Carl the Dog

Miles and Amelia like to read about the adventures of Carl the Dog — Carl babysits and the baby rides on his back — madcap hijinx ensue. In front of Clarissa’s house is a life-sized dog sculpture that looks much like Carl. Miles immediately climbed up on his back, so delighted. Thereafter we could not pass the sculpture without Miles taking a “ride” on Carl.

The vista from the veranda here is so wide you can see the curvature of the earth on the sea — I’ve only seen this before when out on the open ocean. Stunning.

Ventured out of the tourist part of Mobay towards downtown for diapers. A wake-up call to experience the non-natural side of Jamaica. Reminded me of the worst parts of LA or Oakland. Garbage and hustle and heavily polluted riverbed full of garbage, man bathing naked in the filth. A general downtown selection of stores, and in the midst of it all, KFC and Burger King and the like. Americans come to Jamaica and eat jerk chicken, Jamaicans eat the KFC. Not all of course – I met several who said they resented the presence of the American chains and called their food “disgusting.” But I saw plenty of Jamaicans entering their doors.

Another so-called craft fair – again everything the same, booth after booth of the same carvings, tee-shirts, ash trays, cookie-cutter paintings. We asked one vendor about this and she said “If we try to sell something unique, all the other vendors will get and sell the same thing the next day.”

Hustlers often play psychological cards, or the race angle. They stretch out a hand for a handshake, call you brother, say “Respeck.” If you don’t shake their hand, you may get: “What, you too good to shake hands with a black man?” But if you stop to talk there’s almost always a pitch. At the same time, you don’t want to close down bc you miss out meeting people — and we met some very cool people. After a while you learn to master the art of being friendly and open but also guarded and firm. That seems to work.

At age 40 saw greatest sunset of my life from deck of a restaurant just down the street from Polvista, called Tapas. Which doesn’t serve tapas. They had tried to sell tapas, but Jamaicans weren’t interested. The owner went to great lengths to import Spanish olives, but everyone just pushed the olives to the sides of their plates. So they started serving nouvelle instead (we had smoked marlin w cream cheese, baked tilapia, filet mignon, carmelized banana w vanilla ice cream and brandy). Anyway, in Jamaica clouds often form in pillars as hot tropical air rises in pockets. From deck of Tapas a single masssive misshapen pillar rose in front of sun. Sky was simply immense, colors impossible. No words. Of course I had no camera on me.

Miles an energy ball during dinner. Six yr old Jamaican boy offered to play w him but M got scared. We took turns eating and playing w him. Then a moment to remember: A wall w painted, recessed holes held objets d’art — stone buddhas, clay urns, figurines… Suddenly a hand darted in and out of one of the holes. Then long pause, and a few fingers wiggled in another, across the wall. One object disappeared then reappeared. A spontaneous magic show run by the boy. The resourcefulness of an only child making his own fun in the hills of Jamaica. Pure magic. As the invisible performer did his trick for Miles, wild chameleons darted across and blended into the wallscape.

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