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The Bookshelf

Doug's bookshelf: read

AntwerpWarsaw BikiniIcelandHow the Soldier Repairs the GramophoneThe Original of LauraBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

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Time Since Reboot

  • 1060 days, 22 hours, 55 minutes, 3 seconds ago

A Judgment As Artificial As The Sin

Her Caribbean Landscapes

Leslie Emerges

This one got so much love on facebook, it deserves to be featured in the gallery.  Wife as art.

Conversations with Real Jamaicans, Mon

"Shaaaaaaaaaaaaalls……… sea shalls.  Shaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalls…… [etc.]"

~ this guy… every. morning:

DSC_0031web

First off – you don’t really have "conversations" with Jamaicans, since every interaction with them is basically a shakedown.  My wife and I couldn’t walk ten steps in either direction from the maybe thirty-five yards of beach directly in front of our resort without being hassled to buy something from these degenerate pop-media caricatures of humanity.  Ninety percent of the time, that "something" was drugs.  For five straight days, we attempted to have relaxing, romantic strolls along the seven miles of sandy beach north of Negril.  That is seven miles of getting stopped every few steps.  It is best when they just take "no" for an answer and move on to hassling the next pair of schmucks.  The worst is when they make you feel like YOU’RE the rude one for not stopping in your tracks and having a full-on bartering session with them.  Once, when I good-naturedly smiled and said "no, thanks… maybe tomorrow" to a dude trying to sell us "something," he responded by yelling after us "where are your manners?"  Seriously, fuck you.  You ruined my trip.

I’m not trying to exaggerate either their crappy or my congenial attitude.  I sincerely tried to be very very kind, and even stopped and chatted with some of them while my wife tried desperately to avoid eye-contact and keep walking… and I tried to be even MORE kind and open to conversation after the "where are your manners" comment because, well, that’s the sort of thing that bothers me for weeks afterwards.  "Gee, was I being rude?  I don’t want to be that guy."  And so on.  But no.  I was not being rude.  These people just suck.  They have adopted the "cool runnings" and Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett and "no problem, mon" "wanna get high" personas and have, from what I can tell, devolved past the point of developing personalities of their own.

This panhandling bullshit is not limited to beach vendors – servers, innkeepers, drivers, everyone pretty much ignores the hell out of you until you waggle US dollars in front of their faces. 

The water was beautiful and warm, and I got to do what I wanted to do: lounge under an umbrella in the sun in front of the ocean and read books.  My wife and I had lots of intimate time, too… because after 10:00 pm the vendors get more "insistent" (according to the printed guide in the room) and guests are advised not to go out on the beach.  So there were many hours spent in the room after dark.  We also got to interact – albeit against our will – with lots of characters that we will remember long afterwards.  Some examples follow.

To be perfectly clear: I do not have any moral problem with recreational drug use.  I think marijuana should probably be legalized and taxed.  I tried it once or twice during my university days and found the experience a pleasant one.  Had my wife wanted to score a bit of wacky weed, I would have obliged (though it should be noted that it is still illegal in Jamaica and the beaches are patrolled by uniformed policemen, undercover cops, drug sniffing dogs, etc.) and told her so.  She considered the possibility of partaking of the local vegetation (the aroma – pretty constant in the early evenings – was apparently calling her name and reminding her of her own collegiate days of glory) but ultimately decided against it.  To each his own.  Just don’t PUSH drugs on me, dude.

Walking from the beach toward a store that advertised Cuban cigars, and thinking at worst I’d pick up one to try for myself and at best to grab a box for a Father’s Day gift, I am stopped by a gentleman in a wife-beater tee and mirrored aviator sunglasses.  This is Neil the Real Deal (aka the Five Star General, according to his business card).

NEIL:  Hey mon, what you need?
ME:  I’m thinking about getting some cigars here.
NEIL:  Oh, yeah mon, I’ll take you to get some cigars.
ME:  Nah, I’m just going into this store here.
NEIL:  Yeah mon, I’ll take you.
ME:  Um.  All right then.

I buy two small Monte Cristos and two large Cohibas.  The Monte Cristos are good.  The Cohibas are shit.  Neil waits for me, right behind me, as I buy cigars at the store.  It is very apparent that Neil is NOT affiliated with this store.  Afterwards, walking out…

NEIL:  So, hey mon, I’ve got some hash.
ME:  Oh, no man, I don’t need any hash, but thanks.
NEIL:  Oh, you just smoke the ganja.  I’ve got some of that too. 

Shows me two bags of ganja.  My wife would later, upon being stopped and shown the same bags, declare that it looked "too seedy and too dry."  It looked okay to me.

