Words by The Birdheye View
The Birdheye View is a monthly journey into cannabis culture as seen through the eyes of musician and debonair world traveler Christopher “Birdheye” Gordon of Jamaican band, the No-Maddz. Each month, Birdheye explores a different avenue of ganja culture, as he seeks out the best strains, cannabis competitions and marijuana travel destinations, and updates us on the latest in marijuana reform and technology.
It’s the Birdheye View that ganja is always best when it’s passed to you. And the good book says, “Love your neighbors as you love yourself.” After getting to know the Polynesian pakalolo on my last ganjaventure, I recognized that I have a limited knowledge of the Caribbean’s cannabis culture (beyond Jamaica’s shores, of course!). So, a few weeks later, I embarked on a nine-day Weed in the West Indies expedition.
Traveling by cruise ship, I visited Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Thomas and the Bahamas, before catching a flight to Trinidad for Carnival. At each stop, I made it my first order of business to seek out the finest herb each island had to offer its visitors. The experiences were enlightening, so it’s only right I share them. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with “1” meaning bush weed, and “10” the most high, or highest grade), I’ve rated each island based on the quality, quantity, accessibility and price of herbs — and also with regard to local tolerance levels. You wouldn’t want your sunny Caribbean retreat to abruptly conclude because you lit up in the wrong time and place, now would you?
As the vessel docked at the port in Saint John’s, the morning let was complemented by the sound of drums playing in the distance. I was ready to make my brain dance in Antigua. Luckily, by the time I got a rental, they brought I some mental. Perfect!
As I embarked on a beautiful journey through the rainforest terrain on Fig Tree Drive, a smooth-pulling bud allowed my mind to tango with raindrops in a windowless buggy. The grass was not top notch; yet I felt much closer to the clouds. Antigua has an untouched beauty, and calming appeal. I am sure with 365 beaches and delicious fruits, one good spliff is all you need to feel at peace.
Tolerance: Be discreet but do not smoke on the street…
The Castries morn was infallible. I have really wanted to visit St. Lucia for many years now, and it wasn’t what I hoped it would be. It was more! It only took about twenty minutes onshore, and I was smoking a Bob Marley in the back of a chartered BMW. Although, it being Sunday, that meant country music on the airwaves. Rass… I guess I’ll light up to some Kenny Rogers!
“Relax, Rastman you are in paradise!” the driver said, in a sudden outburst, as he pulled up to a hut on the side of the road. It was a splendid puff stop. I crushed a calabash full of the “Vincy.” Yes, it was in St. Lucia that I discovered that St. Vincent is the green heaven of the Eastern Antilles. So I made two mountainous spliffs which I called the Pitons. A therapeutic trip to the Toraille Falls lead to a deserving detox, but there I became quite famished. Please note on Sundays in St. Lucia, it’s much easier to find food for the brain versus food your belly!
We made several failed attempts to satisfy our appetite, before the driver made a few desperate turns into Castries to try one last spot for the best local food. There, we saw a “soccer mom”-looking sedan with a homemade grill and tables. That roast fish with boiled plantain was a lifeboat because I was drowning in the munchies. The food was as satisfying as our next move, an afternoon sail on Rodney Bay. We docked for gas next to the real Black Pearl. The herbs had me swaying side to side, just like Jack Sparrow. It wasn’t a Disney movie — more like Birdheye Films Presents “High-Rate of the Caribbean.” Arrrrrr!
Tolerance: Leave the town, and you can smoke all around…
Do not go to Barbados for ganja. You can get into deep trouble — Atlantis submarine, 143-feet deep trouble! In the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal, the natty sailed into a 1960 colonial energy. Plus, the police uniforms were the same as Jamaica… Bruk me vibes!
“A know it me you are looking for braddah!,” a Rasta taxi driver shouted as I strayed beyond the colonial gates of the pier. I hopped in without hesitation. He told me point blank: “You can only smoke in my car… This is not Jamaica, This is Barbados!” With that, my thoughts were reaffirmed. Then we made our way to his dealer in the Bajan garrison.
