Welcome to Jamaica

We were shortly surrounded by warm, caring people asking our situation and how they could help. Far cry from the cold response of Curacao. The marina called all the authorities we needed to see and they all visited the boat. We found that amazing considering we had to run around all over the island looking for people in Curacao.

The first visit was from the Health Authority, after which we could take down our Q flag. I went up to the main building then and found some emergency supplies (beer and cigarettes) and a Jamaica flag. We seemed to have every flag of the Caribbean except Jamaica. The yacht club has a lovely little terrace bar area and the bartender, Chris, is a love. He was so patient with my lack of knowledge of Jamaican dollars and all my questions. When I explained our situation, he called over a couple of guys that quickly understood the problems and offered to help. Luther and Paul explained that this was pretty much the best marina around to effect our repairs and that they would help us find a spot. This place is full to the brim but we couldn’t stay at the fuel dock for more than just the night.

Customs arrived next and Immigration a little while later. In between were all manners of other sailors and locals that came to welcome us and offer whatever assistance we needed. There was no weather here at all but they knew of the storm we went through. They all said to wait til morning and talk with Miss Pat (Yap-chung), the Yacht Club Manager, that she would be able to find us a spot.

First thing in the morning, Luther showed up with Chris who climbed the mast and was able to fish out the cable. The main sail was hooked back up, the lazy jack fixed and all was well in no time. Then Chris captained us around to our new home.

We ended up in a fine spot just outside the main marina, all to ourselves (better breeze too J) and with power hooked up. Luther and Jean-Marie worked on the engine and had it fixed the next day, after a trip to town to get new filters and a bunch of other parts. Turns out the whole main problem was really really REALLY dirty fuel. Once pumped out, and while emptying the filters, we let it settle in a little bucket to have a good look. There was approx ¼ inch of clean fuel on the top of 5 inches of sludge. No wonder the poor thing wouldn’t run.

The bilge pump problem turned out to be the float switch had let loose from the bottom. We put it back onto the plate, resunk the plate, rewired the pump and all is well there.

None of the problems turned out to be a huge fix, all simple stuff, but they all happened at once and they were all connected to one another somehow. Once they all happened, everything went to hell in a handbasket.

Thursday night we went into Port Royal to have dinner at Gloria’s. THE best seafood you’ll ever taste! We had lobster (mine in garlic, JM’s in curry) and brought over half of it home in a doggy box. Jean-Marie made lobster omelette the next morning with the leftovers. While there, we were trying to find a table in a packed house along with another family so mutually decided to share a spot. That turned out to be the highlight of the evening, even more than the food. Ian and Nicole, and Nicole’s aunt Olive, were such super nice people. Oh, we talked and laughed and talked and laughed some more. When it came time to leave, they gave us a ride back to the marina. They repeated what we had been told: that the bus was too dangerous at night, as well as the mile walk back up the hill from the road, and we shouldn’t trust a cab too much unless we had the marina book it.

Olive: Have a most wonderful visit with your family here and a safe trip home after Christmas.

Ian and Nicole: Thank you so much for everything: the conversation, the ride, the warmth you showed us. Merry Christmas!

Saturday was chore day, and Luther set us up with transportation. We thought Geoffrey was just giving us a ride into Harbourview to get groceries. Well, let me tell you…..he turned out to be a great ‘tour guide’ and our excursion lasted hours – not a ‘chore’ at all! He went through the supermarket with us, helped to find things and made some suggestions that we would never have thought of. Then he took us to toodle around Kingston a bit – we went down what is called Gaza Strip which is one street that divides political factions in much the same way as gangs or druglord territories are divided. It was incredible to think that there was such a strict ‘line in the sand’ that wasn’t created by drugs or guns. We stopped at the statue of Bob Marley (!!! J) then took a wander through lovely Emancipation Park. It is an oasis of beauty, not so much manicured as neat and tidy, with a running track through it and an outdoor amphitheatre in the middle.

Along the way from ‘business’ Kingston we passed various schools, prep schools, the College of Arts and Design, the Teachers College, the Mico University College, the Bushamante Hospital for Children, the Park of World Heroes, the Stadium – both indoor and outdoor. It surprised me a little the amount of education and cultural outlets there are in Jamaica, all kinds of stuff you never hear about and wouldn’t even consider.

We headed down to what was described as ‘ghetto Kingston’ which turned out to be a bazaar-type section that was teeming, absolutely swarming, with people. Little shops line narrow streets with the sidewalks packed full of wares and everything from soup to nuts can be found here. The merchandise takes up so much room the people can only walk on the street. The car was surrounded most of the time by shoppers and lookers that we literally crawled along. But what was remarkable was the lack of shouting or hollering, the lack of anger or frustration – the loudest sounds were the music and laughter and calling of the shopkeepers.

On the way back to the marina, we stopped at “Tastee” and had beef patties for lunch with Geoffrey. OMG!! You have got to try these things! Ground beef (or chicken) with spices, wrapped in a light pastry and baked. They look like a Cornish pasty, they taste similar to a Quebec tortiere but they have a subtle little difference that is totally Jamaican.

Debbie helped me with my laundry this afternoon, the two of us yakking away whilst working. I don’t know her position here at the marina so I just call her ‘angel’.

All of that, with a dip in the pool to cool off, made the day just wonderful.


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