Unforgettable-- Christmas 2009(之三)


(From Teacher Mark)

Arleen suddenly came to the conclusion that maybe her friend couldn't make it for some reason and had sent a taxi to come pick her up. She began scanning the taxi drivers for a sign with her name on it. There it was. She went to talk with the guy and seemed relieved until she realized that she still had me to deal with. The taxi driver listened as she explained my predicament. He said he could take me into the town to find a bank and then we could try to look around for a cheap hotel. We loaded our stuff into the back and climbed in. The middle of town was about four kilometres from the airport and the road climbed up a hill with a breathtaking view of the bay. I snapped a bunch of pictures realizing that my time here could be limited if I didn't get some money asap. Arleen told me that if we couldn't find a bank, she would give me the hundred US she had on her and I could wire the money back to her when I got back to Canada. I appreciated her kindness. When we got a ways into town, I was surprised to see a sign for Scotia Bank. I told the driver to stop there and I ran in. The Canadian banking system is the best in the world and I knew that if a Canadian bank wouldn't work, then nothing would. It worked...just as easy as if I was back in Calgary. I came out smiling carrying a wad of Jamaican dollars. The driver said he saw a hotel on the way that he thought might be cheap, so we made our way back about two kilometres. We pulled up to the hotel and the driver and Arleen got out and started talking to a group of guys in Patois. After a few minutes she returned and gave me the run down. "Okay, this place will be pretty reasonable...the driver told them that I was his sister and you were my fiance. They'll give you a room for 3000j." I laughed and thanked her for using her cultural insight to get me a better price. I figured that would be about forty bucks and it would at least buy me a night to mull over my options. I gave the taxi driver 1000j for going out of his way for me and thanked Arleen profusely for her kindness. Waving goodbye, I followed the man to my room. He was a tall skinny man with dreads and a way about him that seemed to sum up the Jamaican stereotype. He led me up a tall wooden staircase to my room and gave me the key. The doors to all the rooms exited directly out the back of the hotel and every room had a balcony out front which overlooked the bay. The room was quite big and had a single bed, a double bed, a small bathroom, and a small kitchenette. There were several posters of Jamaican bikini girls on the walls which I presume is typical for a zero star hotel. I told the guy I would pay him for one night then decide tomorrow if I wanted to spend another night. I pulled out 3000 and handed it to him. He looked at me and told me 3500. I paused for a few seconds then realized it probably wasn't worth arguing over ten bucks....especially considering that my Jamaican support team had driven away moments earlier. I closed the door after him and dropped my bags onto the bed.

With no internet, no food, and no drinking water, I decided that venturing downtown would be a good idea. I followed the reggae music for about fifteen minutes until I found myself on the Hip Strip. It was a more touristy part of town with lots of little shops and restaurants. By this time, it was about 5pm and I was getting pretty hungry. Arleen had told me that I needed to eat jerk chicken while I was here so I asked a shopkeeper and she pointed me to the Pork Pit about thirty yards away. I found my way inside and ordered a quarter jerk chicken with a mango juice. There were two large brick stoves outside where a man was roasting about two hundred chickens. I took him the receipt and he gave me my chicken. It was absolutely delicious - especially when lathered with pink ketchup. Being as thirsty as I was, I cracked open the "Bigga Mango" and downed about half the bottle. For some reason, the soft drinks in developing countries seem to have more character than they do in North America. I remember reading an article that said soft drinks in India and a few other countries contained thirty-six times the level of pesticide residues than were permitted under European Union regulations. "That must be the secret", I thought to myself. The sun had completely disappeared behind the beautiful blue ocean and I figured I should probably make my way back up the hill before all the drug dealers would surface for the night.

