about my braids. Oh my gawd it was bad. My hair wasn’t long enough to braid- or at least I didn’t think it was. I don’t know how she did it, but the Jamaican lady had me come to the back of her shop, (like in the storage room) sit on a milk crate and she went to town. I had a hard time getting my hair to do what I wanted it to do with the aid of goo’s and spray’s- I didn’t know how she was going to braid the stubborn pixied mess.  She did it though and when she was done (in about 10 minutes) I had $15 worth of no less than 800 tiny, twisted up braids that had little hairs sticking out all over. Instead of laying flat, mine stuck out every which way.  I looked like albino Coolio. Oh and..they had beads on the ends so when I walked, they clanked.  After the hair braiding I bought a colorful scarf to tie them up with. I totally rocked those braids with a scarf hahahahaha I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty sure no one knew I wasn’t Jamaican.             Tell me why all of a sudden I’m thinking about the movie, “My Cousin Vinny,” when he and Mona Lisa are having a conversation about attire?

Mona Lisa (me): [Vinny looks at her funny] What?

Vinny (every Jamaican on the island): Nothing. You stick out like a sore thumb around here.

Mona Lisa: Me? What about you?

Vinny: I fit in better than you. At least I’m wearing cowboy boots.

Mona Lisa: Oh yeah, you blend.

HAHAHAHHAHAHA!!!!

Anyway, I met back up with my friends as I walked about the market place. We stopped and had a beer (or three) and watched the funniest thing go down.  Ok so there we were just minding our own business and you see what happened was-  these two (I assume Americans because they had white skin, braided hair and wore brand new Marley t-shirts) were walking down the path when they were stopped by a Rastaman.  I heard him say, “Ah mon, you want da ganja?” (weed)  Of course these fools wanted ‘da ganja mon,”  because they were idiot college boys on vaca in Jamaica-  duh.   Rastaman then pulls out a little bag of weed- like from out of nowhere.. it just appeared.. like *POOF* – weed.  The white dudes took it, paid for it and began to walk down the path again. My friends and I were sitting there looking at each other like, ‘did that really just happen?’ when uh oh happened.   The two white dudes were stopped by what appeared to be Jamaican po-po. The little bit of tan they had, drained from their faces and melted somewhere in the back of their shorts!  I don’t know about you, but I know being locked up abroad would suck major ass- especially for the much hated white American.      The two white dudes accused of buying ‘da ganja’ were given two options: 1) pay the po-po a fine ‘right now mon’ or 2) go to jail, miss the boat and hope for the best.  Hmmm… what would they do??  This was a nail-biter for sure.     The white dudes decided to pay the fine, give ‘da ganja’ to the po-po and skip imprisonment outside of the US.  Good choice!!    After the almost arrest the white dudes mall-walked their butt’s out of sight. As my friends and I sat there laughing about the whole thing and the “I just crapped my pants look,” each of those guys had on their faces we noticed the po-po walking towards the Rastaman.  We got quiet and were like.. dun-dun-dun…     Nope. No scary music needed, more like, “Whoop there it is!”  That cop didn’t arrest the Rastaman; he handed the weed back to him and walked away.  After he had cleared the path, the Rastaman offered ‘you want da ganja mon?’ to another unsuspecting couple of white people. THIS WAS A SCAM!!!

Well played, market place Jamaicans, well played.

Later on that day we ended up at Dunn’s River Falls. What a beautiful sight to see!  As we climbed up, the rocks felt slick under my feet.  The cool water rushed over my legs and when we came to a small pool in the rocks, I went in!!  It was freaking nice to be playing in fresh water after a week of the salty gulf.  Hell, even the pools on the ship were ocean water!!  So yeah, this was amazing. When it was time Garfield took us back to the ship where we paid him for his day of chauffeuring and paid taxes on our two duty-free bottles of rum before coming aboard.

