Wild Jamaica

My new skin was a spry man with slender features, sunken, wily eyes, an onion crown of dreaded hair, and lips and skin patchy with dark spots. His voice was calm and steady though, but couldn’t mask his cunning, a fact that I made plain and present to him as the gritty sand between our toes. I had not only seen this hustle in Jamaica but in New Orleans as well and I wouldn’t be had again. We eventually began to share stories of life and in particular the beach. He worked here to hustle, selling his various wares, as well as acting as a scout for a nearby tiki shack. He ultimately wanted to be my guide for the day, to show some of the best parts of the beach to photograph. I declined because I had Alton after all, but did agree to let him show me where to find my coconut. It turns out that he sold them himself. After a bit of dancing around the sale, we made our way around to the side of his tiki. We were in plain view, we were invisible. It wasn’t lost on me that he could’ve declined the sale altogether and ask for my wallet. Instead, he ran to the back and grabbed a rusted, yet incredibly sharp machete and in one swooping motion, sliced the top of a coconut and gave it to me. We agreed upon $5 dollars after some prodding. I gave him a $10 and he gave me J$5000. I immediately pushed back on this. This wasn’t proper change, but he had the machete in his hand and I didn’t. I wasn’t going to squabble over the change (even though I wanted to). Coconut in hand, I made my way back towards the tequila hut to try and find my folks, but they were nowhere to be found. I took a sip. Albeit a pinch warm, the coconut was indeed good. I’d never had one and felt that I was getting a morsel of the native Jamaican experience, however little it was. As I walked, one by one I gathered everyone and explained the coconut, awkwardly, and then made our way back towards the car.