Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jamaica....the Tourist Mecca

Tourists love Jamaica. I know its not the sand, sea nor sun...quite a few places have this - extremely beautiful beaches, and a lot of them have better infrastructure - roads, airports, transportation......but still tourists love Jamaica. Now the Spanish (Spaniards, Mexicans, Dominicans) have realized this and are literally taking over the North Coast, our main seat of tourism; and when the build they do not go small, I am talking about 3000 rooms, 2000 rooms, 1500 room hotels. Pretty soon the north coast will be like Miami, in that if you don't speak spanish, you won't be able to communicate with 50% of the residents.

Now why do the tourists love Jamaica....THE PEOPLE....yup, i know you don't believe it, but the very same people who pillage and murder each other (ok, alright, the majority of us are nice) is the the same people that keep the tourists coming back (and a lot of them do)! They talk about the vibrance of life here, the fact that there is a speaker box on every corner and the sounds of reggae/dancehall blasting from every shop, shed and fowl coop in sight; the fact that a domino table set up on the sidewalk can be the seat of entertainment for hours; the fact that we are gonna approach you and 'beg u a smalls' and even if we don't get it, we will assist you and smile same way (sometimes..lol); the fact that the girls walk around in little and nothing and gyrate their bodies in the most fascinating ways while creating new dance moves that take over the world. Yes, tourists love Jamaica.

Montego Bay is the known capital of Jamaica's tourism. It has the majority of hotels room (at this time) and a population geared around the needs of the tourist. Let me describe Mobay briefly to you. There is 100 feet of flat land in from the sea, most of which is reclaimed land. The airport sits at one end and sewage ponds at the other end. The rest is beaches, hotels, clubs, restaurants and shops all geared for the tourists. The rest of Mobay is all uphill and this is where the Jamaicans live, in mainly small, hastily developed, unplanned communities, lacking in infrastructure and order which they then attempt to urbanize after the fact. Mobay also has a lot of migration into it from surrounding parishes, everybody trying to get a piece of the tourism pie and of course there are high levels of unemployment.

I say all that to say this, Montego Bay is spiralling out of control...within the last month, there have been three multiple murders recorded. It seems when they go to kill, the just make a big party out of it, and kill as many as they are able to stomach in one go. Already, the murder figures for this year have far surpassed those of last year and the we still have a month to go. Luckily for us, the killing is kept on the hills and the 100 feet of flat land remains pretty violence free, but how long is this going to last, and what happens when the tourists no longer like the tourism capital, and does anybody listening to the news make a distinction between the 100 feet of flat land and the hills?

Anyway I must big up Jamaican tourism interests, cause they must be doing something right. I remember just the other day (maybe 5-10 years ago) when we welcomed for the first time ever 1 million stop over visitors in Jamaica in one year. This year, they are projecting that we will see 3 million stop over visitors!! Considering that Tourism and Bauxite are the only money earners in Jamaica, this is an extremely good thing.

I am ending on a happy note today!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No One Untouched

I had a dilemma.

I am attending a wedding on Saturday in Montego Bay, the wonderful second city where I attended high school, and i have a beautiful outfit in black and white that i am planning to wear. I however mentioned it to my mother and she was mortified about my choice of colours. I then polled the opinions of my friends and the people on a message board that i frequent. Thank god the consensus is that i can happily and comfortably wear my black and white outfit to the wedding. Hopefully the bride wont be upset, or think that i am trying to upstage her (why would this even enter one's mind?), but what i am sure of is that if i do get Mr. 1600 miles to the altar, i really don't care what you wear. (J/k Mr. 1600)

Unfortunately one of the first person's i spoke to sounded rather upset on the phone and i commented on this. She then told me that she had lost a close family member the night before in a much publicized triple murder in Montego Bay. I barely had words to say. I imagined myself in her shoes, i commiserated, i grieved! She indicated that she would be heading to Mobay for the weekend, same as myself. Two friends heading to the second city, but while i would be celebrating a new beginning, she would be mourning a life lost.

I then realized that whether its someone you know, or someone related to someone you know, the majority of us are impacted sooner or later by this war that rages across our shores.

Will it ever stop?

Can we stop it?

How many more lives to be lost?

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