Gut Rumbles
 

November 25, 2006

A genuine Jamaica story

Originally published December 31, 2003

When I went to Negril in 1977, I met a guy from Canada named Barry. He knew a lot more about the island than I did and he showed me some cool places to go. He liked my girlfriend (Cheryl) at the time and he was one interesting partner that you just meet out of the blue on a trip like that.

I learned after about three days that Barry was a dope-smuggler. That's how he financed all his trips to the island. We were sitting outside the cabins one morning, eating banana and coconut for breakfast, after a nice swim in the water, when Barry asked, "You want to go up into the mountains today?"

I said, "Sure. Why not?"

I need to learn to bite my tongue when the urge to say, "Sure. Why not?" even crosses either sphere of my brain. That shit has always gotten me in trouble.

We rode bikes up the road and onto a mountain trail that was so steep that we had to get off and push the bikes to the top. I was busy sweating and pushing my bike when I looked around and realized that I was in the middle of a field of ganja bigger than any corn-crop I ever grew. "Holy shit, Barry!" I said. "We're in the middle of a marijuana farm! Look at that stuff!"

"Yeah, I know. Just don't touch any of it," Barry replied. "We're going to go talk to the owner of the farm." We did.

This guy lived in a house with no walls. It had a roof, but the walls were like Venitian blinds that could be raised or lowered, depending on weather conditions. He was a genuine Rashta, with dreadlocks halfway down his back. He had two white girls living with him, both of whom were passed out in hammocks when we went inside. They never woke up the entire time we were there.

Barry started talking business with the guy, and all of a sudden, I see more marijuana in one place at one time than I've ever seen before in my life. That Rashta dumped a FULL GARBAGE BAG of weed on a table, and then he started cutting it up with a machete. He and Barry were yelling at each other the entire time.

I gave Cheryl a "What the fuck did we get into" look and was thinking seriously about running out the door when a rainstorm hit. The Rashta lowered his walls. He then pulled out a white paper bag, grabbed a handful of ganja and crammed it inside. I thought that Barry had made a purchase. But, no. The guy just twisted the bag into a spliff and set it on fire. I guess that there was probably over an ounce of marijuana in that joint. We smoked the whole thing.

I lost all feeling in my fingers and my eyes were seeing everything twice. I wanted to crawl into one of those hammocks the guy had hanging in his house and I was willing to kick one of the wimmen out to get there, too. I wanted to go to sleep in his pot-field. But he and Barry kept talking business.

We left after Barry made a suitable deal and walked out of that place with about five pounds of ganja. He looked like a bare-chested Santa Claus with that heap of reefer in a black plastic bag over his shoulder when we headed back down the hill.

I was fucked-up as a worm, and I had hand brakes on my bicycle. The wet red clay coated my tires and the brakes didn't work anymore. I found myself flying down that mountain on a bumpy path with a barbed wire fence on one side and a rock cliff on the other. I couldn't stop. I looked for the first place I could find to bail off that bike before I broke my fucking neck.

I found a place where the fence curved away from the path and I thought that I could land there without tangling with the barbed wire. I ditched the bike and skidded into the fence, but it didn't get me. I came out okay, glad to be alive.

Cheryl and Barry rode up about a minute later and said, "We didn't know what got into you, hauling ass like that. We thought that you were trying to race us down the hill."

"I damn sure beat you to here by about a minute," I replied. "I believe that I'll walk my bike the rest of the way down the mountain."

That's what I did. We hit the paved road, pedaled right past the Negril police station with Barry carrying a sack full of ganja, and two days later we helped to tape that stuff to his body so that he could smuggle it home. After we cleaned out all the seeds and stems and smoked a generous amount, he was carrying at least three pounds when he left.

I don't believe that you can get away with that kind of smuggling anymore. A dope-sniffing dog will get you today.

But it surely was an adventure when I played my part in 1977.

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