Travelling to a foreign land is an opportunity many people never experience. It never loses its awe, whether visiting on assignment or for personal enjoyment. My curiosity is peaked as I leave the comfort of homeland and venture to the unknowns of a foreign location. Even the act of flying alone has the symbolic manifestation of leaving the known and traversing to the unknown. Beam me up, Scottie!
Jamaica is a beautiful land! The roads are terrible. They make Monroe Road seem smooth as silk. If they named the potholes as they do in New York, they would have to buy baby name books from all over the world. At one point, I actually thought my teeth were falling out.
I was told I would see poverty worst than I had ever experienced before. “See” is right because I was not allowed to get out of the car unless we were in a secured area. Crime in Jamaica is unimaginable. Except for some of the homes in the countryside, every business or house I saw, whether in the poorest areas or the dwellings and shopping venues of the wealthy, was behind a fence or wall and was gated. These people have made “gated communities” a national heritage; gated communities of “one.”
I tried to get my head around the socio-economic plight of these paradisiacal islanders. There is no middle class. Jamaicans are either rich or they are extremely poor. Unemployment is high and has been as much as 25% during the last twenty years. Jobs are not being created and many who have employment cannot survive on what they take home. Their largest industry is from “remittances.” Sending money home to Jamaica accounts for over 20% of GDP. No wonder crime is high. There is a sense of desperation wherever you go in Kingston, the capital city. Known for their exclusive resort experiences, Jamaica has a dark side most never experience during their visit.
Visiting Jamaica was a thrilling experience for me. Words aren’t adequate to express the dichotomy that exists wherever you go.
copyright 2011 Jim Lockman/Click!