11 Days in Jamaica – Day 5

Ocho Rios - (c) Stan Thomas/Kanale Creations


Monday June 18, 2007

Leroy and I went into town after breakfast to look for souvenirs. This was his first trip to Jamaica and he wanted to go into town with someone who had been before. Years ago I had learned not to dress like a tourist when walking around outside the hotel. It may have worked too well this time; when we tried to enter one of the stores, one of the clerks blocked the doorway and was obviously reluctant to let us in. I realized later that almost all of the shopkeepers we visited that day followed us quite closely while we were in their stores.

While shopping, Leroy found a few things he liked and bought them. I found a polo shirt with the national flag of Jamaica. There’s something about that flag… I also saw this slammin’ hat that I just had to have. I knew if I didn’t buy it I’d be kicking myself until next year.

About a mile from the hotel is the Taj Mahal. Only a handful of people were there when we arrived, which meant we weren’t rushed; a rare experience in such a well-known tourist spot. That was short-lived. Almost on cue half a dozen tour busses and shuttle vans pulled up and disgorged their passengers. Time to leave.

On the way back we passed the mall next to the craft market. It had another row of shops in back, well off the street. In the five times I’ve been here I had never ventured to see what was back there. Leroy was game so we headed down the walkway. For a minute I thought I was walking down Degnan Aveune in Leimert Park back home. Here were shops with art work, furniture, fabrics, a bookstore, a printer/graphic designer, and more. I didn’t see any tourists. I could’ve hung around here for hours.

Our second performance at the hotel was during dinner. If we can start early enough, which we did this evening, we’d be able to do the gig, put our axes away, and come back down for dinner with plenty of time to enjoy it. Some of the guys like to eat during the break. Although I want to, I usually hold off until after the gig. Eating that close to playing affects the amount of air I can blow through the horn. And that baritone takes a LOT of air. Besides, you run the risk of blowing food particles into the instruments. If you’ve eaten onions or garlic (or both), you can image what will happen to your mouthpiece.

Not much else was going on so I went back up to the room for the night.


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