Wednesday, January 26, 2005

nostalgia tastes like chicken...

You'll forgive me for that cliche if you read on, I promise, because it really is relevant. Today I lunched with mate from work in my new fave cafe: the rustic, pint-sized Babble On Babylon in Elwood. I had the jerk chicken. It was delicious.

The last time I had jerk was over two years ago in Negril on Jamaica's West Coast. It was, frankly, average. But the time before that was in a sleepy fishing village called Billy's Bay on Jamaica's South Coast. We'd only been in the island a few days and were still stunned daily by the culinary skills of Irie Rest's resident chef Pauline. Her jerk chicken was one of the best meals I've ever had.

I think I breathed it in before I knew what it was. It was dark and humid when we arrived in Jamaica. Lennie, our host, tour guide, chaffeur and dealer for our first week in Jamaica, picked us up from the airport. Through the window I breathed in warm, damp air, the spicy scent of jerk chicken cooking on pimento logs and the sweet heady scent of reefer smoke.

Jamaica is still one of the best things I've ever done. It's probably the first dream I've had come true (and how I know I'm hooked on that feeling). But travel intensifies everything: tastes, smells, colours, sounds, friendships, insecurities and homesickness. So my warped memories are all I have of that trip. But then, objectivity is highly overrated.


Blogger transience said...

your commentary about travel struck a chord. it's true. your sensory experiences are amplified when you are out of your comfort zone. the adrenaline just feels different. like you never want it to end because you'll never experience it this way again.

Wed. Jan. 26, 08:30:00 pm 2005  
Blogger Calaloola said...

Absolutely. We visited five different countries on that trip but it was Jamaica, more than anywhere else where everything seemed to slow down or magnify or take on an added intensity or more surreal quality or however you want to describe it. For me, anyway. That could be because Jamaica was -- culturally -- the most removed from my experience, more so than Europe or Canada or the US. But I think it was because I'd visited Jamaica so many times in my head in the ten years before my trip that made it feel that way: as if I'd just walked into one of my daydreams and was surprised to find myself there. I can still remember periodically grinning like an idiot for the first few days whenever the realisation hit me: "I'm in JAMAICA..." :)

Thu. Jan. 27, 01:01:00 pm 2005  
Blogger transience said...

i love the way you put it. i've found myself grinning the same way. it's like, "holy shit...i am actually here."

Thu. Jan. 27, 01:31:00 pm 2005  
Blogger Jay said...

That is so awesome. When I was in the Dominican Republic, I was also very struck by the food - even in big hotels where the cuisine was "American" it still wasn't familiar. I kept a journal and wrote down every one of the little memories. I also loved Jamaica. It's closer to me than Europe is, geographically, and yet sooo different culturally.

Sat. Jan. 29, 11:43:00 am 2005  
Blogger Calaloola said...

It truly is a place entirely unto itself. I kept a journal too, but when you're away for awhile you start to take even strangeness for granted. There are a lot of things that only struck me as being truly unique and bizarre when I returned home. I wish that I had a way of recording EVERYTHING about my trips: every morsel eaten, every conversation... where in Jamaica did you visit, Jay?

Mon. Jan. 31, 02:14:00 pm 2005  

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