The pink hotel overlooked the ocean, and the beach outside the hotel was private. For good reason. The natives were restless. You could smell the odor of revolution in the air. Actually, it smelled mostly like disgust, but it seemed as if it would take maybe only one more ingredient added to the pot to change that cooking ragrance.
A Red Stripe at the hotel bar by the pool was outrageous. The little shopping hut area down the beach a ways was selling them for a fourth the price. We were sunbathing and I didn't really want to keep walking down there for the cheap beer, so I called a young boy over to where we were. He was 10 or so. I gave him a $10 bill and told him to bring me a Red Stripe every 20 minutes. He ran off and looked quite happy. "That's the last you'll see of that money," she said. "Maybe," I replied.
Two hours and six beers later, I told the boy to keep what was left. We had decided to take a hike up into the mountains. There was a golf course which led most of the way up into the hills, and we figured we would just walk on the boundary of the course until it ran out. As we started, another young boy (about the same age, but much more of a hustler) came running up. "You going into the hills?" "Yes." "You will need a guide. I can be your guide." I did not want a guide. It was our honeymoon, and we wanted to be alone.
"You will not be happy without a guide. You could get hurt." My ears pricked up at this one. "Hurt? In what way?" "There are some bad men in the hills, and they will not bother you if I'm with you." It sounded almost reasonable. "OK, I will give you $5 to walk with us, but you are to stay ahead of us quite a ways and I am not interested in conversation with you, OK?" "You got it, mon!"
The winding trail that led into the hills got quite steep and treacherous, after we left the golf course. And then we saw them. Soldiers with automatic rifles, about 7 of them, patrolling in the woods. The boy pointed them out and said, "See. It's dangerous up here." I was growing to like him.
At the apex of the trail, there was a wooden hut where some men were selling carved masks of Rastafarians. I bought one without haggling about the price, and we left. The men did not say two words while we were in their shop.
Back at the hotel, I paid the boy and we walked down the beach so that I could resume my Red Stripe habit and she could buy a purse. The makeshift shopping area had many things for sale, including drugs. One young man offered me some ganja, and I said, "No, I like real drugs. Do you have heroin?" He scampered around talking to some older guys, but never came back with an offer.
She found the purse she wanted and was asking me if I thought the price was too high. I did, so I began to haggle with the lady selling the purse. We went back and forth a couple of times, somewhat mannerly, and then a stoned fellow got up off his cot inside the lady's shop and came out into the open. "She told you what the purse costs. Now pay her." I didn't like the tone, so I said I would not pay that price. "Well, then get your motherfucking ass out of here before I cut your balls off."
Perhaps I was the missing ingredient.