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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mykel's Caribbean Blog Chapter TWO: Miami to Trinidad

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by Mykel Board
October 3, 2013- October 6, 2013

Recap: From the start, it didn't look good for this trip. Everything went right... a bad sign. Subletter in New York, smooth flight to Miami, promises of “meet you at the airport/seaport” for the whole trip. $10 a night accommodations in Guyana, the rest free.

Uh oh! Too good. The better the news the bigger the fall. And things get worse. The plan is to stay at the Hollywood (FLA not LA) home of my long-term friend and sometimes partner in crime Sharon I. (Now Sharon G, as she's been ringed!)

After I leaving the plane in Miami, I rent a car for a day and drive to her gated place. There's an electronic directory. I punch her number. No answer. Finally, here it comes... I sleep in the street tonight, or cut into my exceedingly slim budget.

A car pulls up in back of me. The gate opens. Both of us cruise through. Sharon is home and welcomes me with a great hug and a beer. What else could you want? (Come on... she's married!)

The next morning is hell rain. The pool looks like it's gonna flood. We take a ride to pick up Sharon's dogs. Then we head for breakfast. On the road, the lights go out... all of 'em. It's a torrent. No plane could take off in this. I'll be stuck here for 7 weeks. Here it comes...

But it doesn't. We get to the restaurant. They tell us which food cooks with gas, which with electricity. They'll serve us the gas, as long as we pay cash because the credit card machines don't work. And don't worry, there's still some (fairly) hot coffee left. No problem.

Worse than that, within ten minutes of our egg arrival... the power's back up, and annoying TVs are blasting sports news that neither of us gives a shit about. The rain doesn't let up, though... torrents... a Niagra... and we have to slosh our way back through the security gates.

Dinner plans are with Sharon's friend, Margaret. She's an original South Floridian, and a veteran of Florida's punk rock scene... and she's had enough bad luck to warrant a lifetime of future fortune.

Margaret's story: Her mother's gotbrain cancer. Margaret takes care of her as she slowly succumbs. She'd just gotten married to a scenester from Florida, and this was supposed to be a happy time in her life. Yet she watches her mother slowly dissolve into death. It takes half a year.

As if to ice the death cake, her pet finch dies a month later.

Enough? Nope... by the end of the NEXT six months, her new hubby buys the farm. Cancer again. See what I mean?

Sharon's plan is to take her out, bring her to her old haunts, get her back in the swing. She's up for going out come hell (unsure) or high water (here right now: Looking out the window, through the monsoon, I can Noah working on the nailing together some wood. Animals are lining up, two by two. )

Are you sure you want to go out in this?” I ask her.

She nods.

Mykel,” she says, “Margaret wants to meet you. She knows the city. And we need to get her out of her depression”

Ok. I've got a rain coat. Let's go.

It's hard to describe wading through the city. The streets fill with water. Half the streets are shin deep and it doesn't look to be letting up soon. Sharon Margaret and I-- none of whom rank high in the vertical department, wade from one bar to another. Sometimes, we back track and try another crossing because the streets are too filled to ford.

Mykel & Margaret trying to look Edward Hopper
We swim from one bar to another. Margaret keeping up a running commentary:

“And see this pink police car? It's a memorial to our last... maybe only.. cool police chief.” I frown a you-know-what-oxymoron-means? frown.
Remember the demonstrations here in 1972?” she asks. “You know Mykel, the rest of us weren't born yet.”

“They had those riots in Chicago a few years before,” she continues, “but chief Rocky.”

Aw come on,” I say.

No really,” says Margaret, “everybody called him Rocky... and he takes Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin and goes out drinking and smokin' with them... explaining how there's not gonna be any riots here... how everybody's got a right to their opinion... buys those boys beer, gets 'em stoned. No riots at that convention.”

It's not too long before the rain stops. The street tides recede. It's an easy ride home. Not a bad night at all... Uh oh.

At around 1AM, I text Randy in Trinidad to remind him I'm coming. I'm proud to have a dumb phone. Talk and text only. The only problem is that it's a US phone. It's a different system in the islands, you know, man? So I gotta text from here. In T'dad, Randy has an old phone he can lend me when I get there to the friendliest country in the Americas.

I get a reply from Randy in the morning.

Yeah yeah yeah,” it says, “I know. Just don't text me anymore. Okay? I don't need your texts. Just text me when you get to the airport.”

Shit! He sounds pissed off. I did something. Probably woke him up. Maybe he was... er... doing something personal. I interrupted. He lost the... er... mood. Damn, I'm in trouble now.

At the airport in Miami, customs is so snappy I don't notice it. Bang! I'm at the duty free shop. A fifth of Jack Daniels... that'll take the sting off the late night texting.

It's only on the plane that I remember I CAN'T text Randy when I arrive. My phone won't work. Do pay phones still exist? You certainly can't text from them. What the fuck am I gonna do?

Trinidad Airport. Customs. Look for a phone. INFORMATION says the sign.

Is there a pay phone in the airport?” I ask.

The young Indian woman behind the glass frowns.

You know,” I say, miming the action, “a phone where you put in coins. Then push the buttons. Then say YO IT'S ME.”

She stands up, walks out of her little booth, goes somewhere... comes back in a couple of minutes. She still isn't smiling.

There's a coin phone over there,” she says, pointing vaguely to the right.

I thank her and head vaguely to the right, looking for the coin phone. I ask an Indian-looking man at the money changing booth.

It's over there... somewhere...” he says pointing in the same direction. It's at this point I realize that coin phones need coins. I have a few hundred Trini dollars (about $30 US) from my last trip, but no coins.

I ask the guy in the change booth if he has change. He shakes his head. Try the bank booth over there. No change there either. A bank with no change... you gotta love it.

I head for the Royal Castle branch in the airport. I pull out a $20. [NOTE: Royal Castle makes the best fried chicken in the world, and they top it off with the best pepper sauce in the world. If they came to Kansas, they'd put the colonel out of business.]

I ask the attractive Trini-colored girl behind the cash register. “Do you have change for this twenty? I need it for a coin phone.”

The big guy on line next to me turns and tilts his head to the side. “They still have coin phones in Trinidad?” he asks.

I hope so,” I tell him.

The cashier shakes her head, “I can't open my drawer.”

I'll be happy to open your drawer,” I don't say.

How about if I buy something?” I do say.

Then I could open my drawer,” she says... without smiling.

I buy a juice. Get my change. Leave and look for the coin phone.

There is no coin phone.

I open my dumbphone to check the time. It's going on 10:30 PM. I wonder how long Randy will wait before just showing up... or going to bed. Then I see it... the bars. There is reception here... at least the phone thinks there is reception here. I try dialing Randy. It works.

Meet you outside in 15 minutes,” he says, not sounding angry at all.

I know Trinidad. As I expect, in 45 minutes Randy pulls up to the airport doors. I go back to his place for my first night in the country in 5 years. Randy's not at all angry. I give him the J.D.'s anyway. We're out limin for the night. It's like old times... with me and the gang. Here's our picture in the drunk tank... just before they closed the outside gate:


Everything works out. Not smooth, but the problems: a minor sexy scratch on a perfect eyebrow. Shit, what kind of horror does this luck bode for the future? Stay tuned.

(more soon...

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WARNING: The column blog is not PG or PC. It might make you mad or disgusted. The thin-skinned, politically correct, and easily sickened should probably stay away. You have been warned.)

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