Another lovely morning along the cliffs of Negril. Well into my second cup of coffee, and just finished a wonderful breakfast made by Teddy the Chef here at The Castle.
I’d planned to get home early Friday after work, attend to some last-minute details and get to bed early. Of course that didn’t happen.
I ended up working till about 7 PM, then made the plan-bashing step of the night and met up with some work friends. We wound up having an impromptu sort of sad makeshift payday holiday party.
The married people had to get back to their families, but for me it was still early enough to get the “Last Boat Out of Hoboken”‘; so dramatic. It sounds like a movie from the 1940′s, but it’s what the boat dude announced (with much bravado) several times before closing the gate.
It must have been nine-thirty-ish, so I had been officially on vacation since I left the office at seven so I decided to splurge on a taxi back to Brooklyn for me and drinking pal Gabi. For some reason she and I find ourselves stumbling out of Hoboken together from time to time. We get in the cab near the Trade Center and off to Brooklyn we go. OK, home by ten thirty-ish sleep by eleven, taxi to airport 4 AM. No problem.
No sooner did we get in the cab when my phone started buzzing. It was “The Lerches”! They were in town and were looking to meet up in Soho within the hour. I looked over at the beautiful-but-too-young-for-me-brunette and asked, “Blue Ribbon in Soho?” She responded, “oooh oysters . . .” Gabi is never one to turn down a party. So I halted our driver, I think I may have actually even used the word “halt”, and he detoured the few blocks over to Sullivan at Houston.
It was great to see The Lerches so unexpectedly. They were in town for SantaCon, and had just gotten back from Negril a few weeks ago. I hope they got the kiddo home before mid-day happy SantaCon turned into late-night drunken evil SantaCon. It can be unpleasant.
As usual Blue Ribbon did not disappoint. Papa Lerch ordered the big-grande raw-bar extravaganza, with caviar and shots of vodka. There was more food and more shots. We got a little blurry, but it was a great time.
Gabi took off around midnight and “The Lerches” graciously paid for dinner then we went to find a night-cap bar. We ended up at a corner bar on Prince off of Broadway, but it was late, Mama Lerch was getting tired and I was to be on a plane in a few hours. We said our goodbyes and I got a slow R train back to Brooklyn, so slow in fact that I hopped out at Atlantic Ave and grabbed a town car home. I walked in the door at two-thirty AM.
The driver was picking me up at three-forty five, so I did what any overfed slightly buzzed person would do. I pounded a Red Bull, got in the shower, put my traveling clothes on, and fed Rosie the Cat.
Being a bit OCD on packing, was a big help in this situation. I had everything laid out and ready to go. I guess I know myself too well.
The driver was right on time, and I must have slept in the car because we were at JFK in like 30 seconds. I zombied through “Web-Check-In” and security and into my seat. It was a great trip, I slept all the way through.
I arrived in Sunny Jamaica around nine-forty five AM and was through the airport gauntlet by ten-thirty. I waited for a couple I’d met on the immigration line who’d suggested we split a cab to Negril. We found a driver, they haggled the price, and away we went.
Our driver was the serious type. Straight-through, no stops, and he drove fast. Very good choice. It seems every year the trip gets shorter. Every year they finish a bridge, or re-route around a town, or simply improve the roads in general. We dropped the nice Canadian folks off at one of the All-Inclusives just north of town, and I was at The Castle before noon.
The place looked great. It was a bright sunny day, wonderfully hap-hazard xmas decorating here and there. A lot of familiar faces. Ed “Ras-Walleye” and his lovely wife, Teddy, the staff, and of course Petrona and Susan.
I did my normal arrival routine. Change clothes, unpack then over to the store for supplies. I encountered Milly the Juice Lady on the way over, so I came home with some orange/pineapple juice too. “Home” meaning my room, Deluxe #1 at The Blue Cave Castle, after nearly ten years staying there, it feels like home.
I don’t know exactly what time, but I opened my second beer and realized I was exhausted so I “took a nap” expecting to be up for sunset. I woke up at just after ten PM. I guess I needed the sleep, and the tropical air is great for sleeping.
Sunday I just stayed around The Castle reading and decompressing. Other than a short trip to the store, and two sunset beers at the No-Limit bar; I did nothing.
December 17, 2012
How can I honor the last days of the Mayan long-count calendar? How about with a Packing List?
Packing List – December 2012
Clothes (Unless you’re going to Hedonism)
Ok, the Hedo joke rings a bit stale. Especially after that time me and . . . Umm, nevermind, I promised never to tell that story.
- 1 pair – Swim Trunks - Down from two, I almost never swim, and I hate getting salt water in my beer.
- 3 pairs – Cargo Shorts
- 1 pair – Gym Shorts - Down from three. Gym? Really? As if . . .
