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Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Stubing was Italian, Julie was a comedian, I never saw Doc, and I got to know Isaac very well.

Disclaimer: I love my Girlfriend, and her family. I had a great time with them. As much as I'm about to rant, all in all it was fun, and worth the hassle.

Departure day in Miami was a mess, but we finally managed to get on board - I went straight to the bar. Bucket of Heineken (4): $15.00.

It is possible to avoid the buffet, and I did so. You have to be open to a whole lot of pizza.

It is not possible to avoid the general public, but I tried.

"Fun Day at Sea" means endless hours of drinking. I managed this well.

Dinner every night at eight, table 293. Food actually decent. Can of Coke: $2.85.

First landfall (day three) Grand Cayman Island. There's not a lot to do except SCUBA and snorkel with the stingrays. Grand Cayman has an amazing reef, I'd never seen such an array of blue before. Mainly, we just wanted to get off the damn boat and have a meal prepared just for us. When I say we, I mean me. I'm a food snob. My Baby, bless her, puts up with me.

We found a nice place to eat, Corita's Copper Kettle, recommended by our cab driver. We had oxtail and fried seafood. I dig me some fish fry. It was here that I discovered that American Dollars are ubiquitous in the Caribbean. No need to exchange currency.

We walked along the harbor, bought some crap. I needed a hat, I opted for Gilligan style. We found a bar, and another, and then went back to the boat.

This is my main issue with the cruise, not enough time on land, and or, too much time on the boat. Drinks, however, are everywhere. I can get behind that issue.

The boat is, in essence, a floating hotel run by a cross between McDonalds and Disney.

Jamaica was a blast. Carnival Cruise Lines sponsors a slew of tours, but we wanted to do our own thing. As we walked off the pier, there was a crowd of cab drivers waving and calling to us. One of them sort of stood out, and I caught his eye. As he walked us to his cab, a mini van, he told me that he could take us on a tour of the island, it took him half a minute to work in the fact that he could score some herb; "No problem - good to go!"

'Mark' took us in his cab, first to score a couple of $20 bags (about an eighth), then he drove to another spot where he left us in his cab for a few nerve wracking minutes while he went inside a building to roll us up a few. It's legal to grow, posses, and smoke, but distribution is frowned upon. By who, I'm not sure, the shit is everywhere mon.

After he got back, I lit up. When I was good and stoned, he stopped the van, and gave us his speil, which was basically 100 bucks for a personal guided tour. Now, we knew we were getting taken advantage of, but since the official Carnival tours - with all those people - would have cost us 180 bucks, we figured it wasn't worth haggling over, we were saving money anyway. Besides, I was really high, which was part of his plan.

He drove us up Fern Gully, which was very cool. I've never been in a rain forest before. They're green you know. Very big leaves. Very interestingly shaped giant green leaves.

When we got to the top of the mountain, 'Mark' pulled over at a roadside souvenir stop where we got out and he basically sat back and laughed while we were assailed by a throng of Jamaicans trying to get us to part with dollars in exchange for crap. We weren't really interested in the souvenirs, we wanted to eat breakfast. After escaping the crowd of crap sellers, we sat down at an outside bar, a gazebo if you will, and had curry chicken, yucca, Red Stripe, and giant dumplings for breakfast. I felt like Capt. Willard in 'Apocalypse Now' when he's offered the shrimp, except unlike Willard, we ate it.

"You can smoke here. You can smoke anywhere mon."

After our meal (12 bucks), and some token souvenir purchases (20 bucks), we told 'Mark' that we weren't into buying crap, we wanted to see neat stuff. We were in Jamaica for four hours and had plenty of opportunity to buy crap, and not enough opportunity to chill. He took the hint, and kept us away from the crap sellers for the rest of the day. I did notice his demeanor changed. Not in any ugly way, but he became preoccupied by other matters.

"Mark' works a network. He's got folks lined up along his route waiting to help us part with cash. I have no problem with it. It's what they do. I was willing to pay 'Mark' to haul us around Ocho Rios at hazardous speeds, (They drive on the wrong side of the road you know), but I wasn't willing to buy crap.

If you've seen one Jack on a Stick, you've seen them all.

Next up was Spice Mountain. Jamaica is herb central, all kinds of herbs. "Mark' drove around on these tiny beat up roads, roads that make the BQE seem well maintained, and showed us examples of the island's natural flora and fauna. He stopped at a roadside booth where we tasted natural sugar cane. We smelled allspice, which is actually a plant, not a blend of spices! You can imagine my shock. There was lemongrass, nutmeg, giant lemons, mangos, bananas, akee, jackfruit, cocoa, and some other stuff I can't remember because I was so damn stoned at the time. 'Mark' said that anybody who goes hungry in Jamaica is just lazy. The island is lousy with fruits, nuts and other edible vegetation. I think things might be different in Kingston.

There is apparent poverty, it's shocking to see how some folks live. Television understates everything.

After a brief drive by of Dunn's River Falls 'Mark' dropped us of at Bibibip for lunch. If you are ever in Ocho Rios, do yourself a favor, go have a meal at Bibibip. My Baby had the escovich, a skillet fried fish that was simply amazing, and I went with the jerk chicken. We followed it up with an order of salt fish fritters and a few Red Stripes. It was hands down the best meal we had on the whole trip.

After lunch 'Mark' showed up to take us back to the boat. The four hours we spent in Ocho Rios was the highlight of out trip.

On day four we had another 'Fun Day at Sea', the whole boat smelled like herb. Ahh Jamaica. Hey, when in Rome....smoke weed!

On our last night we blew forty bucks at the casino. My Baby played the slots, I lost my 20 at Roulette. It was fun. I kinda felt like James Bond, except I don't think James ever sported a Chad Pennington jersey.

The next morning we were back in Miami. We were there for a couple nights. We went to South Beach and ate at Gloria Estefan's restaurant, Larios. Cuban, great food, good band. They had two singers, male and female. The dude sounded just like Ricky Ricardo. I recommend the tamales, and anything with pork involved. So would Ricky.

On Sunday we watched football. Another heartbreaking New York football Sunday.

I had fun. I ate well. I'm glad to be back on land. Sweet sweet land.

They are definitely more lenient on tourists with ganja than with natives. I know at least 3 yardies that were assaulted in the street by police in JA for having a spliff in their possession. The rules are different for tourists. FOR REAL.
I guess it also depends on where in JA you are. I didn't see ANY police in Ocho Rios.
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