Blue Mountain Ganja – Port Antonio, Jamaica

There’s an almost mystical aspect when you are smoking a big fat spliff of powerful Jamaican Ganja with a dread-locked Rastaman in his cool jungle retreat. “Psst, hey mon! You smoke herb?” I looked around couldn’t see anyone… the jungle came right up to the road. “Over here”. I saw his face, framed by massive dreads, a big smile of flashing white teeth. A path opened up. His comfortable hut was grass-covered and open-sided, basic but ideal for the jungle. Isaac rolled a ridiculously large spliff from a burlap sack full of the freshest, greenest, most aromatic herb I’d seen. “We grow it all right here, along with the pineapples.”

The first puff and I was there. The second and I was out there. The third and I was almost out. We finished it off and I staggered back out to the road. “Have a good walk, Mon.”

Jamaica, if anything, was more stoned than Colombia. And much more relaxed about it. You could get high on the beach, behind the bar or shops, on the roadside. No paranoia at all.

Everybody had a cousin who grew world-class ganja in the bush. The herb from the Blue Mountains, the same climate and elevation that produces the legendary coffee, had the reputation of being the best.

Smaller buds, highly concentrated and very compact. Almost hash-like in their consistency. And smooth. You could take giant hits and not start hacking away. Rich and mellow. Color would vary, depending on age and cure. The golden variety was cured to perfection, left to hang in well-ventilated huts up in the misty mountains. The purple bud was more tightly wrapped during the drying and was darker and slightly musky. All of it, of course, would knock your socks off.

I had maybe $10 left to my name so I traded my 35mm Camera and case for a quarter pound of primo Blue Mountain ganja. I don’t think I’d ever held such a magnificent prize in my hands. Even better than the Oaxacan spears! I wrapped it up tightly (no avoiding it) in duct tape and buried it deep in the chain locker under 200 metres of galvanised anchor chain.

We sailed into Key West, cleared customs (Jim declared three cases of Jamaican Rum, for which he paid duty) and docked. The first thing I did was to haul the anchor chain on deck and rinse off the salt. “Gee Phil, I love the way you’re always cleaning the anchor chain, good work.” said Captain Jim.

That quarter pound not only made me very popular amongst my friends in Key West but it also financed my next adventure up the East Coast and then off to Montana and Wyoming.

Published by Phil Parent

Phil Parent is a geographer residing in Queenstown New Zealand.

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