-70-
18 February 2008
Dear Lorne,

The first evening in Montego Bay, there seemed to be people standing around on every street corner, like something had just happened or was just about to. But they were just hanging out, socializing, instead of stay home zombies locked in front of a television screen.
                                                                
With time to relax, inventiveness can abound. There was a fork in the road on the way to Negril,  with no sign to indicate which direction to follow. While stopped, trying to decide which way to go, though your open car window you are offered an up close inspection of the distinctly pungent local produce. A young Canadian on the beach offered, for a small sum, a visit to a nearby field reputed to be the world's largest growing the local produce, as shown in the snapshot he proudly displayed. Although of horticultural intrigue, his invitation with photo opportunity was declined.                   
Most of what we buy we don't really need, sometimes it's just an excuse to spend. With enough discount coupons, you can go broke saving money. Many jewelers are in a position to offer significant discounts. Who knows what sort of margins they have to work with. Some people must have too much money to spend. Why wear something you could get killed over?  When tourists get robbed, it is often somebody from a cruise ship wandering into an area of poverty beyond their comprehension, like into a bull ring wearing a red shirt.   

Lucky for me, Jamaicans have a sense of humor. With many asking for a hand out, my dollar snatcher prompted many expressions of disbelief. It is a small, spring loaded reel with a yard of scarcely visible fishing line. Hidden in the palm of one hand, upon releasing the button, instantly it pulls in whatever bill was taped to the other end. Following up with a small contribution made it easier to laugh together, much safer than laughing alone.

While walking down a path in Ocho Rios, two young men approached me. While making small talk, one of them discretely pressed a small ball of something soft and slightly sticky into the palm of my hand, assuming I would take it, which I did not. A short moment later, two other guys stop them, with one displaying what appeared to be official identification. By then I had let them get a few paces ahead. Having not accepted their gift, they were unable to get me involved. Ever get duped, or do you always see it coming?

Hang loose,