Monday, August 01, 2005
Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya...
P. Diddy who? Psshht. Tell Puff the Magic Sampler to try and flip a slice of vintage Beach Boys 80's cheese into an ode for the place in the British West Indies that stole my heart away. And don't front like ya'll wasn't sangin' along either, I'm not the only one who sat through Cocktail just to hear it while watching Tom Cruise play another one-dimensional asshole. Guess who's back in the muthaeffin' house with a scrumptious choco-tan for yo mouf! After 8 days and 7 nights spent in paradise otherwise known as Providenciales, I am back in the Rotten Apple toiling away at the corporate plantation, back to making a $1 outta 15¢. Ugh.
Bermuda, Bahamas, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don't we go
Ooh I wanna take you down to Provo, we'll get there fast and
then we'll take it slow...
That's where we wanna go...
Start in Grand Turk and off to Provo...
If you haven't ventured to Turks & Caicos as of yet, get your asses to Expedia.com and start doing your homework. Turks and who?!? Yeah, I've gotten that response from damn near everyone I've talked to about my vacation, it's crucial for Black folk to move past the Mason-Dixon line and see how the rest of our people beyond the borders do it up in an unfamiliar habitat. There's a big world besides the corner bodega to explore and it isn't that far away to escape. The T&C islands are still rural and developing generally, but I think that lends a bit of rustic charm to the backdrop of it all. With all the construction still ongoing, in another 5-10 years, it'll be fully commercialized into an antiseptic sort of Caribbean haven for Americans that don't know any better. Slick and glossy with the culture suctioned out for the sake of the masses, kinda like a tropical Los Angeles.
In terms of nightlife, there aren't many choices available at the moment (BET Soundstage withstanding), but you're not going there to sweat it out on the dance floor, the piéce de résistance of TCI has to be their flawless shorelines.
Stretching 12 miles of aqualine loveliness is Grace Bay, the jewel of Provo and arguably the most exquisite beach in all of the Caribbean. I'm not just quoting shit out of a brochure here, you can't fake just how freakin' beautiful it is. Powder white sands, sparkling, turquoise blue waters that would make Lucy in the sky envious to pawn her diamonds for a dip. It's the stuff made for cheesy Club Med commercials, but this is the real deal Holyfield 39 miles away from the Bahamas. Sheryl Crow wasn't lying about soaking up the sun and telling everyone to lighten the fuck up because that's exactly what I did without a care in the world. If it wasn't for the call of the ocean, I would've finished Bliss in under 2 days instead of 3½. Either way, how refreshing to have a beach read that without a drippy heroine in need of a backbone at its center and doesn't forsake a sharp insight balanced with the sweet fizz of connect-the-dots-drama to keep the pages turning. The plots snaked, veered and intersected in ways that would make traffic off the Major Deegan seem doable. Loved, loved, LOVED it... I never even made it through the others I lugged along, so don't revoke my Oprah Book club membership card just yet.
Why isn't beach bum listed as a paying gig under HotJobs.com, goddamnit?! Other than gleefully browning about 3 shades darker while being sufficiently liquored up with rum punch, margaritas and daiquiris galore, I arrived just in time for the annual music & cultural festival (no coincidence there). The main concerts at Turtle Cove Marina featured in order on the following bills: Gregory Isaacs/Jeffrey Osbourne, Spragga Benz & Shaggy/Ashanti. Sitting through a set from the "woo woo" man didn't hold much appeal, but I was too damn lazy to get dressed for G. Isaacs alone, so I opted for the latter of the three.
Spragga was set to follow the Miss Turks & Caicos beauty pageant that dragged on about 2½ hours overdue. A slice of the Atlantic City-like glitz this was NOT. The cattiness in me was baring claws because these were some of the roughest lookin' broads I've ever seen on a stage. Ma Dukes could've easily given these chicks more than half her age a serious run for their money. I would preface this by saying "no offense, but..." that wouldn't be sufficient to soften the blow. There were only 6 contestants and about half of 'em needed Carson Kressley and the other queer eyes to issue a makeover transfusion, stat! The locals were ready to pelt me with Guinness bottles during the "talent competition" because I couldn't keep my snickers to a minimum. Reviewing the highlights of a watered-down Julia Stiles routine from Save The Last Dance, an offbeat steel pan rendition of Candle In The Wind and unintentional comedy from spoken word poetry yelled at full decibels with a mic front and center, could you really blame me? I was too through waiting around in pair of 3¾" Giuseppe Zanottis that hadn't been properly broken in yet, so I headed for the exit just as Spraggz hit the stage to an old fave, Big Tings A Gwan... [insert HUGE schups (that's teeth suck for the Yankee massive) here.]
