En route to Cuba, I stayed a week in Jamaica in early pre-season December. Despite my friends warnings that traveling solo as a woman would surely get me killed, I was determined to enjoy my solitude and not attract attention.
I got to Negril and found a cute place full of small pink cottages surrounded by trimmed lawns and neat paths. I picked on the path leading through the palm-frond covered bar area to the ocean.
My first morning, I headed down that path to swim. There was a man sweeping the floor around the empty bar. After my swim, there were two men sweeping and cleaning up. The next morning, those two men were joined by two others, raking sand and moving chairs.
After swimming, a whole row of chairs full of old rasta men with long dreads, smoking frighteningly large spliffs, occupied the edge of the covered area to the right of my path.
As I walked toward the sunshine, one of the men closest to me with long white dreads, leaned over:
“Excuse me, my name is Lucius Marley, the cousin of Bob Marley,” said the old man offering me his hand.
“Are you the mermaid I see swimming off into the sunset every evening from my fishing boat?”
As if to compensate for all the times I didn’t have a snappy comeback, the obvious response flew out of my mouth—“No, I’m her cousin.”
The old men roared laughing, pushing Lucius out of his chair. The rest of the week, the old men greeted me “Hey Mermaid Cousin!” and the young men just winked and smiled.