That night on the ship was topsy-turvy.  To get back to the States we first had to go between Cuba and Haiti and then Cuba and the Bahamas all while staying in the ‘safe zone’ (American friendly waters)  I shit you not, while staying closer to Haiti but looking at Cuba you can see Cuban water patrol ships. That’s pretty unnerving.  On top of that, the waters near Cuba are wicked turbulent. Like, the ocean is pissed off at communist Cuba or something.. I dunno, but what I do know is that while walking in the ship, (even amidships) I was leaning one way then soon the other.  I don’t think anyone ate dinner this night. Too bad no one had ‘da ganja mon,’ I hear it’s good for seasickness.

estoned_reggae

Day 34 – Grand Cayman Island

After my embalming in Playa del Carmen I was thankful for a restful day at sea. Nothing like sitting up on the topless deck, tanning your tata’s while hungover. UGH. You would think an 896′ ship weighing over 100,000 tons would cut through waves instead of riding them. Good grief – I was green!

My next port was the Grand Cayman Island. I did absolutely ZERO drinking during those 12 hours inland. I acted like a complete tourist and visited the Turtle Farm, Stingray City and the post office in Hell. Let’s start with the Turtle Farm.

The Turtle Farm smelled like a huge sulfur-y fart. The end.

I’m just kidding. It did smell bad but after 20 minutes or so I got used to it and couldn’t smell it anymore. The farm was pretty awesome. There were large white concrete tanks full of sea turtles in various stages of life; hatch-ling to prehistoric. I’d never seen a turtle so big in all my life. The biggest one I saw had to be as big as Frank’s Chevette, and probably just as old. (previous post) This turtle was sporting a velvety slime-green coat- he was a very distinguished old man. When he swam, he didn’t flap his flippers like the rest of the sea turtles, instead he cruised by in a slow, sexy manner.  This mack-turtle had been around the block!!    The babies were my favorite. OMG they were so sweet. There was this one baby, I called him, ‘Runt’ because he was just so miniscule compared to his family. I wanted to steal him, I really did. Getting Runt off the farm and home would have been a cake walk; it was what to do with him when he outgrew my 55 gallon tank that had me stumped. (sigh) Needless to say, I had to leave Runt behind and yes… I was heartbroken.

The next stop was lunch.  I don’t remember much about it except the waitress wanted me to try a dolphin sandwich.  I kept trying to be nice by telling her, “No thank you,” but she just kept trying to sell it until I got pissed and I snipped, “Look lady, I’m not eating a f*%#ing porpoise!!”  She left. So did I.  Much later on that day I figured out that ‘dolphin’ wasn’t a dolphin as in the dolphin, “Flipper,” it was actually a dolphin fish. Embarrass. Well, how was I supposed to know that? I’m not from the tropics and all the description said was, ‘dolphin.’

Stingray City was next. Again I ended up on a little boat that looked like the S.S. Minnow- no joke. It was loaded down with too many people and the captain looked like Fat Albert. I sat on the edge holding on to some rope for dear life trying not to fly off and out into the Gulf as the Minnow crashed into the wake of the shallows. This was probably the first time I had ever be scared in my entire life.   When we finally reached the shallows, I stripped off my outer layer, once again donned my fins and snorkel gear and fell back into the ocean. The fish were dense and shined like glitter in the sun. I saw some coral and I wanted to touch it but no matter how hard I tried, I could not get to the small reef.  I wanted to but the salt content was so high I couldn’t sink more than a few feet. Most of the time I just float on the surface like a damn frog.

A little beyond the reef was the shallow area that I could stand in and apparently where the rays would come in. I kept dipping under the water looking through my mask, trying to see a stingray.  Nada. Then out of nowhere it happened; a sudden darkness went over my head blocking out the sun.  It was enormous!!   Then every direction I looked there were rays.  Little one, big ones.. HUGE ONES!!!   Just like a little kid chasing a duck in the park, I was chasing rays.  I seriously tried to touch every single one of them.  They felt sooo soft- and reminded me of portabella mushrooms.   Fat Albert handed out small buckets of squid to feed to the rays.. then the magic happened.  The rays came, swimming in flocks; like aqua-birds they flapped their wings.  Holding up the squid they’d come and gently suck it from my hand.  One ray loved me so much he let me hold him while he sucked a huge hickey on my chest!!  (explain that one to your parents!)  I wanted to steal him too, I really did.

