by Cinzia Simoneschi
Location: Jamaica, Western Caribbean
I was already on p.28 of the in-flight mag’s article “straight talk” when we were cleared for take-off. my row 4D seat made this airbus a320 seem like the closest I was going to get to first-class, and p.28, right there in tahoma font, the closest i was going to get to understanding communication of the sexes. I broke away from the page as the flight attendants were queued.
the couple – clearly retirement age – in 3C/D were separated by the blue carpet of the aisle. linking them was mister’s hand reaching across to the frozen missus’ on the 3C’s arm. “gentle touches, backrubs, hugs, kisses, and hand holding all make men feel loved, and appreciated” (Airborn magazine, p. 28). The sight strangely brought a lump to my throat. We’re all, no matter where we find ourselves in this awesome world, longing for the sharing of common experiences.
The past two weeks had been an excited myriad of emotion and culture. Jamaica, in it’s lush greenery and warmth provided a comforting haven and mellow atmosphere. The “pineapple mon, coconut mon, fruit plate mon, get your fruit plate mon, right here, right now” wound, with obvious tired, dried feet, through hot sand from faded lawn chair, to shaded palm. his deep, black, 60-year-old eyes were serious, the pain alleviated by the brightness of the fuchsia-oleander-topped pineapple he balanced on his black baseball cap. He walked religiously up and down the shoreline overlooking clear waters and the daily-anchored cruise ship in the distance. He macheted through fruit with expertise. The finished fresh product costing $9 was to cool the palates of the “thirsty”. The continuous feverous smacking of dominos and argumentative plays in course patois at the picnic tables drowned his sales pitch every now and then. A day at beachside for me anyway, was far from routine – broken by the triple-shot iced creations of smiley, the famed hotel bartender. over-proof jamaican rum ceased not to frighten his quick-pouring right hand as much as spices, ackee, calaloo, yams, jerk anything, and fresh fish ceased not to entice my curious-wanting for any traditional cuisine.
The drive through four parishes southeast to the 2255m of the Blue Mountains hugged saddened diseased palm-tree coastlines, plentiful hectares of banana plantations, tiny cultural-historical-remnant villages and tight single-laned winding roads through mist broken by heavenly sunrays. the trek to the top was as equally interesting as the rickety-brake-backward-on-the-bicycle-pedals coast back down. Blue mountain coffee is boasted to be one of the best in the world; a two-cup sampling later, my jolted reflexes wouldn’t argue. The trick is to avoid the brakes and carefree goat crossing your path.
Scattered against the verdant backdrops, the scent and whiteness of the clouded smoke contrasted the sun-faded blackness of funky dreads. Toothless “tuoni” with a vibrant smile, has created his own little oasis living comfortably in his wooded haven – property value and square-footage unknown. Backyard: waterfall. Front yard: waterfall. He survives off the fruit of the land, where any medicinal plant, including iodine, is an arms-reach away. Fertile soil would no doubt be the great harvesting factor. The run-and-take-quick-shelter-arriving helicopter would indicate that the famous blue mountain coffee is merely a secondary yielding crop.
“it is illegal to smuggle drugs” signage screamed at my lazy eyes while going through jamaican customs onto the cruise ship. The four officers that decided on searching only the shoe bag eased the pit that was instantly created in my stomach. “tuoni” would undoubtedly flash a toothless grin. “no problem mon, irie giarl”.
The geritol cruise, as i quickly dubbed it, needed a flash re-vamping if my party well-being was to continue on due-course. with the surround-sound of reggae, this would not be a task too difficult. i shook my ass to the beat and scaled the territory.
Reggae was drowned by the quicker time of salsa as we arrived into Cozumel on the last day of carnival. Vibrant coloured floats, and costumes rainbowed the streets. Pickup trucks housed speakers and children dancing a storm. Vendors sold churros, empanadas, and habanero pepper-laced grainy meatball treats for 50 cents-a-pop from clear-plastic boxes. Tiny, tanned, mayan faces raved simplicity and zest for fiesta. Workers, in the distance, wiped their brow from the baking sun. They hand-picked away at the streets, having clearly a different plan for Shrove Tuesday.
Text © Cinzia Simoneschi, All Rights Reserved