Some people go on vacation to purposely turn OFF their brains. I always set out with that goal, but it never works out. I always end up reading, thinking, and — help me sweet Jesus in the garden — LEARNING. Like, EW. I guess I just can’t help it. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.*
I’m going to attribute these vacationary discoveries to my gingerhood. See, most people fly south to find out how brown their thighs can get. Well, as curvaceous and firm as these gams may be, under the tropic sun they go from “dove white” to “cloud cover” to “paper mache” — all shades, I might add, that appear on a Benjamin Moore colour swatch entitled “Timeless and Classic Whites” so fuck you ya sunkissed bastards. Sunbathing is pointless for me, not to mention deadly. I have better things to do than morph into a leatherback turtle. Like be intrigued by the world, learn shit, and share it with you. So here are 19 things I discovered in Jamaica last week. There were 20 but I forgot one of them on account of the cannabis. Just kidding, Mom. Not really.
1. The national fruit of Jamaica is a murderer. It’s called the ackee. And according to our Jamaican bus driver, if this fruit is picked and consumed BEFORE it opens ON the tree, game over motherfucker. Grab a plantain, pretend it’s a phone, and call poison control because you’ve just been ackilled by an akee. BUT — hold the banana phone. The ackee is not to be confused with the acai. When the bus driver told us about the homicidal ackee, he didn’t spell it out obviously, and I couldn’t Google it, so I assumed he meant the acai berry, and I started boycotting deadly acai juice (which I sometimes buy at the grocery store) in my head and pledging allegiance to orange juice forever. So yeah. Acai: good. Ackee: bad. Unless it opens on the tree. Which I guess it usually does because “poison and saltfish” is not the official dish of Jamaica; “ackee and saltfish” is.
2. The official herb of Jamaica is parsley. Yeah, right. You can get weed from anyone in Jamaica. ANYONE. The butler, the maid, the pool boy, maybe even the Prime Minister. Officially, it’s illegal. Unofficially, it’s confetti. Seriously, it’s celebrated — quite openly for something that’s, officially, against the law. They have ganja tours that take tourists to hidden plantations, for god’s sake. When you ask a local where you can get some skunk, they start to glow with pride (while you’re glowing with embarrassment for saying skunk), like you’ve just transformed before their very eyes from a dickish white honky to a slightly less dickish white honky. And also perhaps because they’re about to make some coin by marking the shit up about 6000%.
One night, Andrew and I dined at the resort’s Japanese teppanyaki restaurant where Tex, a 50-year-old black man in a kimono, while chopping and flipping meat on the grill, went around the table asking us our names and pastimes. After a string of Americans and Germans proclaimed their love for golfing and hunting and such, it got around to moi. I wanted to say “writing” was my favourite pastime, of course, but that just sounds totally toolish, so I said “smoking weed.” (I also said my name was Yazmeen.) Before I even had the words out of my mouth, Tex started waving his metal spatulas in the air and shouting out to the entire restaurant “SMOKING WEED MON HA HA, JAMAICA…HOME OF THE BEST WEED IN THE WORLD MON HA HA WOOOOOO”. Then he high-five’d me with his spatula and gave me extra rice. Wow. So I guess there’s no need to keep it down then.
3. Marriage counselors should really consider incorporating some “herbal therapy” into their methods. Just sayin’.
4. Do not go down the White River with a couple of Rastafarians in a wooden dory. And clearly agree on the plan for your “fishing excursion” before you embark. Like, it seems fair to assume you’d end up right back where you started, at the pier on the beach, right? Assume nothing, Stupid White People From the North. We ended up on a private beach just outside the resort where Mr. Local Fisherman and Co. are selling shells and wooden cocks and OBVIOUSLY you’re going to buy something because DID YOU NOT SEE THOSE POOR STARVING BASTARDS ON THE WHITE RIVER?
5. Goats are very stupid. There are goats everywhere in Jamaica. They’re just roaming around, eating grass and garbage and babies. They’re not penned in or tied on, because they always go back home, because goats are very smart. Of course, eventually they get slaughtered for their meat, which makes going home seem not very smart at all.
6. They are really milking Cool Runnings, aren’t they? Jesus. They didn’t even finish the race, people!
7. Jerk chicken does not usually contain semen. Jamaicans love their jerk chicken. But I can’t say jerk chicken without thinking of…you know….jerk. Sperm. When they’re cooking it, are they actually jerking it? And hello…choking the chicken! It also doesn’t help that every second shack on the street says JERK CENTRE. I saw one place called ULTIMATE JERK CENTRE. Like, is this a good restaurant or a sperm bank where everybody gets pregnant the first time? Do they call napkins jizz rags at this establishment? Anyway, apparently the best jerk chicken in Jamaica can be found at Scotchies. NOT at the resorts where, according to a very candid bartender, they serve jerk-off chicken. Which did not help the situation.
