Sunday, April 4, 2010

Charming Holiday Memory

A family member of mine went to Jamaica on holiday and ran into a bit of trouble while there. This family member does not 'tell tall tales' and I was floored about what she went through. She and hubby were told not to venture off their resort property but she wanted to get out and about and look around the town center. So off they went one night, did not take any money or bags with them, no cameras, etc. Just out for a walk. Shortly upon entering the town, they felt uncomfortable. It was very seedy and rundown, with passed out people literally just laying around. Just as they were thinking they made a mistake, a nice man came up and offered to take them to the shops. Being silly nannies from Canada who had never been to Jamaica before, they followed the nice man along... It soon became apparent that the man wanted money for his 'guide tour' and he was totally ticked that they only had $4.25 on them. He snatched the money and left them standing in an alley. There were some cute shops in the alley, but they REALLY had no money now. A shopkeeper came out and herded my female family member into her store and started draping necklaces around her neck, telling her how pretty she was, etc. My family member said that she had no money on her at all but would come back on Tuesday (2 days) because they were booked on a tour the next day.... Once they finally got out of the shops and found the street that led back to their resort, my female family member was approached by a woman saying "Hello beautiful lady. Do you have money for me?".

When she replied 'No, Im so sorry, I have NO money', the woman persisted and followed the couple. Again they said they were sorry but did not have any money at all, and the woman started CHASING THEM. She was yelling 'You white lady, you hate black people!'. She repeated this and was literally running down the street chasing this young couple. They were so totally freaked out, the husband ran ahead leaving his wife in his dust (I laugh about it now cos I can just picture this oil rig dude running his ass off ahead of a very angry Jamaican woman). But can you imagine that?? I was really shocked. Again, take this story as you will, but this family member does NOT tell hokey pokey crap stories. She was very upset about her little adventure. She doesn't know if it was her imagination and fear, or what, but it seemed like as they were running and people were listening to the woman yelling about 'you hate black people!', the crowd seemed to move closer to them. They were freaked the hell right out and did not go back there 2 days later as planned. So basically, because of how they were treated, the people in the shops, the impromptu tour guide, and the woman who chased them,  all lost out on getting the pair's multiple shopping dollars that would have been on offer a couple days later. I wonder how often this goes on?? This couple will NEVER EVER put their money into anything other than a resort if they travel anywhere like that on holiday again.

I didn't have trouble like that when I went to Mexico in 1995 (i think) even though their market crashed badly right when I was there, moving from 3 or 4 pesos to a dollar, to 7 pesos to a dollar. I could wander around Mazatlan and not feel afraid at all. Sure I had people coming up to me, but it didn't bother me and I wasn't hounded... unless it was 2am and I saw all the little children out trying to sell photos of tourists with their iguanas... that bothered me but I didn't feel hunted or shamed like my family member just did in Jamaica. My friend that got married in the Dominican Republic said their resort sent an armed escort with them when they wanted to tour the town, so they decided it was not worth visiting the city if that's what it took to get in there safely (that was in the mid 90s). They stayed on the resort the whole time instead. But this Jamaican adventure just happened recently.


  1. Totally believable.

    I haven't been to Jamaica, but have dealt with aggressive hawkers elsewhere. Zanzibar and Vietnam had among the worst I've seen.

  2. They were warned!!
    I'm inclined to think that they got what they deserved. It was freakin' JAMAICIA!!!
    Most of the hoods in Toronto that are busy killing each other are from Jamaicia!!
    They were warned!
    And what about the husband who left his wife behind as they ran from a woman who was yelling at them!
    What would this 'oil rig dude' have done if she had brandished a gun?
    Would he have even bothered to look back?
    Oil rig dudes should hang their heads in shame.
    If you go on a holiday in a place where most people are very poor and violence prevails AND if you are warned about going into town but you do so anyway then don't cry to anybody if bad things happen to you.
    I wouldn't vacation anywhere within a thousand miles of Jamaica.

  3. My daughter and her boyfriend was disgusted by the old Canadian men hooking up with really young Cuban girls. In Mexico they got really fed up with the constant badgering on the beach for them to buy stuff. But they never felt in danger in Mexico.

  4. Yeah, I sure don't feel sorry for them. They were warned.

  5. Don't get me wrong, I can't BELIEVE they went off resort like that! And as for husband running ahead of his wife, that's certainly for them to deal with. I couldn't believe that part of the story - but then again, it was the wife who insisted on going and he didn't want to so I guess if she couldn't run fast enough away from what she was warned about, that's her problem ;) I don't want to seem rude towards them, it would have been devastating for the family if something terrible had happened to them. However, now that I know they are safe, I can tell them they are insane and wag my finger at them.

    But really my point of the story is that people in richer countries get harranged and badgered into donating money to places like this, over and over again. Help the people, it's too harsh for them to live like this while you sit in your fancy homes on your expensive Macs with your giant flat screen TVs. It's like you get guilted into donating money to similar countries...... but this is how you are treated if you go there in person in many regions of many countries. I refuse to be guilted into donating to anything like that anymore. I have experienced and heard so many stories from close friends and relatives over the years, it has turned me cold toward a lot of 'foreign aid'. There I said it. Even though I'm programmed to feel guilt about that statement, I mean it and will really start thinging hard in the future what I am going to donate to.

    At the end of the story I pointed out that those shop keepers, the begging woman, and the 'self confessed tour guide' all lost out on honestly earned money because of their antics. If they do this to lots of tourists, who the hell would want to go back with more money the next day and help these people out? No fricken way would I do it and I doubt many others would either. So my inferred point there is that those 3 individuals shot themselves in the foot by acting in such a manner. My family member liked a lot of the things in that shop and would have come back to buy things for her daughters and friends. And at the same time, she would be helping to support the shopkeeper and her family.

    Instead, she ONLY spent money in the higher priced resort shops and never set foot in the local market and will probably never do it on any future holidays either. So what good did pestering, badgering, and then terrifying some tourists do? No good at all and anyone who hears that story will avoid venturing out to support the locals instead of purchasing trinkets at the resort shops. I say my family members were warned too and they were very lucky to come out of that safely, but I also say that the local people near that Sandals resort should not expect a single dime of aid from ANYWHERE if they are going to treat the providers like that. I'm done with being guilted and strong-armed into donating aid to places like that. I'm sure some of my friends would tell me that's a terrible attitude and that the people are just desperate - but I really don't care.



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