Irie Mon

I love good food and I also enjoy cooking good food.  I watch the food network quite often and one of my favorite shows is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  I would love to have a job traveling to different places just to try their food.  I promise I wouldn’t over eat; I would just taste the food to see how well it appealed to my taste buds.  The fact is, I don’t eat that much and it doesn’t take much to fill me up.  Basically, I eat when I get hungry and many times I forget to eat at all.  I never could understand how people can focus so much of their attention on eating.  My ex in laws were the worse people I have ever known when it came to food and eating.  I would say they were absolutely obsessed with food and they just about drove me crazy the time we went on vacation together.

I wanted to go somewhere special for my 30th birthday, and my ex’s father, Charles, suggested Jamaica for the big celebration.  I had traveled to many places, but I had never been to Jamaica so this would be perfect.  Charles even suggested that we stay in Negril and he gave us the name of the place where he always stayed when he visited.   So, we booked our flight reservations with Eastern Airlines and we booked our room reservations at the Negril Beach Club Hotel.   The next few weeks I worked on getting a tan so I wouldn’t burn because I planned to spend most of my time on the beach.  As the departure date grew nearer, I became more excited because I had never been to Jamaica before.

At first it was just going to be me and my ex going, but one week before we were to leave for our trip, I found out that my ex’s family was going with us.  Well not all of them but, the mother and her boy friend, the brother and his girl friend.  I was a bit disappointed because I just wanted to relax and do whatever I wanted to do and whenever I wanted to do it.  Now I felt that I had to entertain everyone to make sure they had a good time.  On one hand, I really wanted to cancel the trip, but on the other hand, I had this beautiful tan and I didn’t want to waste it, so I decided to go on the trip.

Our flight was leaving Nashville at seven o’clock in the morning, so that meant we would have to leave the house by five o’clock in order to find parking and to check in.  It wasn’t until the night before we were leaving that I found out we were leaving at four in the morning instead of five.  My ex told me that everyone wanted to stop and eat a nice breakfast somewhere before we boarded the plane.  I said, “There’s not going to be a nice place open to eat at four o’clock in the morning.  Why can’t everyone just eat something before they leave their house?”  My ex said that nobody wanted to get up early and cook breakfast then clean up the kitchen before they left.  I said, “I’m not talking about crepes and omelets.  I’m saying eat a bowl of cereal or a Poptart or something simple for Pete’s sake!  It’s bad enough leaving at five, much less four.”  We left at four o’clock that morning.

Since there were six of us going and we would all have luggage, I had suggested that it would be a good idea to take at least two cars to the airport, but no….  We all had to travel together in one vehicle.  We were packed in that sedan like sardines, not to mention our luggage barely fit in the trunk.   As a matter of fact, I rode the entire 60 miles to Nashville with my carry-on bag in my lap, and of course I was stuck sitting between two people in the back seat.  All the way to Nashville they were talking about what they wanted for breakfast and they were all looking for a nice place to stop and eat.  Just like I had thought, the only place open was McDonald’s, so we stopped there and ate our good breakfast.  And the whole time we were eating, everyone was complaining about the food.  I thought to myself, “It’s four o’clock in the morning and it’s McDonald’s, what the hell do you expect?”

When we finally arrived at the airport, I was so relieved to get out of that car and get that bag off my lap, and to get away from my in-laws even it was only for a few minutes.  We checked in all of our bags except the carry-ons, then we walked to our departing gate and waited for our flight to leave.  The flight was running on time and at 6:50 that morning we boarded the plane.  We all had seats in the same row, with three seats on one side of the plane and three seats on the other side of the plane.  My ex and my brother-in-law grabbed the two window seats, Patty, my mother-in-law, and her boy friend took the two aisle seats and my brother-in-law’s girlfriend and I had no choice but to sit in the middle seats.  So, I was stuck in the middle and cramped up once again.  But thankfully we had an hour lay over in Atlanta and that would give me a break.

Patty had never flown before, so she was a bit nervous.  Every time the plane hit an air pocket, or jarred just a little, her eyes would get big and she would look at me and everyone else sitting around her to make sure everything was alright.  I kept reassuring her that we would be fine, but she was nervous the entire time and I finally gave up.  During the flight, we were served a small snack.  I was still full from breakfast, so I put my snack in my purse to save for later.   When we arrived in Atlanta at 9:30, everyone wanted to get something to eat.  So, we ate again, and while we were on the next flight, we were fed again.  And, once again I was not hungry so I put my crackers in my purse and I gave the rest of my food to my ex and Patty.

When the plane landed in Jamaica and after we had gone though customs, we found a ride to our hotel in Negril.  All the taxi cabs were too small to carry all six of us, so we took the “Big AIRCONDICTION Bus”.  Yes, that’s correct; that was the name of the bus.   Since the big bus said “AIRCONDICTION”, we just assumed it was a spelling error and that it actually meant that the big bus was equipped with air conditioning.  Take my advice, when you’re in a foreign country, never assume anything.  This bus was fairly large, but as far as the air conditioning went, it was all the windows down and hot air blowing in your face.

The bus was full of vacationers needing a ride to their hotels.  The first stop was at ClubHotel Riu and it was absolutely gorgeous!  The next stop was at The Beaches, which was even more stunning, and I was getting very excited to get to our hotel to see what it looked like.   We made three more stops at different resorts to let passengers out.  It was close to three o’clock that afternoon when we finally arrived at our hotel.  I looked at the place and said, “This must be a mistake”.  I looked at the sign showing the name of the place, and it said, “Negril Beach Club Hotel”.  I asked the bus driver if he was sure this was the right hotel, and he said it was.

