The 12 hour 4 hour Road trip:
So I asked a couple of my drivers the cost of a round trip to Clarendon, the price to me wasn't bad, but it was vetoed as too much for my travel companion, they figured we could take the route taxi route, me" how long will this trip take, how many routes will we have to take and I am not in the mood to be squished nor to squish. Lets rent a car, this way we can stay all weekend and have transpo to get around while there", he "it should take 4 to 5 hours, 3 different routes, you don't have to be squished you can buy the whole front seat at double the price. We just wait till one is empty and you get in. but the idea about staying the weekend sounds good, make the call". Now, the people I hang out with, do things the Jamaican way, no Hertz or Avis car rental, there is always a somebody with something to sell or rent.
My yardmate has a number for everyone in Negril that has a service, or something to sell, he is my go to guy, he gave me the number of his car guy a deal was made, it's on.
Friday evening they drop the car off, I take pictures of the car before I even touched it, inside and out. Turns out this was a good idea. Its an old Toyota, but in good shape, clean, and at that point dent free. Saturday morning we load up, get gas and we are on our way. But.........in my excitement I had phoned my girlfriend who was at work in Trelawny to find out if she wanted a ride home, her family is also from the area we were going. For those of you who have gone from Negril to Kingston, you know this was a bad mistake, I added extra hours to a trip, that is my first time driving in Jamaica and due to silliness on her, and my part for me it turned out to be a pretty stressful ride/drive.
We get there she has just finished cleaning and needs a minute to exhale, for me no problem, for him, first sign of a problem, he goes over to Leroy's on the beach for a drink, let the likkle women catch up. After sitting drinking cold drinks and talking for about an hour we don't notice the time until he comes back into the house gives me a look and starts taking her bags to the car. Now mind you I am a good driver, but I have never driven here and this is a whole nother set of driving rules.
1. drive close to the white line.
2. stay off the edge, because if something happens you have no place to go, but off the road and into a ditch!!!!!!!!!
3. drive as fast as you can while going around pot holes while you watch the pot holes and the on coming traffic that you are going into because you have to stay off the side of the road!!!!!!!!
4. NEVER EVER stay behind the car in front, you must go into on going traffic so that you can get in front of the guy, because the guy behind you wants your space. You must weave in and out of traffic, but stay off the side of the damn road!!!!!!!!!!!
5. if you are first one behind a truck you must go around it, because see that long line of cars behind you, they are pissed and they are armed, and they want your space so that they can get around the slow a-- truck!!!!!!!!!!
All these instructions just from Negril to Trelawny and to me this was the easiest route to drive. Now believe me when I say, I just assumed one of them at a point would take a turn behind the wheel as we merrily went home singing, driving, talking and eating our way to Clarendon. NO!! not to be all on me!!!!!!
I figured a pit stop for drinks and food in Ochii at the Jerk chicken rest stop, and I would be the copilot. We got our food, I am heading to the passenger seat, they both looked at me as though I had lost my mind. Not Fair, tough, drive. Originally they were going to take me on another route but because of the lateness of the hour and the unknown shape of the road that way, we took the longer way around and went through Ochi, Fern Gully, Walkerswood, Mongeau, beautiful towns, a beautiful route,Me,' we won't be going into any mountains will we cause I am afraid and nervous", she" no sister you are doing fine, you know I am loving riding with you, you are such a good driver", he" Yeah Baby just take your time but could you remember to stay the hell off the side of the road !!!!!!!!!!you're doing good."
The good thing is that I had rode this route many times before in cars sightseeing, and on the Knutsford going to Kingston, so even though this was a beautiful route and I would have enjoyed it, I could only look at the road and try to stay close to the white line,( when there was one) stay off the edge of whatever hill I was on, watch out for the pot holes, and never get stuck behind another car and definitely not a slow moving truck. Well at some point I found a truck got behind him and exhaled, I figured the only way to destress was to get behind someone going slower that me and keep pace. They glanced back after a point and there were at least 5 cars trailing behind me, with no way to go around. When we got off that hill, and the cars could pass, the looks we got, funny thing when they realised it was a woman driving seems like they all had a look that said "oh I should have know, a woman!"
By now it's getting dark we still have not made it to the Flat Bridge, they made this big deal out of it, as we got to it there was a traffic jam, they put a light on it and now traffic backs up everyday for miles. When I realised where we were I say oh this is the Female Bridge, now why they didn't think I would know about it is beyond me.
They both decided no to Spanish Town so the route we took was one that in the dark, neither was familiar with so suffice it to say we got lost, now her husband was calling every 15 minutes because knowing when we left ,he knew we should have been there. I was so glad when he ran out of minutes and I got a reprieve from getting 2nd hand info from him though her along with her instructions and the stay off the side of the road in the passenger seat driver. We lucked up and asked directions from a gentleman who after realising, female driver, took it upon himself to lead us back to the right turn off and then, admonishing us to never again ask just anyone for directions, he said you never know what might happen.
We left home that morning at 9 am, we pulled into Clarendon at about 9 pm. I hated them both and swore never to do it again. We have since gone back 2 times, taking the back road, and I am still not comfortable driving Jamaican roads. But you know I will keep at it. And I will try to stay off the side of the road!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
BTW somewhere during this road trip there was a likkle damage done to the car. You guessed it, I went off the side of the road!.
Disclaimer: The rules above was my take and observation on my drive, not necessarily the rules of other sane drivers.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”