Monday, August 03, 2015

Day Four: Avoiding Chicken Feet and Buying Herbs From Strange Men in Jamaica

I managed to scrape myself out of the cabin and down to one of the restaurants for some breakfast.   I kept a slice of toast and sip of coffee down before having a dip in the Jacuzzi in an attempt to ease the all over pain I was feeling from being sick for 14 straight hours   The Jacuzzi wasn’t actually on, so I was really just lying in a big public bath.  After exhausting myself sitting in some water, I headed back to bed in the hope that I’d feel a bit better by the time we docked in Jamaica.

I forced myself to get off the ship in Ocho Rios and my stomach was thrilled to see no tenders, as the dock was big enough to ensure that I didn’t have to get on another boat before my feet hit terra firma.

Welcome to...Chorios?  I think this guy overestimated the amount of space he had.
The minute I got to the island, the rain started.  It was extremely hot, but very wet, and just past immigration I found myself a local guide called Orville, who agreed to take me around and show me the sights.   I prayed that he would drive slowly as I really didn’t want to be sick in the back of his taxi. 

The roads in Jamaica were in a pretty poor state in some areas.  They’re worse than some of the roads in Lanarkshire, if you can believe such a thing.  I was treated to a few Bob Marley numbers by my tour guide and asked the age old question ‘do you like to party?’, which I’m reliably informed means ‘do you like to smoke weed?’   I replied that I didn’t and Orville looked at me like I had two heads.  Explaining to him that I’d been really sick for the past day, he seemed to accept that as a valid excuse and asked no further questions.

Orville took me to a part of the island called the Rainforest, which is the area that sees the most rain per year.   By Scottish standards, it was nothing, but we can’t all live in wet places, can we?  On the way there, we passed the No Problem Bed and Breakfast and Orville explained that, when you check in there, all your problems disappeared.   I had a good laugh when it dawned on me that the No Problem B&B was actually the local graveyard.  

Continuing further up the island, I saw coconut, banana, papaya and mango trees. Orville even grabbed a bunch of allspice as we passed and handed it back to me.  It was amazing to see the first few aisles of my local Tesco growing leisurely by the roadside.  And there wasn’t a wonky trolley in sight.

On the way back down from the rainforest, Orville stopped the car and introduced me to Ugly Derek.  UD, I was reliably informed, was a local man who grows herbs and spices. He cut up various bits of nutmeg and cocoa for me to taste and I bought some curry powder and jerk seasoning.

Feeling a bit peckish, Orville dropped me at the Jerk Hut so that I could try the famous local dish and a cocktail (or two). He stayed in the van and had a kip while I grabbed some food and a couple of Red Stripes.  Still not up to eating much, I picked a plate of various chicken bits.  After closer inspection, I discovered that the thing I thought was some kind of mutant wing was actually a charred chicken foot.   Luckily, I was still too sick to have ventured that far round my plate.  Thank the lord for stomach viruses.   

I barely had the strength to lift it...
It was while I was sitting avoiding consuming chicken claws that it struck me.  I had arrived on the island, jumped into a taxi, driven up a hill in the middle of nowhere and purchased two bags of herbs from a strange Jamaican man.   It probably wasn’t a story I should relay at customs.   I’ve seen footage of young women in Thai prison cells, swearing on their lives that the thought they were just buying something to perk up their dinner.   I can see the headlines now…

On the off chance that Ugly Derek had sold me something that wasn’t actually authentic Jamaican spices, that jerk chicken I was planning to make when I get home will be a whole different dish. 

Unfettered, and still clutching my herb mixtures, I then paid a visit to Dunn’s River Falls.  The Falls is one of Jamaica’s biggest attractions and I joined a guided tour full of people, holding hands in a kind of chain gang, making their way up the waterfall.  The water is pretty fast flowing and I seemed to be the only person not wearing crocs.   I might have broken my neck, but at least if I died my family would be spared the additional grief when they received my belongings and realised I had actually owned a pair.   Talk about tarnishing someone’s memory…

After getting a bit wet, but having fun scaling the waterfall, Orville dropped me back at the boat, bade me farewell and hopefully, went off to ‘party’.   I snuck past anyone that looked like they might want to inspect my purchases and ran back to hide my stash in the safety of my cabin. 

that'll do nicely...

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