HOTEL HIJINX AND THE CASE OF THE DRUGGED SMUGGLER
It was my last night in the Caribic House hotel. My newfound Aussie travelling companion, Winston, and I had just gone to sleep only to be woken a few hours later by the neighbours who were clearly either watching the local porn channel or creating a movie of their own. Aside from the walls shuddering every few seconds and loud gasps there were also classic dialogue such as:
MAN: <loud slap> You like being my bitch don’t you?
WOMAN: <long pause followed by gasps> <sound of door slamming>
MAN: <screaming> Elllll-eeenn! I love you!
Things were strange enough until I was woken early the next morning with a knock at the front door. This weird guy asked me if I was going to Kingston that morning. After which I informed him he may have the wrong room. He revealed to me he was a security guard and the neighbouring apartment had had their camera and camcorder stolen and that we were under suspicion because our balconies are connected. He said he may have to come back and search.
I was like, “Whatever…”, and felt a little shifty about his demeanour as well as his story. Checking the lock on the door I went back to bed, only to be woken again by a telephone by someone asking for a “Damon”, who obviously wasn’t in our room. I suggested that he may be on his way to Kingston and hung up.
I managed to sleep a little more, woke up for a fourth time and went downstairs for a well-earned breakfast. I let the hotel reception know about the strange going-ons and they expressed total surprise especially about their new security employee. After breakfast I came back to find an investigator chatting with our two English neighbours, Yvonne and Marinella, about a robbery. He chatted with me on their balcony. As it turns out, the ‘security guard’ was probably the thief and after swapping a few details and descriptions I was allowed to return to my room.
Meanwhile, Yvonne was out the front door of her room talking to this guy who was acting a little strange. He says that he thinks I am military as I walk past and reminds us that he is not Muslim and doesn’t bomb people even though he should remove his beard. (???)
Later, the police arrive to talk with Yvonne and Marinella about their robbery. But the crazy guy isn’t sure why the police are there and starts talking. Naturally after hearing him talk for just a few minutes the police enter his room and search it. They end up taking him down to the station handcuffed with his suitcase as well so they can properly search it… apparently for the drugs that Yvonne says the crazy guy admitted to be smuggling.
CRAZY! But I highly recommend staying at Caribic House Hotel, if not for the air conditioner, at least for the experiences.
My life is the calm between storms some people say. Actually I just made that up because it tied in nicely with Jamaica’s hurricane season. And so it came to pass that I entered Jamaica two days after Hurricane Dennis and leaving two days after Hurricane Emily. Thankfully both were a bit of a non-event for Jamaica.
If you have ever had to name a baby, spare a moment to appreciate the team of people that come together to name the most infamous ‘children’ in the world! This group of clucky scientists congregate at the World Meteorological Society in Switzerland. They’ve set a list of names for tropical storms all over the world through to 2011 and I note with glee that some of your names appear there. (Mine doesn’t!)
Apparently naming a hurricane was easier to help distribute information, record data and help to warn the general public. They used to only have female names until the 1970’s when due to a little pressure from the feminists, they added 50/50 male and female names to the list. The first storm in each year takes a name starting with A, and then each storm in turn takes the next alphabetical name on the list. A curious thing is how there are no names starting with Q or U. (Apologies to any Quincy’s and Ulysses’ who may be reading…)
Head to the Hurricane pages online if you need help picking a name for a troublesome baby.
Ah Jamaica… From South America to the Carribean, it was a cultural adjustment to be sure!
I headed out to Negril, a seven mile stretch of beach on the west coast of Jamaica. Up one end are the crazily expensive hotels and resorts and then there’s the other end where I chose to reside.
The West Port Cottages are wonderfully held together by its owner, Joseph. Joseph works hard patching up the roofs during the day and afterwards he mows the grass and then I think he puts it into little cigarette papers to smoke away the early evening.
At dinner time, he happily invites all of the backpacker-type guests to watch a video. The video itself is quite interesting until about the last half an hour when Joseph gets a visitor and they start yelling yarns to each other in the nearby room. It’s not such a bad thing as even the dullest drama can become the most fascinating comedy, as Joseph and his friend provide an interesting diversion from the script.
Upon arrival I met my neighbour, who was a Frenchman visiting Jamaica for his fifth or possibly sixth time. His name was Yves (pronounced similiar to Eve). So when people arrived at the place they were introduced to, you guessed it, Adam and Yves… But it all ended up well. I convinced him not to eat from the Fridge of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and we were not evicted from our lodgings in the nude.
Jamaica uses both US and Jamaican dollars. In tourist locations, it may be easier to simply use US dollars.
Buses from Montego Bay to Negril… can cost from $10USD up to $50 depending upon who you speak to. The Tourist Information Office in Montego Bay has rates at $25USD but if you hang around with your backpack near the Juta Tours area a little further up the ‘Hip Street’ you can jump on a bus at the last minute and possibly bargain them down to $10…
Hustle-city…! Expect to be stopped in the street or on the beach by people trying to sell you small items or their story! Follow some simple common-sense rules to avoid potential trouble from the more advanced hustlers.
– Never accept or hold anything from someone else. Hustlers can use your acceptance of the item to coerce you into paying for it.
– Don’t stop walking if you are heading in a direction. Acknowledge the person but continue on your journey. In Jamaica it is common to use phrases like, “Respect mon!” or “Everything’s irie”.
– Don’t follow someone outside of a populated area unless you are sure about where you are going to.
– Feel free to bargain for a better price. You have the money, so you are the one to close the deal.
West Port Cottages at Negril are the cheaper accommodation options in town. What they lack in services and style, they make up for in personality and friendliness. Also has an excellent kitchen with enough plates to feed an army.