Thursday, March 30, 2017

Port Antonio, Jamaica - The Hunt for the Kraken

Blue Lagoon, Port Antonio
I took a four hour bus ride from Montego Bay to Port Antonio, a place a number of people told me to go. I ended up at a German hostel at the top of a hill, in the rainforest, where the fireflies light your way to the path. (Once when I hiked up to the top of the hill, I saw red and blue flickers. In New Zealand, the glowworms only come in blue.)

When I came to Port Antonio, a taxi took me to a soccer field by the hostel. I saw the black soccer players competing. I noticed how tall and sporty they looked, a big contrast to my small frame. There, I ordered fried chicken and rice and beans, a common dish in the Caribbean. It was alright, but not great.

I can't say that my time with the guests was as a nice as it was at my last place. Here, it seems like mostly couples and long time friends are traveling; so, they're more closed off to meeting new people.

Nonetheless, I still felt it familiar with Germans. And at one point, my host caught me listening into their German conversation. Although I said nothing, he looked at me, and said, "Do you understand what we're saying?"

I smiled and nodded and said, "But not everything."

He said, "I can tell."

At first, I disliked the locals. Several times, I was called "Ching Chong" and "Mr. Wong" and "Mr. Chin" (though the last one, Mr. Chin is not so racist; he's a Chinese-Jamaican billionaire). It got annoying. At one point, a prostitute in a hot pink dress grabbed my forearm and said, "I have a place upstairs. You like?"

"No thank you," I said.

But some people have been really friendly. And over time, I've really liked some of the people. Down the hill, there's a fried chicken shack. And the guy also calls me Mr. Chin. I call him, Mr. Chicken. But he has the best fried chicken I ever ate. So, I go there every lunch.

He also makes Caribbean rice that's amazing. (Perhaps, it's so good, I should bring some home for my friends.) What makes it good is that he puts the right amount of coconut milk in it and the right amount of beans. Somehow the balance makes it come out very good. I've grown to like him very much, and he's grown to like his Mr. Chin very much; perhaps, because I appreciate his food so much.

One time, at the bank, I was in the senior citizen's line without knowing. The man in front of me was 68 and was a Rasta Man. And he told me, "Hey man, this line is for people that are 68 'o older."

I told him, "I'm 69."

He said, "No you not 69."

"I am. I do the Chinese way. It keeps me young, man. Makes me look like this."

He believed it for awhile, and he said, "Really?! You 69?"

I nodded. I told him, "You need to learn the Chinese way."

"I guess so..."

"But really, if you want to be live long, you need to be right with the Lord."

"Oh man," he said. "I'm right with my Father."

"Ok, good, man. Be at peace."

One day, I went to the Blue Lagoon. It's a blue pool of freshwater and saltwater. When you swim in it, the top part of it tastes fresh. Supposedly, it's over 200 feet (68 meters) deep. The locals say a giant squid lives in the bottom. And I believed them.

So, I held my breath and dove down as deep as I could, looking for my Kraken, the octopus-sea-monster. One of my favorite poems by Tennyson said this of the Kraken:

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth . . .

But, I never found my Kraken, no matter how hard I looked.

The German guy told me they were just making a story for me. Then he added, "I can't believe you would want to find a big sea monster that could kill you."

"Why not?" I said. "It wouldn't kill me. Animals like me."

Well, one day I'll find my Kraken, Leviathan, and Phoenix. But my time in Jamaica wasn't the time to find these ancient and mystical monsters and creatures.

Perhaps on this trip, more than others, I reflected on the importance of having less and not more. The Western World is one of excess, which people don't realize carries with it, unhealthy and unintended consequences. Thus, remedies for such problems can only come through fasting, rest, meditation, prayer, and forgiveness.

My days are coming to an end in Jamaica. I'll be back in Los Angeles soon. Until then, I need to relax more under the Jamaican sun and sea.

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