Jamaica Travel Information: Arrival Briefing Part 3
"No problem, mon."
Expect the Unexpected
In Jamaica, planned trips don't always run smoothly. One of my most memorable times happened right after climbing Blue Mountain Peak, when the hard parts should have been over. But that's when everything started going wrong.
A car was supposed to come to Mavis Bank for me and my guide, Buckey. The car never showed up so Buckey and I tried to board the
bus to Kingston, an hour's drive away. Pulling up, the bus driver announced his vehicle was broken and there was no telling when a replacement would arrive. Then he walked off.
About 40 of us stood at the bus stop. We all needed to get back to Kingston that night. But how? Rescue came in the form of a driver with a huge flatbed truck with tall sides. The driver would take us to Kingston, for a price. When Buckey and I finally climbed aboard, the truck was full of people jammed together standing like telephone poles.
As the truck pulled away, the driver began shouting crazily and we all suddenly realized just how drunk he was. He barreled down the mountain with a great grinding and shifting of heavy gears, stopping at every little shop to replenish his empty rum bottle. We yelled at the shops not to sell him any more drink.
Thankfully (or I might not be writing this) all the shops owners responded to our pleas. Each time the driver was refused more rum he returned to the truck, cursing and grumbling, and threatened to make us all get off his truck. Then we would lurch down the hill again.
The truck's great horn blared at every curve but we rarely slowed down. As I gripped the side of the truck and continually ducked tree branches I wondered if we would successfully navigate the next corner. Was my Caribbean hiking odyssey going to
suddenly end in the back of a truck with all these laughing and yelling Jamaicans? Before long, I found myself yelling and laughing along with them. What a roller coaster ride it was! This situation was out of my control. Either I would survive this, or I would not. My fingers were cramped for 30 minutes after we arrived in Kingston.
I had been up since 2 a.m. for the Blue Mountain Peak climb but my day was not yet over. Around midnight, several locals and I climbed the water tank overlooking Kingston. What an unforgettable view...and climb down.
Obviously, none of the evening's events were planned or supposed to happen, yet they are some of my best memories.
Special Hiking Note: All Jamaican hiking times assume you don't stop to take a few spliffs and commune with nature. It may take as much as 50 percent longer (perhaps more) to hike stoned unless you are a regular connoisseur of cannabis. Jamaica's ganja is known for its wallop. Of course, it is also illegal.