Monday, April 04, 2005

Sun, Fun, and Cockblocks: Spring Break in Jamaica

I start this blog with a disclaimer that I hope no one takes to heart:

Whatever happened in Jamaica, stays in Jamaica. :-)

Of course, we are talking about ME after all...and of course, whenever I'm involved, I tend to divulge quite a lot actually. So, in a nutshell, here's what happened:

After some last-minute scheduling, Michelle, Morgan, Pedro, Edwin, and myself managed to get in on a trip to Negril, Jamaica for Spring Break. Two other guys, Walter and Paulie, two brothers of Morgan, Pedro and Edwin's fraternity, Lambda Sigma Upsilon, also joined in on the package. The guys left out of Newark Airport in New Jersey, while Michelle and I left out of JFK in NYC. After some initial delays, we made it to Jamaica's Montego Bay airport on an early Sunday afternoon. After nearly dying of heat asphyxiation waiting in this long ass line to get through Jamaican Immigration, we made it to baggage claim, and then eventually, the main lobby of the airport, searching for a ride to our hotel. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned whenever you visit a third world country, so we were forced to wait for our ride in the airport for about a good two hours. That didn't stop Michelle and I from having our fun though; almost as soon as we got into the main lobby of the airport, the drinking debauchery began. By the time we were herded onto a bus for the hour and a half journey to Negril from Montego Bay, we were both drunk out of our minds. Inebriated as all hel, we had high hopes for the week that was ahead of us as our bus zoomed along the Jamaican back roads.

Despite my drunken state, I was still able to make some observations about the country we were in. As a former British possession, Jamaica is a country where the people drive on the left side of the road, and as we saw the more and more we traveled, was an extremely poor country still feeling the aftereffects of colonization. Their "highways" consisted of dirt roads that dangerously curved around incredibly steep cliffs and, at times, could only hold one lane of traffic at any given time. During our bus ride to Negril, there was a moment where the bus was trying to cross this bridge that only had one lane on it, and, of course, while it was crossing, there was traffic that was coming in from the opposite direction that was blocking the exit of the bridge. A shouting match ensued between the bus driver and the occupants of the cars ahead of us. It became a game of "Chicken" as the bus driver and the car drivers just waited for the other to back up and give way to the other. Finally, the bus driver caved in and backed up the bus in order to let the incoming traffic through. I felt like for whatever reason, the bus driver's pride sank a little bit after that moment. He was forced to back up the bus. I'm sitting there like, "bitch, it's not that serious." Bombaclot.

We finally arrived at our hotel in Negril (after about an additional hour of the bus driver getting lost in Negril looking for it.) and settled in as we found Morgan and the gang already in. We were starving as all hell, and it wasn't long before we learned that the only things to eat around Negril was jerk chicken, jerk chicken, and more jerk chicken. Oh yeah, that, and some food from the local "Margaritaville," a tropical themed restaurant directly aimed at Americans visiting from abroad. After a couple of meals in that restaurant, we quickly learned that unless we wanted to starve the rest of the time we were there, it would be better if we went somewhere cheaper and more local for our meals. As the week wore on, we eventually began learning what was up in Negril and found a couple of cool spots that served decent food at great prices in comparison to the stuff at the "Ville. By the end of our stay, I think I had enough jerk and curry chicken to last me a lifetime, but nonetheless, it was still good shit that hit the spot everytime after a long day's worth of tanning, gawking, and swimming.

Right from the get-go, the main thing that I did not like about my time in Jamaica was the fact that no matter where we went, there was always someone that was trying to scam us out of our money. First of all, before I left for Jamaica, I had imagined a place that, y'know, was kinda secluded from the main areas of the island and was strictly a place where Spring Breakers did their thing. I imagined board walks, clean beaches, and a shitload of white flesh roaming around half-naked. I even remembered saying something to the effect of, "Man, it's going to suck if we don't even get to see any natives." Boy, was I wrong. Completely. Instead of the boardwalk I had imagined, instead, Negril was one big run down street strip lined with ragged-looking hotels and crusty looking Jamaicans trying to sell everything under the sun. "You want some weed, mon?" "You want some Ex?" "I've got the best jerk chicken in all of Jamaica." "Check this out, mon, I've got the latest shiiit; nitrogen, mon." (There was actually a woman standing around, at one point, with a big ass tank of helium and some balloons in her hand, trying to sell the tank to whoever passed by. "This be nitrogen, mon, and it will make you sound funny.") Cab drivers were a dime a dozen, and no matter where you went, they'd try to charge you crazy amounts of money just to go down a couple a blocks. Even the cab drivers themselves tried to sell you shit while you were riding with them. "Mobile pharmacy" somehow doesn't do justice to these enterprising cabbies. I could never let my guard down the entire time I was out there. It wasn't that I felt scared or endangered or anything, but, it was just that I felt so violated everytime I stepped out onto the strip with all the people that kept on begging me for my freaking money. I kept my hands in my pockets and made sure to look back a few times every so often; this was the kind of place that if I ever dropped some cash onto the ground, by the time I turned around, that shit would be gone in a heartbeat, and not a sign of anyone around. Somehow, I felt like I was in a warped version of Chinatown in Manhattan, or worse, Marshall Street in Syracuse, with Jamaican accents and palm trees.

