Monday, May 6, 2013

First Impressions

So since last Saturday I've had a pretty good week. Just a really nice combination of events that have all come together to help me get over some of the homesickness I was experiencing last week. Monday was a pretty cruisy day as far as work and such went, it was really around Tuesday that things picked up a bit.

One of the clients, Stephen, had expressed a desire to try and improve his reading. Although his reading skills are a bit better than the other clients, he still felt he needed some improvement and as part of the reading and writing workshops that we're now running throughout the week, and asked if we could help him out. I had a chat with about getting a book or something to read, asking what kind of stuff he'd be interested in and in the end we decided to settle on The Hobbit. This is one of my favourite books, so to be able to share it with him was a really amazing thing for me. Basically I just sat by him and helped him as he read the book out loud, but Stephen really seemed to enjoy it and we've been reading a bit more since, just slowly working our way through it. I was worried that he might have a bit of trouble but he hasn't needed a lot of prompting and he reads pretty well.

The dive boat
The next day (Wednesday) was my day off, and finally my days off and the weather had combined to make it possible for me to go diving. I was diving with a company called Lady G'Diver, who operate out of the Errol Flynn Marina in the western harbour of Port Anotnio. The company is run by a husband and wife team, called Steve and Jan respectively, and it was Jan who took me diving. Jan turned out to be a really nice lady, with a whole host of stories. Apparently she'd been teaching SCUBA diving in Jamaica for 40 years, and also trained the British army in SCUBA diving throughout the year as well as running the dive shop.

I was a little tentative getting in the water as it had been a year since I last went diving, but I was pleasantly surprised that I seemed to slip back into it pretty easily. I was buddied up with Jan, while a British couple that we'd picked up near Blue Lagoon were also diving with us as a pair. The first dive was off the coast of a massive piece of land that is apparently owned by the Hapsburg family, and we went down to about 21 metres and cruised around a number of large reefs. There wasn't a huge amount of large sea life (owing to overfishing), however there were still lots of nice little fish, lobsters and some wonderful coral. I also saw a couple of very large crabs (surprise surprise).

Lionfish (I can't take credit for this photo though as my camera doesn't actually work underwater)
One aspect of the dive that I found very interesting was the presence of a huge number of Lionfish, a really beautiful fish that a lot of people consider themselves extremely lucky to see in parts of Australia. However the lionfish is actually a terrible, introduced pest in Jamaica and is decimating what sea life is left on the reefs surrounding the island as they have no predators and are aggressive hunters. The end result was that every time we saw one, Jan would spear it and put it in a bag to take home to eat (apparently they're quite delicious). I suppose to a lot of people this might seem like something bordering on sacrilege but I guess given the impact that the cane toad has had in Australia I can totally understand it.

After a surface interval spent lounging on the deck of one of the amazing villas near Blue Lagoon, we headed back out for our second dive of the day. This time round we saw more fish and lobsters as well as big eagle ray and a pretty cool eel. I was very pleased that at the end of the dive Jan told me she thought I was a very good diver, and I'm really looking forward to going out again, apparently there are some really awesome drop offs near Port Antonio that I'd love to check out.
Cliff chill spot
On a bit of a high after my awesome day diving, I returned to the resort, picking up a jerk chicken sausage on the way and heading to my favourite chill spot on the cliffs, to unwind a bit. Its here that I have to back track a little bit and introduce the character of Adam. Adam is a guy from Wisconsin who is also staying at the resort, and getting to know him has proven a pretty cool experience. Basically, although at first he seemed a pretty quiet and unassuming guy, after a few conversations he turned out to be this crazy awesome saxophone playing, music producing, spiritual guy who was awesome fun to hang out with. He was hell excited because he was going to Moore Town to go and be present at a 'Music Room.'

Basically the story behind this is that there were communities of escaped slaves in Jamaica following the Spanish, and later British, occupation who are collectively called 'Maroons.' Unlike the rest of Jamaica they don't really practice Christianity. Their religion is much closer to the African religions that the people would have practised prior to their enslavement. Details are pretty sketchy on what actually goes on in the Music Room (the Maroons are quite secretive) but apparently it involves a lot of drumming, resurrection of the dead, possession and lots of voodoo elements. Given the secrecy of the Maroons, the fact that he was going to be allowed to witness it was a really big deal.

I suppose the point of the story is to highlight one of the things that I love most about travelling. The ability to run into and spend time with really fascinating people that you never would have otherwise been able to meet is definitely one of the main reasons I keep travelling.

My next big piece of news also arrived on Wednesday, when Gayleon came up out of the blue and told me that I'd be DJing with him and his soundsystem, Carib Sound, on Saturday. What followed was a frantic three days as I desperately tried to get hold of enough suitable music to play (house music isn't that big in Jamaica as it turns out), and is the main reason that this blog post is a few days late. Unfortunately though, owing to a torrential downpour on Saturday afternoon and evening, the gig has had to be postponed until this coming Saturday. It's a slight relief as it gives me more time to find even more music, but I'd been so psyched up by Saturday evening that it seemed a real shame to have had to postpone...

Other than that everything has been going pretty well, Saturday night turned out to be good fun anyway, as we just went to Gayleon's cousin's bar in Fairy Hill and drank there for a while before convincing her to close early and come party with us a bit further up the road. Sunday was the (now standard) recovery session at Winifred beach, complete with coconut rum, jerk chicken and Red Stripe. I'm working the afternoon shift for the next couple of days so if anyone would like to Skype at around 10pm Perth time for the next couple of days, hit me up at iain.gately

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