Sunday, June 22, 2008

Jamaica: part three

Staying at a carribean beach resort is a wonderful way to spend your vacation.  But I couldn't help remembering the places we passed through after being whisked out of the airport and into a van for a one hour death defying, "Whoa, I think we might get killed here" passage to Sandals.  It always seems a little weird when you travel to a country and suddenly everyone is driving on the wrong side of the street.  And it doesn't help when the roads are not marked with a center divider, are extremely narrow, and you've had maybe two hours of sleep on a red eye flight.  There were billboard signs everywhere cautioning about passing safely, driving slowly, and "making it" to the next day.  (hmmm, maybe I should just close my eyes)   The Jamaica we raced through was colorful and poor, uplifting and depressing at the same time.  Brightly colored shacks with aluminum siding roofs lined the roads, visible the entire drive.  I had heard from people who have travelled to Jamaica that it can be a little risky to go outside the resorts.  I wondered how I could get back to the areas we drove through for some photos.  Thankfully, my husband asked our concierge if we could hire a driver to take me around.  So three days later, that was what he did.

I waited for my personal tour guide in the resort lobby.  Just before my ride arrived, I noticed a beautiful peacock just outside the door.  As luck would have it, a hen walked around the corner, and the flirting began.  He was "working it" ridiculously well.  ( I now completely understand the term "shake your tail feathers")  . She played hard to get through the entire display, appearing aloof and unaffected, until finally she just walked away.  Boy, what we put you guys through.  There was not even a glance in his direction. 
Then my ride appeared.  Or I should say, "my twenty person airport van just for me" ride appeared.  Impressive.  I thought about sitting in the back for laughs, but then decided I would probably be the only one who thought that was funny.  My driver turned to introduce himself, "I'm Ezzleton.  Ezzleton Davis."  He was an older gentleman, with piercing clear blue eyes and a kind smile.  I shook his hand and asked him to say his name one more time.  He showed me his name tag.   I had to smile because this happens to me all the time at work.  When someone doesn't get my name after the second or third try, it's time to let them read it.  Works every time.  Christophe laid out the game plan for him, "Drive up the hill to the homes up there, very nice view, and then down to the fishing village and market."  I climbed over into the front seat and we were off.
He began by asking me if I had any children, and from that start, the  conversation was never ending. I asked about his family. He had two grown children, a son and a daughter.  He explained his wife was suffering from lung cancer, hypertension, and diabetes.  He took a job driving to make extra money to help pay for her medications.  I explained I worked as a nurse and instantly, we had a common ground.
He was full of facts and history.  He knew everything about Jamaica.  He knew all of the indigenous plants and their names, the main exports of Jamaican economy, the history of Whitehouse fishing village, the American stars who were building homes there, etc, etc.  I had my own private tour guide to Whitehouse, Jamaica.  
I listened intently, knowing I would probably not be able to remember enough to share, but hoping I would.  He stopped to show me plants that castor oil and starch were made from, describing the process his mother used to make castor oil from scratch.  She would give him a spoonful every day. He laughed and grimaced at the thought of it, shrugging and shaking his head. He could taste the memory.  As we drove up the hill to see the view and some of the nicer homes, I noticed Century 21 "For Sale" signs posted along the streets. It seems America is just everywhere.  
Along our drive, I also noticed there were goats everywhere and young children in neatly pressed brown and dark blue uniforms walking home from school.  The fishing village was quiet.  It was afternoon already, so the morning catch was already cleaned and sold.  When we got to the market, I asked if I could get out of the van for some pictures.  Brave, brave girl.  Just before stepping out of the van, I realized I could be in trouble. I was instantly surrounded by enthusiastic sales people who were not letting me leave without buying fried fish and bammy, a thick flat bread that resembled pita, and one man who insisted I buy his bag of mangoes. I pleaded that I really only wanted pictures.  They only wanted money.  Realizing there was no way I wasn't going to purchase something, I pulled a twenty dollar bill from my pocket. (seriously, I should have had smaller bills)  I bought bammy for Ezzleton and some opportunity for myself.  He seemed to like this staple bread, but I could eat at Sandals for "free", and was pretty sure I could lay my hands on more bammy this week if I really wanted to. (not)
I took some quick photos while Ezzleton tried to distract the mango man,  (he told me later he thought was "not right in the head--crazy".....yeah) and quickly got back in the van. Ezzleton seemed to scold the sellers before we left, visibly upset by their anxious, "in your face" sales techniques. I was not.  I sort of expected it.  But he was not impressed and a little embarrassed by their behavior.  The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful after that.  Just some local hotels and more houses, although he did stop once to pick up two beautiful mangoes that had fallen from a residential tree, and graciously offered, "One for me, one for you."  Since their dollar is seventy to one against ours, I think he takes advantage of  free fruit when he can.  He told me he it can cost five thousand dollars for three bags of groceries.  I would pick up fruit too.  
Well, that was my one short adventure.  He dropped me back at the hotel.  I insisted he keep the fruit and bread and tipped him generously.  I don't think I will forget Ezzleton or his kindness and I will pray for his wife.  I learned so much in such a short time.  He was the perfect guide.  

Now for the picture part.

This picture makes me REALLY thirsty. I was posting backwards and it is the last one I uploaded. If it were the first one, I would have left a long time ago. This is our concierge, Christophe. Wonderful guy. And apparently he can read minds too because we never had to ask for these. He just knew what we wanted. Such a talent!
(if you want to go get one of these right now I wouldn't blame you-go get one, I'll wait.)

How to play hard to get...

At the fishing village...

I felt like I was being watched....hmmm

 Snuck in for a closer look at me...he was so sweet and shy.  Never said a word.

Ezzleton and I both sighed and smiled at the beauty and innocence of childhood...

At the market...

Twenty dollar exchange for a pose...and some bammy in the bag.

Where the food is prepared.  Open flame, old iron skillet, or pan, not sure what it was made of.

Cooking in oil.  Super hot.

The finished product...I'm just not so hungry, but thank you, really.

Relentless "buy my mangoes" man...

My personal guide Ezzleton keeping an eye out for me.

So that is a little more than I have time for today. Will post some awesome sunsets later.
Thanks for reading (if you did) and sticking with an awfully long post.
Have a wonderful new music Tuesday!


  1. As usual unbelievable shots. So very, very talented. xoxoxoxo

  2. What fantastic pictures and how I enjoy your commentary of the your excursion into town. I find your writing so entertaining that it just pulls me in and makes me want to read more. I'm so impressed with your work and how you can capture the moment with just a click of the's just amazing. You have such a wonderful talent and I'm so happy your willing to share it with all of us. We had a fantastic time with our group and made many memories, although some might not remember certain parts. (drunks) Thanks for all the fun and documenting our trip with your beautiful photo's. We truly had a fantastic time.