My first time traveling to Jamaica was a bit nerve racking. As soon as I sat down in my seat on the plane I attempted to run for the door leaving my carry-on and all my luggage aboard, fearing for my life But a couple of the hired help on the plane pushed me back in my seat and strapped me in. We were packed in this tin can like sardines, or anything else that’s stuffed tightly in a can for that matter, elbow to elbow and seat to knees. The stewardess settled me back into my not-so cozy spot next to a guy who smelled like he just shit himself. He had a strange grin on his face, maybe he knew something I didn’t. It was rather unsettling. I was experiencing extreme turbulence, and I hadn’t even left the ground yet. It got even worse in the air, though, the windows started to rattle and the overhead lights flickered spinning my mind into a desperate panic. By that time we were over two-thousand feet in the air, and the six jack and cokes I drank weren’t helping my nerves any. I held on as long as I could but finally, in a frantic attack, I jumped over the passenger next to me, attempting to get into the aisle, only to land half on the drink cart and half in the stewardesses lap. By then we were on a first name basis, so she calmly reassured me that the plane and the pilot were in fine shape and that we’d be ok. Eventually, I closed my eyes and held tightly to the arm rests for the rest of the flight.
On the ground, I felt a little relieved. Until I got on the shuttle bus for a taxi to my hotel. To this day I don’t believe there is any traffic laws in all of Jamaica. None in that are enforced anyway. This little seven passenger flat-fronted shuttle bus we were traveling in, was whipping in and out of cars, pedestrians and other busses and these ramshackle paths they considered roads. The basic rule of thumb is, the bigger vehicle has the right-of-way. A simple honk of the horn, a brief screech and an occasional finger, will cause the smaller vehicle to move, and you can get on your way in a hurry. This all happens so fast, and so often that after the first thirty miles or so, you tend to warm up to the idea of ducking from flying luggage in the back and the fear of swerving off the cliffs beside the road, because there are no guard rails. Which is entirely possible when the lunatic driver has only one hand on the wheel and the other hand is occupied by a bottle of rum, since drinking and driving is completely accepted in the area. Fortunately, we stopped at a bar mid-route for a bathroom break and a drink. I ordered a bottle of Red Stripe because, well....it was the only beer they had. When the bartender brought me my drink she told me that someone was trying to get my attention, and pointed behind me. When I turned to look I seen a few faces and a lot of dread locks through a door window in the back. They were making gestures of smoking a rolled up cigarette and pointing at me grinning. I turned to the bartender, said "No thanks", and walked backed to the bus, peering behind me every couple of feet for safety.
Luckily, and I do feel it was luck, we eventually made it to the hotel after a lot of rough chattering and rattling. A small gnome careening about brought a glass of rum-punch to all the guests while they checked in to their rooms. Most of them just wanted rest, me....I wanted strong drink, you know, to calm my nerves. So I put on my swimming trunks and went down to the patio for a drink. The Jamaican’s seemed to get a kick out of me. Offering me "Bob Marley" cigarettes, deals on uppers and downers and all kinds of drugs I’ve never even heard of. After smoking a little hash someone had passed to me, I relaxed a little and got my thoughts together. I talked to a few interesting people there, we shared stories, drinks and a few disturbing coughs and convulsions. I sensed they liked me right away because of my drinking capabilities. They obviously thought a drinking bout was upon us, of the last man standing type. They kept filling up my glass before I could even swallow my last gulp. Out of the three bars at the hotel I was staying at, I drank two of them out of Jack Daniels three times a piece in the week I was there. And everybody was lighting up joints and passing them around.
I smoked a little more hash that the bartender at the swim up bar gave me, and a Rastafarian talked me into buying eighteen dollars worth of pot from him. So I went back up to my jacuzzi suite, gathered some change and headed back, stopping first at the Scotch Bonnet for jerk chicken and some rum. I made my way back to the Rastafarian, by this time it was getting late, and I was getting haggard. So I didn’t much hide my surprised look when he handed me a garbage bag full of pot leaf buds. It must have weighed at least two and a half ounces. Holy shit I shouted! Over two ounces for eighteen American dollars, that’s absurd. From then on, it was high times. Smoke a joint when I wake up, smoke one before breakfast, light one up and pass it to the waitress at the restaurant, and smoke at the bar. I couldn’t escape it. And I couldn’t figure out what to do with all this goddamn pot. Hell, I hardly even smoked it in the states. So I did what everyone else did, rolled it up in cigar papers and passed them around to everyone I saw. That whole resort was a cloud of smoke, with a strong scent of rum.
Enough was enough, I had to leave. I'm not used to smoking this much pot, I was too stoned and too dumb this whole week. It was making me sick. When the man came to get my luggage for the taxi back to the airport, I tipped him with a blunt I had rolled earlier in the day. Inconspicuously of course, because outside the resort, marijuana was still illegal. In the law books at least. About half-way through the cross country excursion, one of the other passengers asked if he minded (while he was on the job) if we lit up a rolled up cigar paper filled with hash. The driver took a small sip off his bottle of rum, turned to us and grinned. A few miles down the road, in a more remote area of the countryside, he smoked a bit himself. And then it was time to get on the plane again. And I was ready. I was too exhausted and delirious to be scared this time, between all the drinking, smoking and wreck less driving, I figured that I had faced death too many times on this trip to turn back now. So I checked my bags and boarded the plane. As soon as I sat down I sucked down three jack and cokes right away to ease any tension that I had left.
Finally, eight hours later, I was on U.S. soil again, ready to drive five hours north to my home. I made it about thirty minutes before I decided it was too hard to focus on the drive. The plane ride and the whiskey had made my head a little nauseous and my focus a little hazy. So I aimed my vehicle towards a friend of mine’s house who lived a short drive away, and tried to by a bag of pot to smoke on the way. When he told me that it would cost thirty-five dollars for an eighth of an ounce I turned around and walked right back out the door. I couldn’t believe it, thirty-five bucks for a small bag like that. I threw away over an entire ounce before I got to the airport, that I paid nine dollars for. So I cursed my friend out to myself and went to the Shell gas station and bought a pack of cigarettes to smoke, because in the United States pot is so expensive that only the rich can afford it.