Anywhere But Here: Time on the Island

Close-up photo of a cartoon orange fox with a cigarette dangling from its mouth wearing black boardshorts and running with a surf board under its arm that has the words "ONE LOVE" scrawled onto it. The wooden wall behind the street art is painted jade green and the artist's white signature is spray-painted on the bottom left corner of the wall.

Jamaican me crazy

We all know that feeling that rolls around mid-January, the awful sinking feeling of winter that’s only relieved by buying a ticket to somewhere tropical. Even if you’re in Florida in mid-February, you’ll surely at some point think, “I could be warmer.”

So where to? Somewhere quick, a bang for your buck timewise. The Caribbean—naturally. Lay out a map. Immediately dismiss all islands you’ve already been to. Though I do love to live by the I’ll-try-anything-twice-motto when it comes to islands, I feel the more the merrier. You would have to pay me to return to Puerto Rico. Don’t @ me Montaukers, I’ll come visit you in the motherland. Also scratch Tortola—that time we flipped our car off a cliff in 2013 still has me a little skittish of mountain roads without guardrails. St. Thomas was too quick to properly judge and St. John had no waves.

a turquoise jeep crashed upside down with the door open in a green forest.
Black and white photo taken from a car of a street sign with a car on it warning vehicles to slow down. Another street sign is on top of it advertising for grab n' go food.

Okay, okay. Somewhere new. Cross-check flight prices with convenient timing and lack of layovers and out of nowhere Jamaica very quickly floats to the top of the list. Jamaica, huh. What connections do I have with Jamaica? None at all really. Well, except that time my mom called me from Jamaica when I was 20 to tell me she had just gotten married on Bob Marley’s birthday to a man who would fairly soon become my second ex-stepdad. Good riddance Steve.

Photo of the back of a run down, gray cement building with the Jamaican flag painted on the side. The front of the building appears to be yellow.
A photo of a dark sand beach in Bull Bay, Jamaica taken from the shore just before sunset. The water is a deep turquoise blue and dark green tree-covered mountains are in the distance.
Photo of the mast of a black and bright yellow fishing boat with the boats name, "SURVIVE SM.102" painted in all capital dark red letters. The boat is docked on the sand.
Photo taken from a car window of a man surfing a medium-sized wave on a yellow surfboard. The water is a crystal clear aquamarine color.

Oh. And well of course I’m extremely familiar with Seacrets, Jamaica USA. My dad tended bar there for the first third of my life. For those of you who haven’t been to a Mid-Atlantic-based bachelorette party, I’ll tell you, Seacrets is the largest bar on the east coast and it just so happens to be in my beloved hometown of Ocean City, Maryland. I spent plenty of my childhood there eating jerk chicken and chasing the lizards that hitched rides up the coast on imported palm trees and many young adult days there drinking literally anything but their infamous frozen drink, the Pain In De Ass. The place is basically Disney World for adults and I’ll just leave it at that because this story is not about Jamaica USA it is about the real Jamaica in the Caribbean which now I guess is apparently somewhat in my blood.

An aerial photo of the Seacrets, Jamaica resort in Ocean City, Mary.and. There are clusters of bright blue inner-tubes, jet skis and people to the right of the long wooden dock in the murky green water. Pal m trees line the shore of the resort and back up tonight gray buildings and parking lots.
Seacrets, Jamaica USA

So I boarded a plane in North Carolina and flew south to relieve the winter doldrums. Landing in Montego Bay I rented a car and (shocker) drove across the entire island more or less to Bull Bay where I spent most of my time surfing with the lovely Wilmot family who I suggest you look up if you ever plan to travel to Jamaica in search of waves. I did not stay at their surf camp, Jamnesia, but again, highly recommend if you’re in the neighborhood.

