May 22 2007

A Caribbean Soul: Greater Antilles (Cuba)


Havana daydreamin’, oh he’s just dreamin’ his life away‚”

You can dream of Havana, but unless you fit into some very specific categories, you can’t go there. Restrictions on U.S. citizens’ travel to Cuba, even via a third country such as Mexico or Jamaica, are serious, and enforcement recently has increased. Go without a U.S. government-issued visa and face civil penalties and criminal prosecution. It used to be possible, but with passports now required for travel to the Caribbean and Mexico, your U.S. passport would get an extra entry stamp upon your return from Cuba en route back to the U.S. Two entry points in one trip? You’d have some ‘splainin’ to do. Continue reading

May 21 2007

A Caribbean Soul: Greater Antilles (Jamaica)


Head for Kingston, mon. Jamaica has the third-largest English-speaking population in the Americas, after the U.S. and Canada. And of course you can’t beat the music. But take Air Jamaica, or make sure your plane is well-marked. Otherwise, you just might find yourself mistaken for a drug runner. It happened to Jimmy.

In 1996 Jimmy was flying to Jamaica in his Grumman HU-16 Albatross “Hemisphere Dancer.” The plane was shot at by Jamaican police, who suspected it was smuggling drugs. No one was hurt, although the plane suffered a few bullet holes. You can see for yourself: the plane is now on view at his Margaritaville restaurant in Orlando.

Based on these lyrics from “Jamaica Mistaica” (on the album “Banana Wind”), all is now forgiven:

Come back, come back, back to Jamaica.
Don’t chu know we made a big mistaica.
We’d be so sad if you told us goodbye,
And we promise not to shoot you out of the sky

Continue reading

May 21 2007

A Caribbean Soul: Greater Antilles (Puerto Rico)

Ah, the Caribbean. So many mysteries. Like which syllable gets the accent, the RIB or the BE? And which islands have the gentlest breezes? The bluest waters? The friendliest natives? Should I cruise via Royal Caribbean or take more of a DIY approach?

Jimmy knows. He became fascinated by the history of the Caribbean while a history major at the University of Southern Mississippi. He’s traveled the Caribbean for years, by boat and seaplane. The various islands are the subjects of numerous songs, and receive tangential mention on even more. To sum it up, In “Migration” (on the album “A1A”) he claims, “Got a Caribbean soul I can barely control.” So what’s his take on it all? And what’s in it for you? Continue reading