Sunday, March 11, 2007

WORLD CUP DIARY: Rasta-course in Montego Bay

It’s beautiful. It’s totally beautiful. Montego Bay is divided into Downtown, the Hip Strip and the suburbs. I’m staying on Hip Strip, and, well, while it’s not very hip or anything (the place really is like a touristy village), it’s really rather quaint in a Goan kind of way.

There’s a lot of music all around, and while the staff at the hotel I am staying in – The Gloucestershire – are particularly rude and pointless, absolutely everyone else is chatty and friendly and stuff. Very, very witty as well. And almost all of them, especially those great allies of the scribe-tribe – taxi drivers, just need a cue to start yakking away about everything you wanted or didn’t want to know about Montego Bay, Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbeans.

Got a nice crash course on the Rastafarians from Walter, for example. Rastas, to me, were the equivalent of the sixties hippies and not much more. I thought they were called Rastas in the same way that the flower children were called Hippies. Turns out Rasta is actually a religion. They have a god called Haile Selassie, who was actually an African king. Marijuana is actually illegal in Jamaica, but the Rastas smoke it as part of their ritual. Yellow-black-green is the symbol of a Rasta, and flags with the three stripes are to be found outside every Rasta home. “You see a flag like that, maan, you know a Rasta lives under it,” Walter explained.

Incidentally, the yellow stands for sunshine, the red for blood and the green for vegetation.

They have a lot of sex. Hardly ever marry. “They take women…a Rasta calls his girl his empress, maan.” They are also seriously against homosexuality, because sex to them is fun, not pain. [Yeah, yeah…but I am just trying to explain what a Rasta is all about!]

Anyway, away from the Rastas, a lot of other interesting things were observed. Prime among them the fact that Jamaicans are either incredibly fat or very thin.

Women – of all ages – are obese. Some are tall, and some are short. Some are black and some are mulatto. But almost all of them have massive bosoms, massive bellies, massive butts. All of them, however, are very colourfully dressed and therefore give the impression of not really being bothered about the way they look, which is really nice.

The men are fitter, trimmer, often very thin, and walk like they are actually moving to a beat of some sort that only he can hear.

The sea – the Caribbean Sea – was kind of sedate yesterday, but it looks rather choppy today. The days are warm, but nice. The evenings are bad, and best spent indoors unless you have a big group – major time prostitution, drug peddling, robberies…that sort of thing. Might go for a walk to the beach at some point during the day today.