The Selected Quirks of Madjag
The Madjag Chronicles were compiled as memoirs and mental snapshots of my experiences during the 1978-1982 guerrilla growing years in Madjag Canyon and beyond. Importing weed from Mexico, lining up connections with the Colombians, and living for months in Jamaica to set up a 1/2 ton Ganja flight were some of my subsequent adventures. In recent years I have been a medical marijuana grower, a pollen chucker, and an Admin/Moderator for several online cannabis forums.
Dodge The Bullet
As a bit of cultural explanation for those of you from other countries, the saying, “I dodged a bullet”, refers to remarkably cheating pain or avoiding death at a given moment. It’s a confirmation of both extraordinary luck received and bad fate denied. There is no real bullet out there with your name on it. The actual name on that ever-present bullet is “habit”. The antidote is “change”.
“I can resist anything but temptation.”
– Oscar Wilde
In 1985 Jamaica I was frequently traveling across the island on two-lane, paved roads. The Jamaican hill folk call paved roads a “tire” road in contrast to the dirt roads without pavement. My work involved getting a 500 kilo Ganja shipment together and making sure it made it to American soil. Hundreds of details required attention and my job was to attend to all of them. Sometimes, often in fact, this meant trusting less than stellar associates on the ground. The pilots flying the load needed to be professional for sure, but the many steps involved with lining up 500 kilos from a number of individual growers, transporting it from remote Westmoreland Parish hills to Mo Bay, packaging it securely for a small plane pickup and delivery, and bribing the MoBay men at the international airport all meant exposure to dangers from third parties. I certainly wasn’t going to meet the tower employees but I knew someone who knew them well-enough to get that aspect nailed down. Or so I thought….
Everything costs more than planned. One grower who I knew personally was driving 300 lbs. of Ganja down from the mountains and hit a roadblock not far from the coast. He ended up in jail in Lucea with his car and weed confiscated. After an uncomfortable night in jail the chief of police came to my friend and asked him if he had any money stashed. My friend said yes and was allowed to call his wife in order to get some dough to the officials and secure his release. The chief would probably get half and the sergeant and his officers would split the rest.
Hours passed and Anita showed up at the Lucea clink. The chief made the deal and she paid him $1500 USD. Flour, my friend and the unfortunate driver, was released and given back his car with the trunk still filled with the Ganja! The price of doing business in this case was merely a “get-out-of-jail” and “pass-go” payoff. The chief told Flour, “I want you to stay in business. I just want my piece of the action and will make sure I get it when I can”. My friend dodged a bullet and so did our grand export plan. Capitalism at its finest.
Flour was lucky, however upon closer examination, we realized that these situations happen all over the island, every day, and the business goes on and on and on. I hate to call it a game, but it is.
One afternoon I was crossing the western end of Hanover through a winding mountain road that was seldom traveled. My friend Honey mon, a grower from Orange Hill above Negril, was at the wheel and the tiny Toyota was packed with three local guys pressed against each other in the back seat. They were smoking a spliff of course and the windows were up to keep the rain out. Indeed, every afternoon it seemed to rain buckets up here in the hills and every afternoon the heat gave way to shade and a damp jungle, a welcome prelude to a nice, cool evening.
As we sped around another jungle curve we suddenly came upon a roadblock. I was totally bummed because I had a lot of money in my pockets, money on its way to the hands of airport tower men who would allow our plane to load at the far end of the Montego Bay runway and taxi into the queue of small planes awaiting take off. The plan involved goats to be driven onto the runway by a field-hand and in the subsequent minutes of goat chaos, he would begin clearing them off, slowly and clumsily, as the twin Cessna was quickly loaded with the big bales of Ganja.
We were instructed to get out of the car and the officer in charge of the young recruits pointing rifles at us interviewed each of us quickly. He knew Honey mon and knew what business he was in. All Ganja had been ejected quickly before we came to a stop so the car was clean. They checked the Toyota’s trunk as well as under the seats in a quick pass, hoping for a jackpot but not really expecting one. Next I was searched, also in hopes of finding contraband. The policeman who searched me carefully put his hand into my cargo pant pockets, one at a time. In each case he pulled out a thick, folded wad of US 100 dollar bills, roughly 5 grand each, made sure nothing else was in the large pocket, and then replaced the money. Seeing the money but no cocaine or weed was the key to our freedom. Once my other pockets were cleared, they waived us on.