Believe me, this hotel was the property from hell.  To give you and idea what I mean, I will quote from a review I just found online.  Clarke Jones gives this description, “The property was described as a first-rate condo. It was at best a 2 star and perhaps more fittingly a 1.5 star property. The Negril Beach Club is an older property in terrible disrepair and poorly maintained. I knew we were in trouble when we walked into the small and dated lobby with vinyl covered furniture.  I do not recommend this hotel for young singles, an amazing honeymoon, a romantic getaway, a girlfriend getaway, people with disabilities, older travelers, pet owners, families with young children, families with teenagers or tourists.”   I agreed one hundred percent with Clarke’s statement and I felt the same way about this place.  But, the important thing was, was that we were there and we had a beautiful beach to enjoy all week.

After we had checked into our rooms, I unpacked the clothes and then I was ready to hit the beach.  However, my ex had other plans.  My ex said we were joining the others to go get something to eat.  I was a bit ticked and I said, “How can you think about food? We have been eating all day!  What about the beach?  There’s a beautiful beach out there just waiting for us to enjoy.   It’s three o’clock in the afternoon; you guys can’t possible be possibly be hungry.  Besides, this is the first moment we’ve had alone since we left the house at four o’clock this morning.”

We met the family and about four o’clock that afternoon, we found a small restaurant and they all agreed to eat there.  One thing I loved about Jamaica was the food; it was very tasty and not very expensive.  I ate lobster everyday and drank three or four pina coladas with every supper that week.  Another thing I loved about Jamaica was that nobody gets in a hurry.  Now, if you have ever been to Jamaica, you know what I’m talking about.  Jamaicans move very slowly.  And that day, they definitely weren’t in a hurry to serve us our food.   While we were waiting, we all stated drinking and I was enjoying the reggae music and watching all the people walking down the beach.

Our conversation was about where we were going to eat breakfast the next morning and what everyone was going to have for breakfast.  Then they talked about where we should go for lunch the next day, and then they talked about what we could have for supper the next night.  The longer we sat there, the more I enjoyed one pina colada after the other and as I listened to their conversation I was thinking, “What the hell is wrong with these people?  We are in this beautiful place and all they can think about is food.”  The more time that passed by, the more drinks we all had.  It was about six forty-five and I was getting a bit hungry too, so I pulled out the crackers I had received on the airplane and ate those to keep my stomach from growling.  By the time the food finally did arrive,  hell I had forgotten why we were there in the first place.  We entered that restaurant at four o’clock that afternoon and we were finally served our meal well after seven o’clock that evening.

The next morning we met Patty and her boyfriend, Bob, for breakfast in the hotel’s small restaurant.  The hotel provided a continental breakfast, so I knew it wouldn’t be long before they would all want to eat lunch.  Bob was fussing because the hotel did not have an ice machine and the restaurant had run out of ice so he had to drink warm water.  He said the waitress had told him that the ice truck should be arriving anytime and as soon as it did, she would bring him some ice.  Just when I ordered a diet coke, the ice truck pulled up.  They unloaded several large blocks of ice and I watched as the waitress chopped pieces of ice off the huge block and put them in my diet coke.  Bob continued fussing about the place being so outdated and fussing about the place not having an ice machine.   He talked about the lack of an ice machine all week-long and to everyone he came in contact with.  Fortunately for me, he got too much sun one day, so he had to sit in the shade the rest of the week.  Since I stayed on the beach most of the time, I didn’t have to listen to him complain except while we were eating.

I really enjoyed the beach and the reggae music and all the Rastafarians who walked up and down the beach singing,  and the young guys offering to fetch you drinks or food.  People were selling trinkets and things and the Jamaican women were always wanting to braid your hair for 3 js.  One girl actually had my hair braided before I could say, “No thank you.”  Everything was “irie mon”.  I really got into that reggae, irie, slow-paced environment and felt like I was in heaven, but only when I was away from my in-laws.

I was playing around in the ocean afternoon and a crab pinched a small piece of skin off my ankle.  I got out of the water and saw my ankle was bleeding a bit, so I went to find a napkin to help stop it from bleeding.  As I was walking to the bar to get a napkin, I noticed Patty coming toward me.   Then, I heard this Rastafarian yell, “Hey fat girl.”  I was trying to figure out who he was talking to and I knew it wasn’t me because I was as skinny as a rail.  There were several people walking around on the beach so I wasn’t sure who he was talking to.  He yelled again, “Hey fat girl!”  This time Patty heard him too and she looked over at him. As I got closer to Patty, I could see he was talking to her.  I looked at Patty and said, “I think he’s talking to you.”  Patty turned to me and said, “Well he’s not talking to me.  I’m not fat. He must be talking to you.”  Then she turned to look at the Rastafarian again and he said, “Yeah, you.”   Patty’s face turned red and she yelled back to the Rastafarian, “Who the hell are you calling fat!”  He smiled and said, “You pretty lady.”

I was holding back my laughter because I could see Patty was madder than hell and believe me, this guy was in for it.  You see, Patty pictured herself as beautiful as a model in a magazine.  She exercised all the time trying to burn off all the calories she consumed each day.  Now, she was an attractive woman, but try as hard as she may, she was never skinny and she was so very self conscious about her weight.   Never before that moment in time had I ever seen Patty so mad, and she cussed that poor Rastafarian guy for damn near 20 minutes.  He kept walking down the beach trying to get away from her, but she followed him swearing and cussing him the entire time.   I never, ever let on that I though it was funny, but from that day forward, every time I think about Patty I think, “Hey fat girl!”  Now if you ask me, that’s irie! 🙂


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