8. Bob Marley just never stops wailing. Jamaicans love Bob Marley. Of course they do. But with tourism being their most important industry by far, and Marley tunes filling the air ALL THE DAMN TIME, they are sick and tired of hearing it. Like seriously, shoot the deputy already. Sadly, the music-making ended far too early when Marley was just 36. There has been nothing new to add to the playlist in over 30 years. So they play it for us over and over and over again. We like it. But surely there’s some NEW reggae or dancehall-pop that’s worthy of sharing with the world when it comes to visit. As a tourist in the country for but a week, I reckon it’s time to stir it up, little darlin’.
9. Marley had 11 children (at least) with several different women (not that that matters, no double standard shat here, yo). One of his sons, Ky-Mani Marley, he had with Anita Belnavis, a Jamaican table tennis champion. She was a TABLE TENNIS CHAMPION. Does anyone else find this awesomely hilarious?
10. Colourful drinks are actually the devil’s urine. So the swim-up bars open at 10am. This does not mean you should start drinking at 10am. All those rainbowy drinks with the little umbrellas and fruit dangling sexily from the side? Pure deception. Last thing I remember I was throwing myself down onto the grass repeatedly because it looked sooooo comfortable and down there nobody would see the mystery chunks I upchucked on the front of my bathing suit.
11. Jamaicans are wonderful. The people at the resort were the best part of the trip. They don’t make you feel bad when you barf all over the resort. They seem genuinely happy to be showing you around and carrying your luggage and serving your dinner, despite the undeniable resemblance to slavery. Do they make fun of our white asses when we turn our backs? I really don’t think so, but they probably should.
12. Jamaica is pure sex. Everyone walks really slowly because I think they’re all mid-orgasm. Right after I watched the Prime Minister deliver her Heroes Day address, an ad came on for Black Stallion Bedroom Tonic. It’s Jamaican Viagra, basically, in drink form. It reminded me of the “formidable scent” of Sex Panther. “60% of the time, it works…every time.”*
13. Jamaican advertising is so bad, it’s spectacular. Watch this ad for Black Stallion Bedroom Tonic which I’m pretty sure was made by the guys on the banks of the White River. Those guys must also be responsible for the award-winning creative we saw on the sides of the roads, like the billboard for helmet safety that exclaimed “Protect your head, don’t be dead.”
14. Pepsi is high as a kite. I can understand some local businesses having low-budget advertising, but you’d think the Pepsi people would know better. I saw Pepsi signs in Jamaica with this slogan: “Live for now.” Like…are we all going to die here? Frig, maybe we are. Over the Heroes Day weekend, 16 people were shot, 7 murdered. For a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world, I wonder if Pepsi might have considered something a little more, I dunno, optimistic.
15. Do not start a pants store in Jamaica. It is no place for pants. That’s not true for the locals who don’t mind the heat so much, so technically a pants store could work. But you won’t see any tourists shopping there. Every day when we got back to our suite, we’d immediately take off everything from the waist down. And watch TV. Swear to god. I think whoever invented the word “panting” for breathing really heavily due to heat was totally inspired by people taking off their pants.
16. “Jamaica is not for you, gurlfren.” That was me talking to a gay guy. Jamaica is one of the least gay-friendly countries in the world. Which seems a little contradictory to their laidback “no problem, mon” philosophy that seems to imply anything goes. The “One Love” slogan they stole from Bob Marley obviously refers to penis-vagina love. THAT is the ONE love they like. The only love. In fact, Sandals Resorts did not welcome gay couples until 2004, when it changed the rules in order to advertise to the UK. So technically, you can bring your sweet gay ass here, but being loud and proud is not advised. This past summer, a transgendered teen, Dwayne Jones, was murdered by an anti-gay mob after he showed up at a street party dressed as a woman. I’m glad I didn’t know about this until after I got back, or an inebriated (and therefore outspoken) yours truly might have strutted around Ocho Rios with a big wooden dick tucked into my shorts.
17. Jamaica is full of frogs. Not french people, although I heard a few of them too. I mean frogs. Ribbit ribbit. Though I never laid eyes on a single one. Every evening when the sun went down around 6pm, the jungle around our villa got crazy loud. Not with lions and tigers, but with a zillion tiny toads. Collectively, it sounded like one long, screeching, stab-you-in-the-shower sound effect from the movies. You’re lying in bed in this tropical paradise, and THAT’S what you hear. Murderous frogs. Very romantic. I mean it. I lured Andrew into the shower to keep him close so I’d know for sure he wasn’t approaching me with a knife.
18. Nobody outside Canada knows where Newfoundland is. Nobody. But it is our responsibility as Newfoundlanders to tell them. So every time someone said “oh yeah” after we told them where we were from, I’d follow with “you have no bloody idea where that is, do you?” They’d admit they didn’t, and then I’d whip out a world map and a laser pointer.
19. Inflight entertainment is not always a good idea. On the flight home from Jamaica, I realized that airlines play a lot of movies where people get shot out of the air. On the way down south, I watched World War Z. On the way back, Man of Steel. Lots and lots of aircraft getting blown to bits, bodies flying. Awesome. I went to bathroom on board — you know, the shitter that’s 35,000 feet above the earth — and I’m certain I’m going to be sucked down the hole by a cyborg zombie. It may have been the paranoia leftover from the parsley I finished before breakfast. What? Well we couldn’t take it with us!
*Props to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Again.