- 14 Assorted T-Shirts - Up from ten. I noticed the only one that has been with me since 2002 is my Sponge Bob shirt. A classic is always a classic.
- 3 Hawaiian Shirts - I’m realizing these are like my Jamaican uniform. Hmmm, might be time to reconsider.
- 1 pair – Jeans
- 2 pairs – Socks
- 12 pairs – Underwear
- Flip Flops
- Running Shoes (LOL, as if I’ll be running) - Ditto
- Light Jacket/Windbreaker - Hoodie (2012 update)
- 1 Hat - Down from two, I ain’t wearing that Eagles hat anywhere . . .
- Laundry Bag - I still think this is a great idea.
Health & First-Aid
- Prescriptions - These weren’t part of my 2005 world.
- First-Aid Kit (Simple, Band Aids, alcohol wipes, tweezers)
- Neosporin (For creepy crawly bites)
- Sun Block 50 SPF - Up from 15 because my sister nags me.
- Sun Block Stick 70 SPF (For my nose) - Up from 30 because I’d rather not get burned, I only blame my sister so as not to diminish my perceived machismo.
- Bug Repellent - I went all natural organic friendly this time, we’ll see how it works. Stay tuned . . .
- Pepto Bismol (Individual serving packets, helps w/ humidity)
- Excedrin Extra Strength (Great for hangovers! Individual packets also)- This gets more and more vital with each trip. . .
- Vitamins (Which I buy in single serve packages anyway)
- Hand Sanitizer (Good when hand washing doesn’t permit itself)- Confession: I carry this stuff but I never use it . . .
- Wet-Ones (I put them in the fridge, Woo Hoo! Instant cooling!) - This is like my secret weapon. Go ahead and scoff. Try it and you will thank me.
- Condoms - And no, they are not the same ones since 2002 . . .
Mind and Body
- My Jamaica Journal – It’s a leather-bound journal Kristine got me a few years ago that I only use in Jamaica. - This is still with me, still not full. I haven’t used it on the last few trips. It’s become such an heirloom I’m afraid to lose it, but since it’s the “End of the World” trip, what the hey.
- Meditation travel stuff – Buddha, candle, incense, zafu.
- Books - Books? What’s a book? I used to enjoy leaving my book on the shelf in my room for the next inhabitant, but on my last few trips I’ve embraced my Kindle.
This trip I’m packing a pre-read book to leave on the shelf. So if the world doesn’t actually end subsequent Deluxe One Blue Cave Castle stayers can enjoy Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
- Christmas Lights – Two boxes to decorate my space at The Castle! I like to refer to them as Holiday Enlightenments . . .
Kindle – Reading List:
A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing by Lawrence Krauss
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss
Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs by Jason Ryan
- iPhone - Camera, Camcorder and about a hundred other things . . .
- AAA Batteries – Energizer Max – 8 Pack
- Netbook (I plan to blog this trip daily!)- I always promise to blog daily, but I get all flubunged . . .
- Flashlight (De power go black a lot)
- Rain Poncho (for those afternoon storms)
- Disposable Lighters (Keep in checked baggage)
- Pocket Knife
- Waterproof Matches
- Travel Clock
- Reading Glasses – Ouch
- Breath Freshening Gum (Red Stripe and Jerk Chicken are great, but . . .)
- LifeStraw http://lifestraw.com - This is a personal water purifier a friend bought me for Xmas. I wasn’t gonna bring it, but it is the “End of the World” trip
(This is the boring part)
- Mouth Wash
- Disposable Razors
- Shave Cream
- Hair Brush
- Hand Lotion (Udder Cream is my fave)
- Nail Clippers
- Towels – Washcloth
- Money some 20?s, and $50 in singles for tipping
- ID, ATM Card, Credit Card
- Travel Wallet
- Plane Tickets
- Printed Hotel Reservations
- Pens (For the customs forms on the plane. I’ll be a hero because no one has a damn pen)
OK Mayans, the time has come. Now it’s put up or shut up!
December 11, 2012
by Pablo Neruda
There was something wrong
with the animals:
their tails were too long, and they had
Then they started coming together,
little by little
fitting together to make a landscape,
developing birthmarks, grace, pep.
But the cat,
only the cat
turned out finished, and proud:
born in a state of total completion,
it sticks to itself and knows exactly what it wants.
Men would like to be fish or fowl,
snakes would rather have wings,
and dogs are would-be lions.
Engineers want to be poets,
flies emulate swallows,
and poets try hard to act like flies.
But the cat
wants nothing more than to be a cat,
and every cat is pure cat
from its whiskers to its tail,
from sixth sense to squirming rat,
from nighttime to its golden eyes.
Nothing hangs together
quite like a cat.
December 4, 2012