Secret Stashes on a Small Town Rock

Written by: JACQUE CAMPAIGNE

 

I was born in Stockholm, the capitol of Sweden. Both busy and beautiful, the city’s main downfall for me is the fact that it’s most always overcast and cold – really, really cold.

To escape the bleak weather, we moved to Sarasota on Florida’s West Coast where, though I reveled in the warmth, it took me a long time to acclimatize to small town living. But after a disastrous fire in our home in Florida, we moved to the Bahamas in 2000, where I experienced small town living on a whole other level. I never ever thought I would end up on an island, most definitely not such a remote one, though after being here for over 15 years, I now consider a trip to Nassau too hectic for my taste.

I live on Cat Island, Bahamas, in the middle of the Atlantic – a little rock with only 12,000 inhabitants. Cat Island is one of the twelve largest islands in the Bahamas, but is by far the most underdeveloped. Until 1990, they didn’t even have electricity on the island.

All that has since changed. Today, every kid on the island knows how to get onto Facebook (even if they don’t really know how to read!). The times have progressed rapidly, but some things never really go out of style… things like drug smuggling.

A while back, a sleek Panga (an open, “go-fast” fishing boat with two 250 Yamahas) came limping into Orange Creek. One engine had broken down and the other was on its last breath. The cargo, 70 bales of marijuana and an untold amount of cocaine, was being transported from Jamaica to the US. The boat owner/drug runner had family in Cat Island, so when the engines started to give out, he figured he could get help from his childhood friends and family to hide the drugs while he got the engine repaired. He pulled up by his uncle’s dock and waited for night to fall so that the drugs could be taken off the boat in the cover of darkness.

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What he seemed to not take into account is the fact that the island is a very quiet place at night. He had contacted two of his friends and when they had met the boat with a pick-up truck, most of the neighbors in Orange Creek were woken up by the sound of the car in the middle of the night. Most of them also knew immediately who the truck belonged to by the sound of the rattling muffler.

It didn’t take long for the good people of Orange Creek to figure out what was going on after the truck had made numerous trips all night long to an overgrown field in the middle of the island. But nobody said a word.

In the morning, one of our friends came by to sip-sip (gossip) about the truck, the drugs, and the boat. He said he knew where they had hidden the bales, so we decided to go and look for them. Motivated by curiosity, we loaded up in our pick-up truck to head out to the field. To no one’s surprise, it wasn’t very hard to find. The spots where the drugs were hidden were marked by palm fronds on the road. It was a dead giveaway, considering the closest palm trees were at least a hundred feet from the path.

At that point, it was getting to be close to 9am and with the temperature rising, my anxiety started to increase. I imagined DEA helicopters swarming down on us or – worse – Jamaicans with machetes jumping out from the bushes. Although there are no cars with sirens on the island, I kept thinking I was hearing police sirens in the distance, and decided it was probably best to just to get the heck out of there.

Our friend had picked up 8 bales for himself and wanted to hide them somewhere else. But we were all a little nervy, so we dumped them on a neighboring overgrown field and decided to come back and get to them later.

Back home, we had breakfast and talked for a bit and our friend left with a new plan to move his 8 bales. We had only been gone for four hours, but in that time someone else had been looking too. When he reached the second field, all 8 bales were gone.

What we didn’t know at the time was that all the other 62 were gone as well. When the drug runner had repaired his engines and came with his mates to collect the loot, everything was gone. He realized what had happened and went around to the most likely candidates in Orange Creek and threatened them with dire consequences if they didn’t return his drugs. Nobody did, of course, and apart from the cocaine that the police found in a deserted container, the marijuana somehow magically disappeared.

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What did happen was that some people in Orange Creek bought new cars and some workers didn’t show up for work for a couple of weeks. A mellow feeling enveloped the settlement for a little while, and everybody – except for the Jamaicans who provided the drugs and the drug runner who got seriously hurt by them – was happy.

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Jacque Campaigne

About Jacque Campaigne

Jacque always thought she was going to end up in the Caribbean. She saw herself as an aging eccentric with billowing muumuus, impatiently dictating children's books into a portable tape recorder (she didn't know about Siri when this vision took form) while striding down a deserted beach. Several years later, sans muumuu but still somewhat impatient, she walks the beach while listening to books and confines the writing to her porch and her Apple Air.

It took her some time to get to the Caribbean. Many years were spent working as a journalist in Stockholm, Sweden, and then as a real estate broker in Florida. Kids grew up, went to college, got married, and moved away. By 1999, she and her husband bought a big piece of an empty beach on Cat Island. What was originally going to be a weekend gathering spot for their two sons and extended family quickly became the only place where she wanted to live.

An adjustment here, another there, and the weekend cottage became her permanent home. Now she blogs about her island and the food she cooks everyday.

CURRENT ROCK OF RESIDENCE: Cat Island, Bahamas

ISLAND GIRL SINCE: 2000

ORIGINALLY HAILS FROM: Stockholm, Sweden

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7 thoughts on “Secret Stashes on a Small Town Rock

  1. Great story. I’ve heard about such things in the VI but when cocaine was involved it usually didn’t turn out all relaxed and mellow. What’s more likely: Strung-out, paranoid and/or ripped off by gangsters with guns. Busted can happen too.

  2. Love the story
    Have dreamt of living on an island for many years… Did live on Long Island, lol… Did visit many Caribbean islands and my car plates or tags say “Caribe” !

  3. Keep the well written stories coming. The closest I got to be around people like your story “melees” (gossip and in other peoples business) about is a friend of mine from Goodland FL(below Marco Island FL at the tip of the Gulf Coast) CAME TO VISIT US ON OUR ROCK(SXM) and he had a Lear Jet which he “parked ” on the French side (by just leaving a piece of paper in the closed office at the airport with his info on it) and he took my 8 year old son up in the plane and showed him our island.. I talk about my friend b/c he told me stories of back in the day of running and dropping drugs on Tintimare , a little Island near Pinel Island on the French side, it seems that back in the day it was an ongoing thing! My 8 year old at the time had no clue what drugs were and the stories went over his head but the ride in the plane stays with him and he is now 25 years old and not an island boy but a Pacific Beach , CA young man… Can’t take the beach far from him! Me I live in Deerfield Beach, FL and enjoy being close to the beach also:-)

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