It is 6:01 a.m. Above a rising sun, cement-colored cotton candy clouds rumble an impending storm. Green leaves drip last night’s humidity. As I head to breakfast, aggressive geckos scramble along stucco walls.
“What time does the restaurant open?”
“Som’tim the guy come six tirtee. Som’tim no.”
I’m presumably here to coach a professional athlete and now suffering a complete lack of coordination – attempting to control stick shift with left hand while navigating left side driving. Right turns come with that feeling you get when you see an unattended toddler stumbling toward a pool. At some point, I’m assuming the pants-crapping stops, right?
There is a scent here – a blend of coconuts and burnt toast – that suggests too much sun. My host tells me to negotiate everything – start at $5 and go from there – because “dey gon’ charge you biggun’ cuz how you look.” I mentioned the healthy hotel rate. She didn’t laugh.
“Country” – that’s my cab driver’s name – “Country” took me along the main highway today. Pretty crazy to hear a brutha’ tell me the story of Rose Hall’s White WItch, the woman who brought slaves from Africa to work on her plantation. Fella’ had a tear in his eye and he might not have been the only one…just sayin’.
Player lounge. Thirty twenty-something female tennis players all headphone-wrapped, Facebook-locked, nitpicking at doughy breakfasts. Rain does that to tennis players, and in Jamaica, it’s wet, the sort of liquid that sticks to your skin like a cloth, filmy, wet that makes sucking sounds when you pull your shirt off, soaked. The girls talk twenty different languages and most of the communication resembles people making faces to monkeys at the zoo.
5:00p.m. The sun is dropping into the Caribbean. The Slovenian girl is on court hammering serves past her opponent. First set 6-1. I have been hosting my own battle. Mosquitos 34. Me 3. Forty-five minutes later we both have blood on our hands. 2nd set 6-4. Time for the gym, and dinner, and reggae nights. Tomorrow’s match time 9:00 a.m.