I asked Honey what the hell had just happened and this was it: if they had found weed in the car, Honey mon would have had to cut the squad in on the deal for a reasonable amount of money. It would be their cut and the price of doing business on that particular day, at that particular roadblock. Since that wasn’t the case, they shifted their attention to the white man in the crowd, me. If I had been found carrying a small bag of Ganja or a spliff, I would have had to peel off 4 or 5 of those 100 dollar bills to buy our safe passage. Had I been found with a bindle of coke, or more quantity, I would have been peeling off 20 or 30 of those same friendly Franklins.
I had dodged a bullet, in a way I would have never believed possible. Selah.
I’m sure you have your own special memories of similar close calls. Driving vehicles and drunken endeavors seem to yield a lot of stories in this category. Who knows, maybe some of you were actually in true combat when some blessed luck flowed to you and saved your life from a real bullet. Or not. It doesn’t matter; once you start looking for examples in your life, they will start flying into your consciousness. Give it a whirl, won’t you?
My ex-wife Bobbi was married once before me to a young army guy that she had met at a family party. She was 19 and he was 20 and his base was on the southeast coast of the USA somewhere. They lived in a duplex apartment just off base and when he was off training for days on end, Bobbi would be left at home alone. They bought a decent-sized German Shepherd more for the imagined feeling of security rather than actually believing that they would ever need it to protect them for real. But Jim, bless his soul, believed in taking care of his wife since he had to be gone frequently.
One day a neighbor girlfriend from the base was visiting Bobbi and having some coffee in Bobbi’s kitchen. While they busily talked about many things, they were suddenly heard a pounding at the front door of the apartment. The dog began barking and Bobbi went to see what was going on. She’s a smart lady, not like the ones in the movies that just open the door in order to find out what’s the problem and then get wacked. Nope, she looked through the small windows next to the door first and in doing so saw a big man who was apparently really angry and super disturbed. He kept pounding and then began kicking the door while mumbling some strange words. Bobbi yelled out, “I’ve got a gun and will shoot if you don’t stop and leave”. That said combined with the loud growls and barks from the Shepherd seemed to change his mind. The strange man quit and left her doorstep.
Bobbi’s friend was beside herself and crying in fear. When she saw that Bobbi hadn’t been bluffing and was actually holding a nice .45 cal automatic the entire time, she laughed out of relief. “Shit, I would have fired a warning shot over his head and through the door if I had had to”, Bobbi exclaimed boldly. She wasn’t kidding either and having spent 15 years married to her I can attest to the truth of her bold statement. She most likely would have grabbed my oak nunchakus and whipped his ass had she not had a pistol. She was kick-ass and still is. I like that in a woman.
Anyway, before the two ladies could even get settled down, noise began coming from a bedroom window in the form of the German Shepard guard dog doing his business. They rushed to the bedroom door and stared in disbelief as they witnessed the very same crazy man trying to climb through the open window. Fortunately the window looked out over a slope and it was a bit of a climb, maybe 6-7 feet to the ground, so the weirdo had to climb the apartment wall a bit just to get his arms over the windows’ edge. He had gotten that far but was greeted by an equally angry dog biting his hands and wrists as he struggled to hold on. Bobbi ran into the room and was ready to blow his head off when he suddenly let go, dropped back to the ground, and turned and ran across the open land behind the duplex apartment. Pissed off at the inconvenience of it all as well as being angry at the thought that this asshat might get away, Bobbi took aim out the window at the running man and fired a single shot.
The guy went down hard and the police were on the scene in minutes. He was an escaped inmate from a nearby Penitentiary who had killed two guards during his frantic escape. Not only that, he was in prison because he was a serial killer and certifiably out of his mind, a total nut case with a bad, bad attitude. Bobbi’s shot had hit him in the ass but she was still mad because she had been aiming at his head. The cops, instead of congratulating her for taking out such a menace to society, criticized her for having a gun at home and grilled her over the incident as if she had been at fault in some way. You can imagine what she said to that. Fuck you coppers, oh yeah……
Major bullet dodged, major.
The list goes on and I’m just getting warmed up. Like the time I was sitting at the bar in the Jerome Library Restaurant and Disco and a muscular Mexican lad sat down next to me and started punching me in the ribs, just one or twice, every so often. Ouch, WTF? His friend, sitting on my opposite side, who turned out to be his manager, laughingly said, “My friend wants to fight you. He is the lightweight boxing champion of Sonora, Mexico”.
Ohhhh yeah, that’s just the way I wanted to spend my quiet evening too.
But that’s another story……