Doing something a little different for today’s memoires, inspired by one of my favorite stories, Rashomon. I hope to make a habit of it. The idea is to occasionally solicit the thoughts and opinions of others who have tread the same path as me, but (inevitably) they bring a different perspective. End result: you get twice the story.
I’m excited to break this new ground with the help of my significant other and awesome traveling companion (online name: “Danger”). He was gracious enough to answer a handful of general questions about his memories of our trip. I’ve also included my answers to the same questions. Here we go:
1. What (if any) preconceived ideas about Jamaica changed after you spent time there? If none, what was one thing about Jamaican culture that surprised you?
DANGER: I was unaware of the extent of the widespread poverty. I knew that areas of Jamaica were very poor, but I was shocked by the stark dichotomy of the resort areas, where everything is ridiculously opulent, and the enormously long stretches of abject poverty around them. I found that to be disturbing. This is not exactly what you asked but – I expected the Americans at the resort to fit more into the “ugly American” stereotype, and I was pleasantly surprised that most everyone we met, was polite, friendly, and well behaved.
HEZAASAN: I naively thought that marijuana was openly available and marketed to the masses — I half-expected to find it on the outdoor cocktail bar’s menu. (It wasn’t.) That being said, there was that group of guys that hung out on the pier just outside the boundaries of the resort who kept calling out at us: “Hi! Hello! Come here!” I remain convinced that they would have sold us a little something-something if we were foolish enough to accept their invitation. (We weren’t.)
2. Of all the people you met, who stands out the most in your memory, and what do you remember about them?
DANGER: The cats, without question. Don Cat-xote. Bernadino. Miguel. Wrangle. Rio – the cat who wanted to come home with you. “If they curl up in your lap, you get to name them – Island law.” I have always been a cat-whisperer. I had never traveled with anyone who had higher cat-magnetism than myself before. It took me a minute to learn how to adjust to that.
My other answer to that question is – You. When I look back at that trip, all of my memories are dominated by all of the awesome time that we spent together. I did not really meet too many people on the trip, I think partly because I was having *SO* much fun being with you 24/7 for an entire week! It was awesome!
HEZAASAN: You … I …. Damn. Good answer.
Apart from you (see what I did there?), I have to go with the Piano Guy. I spent a ridiculous amount of time each night at the piano bar by one of the pools. An unapologetic fan of singalongs, I took full advantage of the opportunity to request songs … followed by singing one or two … followed by helping to lead the group in the remainder of the evening’s tunes. By the second night, the Piano Guy was making requests to me, suggesting songs that we could sing together (and being delicately respectful of my alto range). That was a very smart move that earned him some very good tips. I regret that I didn’t get a chance to buy him a drink and hear all about his hopes and dreams, but we had a fantastic series of singalongs together all the same.
3. Wanderers often leave something undone so they can go back and do it next time. Do you have any “undones” that you’d want to go back and do?
DANGER: I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the actual island, away from the resort areas. It would be cool to do a photo shoot outside of the resorts. It’s a catch-22, because I’m sure that would be a somewhat dangerous endeavor, but it would be cool to perhaps find a local guide to show us some of the more photogenic areas, of which I am sure there are many, away from the resort areas. I would be a bit concerned about doing that on my own. I would definitely want somebody with me who knows the lay of the land. That, and I want to go back and adopt all the cats.
HEZAASAN: Agree a million percent. I would love to see the other side of Jamaica, like Negril. I would like to experience their bars, restaurants, galleries, street art, and local fare. I’d like to have interesting conversations with bartenders and find out where they like to drink. Your points are solid: make it a guided, safe, photogenic trek, and adopt all the cats. Must-do’s in our future itinerary.
4. Name one thing you liked and one thing you could do without about all-inclusive resort vacationing.
DANGER: I loved the “all day” drinking schedule. I feel like because drinks are free and constantly available, there is no need for binge drinking. Considering that booze was available and free essentially all day/every day, I saw significantly less obnoxiously drunk people than I saw in New Orleans, Las Vegas, New York, or even a normal day at my job. It seemed like most everyone was riding a super fun buzz, but not slipping into obnoxiously drunk. Also – the unlimited Smoothie Bar is the greatest fucking thing I have ever encountered in all of my travels.
A thing I could do without… I mean, some of the people are annoying, but you don’t have to interact with them. Some of the pre-programmed activities are silly and annoying, but again, you are under no obligation to participate in them. So, I won’t complain about that… I could do with significantly less of the pumped in “authentically Jamaican” music.
HEZAASAN: I wasn’t sure how staying in one place the whole week would go (we really, really like to explore), but it turned out great. There were new people to talk to, multiple restaurants to enjoy, and all the cocktails a girl could ask for! Staying in one spot was also a boon to my growth as a photographer. I was challenged to find new things to shoot every day, and new ways to shoot them. Looking back at my photos, I noticed a habit to do the exact same right-tilted dutch angle — which was an awesome lesson in the importance of broadening my methods, as well as a reaffirmation of how cool the dutch angle is.
What I could do without: the wind. It was boisterously breezy on that side of the island. I had to find strategic places on the beach and by the pool to enjoy my book and my drink at the same time (keeping my page in my book was a two-hand-job). That being said, we took more than a few selfies of us sporting pretty killer hairstyles, which is one of my favorite memories of our stay.
5. Why on earth did you climb that waterfall, exactly?
DANGER: Haha. The cliche response would be – “because it was there”. The legit response is not too far off of that. There was the challenge of it – can I actually do this? Once I started, there was a sense of – You’re here. You’ve got the chance to do something memorable. I knew while it was happening, that it was going to be something that would become a vivid memory for the rest of my life. I can’t turn my back on an opportunity like that. It also makes for a fun story, and as you know, I am a sucker for a fun story. I was composing the Moth story version of that adventure in my head, as it was still happening.
HEZAASAN: You were a sight to see: no guide, no water shoes, no hesitation. If you get a chance to record the story of Danger vs. Dunn’s River Falls, I hope you’ll allow me to post it here. (Spoiler: I watched from the steps.)
6. Any final thoughts you want to share?
DANGER: Peace. Love. Respect. Yamman. 14 is 7 and 8 is Great!
HEZAASAN: I can’t top that. Well done. (Seriously, thank you so much for being my guinea pig. You’re so cool!)