By Olga Kaczmar
Newhall Community Contributor
I had planned a horse riding vacation at the Chukka Cove Equestrian Center and Polo fields in Jamaica. My boyfriend called me to wish me farewell and forced me to double-check my departure time. Stupidly I remembered the arrival time instead of the departure time so that put me in a furious rush to get to LAX airport. I drove like a mad woman, jumping to the front of the line at the freeway exit. Inside the airport circle, my car was totally enmeshed in traffic so in the middle of the LAX circle, I got out of the car and ran for the airline terminal … unencumbered by a suitcase. I had instructed my roommate Jeff to send it airfreight to my hotel the next day and he drove my car home. Jeff also helped me by borrowing $210 from several of my neighbors to meet the original freight cost.
I missed my plane by 3 minutes, but caught the next flight for Newark, took the shuttle to JFK airport and made my connection to Jamaica in the knick of time.
After Hurricane Hugo swept through Jamaica (June 1989), the telephone lines were still so bad, we couldn’t confirm the luggage had arrived until five days later. I was unable to call directly and all communications went through bush telephone (a relay of one person calling another through a series of 5 or more people). We were able to receive calls at the hotel but couldn’t make any outbound calls.
What we take for granted in the US (communications and transportation) is a luxury in Jamaica. Chukka Cove Farm and Polo Field was a 2-hour drive from Montego airport. I couldn’t get a cab since I couldn’t call out and no cabs frequented this remote luxury horse resort. An employee promised to pick up my luggage but never showed up. Chukka Cove personnel drove me to Jamaica-Jamaica hotel where I was able to get a cab to Montego Bay.
The cab cost $100 and when I arrived, the freight office was closed with my luggage locked up. The hours weren’t posted and no one seemed to know whether it closed at 5 or 5:30 p.m. Later I found out it closed at 3 p.m. While at the airport, I tried to find a supervisor but they said I would have to call in the a.m. But not having access to a working phone, this seemed like another dead end.
At Chukka Cove I was a princess. (Prince Mark Phillips of England stayed here when he attended polo matches.) I had my own villa; with Romy, my houseboy, and Cassita was my private cook. Coke, my private day security guard brought me a flower every morning and whipped up different flavored daiquiris for me. My night security guard, Edward, provided me with reggae music, dancing and conversation. Devon was my hunter-jumper / dressage instructor who made a better rider out of me. Lady, my dog companion, was my personal bodyguard, slept in my room and guarded me while I was sunbathing, raising a big fuss when someone came near me. Prince, my chauffer, drove me to shopping, sighting-seeing and bar-hopping; where he even kept me company inside. Michael, my trail-riding escort, took me for an overnight excursion and sleep-over at the Minister of Culture’s mansion on top of the coffee plantation (with a 360 degree view of the world). That Minister rascal kept flirting with me behind his wife’s back. To top it off, after my ride, I was treated to a swim in the Caribbean on a well-trained sea horse. Afterwards, my houseboy provided me with a lavish buffet at the outdoor gazebo on the beach. The princess has no clothes.
Editor’s note – Part 2 of this story will be published next week on Wednesday, February 14.