I had deflected Dylan’s question about marijuana back in New Jersey and made no effort to hide smoking ganja in the Caribbean; so I gently pushed the conversation forward while we were still there. I gave her a copy of Richard Cortes children’s book, It’s Just A Plant, a marvel of concision and common sense and asked her to go down to the shoreline and read the book.
“I’ll come down in few minutes after your done and we’ll talk about it.”
She scampered down to the water, stretched out on the swinging hammock and began to read while I made myself scarce on the porch. I gave her precisely the amount of time it took to roll a Jamaican spliff and reduce it to a roach.
“Let’s take the boards out,” I suggested, and we paddled to the middle of the bay where the afternoon water was smooth as glass. Above us a wide blue cloudless sky was pocked by a fireball sun while below, a school of silver barracuda in mysterious formation dashed through a transparent sea.
“Did you read the book?”
“Did you understand it?”
“So, do you have any questions?”
“Just one,” she said paddling with the tide.
I braced for it.
“If marijuana is illegal,” she asked conditionally, “why is it on the porch?”
“W’eee|ll…” I stretched the word…
“Is it because we’re in Jamaica?” she asked.
“Not really. I mean, marijuana is illegal in Jamaica,” I explained. “but… do you see this village?”
I swept my hand across the shoreline a quarter-mile away. Fishermen were cleaning their bright-colored boats and stretching black nets along the sand to dry after a long haul. Women were carrying wide, balanced bundles of laundry on their heads. Jamaicans don’t swim, they work; and we had the wide bay all to ourselves.
“There’s not a man or woman in this village who doesn’t agree with me on this, Dylan. Nothing’s going to happen to us here. We’re protected.” I looked at her meaningfully. “You’re protected. Things are different in the United States.”
She nodded her head, smiled and suddenly jumped in the water, and I watched her wiggle down like silverfish towards a starfish in the sand.
(For more on Richard Corte’s It’s Just A Plant, click here)