In Quest of Books or Glory? -Jamaica 2005

Hell in Hellshire

Hell in Hellshire!

The last day dawned as bright and hot as you can imagine. Yup! The curse of the 10-dayers had gone away and the imminent threat of cricket saw the weather relent for one last day in the sulky 40° heat. Another phone call at 6:45 from Aunty Beryl and well, you might as well wake up pronto. After ablutions, we went for breakfast and the hotel performance of checking out. Al had to pay somewhat for those calls over to the other side of the island. Seems hotels all over the world have the same robbing attitude.

At this point I must confess that I am somewhat of a people watcher, and there were some very interesting charachters at this hotel, one tall, buxom girl comes immediatly to mind. She was attired somewhat in the style of an 80's Howards Way power dresser - loud blouses, tight designer jeans, mobile phone and filofax to the fore, hairstyle in the loft.......you get the picture. Then there were the "suits". Now "Suits" are "suits" across the world it seems; sharp suite, mobile phone, deals going on, haircut precise and overpowering aftershave. Imagine this lot struggling with the toast making conveyor! "No! NO! My filofax is cremated!". "Would you like butter on that sir?"

Time to pack up and go. One more whiff of the bruise balm I had broken on Day one, and carefully left the cap off to annoy Mr. Five Pints, check the wardrobe, and off with the luggage to reception. I should point out that I had been talked into a luggage "deal" with the aforesaid librarian of Birmingham. This consisted of swapping bags and bring back most of his sweaty, cricket gear and his smoking thongs to enable a smooth journey around the Island by the loving couple. I just hoped I'd get my bag back, veteran of New York, Canada, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France, without any bullet holes in it. So, weighed down with my stuff, I was relieved to hear that the hotel manager had let us store the bags for the day, as our flight wasn't due to fly until midnight - I eventually discovered. Sir Geoff had arranged with Mr Chaplain to take us around the island for the day for J$500. Bargain! At this point, my guts reminded me that last nights meal hadn't got the rigourous standards of cleanliness that one is used to in Birmingham. Off to the immodium tablets then.

We then said our goodbyes - Zorro, Norman, Peter, Simon and Hadyn were going to one of Lalaejies dodgy venues in Montego Bay and Marlon was driving them. Where Cowdrey was I can't remember - probably settling in to his new house! Mr and Mrs Five Pints were left to find a way to the car rental place and good luck to them! Even Mr Chaplain thought they wouldn't come back!

So we loaded Mr Chaplain's minibus and headed off into the Jamaican traffic to the craft fair. Well, this was more like Bilston's indoor market from 1968. The trip took right through he bottom end of Trenchtown. Grim was not the word I'd use, more like Beiruit1982 . I did give us a flavour of the poor side of Jamaica and was about what I expected. Despite this, some good bargains were to be had and I managed a mug, some teeshirts and a new leather belt. We were hassled all the way around as you do so no surprises there then. Some chap tried to sell me some wall carvings but with no where to hang then, it was out of the question. Not that he understood - didn't all white folks have houses then? "No mate. Some of em live in the subway, some on the tip"

Lunch was in order and we were take to some kind of Jamaican fast food restuarant that cooked a kind of burger. Having consumed this, washed down with Coke, we headed off to Hellshire beach. Whilst on the way, we heard on the radio of some gangland gunfight between the mates of Bubba and the Jamaican Army and Police. You cold see the palls of smoke over Spanish Town as we drove past it.

Hellshire Beach is well named - hell. Its quite white sandy, but it has this overhanging threat of the locals all the time, trying to sell you stuff or being just plain intimidating. I was also 40 ° and this made it chip fat time - in other words , keep in the shade and cover up with the sun lotion! I managed to get a 20 minute dip in the Carribean and that was it for me. Pram and Geoff looked over the bags but you could help thinking that some bugger was trying to snatch them. In the end, Mr. Chaplian got too edgy and told us to quitely make our way to the rear of the village and off we went. Just like a scene from "Dodge City".

Back past an even more smouldering Spanish Town, past Trenchtown and then the haven of Half way Tree Road to the Hotel! Bliss! No one going to hold us up! We made our way back to the hotel and after some tea and a refreshing shower, it was down to the bar for the last time until it was time for Mr Chaplain to collect us and drive us to the airport. We checked in and after passing the time eating and going to the toilet, we boarded the plane which promptlt sat there for an hour waiting to take off. But once we were airborne that was it - holiday over! Back to the wind and rain. But at least it was relatively safe!

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Copyright 2005 A.G.Morris