Don Quixote Your Carriage Awaits

“I do not deny that what happened to us is a thing worth laughing at. But it is not worth telling, for not everyone is sufficiently intelligent to be able to see things from the right point of view.”  ―Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don QuixoteCall me Don Quixote, dreamer, adventurer, wanderer – a modern day knight, intent on enjoying the cool breezes and warm sunshine drenched shores of Jamaica. No rush, no pressure, I’m enjoying the day as it unfolds. This is my second day in Jamaica and I’m in the mood for adventure. Yesterday, my mom made the three hour drive from Port Maria, St. Mary. I was delighted and

it was a wonderful surprise. She had made plans to spend the night by my auntie Marlene and return home today.

After breakfast – I decided to visit the Green Grotto Caves in Discovery Bay. By car it’s an hours’ drive up the North Coast, between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. It made sense; it’s on the way to Port Maria, so why not ride with mom?

My plan – to hitch a ride, do the tour, take some pictures and then catch a minibus back to Montego Bay.

A mother’s care and genuine concern for her children, no matter the age, is special. As we travelled along the coast, our trip had the comforting and familiar cadence of family long used to each other’s company. It was if I had never left and even in silence there was no tension. We talked – mother and son, about life in Jamaica and America, relationships, my future, her impending retirement. We shared amusing anecdotes about my brother and sister, dredging up old memories and finding new ones.

My trip to the Green Grotto Caves was in Vain

 I was greeted by a pleasant young lady, with not so pleasant news. She explained, “The 45 minute tour costs $20 U.S. / $1700 J.A.” “But”, as she cut short my self righteous indignation with a smile, “with Jamaican identification the cost would be $500 JA.” I hadn’t thought about that. Don Quixote had assumed that his strong Jamaican accent and handsome face would have been enough, but not today. “Oh well” I told my mom, “at least I can ride with you to Ocho Rios and do some sight-seeing there.” Not much to see in Ocho Rios. Today was a “ship day” meaning that a cruise ship was in port.

The economy of Ocho Rios is tourism driven and today the hustle and bustle of vendors and tourists gives the town a carnival feel. I had no intention of being a tourist in my own country, instead I went to a local bakery, and had a patty and coco bread with an orange juice (JA$250).  It is a cheap way to eat, but it was good enough for my needs and by the looks of other patrons, it suited them just fine. I went to the barber’s shop for a trim and shape up (JA$350). I was in and out of the barber’s chair in less than 30 minutes. He was such a professional with a clipper and straight razor, I gave him an extra JA$150 in appreciation. It’s hot, even though I’m dressed for the weather in a T- shirt, shorts and slippers. Time to catch a bus and head back to Montego Bay. It’s getting late and I’ve had enough of Ocho Rios. The police are everywhere, visible and present on the highway waiting with radar gun in hand for the errant speeder. According to my mom, “the government had recently gotten a shipment of radar guns” and obviously they were happy and eager to use them. It’s okay though, some things never change and you can still pay your way out of any speeding ticket. In Jamaica, negotiation is expected; they’ll be disappointed if you don’t.

I guess the bus driver was not aware of the presence of traffic police on the highway.

He passed every bus, truck, car and bicycle in front of him. I’m not heading to Montego Bay; I’m racing to Montego Bay.

Some  things you  overhear when taking public transportation

A young man speaking on his cell phone in the seat beside me, “Hello Andrea,( pause) what’s up? “I was outside looking up at the sky and the stars last night and my mind ran on you, so I decided to call you today.”

Imagine me rolling my eyes and laughing (holding it in) but laughing. People still say things like that, whew – hilarious!




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