And so off we went, into the hills of St. Ann's Parish to the town of Nine Mile. I had eaten my man Junior's ganja cake for breakfast just to get me off on the right foot and was feeling pretty good by the time i got on the bus at 8AM. The ride itself was an adventure as we traveled up the side of a mountain with steep drop-offs and little to no guard rails, blind turns where the driver was honking the horn to alert anyone coming the opposite way on the other side, of course those turns usually involved the steepest drops but luckily the road wasn't busy since this part of Jamaica was pretty much void of tourism. Alone, i got to think as i watched the gorgeous Jamaican countryside slide by, i listened to Annabeth talk, she told us the average wage in Jamaica was $52 a week and that most people lived off tips, there is almost no welfare and no unemployment benefit, people scrambled for jobs that tipped because that was the best way to earn money even though taxes were relatively low. She talked of how the banks were a scam (seems to be like that everywhere) and the reason you saw half built houses everywhere was because Jamaicans didn't take out loans or mortgages (interest rates could fluctuate to upwards of 60%), they built the kitchen, bathroom and one room to sleep in first and built the rest as they could afford to, which did make for some interesting looking places. She told us about the Corner Shops, the little shacks we saw where she explained that you could get everything from motor oil, to eggs, to thread. You bought only what you needed or had money for, say one egg and a slice of bread and possibly a sausage to take home and make for breakfast. She was also pulling for Argentina in the World Cup
She informed us that when we got to Nine Mile the bus would stop and we could buy joints or bags of weed, brownies aka ganja cake, and ganja tea (which could be made mild, medium, strong or extra strong, which got my wondering who bought the first three). The tea would be given to you when you left and was brewed there while you took the tour. Since joints were $15 each or two for $20 i went with two, Bob's favorite sensimilla and a fine purple skunk plus a fat slice of ganja cake that lasted me two days. Nine Mile is a typical Jamaican village. The young boys swarm when the bus stops all begging for dollars, the Marley place has easily become the town's economic engine and is run by the local Rastafari. The site of Bob Marley's birthplace and tomb are the only places in Jamaica where it was currently legal to smoke weed, that said in Jamaica the plant has been decriminalized and it's legal for a family to grow up to five plants.
There is a heavy local Rasta presence inside, the guide told us you couldn't buy weed in the compound but every time i turned around someone was offering it. A particularly menacing fellow offered my some pineapple kush, by this time being as blasted as i was i politely declined but now and then he'd shoot me a look and i about bought some just to make him happy. Another Rasta held a half dozen stalks of the Blue Mountain sensi in one hand and a machete in the other, he smiled and in patois told us it was fresh from the mountain as he pointed with the machete towards the hills above the place, i have no doubt it was harvested from up that hill and the stalks were a sight to behold for an old head. Bob had moved back to this place for a bit after stints in both Kingston and the States, he built the little stone house and wrote the lyrics to Talkin Blues from a stone that was right behind the place, i laughed at the fact everyone kept sitting on the stone and facing the wrong direction, i immediately took a step to see what Bob was looking at, the opposite direction that opened up to the hills and valleys, a sea of green bathed in sunlight. After he became the world famous singer it to this little house where he would come to escape and think. (His main residence being at Hope Road in Kingston.)
While outside i had begun eating some of the ganja cake, Annabeth was laughing at me as she told two women from Philly to hold off on eating it until the tour was over, as i stood grinning at the guide and putting a nice chunk in my mouth she said, somehow i think you'll be alright though. Inside i started on the gigantic joint of sensimilla, a strong and heady strain, i listened to the Rasta and studied the photos and hand written notes from his children and grandchildren, from Rita and his mother, we filed into his tomb one by one, the once huge joint dwindling, i walked slowly around the cold marble, a lit candle to honor the Rastafari religion, the smoke drifting up, at the door you blow out your candle and leave it.
By this time i was so high i was lost in my own thoughts. I think everyone was as the bus ride back down was quiet. I gazed out the window at our descent from the hills and towards the lowlands and beach and nibbled at my piece of cake. The bus pulled into Scotchies and we got out for our lunch of jerk chicken and red beans and rice. There was no need to process the day, as the man once sang, he who feel it/ know it, it was a feeling that i took away, some might wonder how a man with such a cloudy head could see things so clear but that's how it was, things came into focus, things felt in focus... soon we were back on he bus for the short ride back to the resort, i kept my sunglasses on and couldn't wipe the grin from my face, the first two people i saw were the boyos who came running up the beach to give a saltwater infused hug... and that grin spread into a big smile...