Thursday, February 16, 2012

Caribbean Scream

My parents took a trip to Jamaica when I was a little kid and dragged me along. Like a lot of things they provided, the experience was completely wasted on me.

I don't know how old I was; I'm not even sure if my sister was born yet since all I was focusing on was myself. I do know this would have been the early '70s, so the opportunity was there for all sorts of awesomeness.

Maybe Mom and Dad checked out Lee Perry mixing some dub plates at the Black Ark:

Perhaps they listened to this guy's bad-ass mobile sound system:

Maybe they ate some curried goat or jerk chicken. Actually, knowing my dad, I'm sure he ate some goat and chicken.

I don't remember that much about the trip. I remember eating ice cream and watching Tom and Jerry. I remember swimming with my dad and walking on a deserted beach early in the morning. I remember seeing women balancing stuff on their heads at some market. And I remember being in a state of sheer terror for the entire trip.

It was my first plane ride and I was pretty excited. While we were up in the air (we were up in the air!) I took out an in-flight magazine about this place my parents were taking me. There was a black and white photo of some strange ladies dancing around. I read the caption: "Witchcraft and Voodoo Abound in Jamaica."

Holy crap.

I loved reading about ghosts, monsters, witches, anything creepy. I never really got too scared, because I knew all that stuff was made up. But this was an actual photograph. In a magazine. For adults.

My parents were taking me to a place where witches roamed the streets, secure enough in their evil that they didn't even mind being photographed.

That's when I started to think that my parents were actively trying to kill me.

At some point we went to some caves. Here's a picture I stole off the internet:

I remember my parents telling me about these caves. Those things sounded awesome! I was gonna go into a cave! There was probably treasure and pirates and stuff down there. And bats! There were totally gonna be bats in that cave! Man, was I gonna explore the hell out of that cave. I wonder how long my parents would let me hang out down there? Couple days ought to give me enough time to fully explore the place and get my fill of treasure.

Once we got to the caves I refused to take a step inside.

I don't know what sort of cave I was expecting, but this was clearly not it. This wasn't a cool pirate cave, this was a home for witches and mummies, just waiting to put me in some Jamaican stew or ... whatever it was mummies did to little kids.

There's also a picture at my parent's house somewhere of me grasping a waterslide for dear life, my face red and contorted, because I saw a ton of spiky sea urchins waiting to impale and poison me under the water.

This was probably the beginning of my shaky history with vacations. It was probably also the beginning of my parents considering leaving their fraidy-cat kids at home while they went on vacation.

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