"Miss, you come look at my shop?”
At my elbow was a very dark woman with a neon-pink headscarf, urging me up to a second row of shacks further into the beach. I allowed myself to be led along, even though I had no money on me, and told her so. After all, I was just out for a walk, not expecting to find myself on the other side of the cracked looking-glass.
"S’okay. You just look.”
|Aboriginal Jamaicans meet Columbus,|
and the beginning of the end for them.
After perusing Pink Lady's standard wares and promising to come back with money, I walked back to the water, and made friends with the wet white dog that had greeted me earlier. She was so sweet.
A man who introduced himself as Chris leaned against his own shack and laughed as I bent down to hug the dog, who was generous with her kissing, wagging, and happy eyes. With pride in his voice, Chris told me about her puppies "back in America," taken home by a tourist last year -- as if every Caribbean dog dreamed of such an honor. I threatened to steal Xena, too.
"You steal dat dog, you break Ev-er-ee-bodee's heart on dis beach," was his solemn reply as he motioned up and down the rows. I had to laugh. With three large dogs and an untold number of cats already invading my house and porch in Philadelphia, smuggling a Jamaican fishing dog into the mix had only been my weak attempt at a joke. "I would never do that, Chris," I said as I tried to keep a straight face.
|Some of my beach friends (left, Chris [Lakers shirt], Johnny|
[straw hat], Smokey Joe [pink crocs], Ryan [far right]).*
Four or five guys who also worked on the beach walked by just then, and casually invited me to sit and have a drink with them. They look surprised but happy when I shrugged and said, "Sure, why not?" Really, what's the worst that could've happened? (I know, many of you are thinking, "Plenty!") Guiding me over to an empty shack usually occupied, they said, by a Rastafarian ("Rasta-Mon not worken' today"), they directed me to sit on a petrified tree stump (the best seat in the house) as they took their own places on rocks and other stumps under the roof tarp amid the empty shelves. For a moment, I was a tiny bit uneasy when eight to 10 men sat or stood near me inside the small space, but soon one of the guys rolled a joint, everybody laughed and smoked, and the conversation -- and what a conversation! -- was a-rolling.
* These photos are used with much appreciation through the gracious permission of Kristin Dewey, author of the blogs "Cokie the Cat: Hollywood Insider," and her brand new "Notes for My Next Life."