Black and white photo of a white airplane connected to the skyway ramp in an airplane hangar.
Photo taken from the window seat of an airplane of the the lush, green island of Jamaica surrounded by aquamarine water. The wing of the airplane is visible in the photo to the left.
Photo of a dirt road in the chalk white, plant covered mountains of Jamaica. There is an abandoned red wheel cart off the side of the road and a small White House in the background.
Photo taken from the windshield inside of a car on a paved road of four goats walking in the bike lane of the road.
Photo taken from the windshield inside of a car of a paved road with a royal blue sign to the left of the guard rail notifying drivers of an escape lane. The road is lined with green trees and shrubs and the crystal blue water of the ocean is visible in the distance on the horizon.
Photo of the front of a pastel pink and turquoise blue cottage/villa-style house with gray cement stepping stones leading up to the house from multiple directions in the gravel yard. The walls of the house are pastel pink while the rood and pillars of the porch and pavilion to the left are pastel turquoise. The windows are lined with a light wood trim. Black gridded solar panels line the top of the pavilion's roof next to the house. Mountain covered in lush green foliage are visible in the background.
Black and white photo taken from inside of a gated doorway of a welcome mat.
Photo of an empty lagoon shape cement swimming pool with graffiti inside it. The pool is used for skating.
Photo of a gated doorway surrounded by a combination of grated and cement walls. The  cement around the doorway has been decorated with black spray painted words and a photo of a man with long black hair and a goatee.
Photo of a light yellow sunset taken from the shores of a beach in Bull Bay. Small, calm waves are lapping the shore and the sun is setting on the mountains in the distance, outlining their dark silhouettes.
Photo of a man on an off-white surfboard jumping a wave in the white water of the crystal blue ocean close to the sandy shore.
Photo of two long-haired men walking with surfboards under their arms along the sandy and pebbly shore of a beach on a clear day. The sky is light blue with a few clouds. The water is crystal blue and waves are lapping the shore. Lush green mountains are visible in the background.
Action shot of a man jumping from a small ledge carved in the surrounding light brown, sand-colored rocks. The man is jumping into the small alcove of light green water below that appears tp be filled by a small waterfall. Another person is wading in the water below.
Photo taken from the inside of a small slot in a bunch of sand colored rocks. The green trees and blue sky are visible throughout the slot above. There is a tree with extremely long roots that have grown into the rock below.

Being that it used to be a British colony, Jamaicans still drive on the left side of the road and the right side of the car. Which is wildly convenient for holding a camera out the driver’s side window with your right hand though I severely don’t encourage it and neither did the taxi driver who yelled at me mid-roundabout to “put that camera down and drive” in a perfect Jamaican accent that I will not even try to butcher with my keyboard. Still got the shot, don’t worry. Until next time mon.

Photo of an old white car with no wheels  abandoned on the side of a dirt road. The care has a broken heart spray painted on the drivers side door.
Photo of a clean white dement restaurant building with a sign that breads "LITTLE COPA CLUB" in red lettering and terracotta red double doors at the entrance Small signs, including one with the green, yellow and black Jamaican flag on it, are posted on the front of the restaurant.
Phot taken of two white goats and one black and white speckled goat on the side of a dirt road in front of an ivy covered wall and a pile of rubble.
Photo of a thin, horizontal, hand made wooden sign on the sandy shore of a beach with the words "Property of Wickie Wackie beat bar" hand-painted in fancy writing. The sign is nailed onto a bamboo post and supported on top by a wooden beamed "roof" lined with some more bamboo posts. Waves rolling onto the shore are visible in the background.
Photo of a white fishing boat with a light blue underbelly and a small awning parked on the shore of a light brown sandy beach. A small orange rescue boat is floating in the greenish blue ocean water close to the shore. The sky is bright blue with a few puffy white clouds.
Photo of a small, quaint beach side building/structure with a weathered cement porch lined with old wooden beams. A white surf board is propped up against the cement porch to the left.
Photo of the side of a house surrounded by light green trees. The bottom half of the house is white cement lined with small rocks around the base. A black and white portrait man with long dark dreadlocks and a black and white portrait of a tiger have been paint side by side on the side of the wall. The top of the house was are made of pieces of orange square sheets of ribbed metal bolted together to form a wall. The roof is slanted.
Photo of the base of an old, dirty, dark gray concrete pillar with the word "ADULT CHILDREN" painted in black. An old broken gate and green foliage are visible in the background.
Photo taken from the ground of a raised grayish brown cement porch lined with a matching railing. An umbrella made of wood and grass is in the middle of the porch. The sky is light blue with the occasional dark gray cloud.
Photo of a white two story building on  the side of a dirt road lined with power lines. There is a shield shaped crest on the front of the building that has a drawing of a bull and a soccer ball pattern on it. Above the crest in thin red lettering are the words "Welcome to the Bull Pen." Underneath the crest in light blue lettering are the words "Home of the Bull bay Football club." Lush green mountains are visible behind the building.
Photo taken at from the front windshield of a car of a dirt road and incoming traffic. Light yellow rays from the sun are shining brightly into the window, illuminating the smears created by the windshield wipers. The sun is setting against the mountain in the distance.
Photo taken on the sandy shore of a beach with the ocean to the left of the last light of day as the burnt orange sun sets in the distance and illuminates the horizon of the fading blue, partly cloudy sky.

It’s 2023 and, yes, we’re still trying to convince Gunner not to take photos while driving moving vehicles—but the best-laid plans and so on. The Anywhere But Here series follows the exhaust fumes of somehow-unscathed photographer Gunner Hughes through adventure and misadventure across the country (and sometimes other countries). Usually finding the backwater towns, roadside religions, old-salt locals, cash-only dive bars, and much more character than you might see off the main highway.