From Stingray City I went to Hell – literally.  There’s a place called, Hell, Grand Cayman and they had a post office that I of course had to send a postcard from (like every other Tom, Dick & Harry)   I sent it to myself because I’m an only child, its what we do. hahaha.   Hell wasn’t anything great to look at unless you’re into black limestone formations- which I’m not.

And that was my trip to Grand Cayman.  Not as funny as Mexico but way better.

Tomorrow, Jamaica. Oh Lord help us all.
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Day 33- Playa del Carmen, Mexico

OK so I’m on this Caribbean cruise and making my first stop after two days at sea.  Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

As I said in the previous post, I had never been on a ship before so it never occurred to me that the ship would be too big to dock close to where I was suppose to get off.  When the doors opened I, along with several thousand others, stepped into small passenger shuttle boats that took us from the ship onto land.  Ok-  whatever works.

Once on Mexican sand I felt like I really accomplished something big.  I had not only taken my first flights, taxi ride and ship stay, now I was out of the US for the very first time. That’s a huge big deal.  (you never forget your first lol)  Upon first glance I wasn’t too impressed with Mexico.  It looked nothing like what I expected… but then again, I probably didn’t really know what to expect.  I assumed Mexico would be dirty and look impoverished – you know, like Texas does. (I can say that because I lived there) Playa del Carmen was very Americanized.

I had little interest in shopping in Mexico and didn’t want to waste my time in port on the strip. I did buy a gold charm etched with “Playa del Carmen” in a semi-circle above a palm tree. Not wanting to lose the charm I slid it onto my necklace with the intention to add it to my bracelet once back home. Seemed like a good idea– (keep reading)     After spending a few bucks, I decided to flag down a taxi. I admit that I was slightly taken aback when this tiny, rusted blue, and beat all to hell Chevette came to a quick halt in front of me.  “Was this a taxi?”  I was a little confused and I didn’t just want to get into someones personal ride…. you know??  A big ole Mexican was pretty much shoe-horned into the tiny car so I just stood there like a huge goober because I didn’t know what else to do.  The man leaned over to the passenger side window and asked me if I wanted to go somewhere. My first thought was, ‘uh uh not with your kidnapping-ass.  I’ve seen dateline.’   But then I realized he had a name tag on that said, “Frank” – – seemed legit. LMAO  Between his broken English and my very bad Spanish we got a plan together.  He agreed to take me to a beach away from the tourist area, a place where I could snorkel and he would come back for me in a couple of hours!!  Frank’ dropped me off at a beach that wasn’t overly crowded – was beautiful. When I went to pay him he said to wait until later–

As I traipsed through the soft sand with my backpack, I about tripped over a 200 foot iguana. The hell??!  Making my way over to a palm I came across a waiter carrying a tray of coconuts decorated with little umbrella’s and a straw – I thought, “Hell, why not?”  I bought one then planted my butt in the shade of the palm.  So there I sat, under my palm tree sipping on a coconut full of alcohol, minding my own business when a rather large woman (no less than 4 bills) decided to share the shade of my tree. Saying nothing, I continued to sip my coconut unfazed while she got butthole naked right there beside me, while changing into her bathing suit.  It really wouldn’t have been a big deal to me if she hadn’t bent over. OMG! Ass-crack for days!! I about choked, no joke. I have to admit, I watched the entire process from beginning to end, amazed by not her getting naked in front of an entire beach of people but rather by the fact she was wearing a two-piece bikini and her bush was hanging out of the sides of her bottoms.  That was enough excitement for me- was times to hit the Gulf.   Unlike the shade-stealer, I had my bathing suit on under my cloths.  I stripped off my shorts and tank and crammed them into my backpack, slathered SPF9000 on my milky white skin, sucked down the last of the coconut nectar, grabbed my snorkel gear and headed out.    Man- I cannot tell you how awesome it was.   So many big gorgeous fish, lots of coral (never touch the red ones), and brightly colored tropical fish littered the water.

