We arrive at 7, and it’s already dark outside but hot and muggy. I can’t believe this is “off” season, to come in July or August would be unbearable. As we clear customs we are escorted to our shuttle by and armed guard who then rides with us and the driver to the resort. It’s more than a little disconcerting. Because it is dark I can’t see much of anything out of the windows. After being let through a security gate we reach our destination. It’s a Saturday night, so things are at full swing at this all-inclusive resort. Band playing, children running, and sunburnt adults stumbling to the bar. After dropping my things in my room I’m back to join in the fun. The buffet is mediocre at best-I’m a buffet hater. (Except for some in Vegas) and the beer is warm. There’s a stage with a magician to detract the kids, followed by a disco act. I feel as if I’ve just stumbled onto “Dirty Dancing”.
Everyone has that glazed look caused by the combination of too much alcohol and sun. Can you tell I’m not in love with this? It’s not the resort itself or the setting, their both beautiful. It’s this type of vacation. Loud masses of tourists. They could be on any beach or cruise ship in the world and they would be exactly the same. There is no experiencing the country they are in because for them, their days are all the same, defined by the nightly resort entertainment. It’s so not me. I wander over to a dark area where smokers congregate. Around the world these small areas are where people make five minute friends with the help of a social lubricant. I meet a couple from Scotland, and we talk about politics and Scottish history. Then I meet a woman from Long Island, and we talk of flying and weather. Universally everyone I ask loves the resort, the beach, and their fellow guests. (Which I will admit are making this trip) I go back to the bar, find a quiet corner and continue to people watch. It’s later now, the children are in bed, along with most of the older couples and women. The men line up by the bar and snarf down hamburgers and French fries like they haven’t eaten in weeks. (Watching drunk people eat really is enough to put you off alcohol.) I meet two guys from north of London, we talk for a while, and then decide to make a go for a small island right of shore.
The tide is out, so we only have to walk through waist deep water to get there, and on the at, we meet a Canadian. We sit on the sand and talk. The usual rules about conversation seem to never apply on the road: religion, politics, taxes, healthcare- nothing is taboo, and it’s one of my favorite things of traveling. We end by talking of food, and one of my favorite quotes of the night “if I had to choose between bacon and cheese for the rest of my life I’d rather shoot myself in the face!”
After realizing what time it was (I got a whole four hours of sleep on this layover) we wade back only to be confronted by a very angry security guard. Apparently we were not allowed on that island at night, and using his flashlight to gesture he explained why. There was a boat about 50 yards from the island that I had assumed were fishers, but he explained they could easily and have both assaulted and kidnapped people before, coming onto the island from the other non-resort side. A rather terrifying threat at 1:30 in the morning. Especially since the island had been entirely my idea.
Chastised we went quietly to the safety of our rooms.
Ps. Rereading this I feel like I may have done Jamaica an injustice. I am a firm believer in living in the moment, trying new things and enjoying where you are. It was beautiful, and everyone I met was nice. It just wasn’t my thing. Perfect for a few hours but definitely not how I would want to spend a trip. (But then again, as anyone who’s ever gone anywhere with me will attest to…I’m not a “sit and relax” kinda vacationer.)