Some of the things that occurred during our recent week in Jamaica were unexpected and even a bit weird. I suspect those will be the things we will still clearly remember long after the memories of the hours of lying on the beach have faded. I started to mention them in last week’s column, but opted to save them until a later date in the interest of length.
Before my wife and I left Ashland, reporter Tim Preston, who had been to Jamaica a number of times, warned me about leaving the resort where we were staying . He said there were too many natives eager to take advantage of foreigners like us.
My wife and I followed Tim’s advice for about three or four hours before leaving our resort with our two friends in search of a nearby market where we could buy food for our rooms that included a kitchen.
I had walked less than a block before this stranger stuck a joint — aka reefer or a marijuana cigarette — in my hand. My first response was to give it back to him, but he was nowhere to be found.
I would be lying if I said I never smoked pot, but this young man was at least 35 years too late in trying to sell me some weed. Besides just like Bill Clinton, when I smoked my first joint I never got a “high” from it because as a nonsmoker I didn’t know how to inhale. Really. I know a lot of people thought President Clinton’s comment about not knowing how to inhale was absurd, but I understood it perfectly because I had been there, done that.
Not knowing how the man who had given me the joint had disappeared so quickly, I put the joint in my pocket and did my shopping. I was leaving the tiny market a few minutes later when the man reappeared as quickly as he has disappeared. He said he had fled because there was a police officer just a few feet away. Oh great, I thought, he hoofed it and left me holding an illegal joint. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
I tried to give the joint back to him, but he did not want it. Instead, he wanted money for it. I ended up giving him back his joint plus $50 in Jamaican money. I know that sounds like a lot of money, but it translates into roughly 50 cents in U.S. currency. He wanted more than that, but I threw him the $50 bill and the joint and fled as quickly as my arthritic legs could carry me.
Later that same night, a man sitting at the next table at a restaurant was smoking pot. Pot may be technically against the law in Jamaica, but no one seemed to be bothered by its open use. Fortunately, I have outgrown my desire for pot. Besides, I still don’t know how to inhale.
As anyone who has watched recent Summer Olympics knows, Jamaica is blessed with a wealth of world class sprinters. While we were dining at what was the Jamaicans version of a sports bar one night, a track meet was being aired on the large TV screen above the bar. Although the sound was down, I could tell from reading the words on the screen that this was a meet featuring local track clubs. As expected, the times were world class in all the sprints.
However, that was not I found most surprising about this televised meet featuring the world’s fastest male athletes. Instead what surprised me was how few people were in the nearly empty stands. There may have been fewer than a hundred fans watching these great athletes run.
That reminded me of many years ago asking a Costa Rica man who had attended the University of Houston on a soccer scholarship why no adults seemed to be watching the numerous youth soccer games we had passed during our mission trip there.
He said parents in Costa Rica seldom attended sports events in which their children were playing. In fact, this former college soccer player said his father had never seen him play. Amazing. How different that is than here in America where parents often make complete fools of themselves as games involving kids 10 and 12 years old.
On the way home, my wife and I had about five hours to spend at the airport in Montego Bay before our plane was to depart. That’s because our friends Jan and Steve Yorten had a much earlier flight than we did and we did not want to spend another $100 (American) for a taxi ride from our resort to the airport.
It’s a nice, modern airport that looks much like a mid-sized airport in the U.S. What surprised me was when I went to the restroom. There in the restroom amidst all the men standing at urinals was a woman mopping the floor. Well, I needed more than just a urinal, so I entered a stall and took extra care to make sure it was locked. As I sat there, the female janitor went into the stalls on each side of me and reached underneath the stalls to mop the area beside my feet. She then went to the front of my stall and mopped between my feet. I thought about asking her if she wanted to me raise my feet so she could mop under them but thought better of it and remained silent.
Of course, I was never in the nearby women’s restroom, but I can guarantee that there was not a male janitor mopping the floor in there. Women would never stand for it, which is yet another example of the double standard used in the treatment of men and women.
To be fair to this woman, she was really doing a thorough job of mopping the restroom floor, even if my feet got in her way.
JOHN CANNON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2649.