ME (laughing):  Looks like good stuff.  I think I’m good right now though.  I’ll keep you in mind if I need some later, for sure.
NEIL (lowering his voice and putting his hand on my shoulder):  Oh, you don’t smoke? Cuz I’ve got some coke.
ME (maybe a little alarmed):  No man!  I don’t want any coke!
NEIL:  Shhhhh!!!!  I don’t want anyone to know my business.  You don’t want to decide now, I understand.  Here take my card mon.  You call me.
ME (walking faster):  I’ll do that.  Thanks!

The Real Deal’s business card is now my bookmark.  Forever.  For the next three days, he stopped us every time he saw us.  He called me the General (even though his card clearly indicates that HE’s the Five Star General, but whatever) and my wife the Boss Lady – because I may have shared with him that she would be the one making the decision were we to decide to buy some product from him.  We did not.  But seriously, three days.  The General.  Coke! 

On what was perhaps the second full day of the trip, we walked down toward the more "adult" all-inclusive resorts of Sandals and Hedonism II (of which I hear tales of nude beaches and mirrored ceilings… alas, the only nudity I saw was a couple of large middle-aged bosoms and a gloriously round old man with zero shame).  On the way back, we are approached by a ratty dude with greying, shoulder-length dreads. 

MAN (walking towards us extending his hand):  Hey.  Hey.  Respect, mon.

This "respect, mon" bullshit is framed as an island greeting.  But what they mean is hey man show some respect by stopping and buying something from me otherwise hey why are you being so disrespectful…. ugh.  Anyway.  I shake the man’s hand.  My wife keeps walking, slowly, away.

MAN:  I’m James.  So, did you just get here?

The guide books say you are never supposed to admit that you just got there.

ME:  Nah, we come here all the time. 
JAMES:  Yeah mon.  So you remember me, yeah?
ME (trying to walk away):  I don’t know.  Maybe so?
JAMES (hand on my shoulder, mouth to my ear, not whispering): I’M the man with the green stinky-stinky!
ME:  Okay then.
JAMES:  So how much do you want, mon?
ME:  Not right now, man.  Maybe later, okay?  We’ll be back this way.

And so on. 

We made the mistake of not getting cash at the airport.  The closest ATM was in Negril proper, a good forty-five minute walk down the beach.  By the third day, we had no cash and had to make that walk into town.  This, it turns out, is not a place where tourists go.  There are some nicer restaurants up on the cliffs, but apparently you have to hire a driver to take you there.  The harassment increased exponentially as we crossed through a public beach park to the main road and across a bridge into the city.  The closest I came to getting visibly angry with any of the locals was when one beggar chick (not selling anything, just asking for money) slapped her hand on my camera lens.  A sketchy guy in an orange bandana followed behind us all the way to the bank, asking us where we were going.  The cash machine was behind a door that locked behind you once you were inside.  Insane.  Vacation!

We were able to get cash without incident… making sure we got enough so that we did not have to make that journey a second time.  Walking back through the public park, one of a group of obviously stoned guys lying on benches got up and approached us.  His eyes were almost completely closed.

MAN (slowly):  Heyyyyy.  Respect, mon.
ME:  Hello there.

My wife was so freaked out by the town experience that she didn’t even make any pretense of slowing down to talk to the guy. 

MAN:  How are you, mon.
ME:  I’m good, man.  How are you?
MAN (smiling):  I staaaay fucked up, mon. 
ME:  Well.  Good.  That’s good.
MAN (opens his hand, showing two black/brown chicken-egg sized balls of hash):  I’ve got some goooood stuff here, mon.
ME (trying to make friendly conversation):  That looks like some crazy shit.
MAN (nodding approvingly and putting his arm around me):  Lettt’s go smoke. 
ME:  No, that’s okay.  We’re just walking today.  You have fun with that. 
MAN (surprisingly taking no for an answer):  Yeah, mon.  Okay.

He walks back to his bench and lies down.

In summary, I got some really beautiful and interesting shots.  The food was decent even if the service was not.  I got to lay out in the sun, read, get away from work with my wife, swim in calm waters, and…. well, that’s about it.  As I said during the drive home from Atlanta yesterday, there are so many miles of beaches all over planet Earth…. there’s no reason for us ever to go to Jamaica again.  Stay tuned for more photographs from the trip.

From Seven-Mile Beach, Dusk

Only the first of many.

More Spring Cleaning and an Out-of-Office Message

The wife and I are heading to Negril, Jamaica for some time away from everyday life.  The next post should include some pictures of sand and shore, and maybe some book reviews since I pretty much plan on sitting on the beach and reading for five straight days.  In the meantime, here are some more photographs – posted here for inspirational, archival purposes. 

by Atisha Paulson via SoundTHAT

by Sebastian Szwajczak via SoundTHAT

by Creative Rehab

by Cecilia Majzoub via 1000 Scientists

by .kimmika via SoundTHAT

One More Time by Michal Pudelka via SoundTHAT

by Chris Donaldson via 1000 Scientists

by animehoe via Unusual Young

polar bear by dothezonk via SoundTHAT

by deification via Unusual Young