< Go back to the main page for Convivium '08


Only a few minutes outside the city limits of Kingston it became painfully clear that we would not be tipping our toes, cocktails in hand, in the lapping Carib in Mobay at sunset.

Our schedule, dismasted by the lockdown at the Embassy, Friday afternoon traffic through Kingston, what turned out to be the crookedest two- lane mountain road in the Hemisphere and the onset of a three day holiday weekend for Jamaicans turned our “scenic” ride into one that that will be long remembered.

Alternating between creeping, crawling, inching, stopping, lurch-starting and, then, dead stops we progressed through nameless little hamlets.



FH's Club "private" beach


Tote Bag, Cap and Visor

Then, at first,oh the joy!, when traffic was sparse, high-speed spurts at breaknecking speeds we barreled through intersections and open stretches upward and forward toward Ocho Rios.

The higher we got into the mountains the curvier road became. On narrow, two lane concrete shoelaces of roads the “joy” turned into major- league sphincter puckering.
As an added terror bonus for us, they drive on the left hand side of the road in Jamaica and the steering wheel is on the right. As a result, if one had the courage to open one’s eyes and quickly glanced forward it appeared that there was no one at the wheel. After a while, Webb Wade moved forward to occupy to left hand seat as unofficial (and probably unwanted!) co-pilot.

After some minutes passed someone in the rear noticed and mistakenly moaned, “Oh no! Don’t tell me Wade’s driving now!”

The Comet, roared forward on what, nevertheless, seemed the “wrong “side of the road. Relentlessly pressed onward by “Leadfoot “Rodney who kept saying to Webb whenever he begged him to slow down, “Don’t worry, Mon, I been doin’ this a long time”.

Rodney’s mode au bus operandi it developed was to drive as fast as humanly possible on the steep curving hillsides and then blow the big air horn 3 times in rapid succession when approaching a blind curve.

Occasionally, he blew 4 toots and we soon came to learn that meant around the upcoming blind curve was a village center. Presumably, the extra toot was to allow more notice for the inhabitants to clear the intersection of goats, barbeques, musicians, pedestrians and vehicles celebrating National Heroes Day as we thundered onward towards our potty stop. “Aching” Rios.

“How long have you been doing this Rodney?” a voice croaked from the rear of the Comet.

“Don’t worry, Mon, I been doin’ this for ten years” chirped Rodney.

Sotto- voiced, someone farther back lamented, “Oh crap…….I was hoping to hear ‘twenty’.”

Centuries later, it became clear that we had crossed the highest point and were heading downhill now toward the coast and the blessed relief offered by Aching Rios.

The first clue was that Rodney could barrel around the curves now even faster and his tooting tempo picked up accordingly. Ears a poppin’ we careened downward toward sea level as (slow funereal drum roll, here)…. darkness fell ...... and........ it started to rain.

“Oy” someone said.

“Only a shower,” reassured Rodney with a flourish.

“Keep both hands on the wheel will ‘ya please Rod” croaked sotto- voice.

Finally, safely on level ground Rodney announced, “Fifteen minutes, we be to Ocho Rios!!!”

“You can skip the bathroom stop, Rodney” someone shouted, “we already went!”

Amid laughter and that gleeful sense that come with surviving certain death and bulging bladders, we arrived for our carefully scheduled rest stop at Sandal’s Ocho Rios three or more hours late

Fifteen minutes later, a more relaxed and “relieved” group (some even clutching “roadies” courtesy of the Ocho Rios barman), was off on the final leg which turned out to be an uneventful nighttime jaunt along the north coast to Mobay.


Club Room Sign


T-shirt Printing

Immediately upon arrival we were ushered into the “Forest Hills Clubroom” our carefully pre-arranged private enclave that was to be our social pivot for the entire weekend. Webb had skillfully obtained this concession for us. The extremely accommodating staff had furnished it with easy chairs and couches and catered with drink and snacks.

A large table was provided and on it we placed , yearbooks, photos, scrapbooks and related Forest Hills memorabilia brought by thoughtful attendees. This is our second year featuring this touch and it was much used and enjoyed.

Room check-in was accomplished concierge- style (some said, “mob style”) in our Clubroom and then we were all swiftly reunited with our luggage. Then, off to our respective rooms for a change into beach duds for a fabulous beach party/buffet dinner for which we were waaay late.

Below twinkling stars, beside the gently lapping Caribbean waters, we regaled Howard and Brenda and the other direct arrivals with our adventures on the Vomit Comet.

The following morning after a casual breakfast on our scenic al fresco beachside dining area which became our breakfast and lunch rendezvous, we attended a meeting in the Clubroom which featured our charismatic hotel manager Jason Holloway. Jason highlighted the many features of the hotel for our edification and offered sign up for many off-premises tours offered in the area.

Most opted to remain “on campus” to enjoy the sun, sand, sleep and schmoozing which became the order of the day for most.

This resort features a Thai style restaurant on a tiny island a short distance from our main beach. Accessible only by a motorboat/ ferry. We had a memorable group dinner there Saturday night. The boat ride was unfortunately very short, but the food and camaraderie was great.

During cocktail hour in our Clubroom Webb Wade presented a plaque with our “Proud Native” logo on a white background to Brenda which read:


AMBASSADOR BRENDA LaGRANGE JOHNSON

Our Forest Hills Friend, Neighbor, and Schoolmate.
We are very proud of your achievements.
In Appreciation of Your Generous Hospitality at

The 8th Annual Convivium
Of the Forest Hills Club.

Jamaica, B.W.I.
October 2008
****

We are truly indebted to Brenda for making good on her promise and her gracious and unflagging support of the Club.

The Royal Caribbean was, as advertised, a truly great all-inclusive resort and I’m sure most of us would return in a heartbeat. The time flew.

Monday was departure day for most and Sally and I were in the “early” group to leave for the pre-noon departures from Mobay’s airport. We were sorry to see the weekend come to an end but looking forward to a nice trip home.

After alighting from the bus, having gathered our luggage, and about to enter the terminal, we were swept backward by hordes of other travelers, airline and airport employees and security people.

“Clear the building”. “Evacuate now!!” “Bomb threat”.

“Oh, no!” Exclaimed Linda Dufault. “Not again!”

Sure enough, a final adventure for us: A full-fledged, evacuate the building, bring in the fire engines and bomb -sniffing dogs, “Not a drill” bomb threat.

We were ushered far from the building, to the parking lot across the street which was completely devoid of shade or any other amenity. We were forced to wait in the now- blazing Jamaica sunshine while the terminal was “swept”. It seemed like an eternity, but finally we were readmitted and began rushing through security and check-in hopeful that we wouldn’t miss our flights.

Breathless, sunburned, but finally airborne, I was reflecting on the activities of the last few days.

“What are you chuckling about?” my sweet wife challenged.

“No one’s going to believe all this,” I said.

“It was a great weekend”, she said.

“Yup, that Brenda thinks of everything”, I said, as I slid into a coma.

* * *

About Us
Members
2014 Charleston, SC
2010 Florida Convivium
2009 Bermuda Convivium
2008 Jamaica Convivium
Mini Conviviums
Homesteads
Essays & Reminiscences
Minute Biographies
Slangtionary:
Heard on the streets
in the 50's
Famous Forest Hillians:
Notable Names
Gardens Map & Celebrities Homes
Cheryl's Corner: Articles
from Forest Hills Celebrity
Magazine

Postcards & Potpourri
CH Chatter: 1950's
Community House
Newsletters

In Memoriam
Links to Related Sites
Join Us