Opening Statement



Monday, 26 March 2018

Oh Cannabis: Jamaican Tripping -Mo Bay 2018!




Sufficiently stoned on some great reefer, I float effortlessly on my back under a light, blue, pastel sky. The fierce, hot sun beats relentlessly down. I feeling calm. Tranquil. Very happy to be snorkelling again in the Caribbean.

I'm a couple of hundred feet off the coast of the Sunsplash [formerly the "Sea Winds"] resort in Montego Bay Jamaica. Where my wife Janet and sister Maryanne work on their tans, in-between relaxing in the shade, under the swaying palms, on the crystal, white, sand beach.



A light sea breeze brushes my face. Slipping my mask and snorkel back in place, with a few effortless flipper flips, I gaze down into the refreshingly cool, deep, dark, blue waters below. 25 feet down to the glistening, sandy white bottom. From 5 to 10 feet down, stretches a seemingly, endless, coral sea. 

Schools of bright, colourful, tropical fish swirl about me, as I dive down into the cooler depths. Along the sea bottom, a huge stingray gracefully glides by. A giant, fluorescent eel pokes out his head. A small octopus or two look up, before slipping back into their sleepful slumber. 



My third trip to Jamaica, I'm feeling very much at home. There is little I enjoy more than swimming and exploring a coral reef. For me, it's the supreme natural high!

Janet and my last visit to Jamaica was about 4 years ago, shortly after I retired from teaching. A hardcore Bob Marley devoutee, I'd made the pilgrimage up Mystic Mountain to his birth and burial place, Nine Miles, to pay my respects. At his grave site, I imbibed in the holy sacrament; a little weed, for the first time in almost 25 years! [READ] [BLOG]



Yep! That's a long time not to toke my favourite herb. Perhaps longer than some of you, my dear readers, have even been alive. 

So why weed? Why now?!? 

It works like this: Although I've toked since the early 1970's, like a lot of baby boomers, I later decided that from a career perspective, it just wasn't  worth the risk. Plus, for me, hard work and study requires my complete focus. I felt I could hardly talk the talk to my students, if not actually walking the walk myself. 

For good measure and health reasons too, I also stopped smoking tobacco and drinking booze. Promised myself I could do whatever I liked later, after I'd grabbed my pension, gotten the job done. It wasn't a lifestyle decision everyone would make, I realize. Strictly a personal choice.

But let's fast forward! It's a whole new millennium now, in more ways that one. Finally retired, I've got a whole of time to relax. Kick back on my own time. Reassess the situation. 

Quite frankly, I hardly miss the twin demons nicotine and alcohol, now that I've long got them out of my system. 



Good riddance, but damn! Cannabis?!? Except for being illegal, it never did me any harm. But ... but ... but, do I still want all the unjust prohibition hassles and bullshit?

Fortunately, nowadaze, I qualify for medical cannabis. It certainly helps a lot with the aches, pains, shot nerves and whatever ails, of creeping old age. Eliminates a whole whack of big, bad, nasty prescription drugs, including opioids too, which I rarely take anymore, except for my really bad health daze. 

Overwhelming, for health reasons, I much prefer to self medicate with my weed.

Plus damn! Let's admit it! Recreational cannabis will soon be legal in Canada. In lots of places! All around the world! And cannabis sure is a whole lotta fun! 

Goes great with the tunes, food, and friends. Also let's not forget lying on the beach. Or diving in the sea. 

So back to my story! We clamber off our flight from Toronto to Montego Bay. Exhausted. Snake our way through Jamaican customs. 



Guess what? 

Our ever resourceful, baggage, rude boy asks if I'd like some ganja. Slips me some big, fat goo-ey buds: thick, khaki green and orangey red, very fresh and sooo lush .... 

The price? $40 for the weed, plus another $5 to carry our bags! Yeah, he probably ripped me. I've heard it can go for a lot cheaper, but I'm not complaining. Unwilling to risk arrest when we travel abroad, he saved me a lot of possible hassles. [1]

The buds certainly put a smile on my face morning, noon and night as I swam, lay in the sun, listened to tunes and read my book in the shade on the beach. There was even some leftover to leave for the maid, when our week was over!

Yummy! Yummy! Yummy!

Some other notes on this year's beach holiday in Mo Bay, Jamaica: 



Sunspash All Inclusive Resort:  It's actually the historic "Sea Winds" hotel from back in the days of the Sunsplash Reggae concerts, hence the name. Uh huh, Bob Marley was here, but that was long ago. It's kind of run down now, it's future uncertain. 

Still, we really enjoyed our sea view room on the 7th floor of one of the towers. Big. Spacious. A fabulous balcony. Oh my god -the fiery, crimson sunsets! 

The white sand beach was hassle free. The huge, shoreline, coral reef never far away, extending endlessly down the coast and out to sea. 

Good old school roots, rock and reggae are still the tune-age of choice at the Sunsplash! The staff was very nice! The food good -spicy, but not too much so!



Coral Reef: Alas. I was last here in the early 1980's. Along the coastline, like in much of the Caribbean, the reef is basically dead. The novice diver might not notice, but it's now basically pale white, with small bursts of colour; a fading shadow of it's former, natural splendour and glory. Still, I counted at least a half dozen types of coral, the bigger and better ones, the further out and deeper down you go.



Montego Bay: Except for the shore dives, I think I much prefer Runaway Bay a little further down the coast. As you've probably heard, a military state of emergency has been declared in Mo Bay to try clear up the awful police and gangland mess. 

Driving from the airport through the city, one's faced with a very toxic mix of great affluence and appalling poverty! Everybody, uneasily living side by side! Very tighly squeezed in-between the mountain foothills and the deep blue sea. 

Hello Jamaican Babylon -it's quite the social justice, political-economic horror show! However, perhaps not much more so than when I was here back in the day. 

We only took one excursion, a quick, guided, shopping trip into town, booked through the hotel. Not the way I usually like to go, on our travels. 



Still, consider this: The tourist upside, is that there's lots and lots of great deals on resort packages in Montego Bay this year. Meanwhile, It's been an especially cold and bitter winter in Canada. 

We were very, very happy to just spend our week on the beach. We had absolutely NO problems, mon. If anything, the staff went out of their way to make sure everything was "irie" for us! Very fine and groovy!

Still, be warned! Everything in town and at the hotel shop is ridiculously overpriced. The crowded areas are probably still pretty risky. Of course, the back alleys too. 

We love Jamaica, but it's a fucking mess! My heart totally goes out to the poor sufferers in their war with Babylon.



Decriminalization: Although cannabis has recently been decriminalized in Jamaica, "pot tourism" is still in it's infancy. Ganja is definitely the Jamaican "brand". However, it wasn't openly available at the Sunsplash or the next door Hard Rock Cafe. Then again, we weren't hassled either, though I only toked on our balcony and at the beach. 

Let's hope that the sufferers can soon cash in. That things loosen up some more for the tourist trade. Without doubt, it could be a huge, much needed, cash windfall for the real Jamaica we all know and love so well! [2]

Bud and Breakfast: Abi Roach and Hotbox Toronto run one closer to Runaway Bay, that I'd like to try next time. More @ LINK!



FOOTNOTES

[1] = Still, legal, pharmacy, prescription cannabinoids like Naboline, in pill form, or Sativex spray, can provide 2 quite reliable, above ground, traveller friends. 

[2] = Check for news updates on my Oh Cannabis News y Views blogs!

RELATED

Bob Marley + The Wailers: The Early Years: Read my blog series -Part 1 @ Here Part 2 Here! Part 3 @ Here! Part 4 @ THERE!


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