Our hotel, a place called Daniel Villas, was a place that we quickly learned was a pretty mismanaged hotel. The exterior of the hotel's villas looked pretty cool, and the rooms were okay, but there were some things that were clearly lacking during our stay there. For example, what kind of place actually runs out of water every night after 2 in the morning? Or, who's heard of a hotel that doesn't believe in stocking comforters on the beds, or placing phones in each of the rooms. And one key per room? Even the crappy hostels Michelle, Giselle and I stayed at during our epic trip to Italy last year had more amenities. ATM machines were no where to be found, and in the case of Pedro, Walter, Paulie and Ed, air conditioning was non-existent. For the kind of money we paid for the trip, these minor things are to be expected at a hotel that caters to incoming American tourists. I was surprised that at the very least, our hotel rooms had American electrical outlets instead of the big, clunky, British ones that are the standard across the island. Regardless, however, we made the most of it, and didn't let such minor issues get us down. After all, we were in freaking Jamaica! Sun, fun, and beaches....

So now, people want to know what was up with the parties. And I'll tell you wasn't what we were expecting. While fun, many of the "themes" that these parties had didn't work out so well in the end. Like the infamous "Mardi Gras Hook-Up" party, where people walk around with beads trying to get other people to show each other their private parts, was a really dry affair, with people refusing to come out of their shells and actually participate. The music at almost all the events was straight up wack (I heard more 50 Cent in Jamaica than I heard reggae music...isn't that some fucked up shit? I didn't go to Jamaica to hear "Candy Shop" 18,000 times.) Of course, being the free spirits we are, we still made the most of everything, despite the disappointing activities (or lack thereof) at these events. The best night we had was this time that we went to this club that's popular with the went straight bananas in that club...the girls look oh so delicious that night, and the drinks were pouring non-stop...

...Of course, this is where I tell you that the unofficial theme of this trip was "Cockblocking At Its Finest." Despite the abundance of girls to choose from, all of us came home with no buns to speak of. Simply put, we had more fun cockblocking each other. We were clearly more interested in the "Thrill of the Chase" than in the actual end-deed. We had all this talk of "maja-popping" and at the end of it all, there was none to be had. We all, instead, just cockblocked each other. It wasn't like we didn't try, either, but clearly, the stars were not aligned for us. It was a combination of incredibly high standards set by us and us spending more time cockblocking than trying to get up on girls of our own. Nonetheless, we didn't need buns to have fun on this trip. It really wasn't that serious of an issue. It would've been nice if we had participated in our own version of "College Kids Gone Wild" in Jamaica, but, in all, it really wasn't al that important in the end. No matter what, we had tons of fun cockblocking anyways. :-)

So, outside of eating jerk chicken, getting drunk, and partying, what did I do? Well, we took a couple of excursions, such as we headed to these waterfalls that were absolutely cool. (Where, much to the delight of the rest of the gang, I ripped my swimming trunks right at the crotch region.) I went cliff diving, jet-skiied, snorkeled, and smoked mad Cuban cigars. I was loving every minute of it. I had one of the greatest epiphanies of my life sitting near my hotel pool, smoking a Cuban, and just thinking about my life back home. And I also spent some time making friends with some of the Jamaicans that worked at our hotel. Mad cool people, all of them.

By the time we left the following Sunday, I felt like we had actually belonged there, with the experience that we had acquired during a week's worth of dodging, bartering, and conversing with the locals. They knew us by name, and spoke on plain terms, as we gave each other pounds and high fives and created inside jokes between us. The plane ride home was definitely a somber one, as Michelle and I quickly realized that we were going to miss the wonderful little place we call Jamaica. Despite all of its shortcomings, we still made the most of our trip and established memories that will last a lifetime. When I arrived at JFK airport back in NYC, the minute my skin felt the cold air, all I could do was sigh and say in a low growl, "bombaclot, ev'ryting's not irie 'ere, mon." I may have arrived home dead broke and completely exhausted from the 7 straight nights of drinking lunacy, but considering everything we experienced, I wouldn't have it any other way.


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