Absolutely nothing happened on Day 3, but it will still probably take me three pages to write about it. We all slept in, and were occasionally awakened by the sound of sweeping: Harold and Mark sweeping the walkway behind our room, Harold sweeping the sand on the beach, Marcy sweeping the porch next door. We’d wake up for a minute, and then doze awhile longer, and the sweeping was sort of like a Jamaican snooze alarm. My wife took a peek out the window and thought she saw Mark and Harold watching our door, wondering what had become of us.
We finally emerged in time to say goodbye to the departing family, and Dennis, who was taking them to the airport in MoBay. Once he was sure we were up, Mark appeared at our room with a big bag of bananas and guineps he had picked in his own yard that morning. He showed us how to break the skin of a guinep with a fingernail and suck out the fruit. I thought they tasted good, but left a cottony dry aftertaste. The bananas, however, were delicious.
Although there are no TVs in the rooms, there are several at the bar. These are all connected to a satellite decoder through a possibly illegal computer chip. The chip wasn’t working well, and Al had decided to go into Negril to replace it. He would also pick up some provisions and go to the bank. I asked him to get some change in US$ for me and he was happy to oblige.
Marcy was our housekeeper for the day, and she was happy to sit down and take a break in our air-conditioned room. Soon she was joined by Myrna, who was one of the cooks. Marcy is much more than just a maid. She gives massages on the beach, and braids hair there as well. She also did our laundry for us, taking it at the end of the day and returning it two days later, neatly folded and whiter than ever. We had already noticed on our way to Negril that the laundry we saw hanging out to dry in Jamaicans yards was whiter than any we saw in the states, and speculated that the secret must be in washing the clothes on a rock in a stream, as we saw some women doing. I don’t know how Marcy did ours, but she only charged $2 a pound. Myrna was particularly interested in my wife’s story of how a friend had seen Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley in the Bahamas. She seemed to know all of the latest movies, but I hadn’t seen a theatre anywhere near. Maybe Myrna had an illegal chip, too.
The day seemed to slip slowly by. Nothing much happens in Hope Wharf, and nobody wishes that it would. We had mentioned to Karel that we might like to go into Negril for the evening, maybe do a little duty-free shopping or eat on the Cliffs …but… Dennis never came back from his Airport run, and we didn’t feel like getting another driver…so… So, before we know it, everyone’s gathered at the bar/restaurant, eating or preparing to eat dinner. By everyone I mean Beth (white wine and paperback), her daughters (who flit back and forth between their table, behind the bar, and their rooms upstairs), Courtney, his friend Boy George (who’s real name is Lloyd), the two remaining guest families, and of course our waiter Romy. At some point in the evening, Al returns with the TV chip, and some change for me. It’s also quite obvious that Al has stopped by the Pickled Parrot before returning from his daily errands in Negril. He seems very pleased with his day’s work, and with the TV. He and my son spend most of the evening watching baseball, a little piece of home for both of them.
I’m trying hard to capture the warm glow that seems to descend on this little restaurant in the evening, but it’s hard to put into words. The night is so dark, and the town is so quiet, that little bits of light or laughter seem magnified somehow. Boy George plays the card game War with my young daughter for what seems like hours. Romy teaches my son card tricks. My wife and I climb the spiral stairs to the roof, where more tables and chairs stand ready for guests that aren’t arriving. But who needs more people? From here you can see and hear everything, the lights of a ship out on the horizon, the stars spread above like a blanket of fairy dust, the muffled sounds of glasses clinking and people laughing, the backslaps and high fives when another run scores.
At some point in the evening, Steve returns from his fishing trip, and has Martin and Burra bring in his catch to show Beth what a good man she married, as I’m sure he’s done a thousand times before. He’s bagged a barracuda and a few big tuna. We take a picture of my son holding the barracuda, but the tuna disappear as quickly as they arrived. A little while later, Steve is beating us all at Rummy, much to Courtney’s dismay, when a big plate of tuna sushi arrives at the community card table, with wasabi and soy sauce for dipping. Is there anywhere else in the world where you can get sushi this fresh? And for free?
My wife has had it with the baseball and cards, and suggests that we start a volleyball game. We leave Steve, Beth and Al to talk business (although I’m not sure Al is too capable of that after his excursion), and we walk onto the beach to play. After chasing the land crabs off of our lighted playing area, we quickly discover that the only people who are even remotely able to play this game are Courtney and Boy George. Since they are on two different sides, the teams are pretty evenly matched. Despite a few interruptions from wrestling dogs, the game progresses well until Al decides to join us. The first time he serves, he falls flat on his face in the sand. That pretty much ends the game. We had agreed to join the other family on their trip to Mayfield Falls tomorrow, and somehow my wife has asked the two daughters (Sara and Molly), Boy George, and Courtney along as well. So it was time for all of us to get to bed. I’d just have to call the office tomorrow.