I did come back the next night for Mr. Lovah Lovah & the self-appointed "princess of hip-hop and R&B" (mmhmm, defendant Gotti done told you wrong, my dear...) and that was another scheduling nightmare. The T&C tourist board HAS to learn the definition of pace to execute a concert successfully. The practice of stocking the bill with lots of opening acts to drag the night on is not only grating, it made the entire audience restless. Festivities kicked off on time at 8:30 p.m., with local fave Clement Lightbourne doing his best Bobby Brown impression with pelvic thrusts abound. Then came Haitian konpa band Tabou Combo who held the stage hostage for an excruciating 75-minute (damn right I was counting) performance. There were so many extended jam sessions, I wound up yelling "sak passe!" in relief when their shit finally got packed and moved backstage. Praise ya, Jesus.
At just after midnight, Ashanti appeared to an adoring crowd that bumrushed the front row area where I was sitting all night to catch a glimpse of now-defunct Murder Inc.'s first lady. Clad in Baby Gap-sized hot pants and bejeweled halter, she breezed through medleys of her own hits like Happy, Baby and Rock Wit U (Awww Baby) which flipped the slept on remix that rode the Michael Jackson staple of the same name. Her multiple appearances as one of hip-hop's hired hook girls didn't go unnoticed as a megamix of snippets from labelmate Ja Rule, Big Pun & Fat Joe were blared in rapid succession. I'm far from an Ashanti fan by any stretch of the imagination, but she held the confidence and magnetism of an old pro. Full of energy and backing tapes to spare, she was a svelte firecracker that knew just how to keep the party in the palm of her manicured hands. To top it all off, the ubitiquitous "this is bananas!" wasn't uttered once. Color me sold hook, line and sinker.
Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for pop/reggae vet Shaggy who made his grand entrance at the witching hour of 2:00 a.m. to close out the night. Opening his set with Luv Me, Luv Me with an assortment of backup singers and hype men, the zip reappeared into a weary flock whose patience was wearing thin. Just as soon as we were pulled back into a carefree singalong, the mood dissipated when Shaggy left the stage due to "technical difficulties" with the equipment. 20 minutes later, with a contrite smile and right eyebrow cocked up like the Deuce Bigalow of dancehall, he promptly made up for that trangression by reviving forgotten chestnuts such as Oh Carolina, Boombastic & Big Up with his trademark buzz-saw baritone. Now the Shaggster is an attractive guy (and come to think of it, we're rockin' the same 'do, 2 more cool points docked), but there's nothing I find more unappealing than a man pandering to Chippendales-levels of raunch just for squeals from a bunch of sweaty ass hoes. It's old, it's tired, in short, time for a new shtick, Orville sweetie. Frequent collaborator Rayvon was along for the ride as pop smashes like Angel and It Wasn't Me finally gave the crowd the familiar tunes it craved all night for. As he wound down to throwaway songs like Hey Sexy Lady, Lucky Day and his newest single, a tune with G-Unit castoff Olivia (keyword: yawn), I kept my fingers crossed that he would throw a bone to one of my favorite tracks, In The Summertime. The weather was right, we were in the tropics and the light, percolating beat was a welcome way to do a sendoff. Right? Wrong. This bastard decides to end it with the irksome Jacksons bite, Dance and Shout. What. The. Fuck. I needed a double shot of Negro Please on the rocks to wash down my irritation. Aside from feeling pangs of disorderly conduct, I was fascinated while indulging the aqua baby in me by snorkeling off Grace Bay's reef and spent lots of time out at sea while sailing over on day trips to North, West & Middle Caicos. If you're a diving buff or just get a kick out of water sports in general, it's a bonafide bonanza of places to take advantage of.
I can still close my eyes and literally see a seashell piled high with conch fritters ready to munch on. Or hear the waves crashing from the oceanfront balcony at night. I'll go through another mind-numbing customs ordeal at Miami International just to feel that salty breeze right about now. I definitely missed being home, but to face the music of a pile of paperwork awaiting me. Message to be returned. Broken train cars with NO A/C?! Oy vey. My postcard's mocking me with the usual tagline: "wish you were here." It's time to plan a heist to make another getaway sooner rather than later.
- *amber* commented at 8/05/2005 10:51:00 AM~
Im glad you had fun mama. Welcome back.
- FlamingoTravel commented at 8/10/2005 07:49:00 AM~
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