Thursday, January 16, 2014

Small Town Girl, Big Town Cabbie

The only thing now was to get a cab.

Having done a moderate amount of research about where I was staying, I knew the only way I was going to get out there was by cab. I was fine with that. I walked up to the cab line with one person in front of me and two cabbies waiting. The first, an older guy, saw me while he had already started to escort the first person into his cab and just shook his head.

A woman popped out from the operators shack.

“Where are you going, honey?”

“The Amelia Resort.”

She looked at me and gave me an estimate of the price.

“Yes, I know; that’s fine.”

The cabbie in front shot me a look and drove away, while the nice female cab driver grabbed my bags.

“Oh, thank the lord, praise Jesus, yes, thank you; you are the first ride I’ve had all day.”

She bundled me into the taxi with my rather small bag.

“This is your ride, honey, you get comfortable, where are you coming from, what do you do, praise Jesus you are my first ride today.”

She was enthusiastic, Jamaican, and had apparently been waiting at the airport since three p.m. for a ride. Me and the dude before me were the only fares that day and the guy ahead of me was only going downtown, which was apparently a rather disappointing fare. I, on the other hand, was making her day. She praised Jesus a few more times, and when I mentioned I was thirsty gave me a bottle of water. I encouraged her to tell her story.

Her name was Joan. She had grown up in Jamaica, in a very small town. So small that she could remember when she was young going down to the town square with a blanket, some snacks, and drinks to share around while she watched TV with the other children. TV was a big deal some fifty years prior, as I gathered she was somewhere between 51 and 60. Around the time she turned 19 she met the man that would eventually become her husband, a German engineer who was twice her age and was madly in love with her and her eccentricity.

“He taught me everything. Before him I didn’t know how to cook. I burned everything. He had to teach me how to cook with fire. I don’t think there was a day I didn’t serve that man a burned meal, but he loved me anyway.” TV came up again, as apparently in her first apartment they had a TV, the first she had ever seen in a house.

“And I asked him how those people get in there. And he told me it was the tubes. I was trying to be sneaky and I thought he wouldn’t notice, so when he wasn’t looking I went around to the back to see the people in the tubes and he just laughed at me.” At some point in the last year he had passed away after a long battle with cancer. While she was sad, she was also happy he was no longer in pain. Besides, it gave her the opportunity to drive and she loved meeting people.

She regaled me with information about the city of Jacksonville and the various history of the island I was going to. Before the war it had been a plantation. After the war, the island had been given over to the freed slaves, and belong from then on to the family that had once served on the plantation. Some time in the early 1900’s a Spanish businessman had offered the family multiple millions of dollars to buy both the island and plantation, a sum that would have seem unheard of in the day. The plantation had been slowly renovated and, when the family lived on the island, it had been renamed for the Spaniard’s first daughter, Amelia.

Since then, the entire plantation had been turned into a little private resort with private shops, a private ocean view, and luxury little spa, all perfect for a little getaway.

As we approached I took the place in. For some reason, when I thought plantation I thought small, but this place was massively huge and lit up shining on the front side, but dark on the ocean side. Joan dropped me off and gave me her card, imploring me to call her if I needed a ride back when I was done, and with that I entered the rather obscenely luxurious building. With a few questions, handing over of IDs and confirmation I was granted entrance.

“Have you eaten?” asked the clerk.

“Actually, not since two p.m.”

“Our room service is open all night and the food is good.”

So the night ended with a bottle of wine and some chicken while I let the Artist know I had arrived. We texted roughly until I went to sleep, with the sounds of the ocean waves licking against the shore that was so prettily placed just outside the bedroom window.

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