The vehicle halted at a vacant, dead-end lane. The driver led the way through a few doors before we arrived at an indoor garrison ganja base. This was definitely a high-surveillance compound. The dealer, blasting Alkaline’s “Champion Boy,” was already watching us via the multiple camera set up. I got only imported green: Arizona, Hydro and “Jamaica.” Homegrown Bajan ganja is very rare. It’s really only found in rural areas. For this reason, ganja is ridiculously expensive on the Island. We then drove to the only place I really wanted to see in Barbados, the childhood house of pot-smoking pop queen Rihanna. It was a great motivation. She defiantly had to work, work, work, work. Hopefully, I get a sample of that marihanna soon.
Tolerance: Not even seed! You will got to jail at optimal speed…
Honestly, St. Kitts is small and sweet. The island vibe is high, and the sale of weed is genius. But first, I wandered unsuccessfully in the port for about an hour. Fortunately, I met former Tuff Gong recording artist Zemenfes Kiddus, who told me, “Follow the monkeys!” Best advice!!!
I saw a group of men and tiny monkeys in the shopping village in Basseterre. The tiny sub-humans were wearing newborn diapers. I introduced myself: “I am a Rasta and you know why I am here!” The men all laughed. Then, I was handed three monkeys for a photo-op. The monkeys posed and simultaneously sneaked me a few bags of greens!!! Bumboclaat, I live to buy weed from a monkey!
I was told I could meet more monkeys at a restaurant not too far from town. There, I met a Jamaican waitress who told me about the wonderful life on St.Kitts, how she made a living and built a home here for her family. She praised St. Kitts for its hospitality and economy. Also, she gave me a keen warning to stay away from the wild monkeys. These were the cane-eating monkeys, not the marijuana money-making monkeys. Apparently, if you get too close they may go bananas on you!
Tolerance: Once you have it, no one cares about your habit.
ST. THOMAS (U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS)
By the time I arrived in the Virgin Islands, I was already stacked with herbs. So I quickly grabbed a charter to the unique Ice Bar. It’s a frozen gem of a pub made thoroughly of ice. There, I got the closest I have gotten to smoking in Siberia. 🙂
After a hasty exit, I was out into the flawless sunshine of St. Thomas. I was ready to meditate at Magen’s Bay, one of the most acclaimed beaches in the West Indies. It was packed! I guess the word got out. But, as an island man, nature reserved me a perfect spot away from the crowd.
Shortly after, I was approached by a foreigner for a “hit.” He told me his story, of being an ex U.S. Marine, who served two tours in Afghanistan, and is now surviving with PTSD. This was the first time he was able to medicate in a week. Immediately, I rolled him a huge YAAD spliff to keep him healthy for the rest of his cruise. After all, The Birdheye View is under the divine orders to share the Tranquility and Healing of Ganja. The veteran soldier was left very happy. My job was done here…
I can’t say much on the Bahamas, because I was anchored on a private islet away from the real Bahamian life. I will have to return and make my way to Nassau for some real Bahama vibes. But I can say that the locals I did meet asked me for a little herbs, comfortably. I gathered that Bahamas embraces buds.
There on the private islet, I laid beneath a clamshell, smoking a blended joint from all the islands. I could call it the West Indies Cricket Team, who recently won the world T20. But the first pull of that spliff had me celebrating the world 4/20!!! It was a victorious sail.
Next, I flew to Trinidad and Tobago to “detox” from my time at sea. The energy was high for Carnival weekend. Basically, I went from the plane to the party. The venue was very patrolled. I had a couple hits off my vape pen, and caught a great performance by Kes the Band.
The following day, I was rescued by my Trini brethren who I’ve known since my university days in Huntington Indiana. I got lifted while blasting the Suns of Dub album in Goodwood Park. Jamal — better known as Ras Jammy — explained that Carnival makes movement of herbs minimal: T&T’s festive season calls for roadblocks, and heavy policing around the city. Nevertheless, we made very good use of a small parcel called “Columbia.” Unlike the other islands I visited on my excursion, I was able to stay for a few days. I linked with a selector who is a fan of No-Maddz’s music, and got some high quality from his personal stash. I thought It was Trini grown. “No dread,” he said. “Dem boyz got it through the mail.” I was the smoking Bird amongst the Duck Crew at Jouvert.
Tolerance: If you get caught by the police, you may be gone for days!
It was a joyous experience getting to know a few of my Caribbean neighbors. The similarities amongst ourselves in the West Indies are overwhelming. I also recognized that Jamaica’s step towards the legalization of ganja has bred a new level of acceptance regionally.