The next morning, I woke up with a killer headache. I knew the exact cause and solution to the problem. Water and Coffee. I was very dehydrated because I didn't have any drinking water with me and wasn't sure if the tap water was safe to drink. My body had also become accustomed to drinking coffee every morning for the past three months. "Great", I said as I realized I would have to ponder my options with a barely functioning brain. The problem was...I didn't really have any options because I didn't want to spend money on a nicer hotel but I didn't want to stay any longer at this hotel either. I could try to get to a different part of the island but then I would not only be stuck with finding reasonable accommodations, but I'd be far from the airport (which I viewed as my beacon of hope if things got rough). I figured a cold shower and tall glass of amoeba water might inspire me. It didn't. After staring at a gecko for a few minutes, I decided to cut my losses and go to the airport and fly home. It was mid morning and the quarter chicken had obviously worn off by this time. Suddenly I remembered that I still had half a sandwich from Second Cup in my carryon. My delight turned to horror when I realized that an army of tiny ants had found my sandwich first. I chucked out the sandwich and tried to shake all the ants out of my bag. I loaded everything back into the bag, left the key beside the sink, and bid farewell to the worst hotel in the world. I began my two kilometre trek down the narrow highway, hoping that I wouldn't get clipped by a crazy Jamaican driver. Even though going to the airport seemed to be the most prudent option, I knew I still needed to get a hold of Westjet to change my flight which might be easier said than done. I didn't have the number for Westjet, and the Sangster International Airport didn't have internet, which I had found out the day before. Plus, I was pretty sure Westjet would probably contract their work out to a local company to manage their affairs on the Jamaica end, so I wouldn't even be able to talk with a Westjet employee.

I made it to the airport drenched in sweat and walked all the way to the opposite end where I saw the Westjet check in. Luckily, the CSA had a number for Westjet and let me use his cell phone to call them. I dialed the number and it began to ring. "Thankyou for calling the Westjet travel line. Our office is closed for the day." "Give me a break!" I said, handing the phone back to the man, "Now I'm completely screwed". I decided to mitigate my frustration by satisfying my three pressing physiological needs - food, water, and coffee. I walked into the only restaurant in the airport and ordered a jerk burger, coffee, and two bottles of mineral water. As I downed my food, I tried to come to terms with the fact that I wasn't getting on the plane leaving in two hours. The airport certainly wouldn't be the most ideal place to spend the night, seeing as it didn't even have a water fountain (and here I thought Winnipeg was bad!)

There was only one idea left in my mind which I thought would be far fetched at best. I knew Youth With A Mission had a base here Montego Bay because my cousin had been here several years back. If I could somehow get in touch with them and if they were open over the holidays, I thought they might welcome me in. I went to the information booth and asked the woman if she had internet. She did. "Can you find me a number for Youth With A Mission here in Montego Bay?" I asked. She found a number online and picked up the phone to call it. "No answer", she said, "I have their address here though". She wrote down the address and handed me the slip of paper. I thanked her and made my way toward the mob of cab drivers. A woman with blue pants quoted me the best price so I chucked my bags in the back of her van and climbed in. When it comes to initiating conversation with someone, I usually employ a three question rule. I'll ask someone three generic questions and if they don't reciprocate, then I'll let the conversation die. "So, have you lived in Montego Bay your whole life?"...."Yes". I hate one-word answers and whether it was her body odor or my increasing fatigue, I let the conversation die right there.

As I gazed at the bay glistening in the sunlight below, I realized that adventure is largely based on uncertainty. I wondered what adventures would come my way in the years to come....the minutes to come. All I could do was hope for the best.

1)bent over backwards (for):竭尽全力
2)strike up a conversation:开始谈话;建立友谊
3)whip out:突然拿出
4)get its act together:organize yourself and start behaving in a proper way 有条理安排事物
5)get through to:使理解,打通电话
6)whisk away:快速移走,拂去
7)be stuck with:遇到困难无法进行下去,无法摆脱
8)but then:不过,然而,但另一方面
9)get a hold of:得到联系
10)come to terms with:妥协,达成协议,让步
11)bring back:使回想起,恢复

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