On one of my days off in Jamaica, I returned to the Errol Flynn Marina late in the afternoon to find my shipmate Di, sitting by the pool on her laptop. Di belonged to Port Watch, which was on duty that day. The rules were that if your watch had duty, you could not leave the Marina.
After a few minutes of chatting, the conversation turned, as it inevitably did, to ice cream. Let’s be clear about something: one of the themes of the trip was HOT. Not hot. HOT. Oftentimes, you’d wake up in an embrace of sweat and, sometimes, rusty water from leaks in your bunk. While on port, one of the ways we placated the beast of heat and humidity was with regular offerings of ice cream. And conveniently enough there was an ice cream shop a short walk away from the Marina.
Di couldn’t go all the way there, but I offered to get her some ice cream. The Marina had a worker, whose name escapes me, who we’d see often cleaning around the pool area. He would always inquire about Tim B. with “hey, where’s my friend?” He offered to drive us to the ice cream place in the Marina’s golf cart.
It seemed like a sensible thing. I mean, ice cream can only last so long, and even a short walk would’ve turned it into a milkshake. So off we went, Tim B., myself and the Marina worker, riding past groups of people, some we knew, some we didn’t, in our unstoppable quest for a refreshing future.
Ice cream bought, I immediately realized: this is not good. We hadn’t even left the store and it was dripping. Yeah, yeah, I could have chosen a cup instead of cone, but I’ll be dammed, that was more money. And when money is represented to you in terms of hundreds of (Jamaican) dollars, well, everything just sounds more expensive than it probably is. So we try to rush back. Our Marina friend jumps on the golf cart, I’m riding shotgun, Tim B. holds on to the back for dear life and off we go. We’re flying by at maximum golf cart speed. Children jump out of the way, old people are perhaps run over. We will never know. The ice cream drips unmercifully while I hold it as far away as possible from me. The wind is making it worst, it melts rapidly, a trail of ice cream tears.
Di probably enjoyed about half an ice cream, because the other half was either on my hands or on Jamaican pavement.
I suppose it’s funny to envision what it must have looked like to innocent bystanders.
The worker at the Marina, who kindly participated in that spectacle was a funny, cheerful guy. He liked working at the Marina because that way he got to meet worldly people, he said. He’d like to do some traveling since he had never left Jamaica, but as it stood, being around people from other countries gave him a glimpse of far away places — far away places that he perhaps realistically knew, he would never get to see.
What I remember today is not the squeegeeing of floors and cleaning heads every three days. What I remember is
JP wearing foul weather pants and harness but no shirt or jacket. Sauntering all day with a kiddie toolbelt during my Assistant Engineer day with Tom. One time when Lis was lookout and she totally missed a giant cargo ship till it was right next to us, and she comes walking back to the quarterdeck “hm, so I think you guys have seen this but there’s a ship right there.” Ha, too funny.
Aliza asking who was with her on the fire hose during the Man Overboard drill. Hint: No one. Tim B. trying to wash the shower curtain in one of my favorite incidents (that I should post about at a later time, but trust me it was hilarious). And the time Jamaican rappers in Port Antonio cornered him for HOURS so he’d buy their album. He did.
The time these fools were holding on (and getting a free ride) from Chelsea and mine’s kayak while we were unawares. And Chris falling off his kayak wearing his pirate hat and getting towed by Ashley.
Me whispering to Ashley, who lived in the bunk above me: “Hey Ashley, Ashley, I can’t see if you’re in your bunk but just so you know, there’s a mattress coming your way.” That one time Kat Conway was being Kat Conway. Or when she was 30 degrees off course because of a conversation about The Office. “Oh God, oh God, 30 degrees off, help me”.
How about the one time in rough seas when Sarah Dixon utterly refused to let go of her two snacks in order to hold on to something? Or Jeff poking his head out from the aft cabin window going “booby? where?” in response to someone saying they thought they had seen a brown booby. And James arguing with an Assistant Scientist that an English String Vest was indeed a shirt and therefore within the bounds of lab rules (and decency).
There were so many more hilarious moments, and I thought that was a great way of representing the way Caribbean people seemed to live. Wherever I traveled, I encountered cheerful people who despite a trying history and circumstances, live bitterness free. Maybe people chose to remember the beautiful waters and weather they get to experience everyday, instead of the bad roads and lacking infrastructure.
After a break in my adventures, I hope to be back in Arizona on Wednesday to continue the next phase, whatever that might be. What I have realized is that I truly feel a connection with traveling, and talking and listening to people’s stories while documenting it all is some way.
Either way, whatever happens, it’ll be the next step in the adventure. For now, I have missed going to concerts, so hopefully while in Phoenix, there are some good bands playing in the area. Maybe at the Cave Creek Coffee Company. I could use nothing more than a Southwestern themed, cozy night under the stars with a live performance from an acoustic, folk artist.
Maggie Magster and Tim A. look into the dusky blue Caribbean Sea.
Sunset over Saba.
A sweet moment between Sarah Dixon and Aliza in the Maroon community of Jamaica.