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 Almost ten years after divorce with empty nest syndrome, I made a memorable trip with Robert to Jamaica. We had enjoyed a week in Puerto Rico the year before. In Puerto Rico we had a very nice B & B right on the beach where we had coffee on our little second floor balcony each morning. Then our hosts, Ben from Australia and Pat from France, made a beautiful breakfast which they served on the patio covered by a flower bedecked pergola. They were delightful and while the four of us ate they regaled us with tales of their amazing travels all over the world. We enjoyed their company as much as the great sights of the island. We, of course, toured the renowned fortress El Morro and the beaches. We hired a guide one morning who drove us around the entire island and up into the rain forest.

On our last Sunday there before flying home, we were strolling the streets of San Juan, watching the families gathering for church. The little girls in white ruffles with white bows in their bouncy black curls ushered little brothers in shiny black shoes with slicked back hair. Such a charming, peaceful scene. We suddenly heard a loud squeal and turned to see two men, in their Sunday finery, hauling a large pink pig across the lawn of one of the houses. With its last excruciating scream, one man held its back legs while another slit its throat. There was little reaction by the witnesses in the yard or those passing by. Just getting a little head start on Sunday dinner before going to church I guess.

Jamaica did not live up to the ads. Unfortunately, I had chosen an out of the way hotel rather than one downtown Kingston. The hotel and its grounds were beautiful in the pictures and that held true when we arrived. It was very nice, but there was nothing else around. We were surrounded by dry, barren fields. Our first day there we flagged down the local bus driving from town out into the neighborhoods to see what we could see. At each stop between villages someone would tap us on the shoulder and whisper, “Get off with me here and I can show you a beautiful sight here in Jamaica.”

“Well no, thanks but no thanks.” We were the only white people, the only tourists on that bus and soon realized we were not in a good place. We, foolishly, had not prepared ourselves for the poverty there. We were not aware of the warnings to remain in tourist areas in order to be safe. The second day we decided to walk to Kingston, a couple of miles away. We got directions from the hotel clerk and though it was quite hot, began our walk. After a quarter mile, we could see that we were coming to a small village nestled in the thick jungle to our right. A big, tall, black man walked out of that thick jungle to our left towards us smiling and waving. We knew immediately that we were in trouble. As he came across the blistering black-top of the street and up beside Robert chatting us up, Robert tightened his grip on my left hand and I grasp the wooden handle of my little small purse in my right hand as tight as I could as the giant passed behind Robert and then me to reach around and grab the purse. I had such a grip on it that I was thrown to the ground as he ripped the purse loose and ran into the woods. I was stunned at first because my head had hit the hot tarmac hard. As I looked up, unbelievably, Robert was disappearing into the woods right behind the thief. I jumped up and began to scream. “I’ll get the police. I’ll get the police,” as if we were in New York City or Dallas. I’m sure the thief was trembling with fear.

I stood there alone in the quiet and the thought crossed my mind, “Well Robert, it was good knowing you,” but he immediately appeared, walking out of the woods carrying my purse. Now Robert was not a tall man, I knew he was tough, I mean really tough, he had had life experiences that had made him tough, but to have taken that purse from that giant man???????

I did not know for hours what had happened in those woods because Robert grabbed my arm and marched me back towards the hotel asking, “Are you hurt?”

“I banged my head, I have a knot,” I said as I rubbed the aching spot.

When we got to our room at the hotel he examined my head, washed away a little blood and said “Pack.”

We flew out on the next plane leaving for the states. The Jamaican had pulled the five dollar bill out of my purse as he ran then threw it down on the path leaving my lipstick and comb. Thank goodness I had left larger bills and my passport at the hotel.

When we arrived in Florida, it was getting dark. We walked out of the airport (By now I knew to pack light on our trips. Just one light suitcase because I never knew where or how far I would need to drag it around.) and were standing on a corner waiting for a bus to take us downtown to find a room. An older man watched us for a while and finally said, “You folks not planning to go downtown Miami this time of night are ya?”

“Yea, we need a place for the night,” Robert said.

“Don’t do it. It’s not safe.” He told us to take the bus to a suburb he named and we thanked him.

Robert asked the bus driver to drop us off at the nearest hotel and he replied that there weren’t any. Oh great, can this day get any worse? He did suggest a B&B a few blocks off his route and we went there. It was a dump. We slept in a room so humid and sour we would never have stayed except that we were totally exhausted by then. Daylight revealed the mold and mildew throughout the room and we peeled off the more than damp bedding and took to the street. 


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