December 2005


I flew to New York from Jamaica, and stayed there for 4 days with Meghan and her friends on Long Island. Some people in America go crazy when it comes to Christmas decorations for their houses and gardens. One house had caused the street to become gridlocked from so many people trying to see the house and garden. The entire garden was filled with illuminated ornaments, while the entire garage was converted into a luminous nativity scene. Besides seeing some crazy Christmas decorations in New York, I also saw the most breathtaking view thus far: the entire New York City skyline from I-278 in Brooklyn. 

Explosions in the SkyThe reason I was in NYC was to see Explosions in the Sky. I saw them on two of their three dates at the Bowery Ballroom. We managed to get close to the front on both nights and had perfect views. The first show was incredible. I read afterwards that their record label thought it was one of the best shows they’ve ever done. They were amazingly tight and went insane during the intense parts. I felt like I was on drugs (I wasn’t!) and I’m so glad I have seen them now, at last. The venue was the size of upstairs Zodiac, but with the bar downstairs, so the crowd was perfectly silent during the quiet parts of their set. They said it’d be their last tour playing small venues because they had to play three nights at that venue to satisfy demand, and their next tour will have to unfortunately be at larger venues. Shame.

Jamaica was probably the best and worse place I have ever been to. Everyone there is a hustler. Locals see a white guy and think he wants drugs or sex, because they all think – and this is probably true – that the only reason foreigners come to Jamaica is for drugs and women. On the first night I arrived, one guy offered me ganja, cocaine, magic mushrooms, ganja cake, opium, and finally, after I said no to all those things, I was offered his bitches.

A rasta and his speedboat, NegrilOn the second night, I stayed at a place recommended by Lonely Planet. I must have an out of date book. My “hotel” was a hurricane-battered dive on the beach. There were no mosquito nets, the bed had a filthy mattress that was once white and is now black (although the bed had clean sheets), and after I paid, I found a used tampon in the sink. Shortly after I arrived, two women came out of the room next to mine and offered me sex while they held their kids in their arms. I ignored them, and they started shouting things like, “What? You don’t like blacks?” It was ridiculous.

After a couple of days I finally got out of Negril. I met a rasta called MC Karl and he showed me the real Jamaica. He took me on a four hour drive out of the city and we went to his home, an unfinished, abandoned hotel, high up in a rainforest. Surrounding me was the deafening sound of the jungle. The sound of a billion crickets. In the compound, there was no running water or plumbing, yet this guy lived there with about 10 other families. When we went into his bedroom, a little boy ran across the hall into his room. It was sad; the boy only had one eye.

Poverty is everywhere in Jamaica. Most people are unemployed (70% of the population) and live in single-room wooden sheds with corrugated iron roofs. I saw a one-legged rasta have to hop across the street as he had no crutches. Locals think white people have money, and since I was the only white person around most of the time, they all tried to force me to buy anything they had. Most of the time it was weed or ‘Jamaican pum-pum,’ but sometimes painted wooden fish or manky bananas. I’m quite pleased to say I never gave in to anyone’s offers, despite often having people chase me down the street.

The drum ceremony; MC Karl and 85 year old maroon.However, good things did come out of my time in Jamaica. I went scuba diving for the first time (and loved it), swam in the sea every day, went into the rainforest, witnessed a drum ceremony by maroons, and met some interesting people. I also had some of the best vegetarian food I’ve ever eaten in an all-organic restaurant in Ocho Rios.

I must admit though, after sharing a room every night with roaches or mosquitoes, and feeling like my wallet was being raped every time I paid for something (Jamaica is more expensive than the States), I couldn’t wait to return to America.

Halloween party, MassachusettsSomehow two months have passed in Boston, and already I’m packing my things. Time flies when you’re doing nothing, especially when you’re having fun doing it. It’s been great to not have to work after a dull year at Sophos. Although I have been doing some work for Safenames and Meghan’s uncle (www.olsenimages.com), it was only about a week’s worth, and I could do the work without having to get out of bed. I had plans to do productive things with my time in Boston, such as learning Spanish, reading up on all the South American countries, and updating my website – but none of them got done. Laziness has been too good to resist, especially guilt-free laziness.

All that laziness is about to change though, as I’m off to Jamaica on Saturday. I was supposed to be going today, but I was no way near prepared. Last night I had hadn’t packed, and didn’t have anything for the hot weather, so I changed my flight to Saturday. That’s definitely the number one thing about RTW tickets. I must’ve rearranged my dates 10 times in North America alone.

Although probably the worst thing about the One World ticket is the inability to fly to Cuba and the US (actually it’s the fault of the US government, and their “Trading With The Enemy Act”), which is why I had to book my Jamaica to Cuba flights separately, and is now the reason why I’m not going to Cuba. Last week the Jamaican travel agent emailed me to inform me my flights have been “cancelled,” and they’re issuing me a refund. No proper explanation, they simply said “it’s beyond our control.” I’m quite gutted as it means no taxi rides in 1950s cadillacs and no communism for me, since I’m staying in Jamaica now.

Jamaica should still be good, Meghan’s uncle has been many times and highly recommends it, and it’s still in the Caribbean, so I will still see white sandy beaches and experience a culture way different to Europe and the US. Meghan’s uncle told me where the cool kids hang out in Jamaica, so I’m heading there, hoping I won’t spend the week alone (there are no youth hostels in Jamaica.)

So yes, I’m leaving Boston for good on Saturday. It’s kinda sad as it feels like I just arrived, but I’m looking forward to seeing Jamaica, Explosions In The Sky in New York, and eating chicken fried steak in Texas. I can’t wait to meet as many Bush-loving Texans as I can, and listen to their views on life.