|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.