Ok, so I’m floating around taking it all in when I see a long silver fish..   with my snorkel sticking out of the water, I sat as motionless as the ebb and flow would allow.  That freaking fish was a barracuda, no less than 4 feet long.  I knew that damn thing had teeth and it would attack and it was sitting as motionless as I was, staring at me.  Wanna know why?  Remember that charm I slid onto my necklace back in Touristville? Well it was hanging down and clanking against another charm I had on my necklace. The sun was hitting it just right too… which basically made me lure. Shit. I slowly turned around and Michael Phelps’ed my ass back to shore.  As I was speed racing, I felt something bite me on the outside of my knee..I reacted by swatting at it, and it bit me again on my hand.  That was it, I was going to bleed to death in the Gulf of Mexico. I was being attacked by a killer barracuda and it had just taken my leg and my hand off– but I didn’t panic. I knew if I did I would probably not make it and I didn’t want my kids to have to identify my body, if in fact it ever made it back home, so I kept swimming until I got to the shallows where I could stand and run.

Gasping, I stood on the beach trying to catch my breath when I realized, I had my leg… and my hand. I laughed for like two seconds until I saw a red swirled pattern on the side of my knee. I looked at my hand – same thing. OMG!!  I WAS ATTACKED BY A FLIPPIN’ JELLY WHILE TRYING NOT TO BE EATEN BY A BARRACUDA!!!   I hobbled over to the tiki hut that sold those tasty little coconuts and pointed to my inflamed swirl. The barmaid had me sit on a chair and she poured some sort of alcohol on it. It made it hurt worse for a few minutes but then it stopped.  I guess the alcohol neutralized the poison (shrugs)  When it was time, I walked back to the road to wait for Frank.  He came back just as promised.  He laughed and shook his head when he saw my leg.. he said, “I take you to Charlies.” I smiled but kept thinking to myself, “Holy mother of God, who is Charlie??”     Frank sped down the gravelly road, swerving past other cars.  Many times I thought we were going to die in a head-on collision but at the very last second, the oncoming car would zig to Frank’s zag then they’d each continue to speed along. No wonder Frank’s car looked beat all to hell.  Frank stopped and pointed- I followed his finger with my eyes to a sign that said, “Carlos n’ Charlies.”   He asked me the name of my ship- and asked me for more money than was due him- which I found a little curious.  I handed him a wad of cash and told him the name of my ship.  He nodded with a smile and waited for me to get out of his cab. I shrugged that little bit of weirdness off and head into Charlies.

omg Charlies was the most fun I ever had in my entire life (up to that point anyway)  I danced on the tables while strangers threw popcorn at me.  I started to get ticked off until it was explained to me that popcorn is thrown at good looking people; then I was like, oh ok.. toss away!! hahaha. I also made a few trips too many around the restaurant in conga line, making pit-stops at designated waiters so they could pour flavored tequila down my throat.  All I remember after that was making myself throw up in Charlies bathroom and stumbling outside.  I don’t know how long I sat there but I do remember Frank putting me into his cab and driving me to my shuttle boat.  I remember seeing my reflection in the brass doors inside the elevator on the ship. I knew I was trashed but tried so hard to pull my act together so no one else would know. Yeah, that’s funny.  Ever see a legally embalmed person trying to act normal? hahahahaha   Somehow I made it back to my stateroom and slept it off without dying of alcohol poisoning.   I’m really thankful for Frank because he knew just by looking at me that Charlies would kick my ass.  He was right. Now I know why he asked for extra money- it was to pay my debt before it incurred.

Smart man.

Charlies