Thursday, November 24, 2005

Whew! It has taken awhile to download and post all the pics from my Caribbean voyage. Every time I tried to load the pics Hello (the program for pic posting) would crash. They should call it Good-Bye. Ha! (that's a terrible joke).

Jamaica was interesting. It was beautiful, sunny and warm, humid, dirty, rainy- a little bit of everything. The original purpose of the trip was to witness the marriage of Sarah Schmidt and Jason Behuniak. Steph bugged me and bugged me, I mean, she encouraged and encouraged me to do the trip (I really didn't need that much prodding) and we became travel buddies.

The first few days of the trip were easy. The whole wedding party stayed at an all inclusive resort so everything was provided for us, including a limo ride to the resort. I'll admit it's kind of odd to ride in a limo in a third world country, but don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. From the limo Steph and I hopped on a catamaran with the rest of the wedding party to partake in some snorkeling, cliff diving and drinking. In America alcohol would generally not be provided while participating in either cliff diving or snorkeling but as I found pretty much everything goes in Jamaica. Later on in the night we stepped out to a bar called Alfred's for some Jamaican flavor.

The next day was the wedding where we went to the Cliff resort. The wedding went off without a hitch or rather with a hitch. There was a point at the reception where Steph and I were trying to decide what to drink and I said, "No more blended drinks. Those are only for breakfast." We laughed once we realized what I had said, but the truth was I was total serious. No matter, Roy the bartender decided what we would drink, a mixed flaming shot called a Bob Marly and Bob Marley's are positively the worst drink known to man. I think Roy got a kick out of watching these foreigners get inebriated on what tasted to be a mixture of cough syrup, drain cleaner and gasoline. Lest you think I jest about the taste of this god awful drink, look at the pic of Jason. His expression is a testament to the palitability of Bob Marleys. (In case you feel like making one of these drinks and and serving it to a hated enemy the recipe is )The after wedding party progressed. There was a bonfire on the beach followed by a moonlight swim in the ocean. Despite the drunken rowdiness that ensued, the wedding was really beautiful and I was proud to have been able to be there.

Day three was hangover recovery.

Day four was the dreaded day- the day we were to rent a car and attempt to drive in Jamaica. Jamaica has one of the highest fatality rates on the road. Most Jamaicans drive as if they are late for their own organ transplant on pothole-ridden, narrow roads. To complicate matters they also drive on the opposite side of the road. I was a tad bit trepidatious to say the least. I rented the biggest baddest vehicle the rental car company could give me, a Toyota Yarris. Steph and I hopped in the car, I gripped the wheel, she closed her eyes and we were on our way. Funny thing is once I drove on the left side of the road for awhile I got used to it. One thing that helped was the steering wheel was on the wrong side as well. It's easier to do things backwards when you have to do everything backwards; however, I never got used to the turning signal. I'd mentally prepare myself to make a turn, think of where I wanted to go, put on the turning signal, which would turn on the windsheild wipers which would confuse me and my concentration would be shot.

Our destination spot was Ocho Rios. I don't have a lot to say about Ocho Rios. We stayed in a standard hotel, not one of the resorts, so we were exposed to a lot more of raw Jamaica. I was offered everything illegal under the sun: weed, cocaine, mushrooms, girls, pirated DVDs, Jamaican porn. I've realized if you ever want to go on a downhill slide, Jamaica is the place to do it. I basically stuck to rum and cigars.

Steph and I made a trip to Dunn River Falls. It's this series of waterfalls that goes up in steps and steps. The touristists make a big dorky chain, holding hands and following a guide up the falls. At first I was very skeptical of this activity, but by the end I felt bonded to my fellow chainmates as we scrambled up the falls, pulled each other down and hoisted each other back up. One thing I've realized is that North Americans usually tackle adventurous activities with zeal and gusto that other travelers do not possess. No offence Europeans but you can be pretty big wussies. I've also noticed that Americans are generally the loudest, most obnoxious and definitely the drunkest travelers around. The Australians are generally just friendly and drunk.

Steph and I made another tourist stop at Green Grotto Caves where we donned on hairnets and hard hats for some mild mannered spelunking. Our guide never put on his hairnet or hard hat testifying to how clumsy tourists are. The caves were hiding places for Spanish pirates and runaway slaves. More recently the caves were transformed into a nightclub. From pirates to ravers--in some ways there's not much a difference. The bats were packing up there things and leaving because of the nightclub music (I can't blame them, I'm not into dance music that much myself) so the night club was eventually shut down and the balance of the cave is slowly being restored.

Stephanie and I chewed up a day driving around and trying to find a place to stay around the luminescent bay, a body of water that was supposed to glow at night because of the phosphorescent bacteria. Sadly to say we could not find lodging, and headed back to Montego Bay.

Now something should be mentioned here about the trip. At first Steph and I started out as gung-hoe travelers and explorers, but as the days wore on our gung-hoe wore out. We got tired of being hit up for money everywhere we went, eating terrible food and dealing with unexpected circumstances. Basically we got a little tired of Jamaica. What was our solution? To go to Cuba. Now I'm not really sure if I can mention that we went there so if anybody from homeland security is reading this we really went to Canada and pretended that it was Cuba.

So Canada was really great. Even though we were only there for one day and two nights, we got to see a lot of Ontario (Havanna). We ran around downtown, saw a few old forts, a few of Hemmingways old haunts. I drank mojitos in a roof-top bar at Hemmingway's old hotel. I hear the writer had quite the affinity for mojitos, then again he also had an affinity for taking a boat, a flashlight, a shotgun, and a bottle of rum out on the ocean at night and blasting sharks while he was rip roaring drunk. I managed to stay away from that activity. Steph and I went to a caberet show instead and that was great. It was lively and loud and the girls wore most of their clothing on their heads in the form of those huge feathery hats. They wore very little below their necks.

It was interesting to see the differences betweeen Jamaica and Cuba, I mean Canada. In Cuba people would come up and talk to us just because they were generally curious about us and wanted to talk. In Jamaica people would talk to us because they want us to buy trinkets or drugs. Don't get me wrong, for being a comunistic country the Cuban people sure do know how to take advantage of capitalist tourists and I flew through the money. Cuba was just more of a culturally rich experience.

Steph and I came back Jamaica for a day or two of lounging on the beach. At certain beaches they have these water trampolines that look like they'd be blast. I was planing on performing a triple flip and diving into the water. Easier said than done. Because the trampoline moves underneath you, it becomes almost imposible to get the right momentum to dive into the water. I gave up when I impacted the water with my face and crotch at the same time. Luckily other people had just as tough a time mastering the water trampoline as I did.

Then I flew home. I hate airports.

So after all that I have to question what I learned from the whole experience. I've learned not to drink multi-layered, flaming Jamaican drinks. I've learned I can drive like a madman on the left hand side of the road if need be. I've learned that when ordering food in other countries imagine what you think you might be getting then take that mental image and downgrade it by three notches so you won't be disapointed when your food comes out. I've learned that I'd like to go back to Cuba, I mean Canada, at sometime in my life. I learned that most Jamaican's are very friendly. I've learned that the water trampoline probably takes weeks or even years to master. I learned that friends, especially travel buddies are priceless. Irie man.

This is not typical Jamaican transport. Posted by Picasa

Travelin' buds. Posted by Picasa

The ceremony and people's heads. Posted by Picasa

Sarah's so damn happy to get the veil off. Posted by Picasa

The ladies. Posted by Picasa

Somehow I can't help but feel underdressed. Posted by Picasa

Happily Married. Posted by Picasa

Worst drink know to man: the Bob Marley. Posted by Picasa

Kim shows us how to take a Marley shot with ease. Posted by Picasa

However, Jason didn't do as well. Posted by Picasa

Jessica inspects Sarah's reaction to vicious Jamaican alcohol. Posted by Picasa

Point and laugh. Steph takes a marley shot.  Posted by Picasa

Were we suposed to light that thing on fire? Posted by Picasa

Happy Jamaicans. Posted by Picasa

One of the more dramatic (drunken) moments of the party. Posted by Picasa

This moment brought to you by Red Stripe. Posted by Picasa

Those Jamaicans sure have the sunset thing down. Posted by Picasa

Is that a hurricanne? Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 18, 2005

Tourists and guide. Posted by Picasa

A cluster of bats. Advice to everyone: keep your mouth closed when looking straight up at a family of bats.  Posted by Picasa

Underground lake at the Green Grotto caves.  Posted by Picasa

Raft guide and big tree. Posted by Picasa

Note to self: when holding the camera and trying to get a picture of two people, I should not point the camera straight at me. This is testiment to my vanity.  Posted by Picasa

Green Jamaican goodness (and no, it's not the kind you smoke). Posted by Picasa

A very phalic looking pool.  Posted by Picasa