10 July 2008

The Day I Couldn’t Photograph

Saturday we finally went into Kingston. For the last week, all we’ve talked about is how dangerous Jamaica is and how careful you have to be and what to do if something awful happens. Not that none of this is warranted, mind you. Last year Jamaica had the 2nd highest murder rate in the world. However, the majority of this is due to drug and gang violence. So in a sense, it is a very dangerous place, but in another, it’s not so bad if you’re careful.

So after days and days of scaring the crap out of us, we get to go downtown. I was nervous. Really nervous. I didn’t bring wallet or bag or even a camera; just some cash and my cell phone. The funny thing was, as we got closer to downtown, I started feeling more at ease. (We’ve been living at a school and the only people we’ve seen so far have essentially been us (and the Jamaican staff). ) When we finally got out of the taxi and started walking around I just felt this huge sense of relief. “Wait a sec, not everyone on the street here seems to have a gun pointed at me. How bizarre!” In fact, most people didn’t seem to care at all that I was there on the sidewalk. It was lovely. Now I know lots of people DID notice us, but the majority did not care one bit.

We spent the next 2hrs walking and bussing around Kingston. We stopped for some Jamaican patties (which are kind of like hot pockets with fresher ingredients). Then we went through this giant market that would’ve looked incredible from a plane, I think. It was made up of huge dilapidated warehouse structures and little shacks with tarps covering every walkway. They had fruit, clothes, pirated DVDs, etc. You name it; they had it. It was quite a sight. Thousands and thousands of people filled the streets and shops. Just going every-which-way. You just made a path and went for it and somehow it all worked. There were cops is riot gear at every intersection. It was like something out of a movie. We finally got out of the market and took a bus and taxi home. It was fun.

All in all, the day really put some fears to rest. Again, I know this place isn’t the safest, but not every Jamaican is out to get us. In fact, they’re an extremely warm group of people. They’re very outgoing and very anxious to help you. Very cool.


Josh Bush said...

I'm glad that that some of your fear is lifted. I'm afraid I didn't do too much to help on that front before your trip. I'm sorry about that, I'm a little paranoid about those things.

As an aside, I'm really enjoying the posts. I'm living my Jamaican life vicariously through you guys, mon.

crashmattb said...

It's understandable to be uneasy at first, but over time you'll get comfortable with the street life. I Still wouldn't recommend flashing around that big ole camera of yours unless you're with a larger group of people. Btw, I think I've been to that market you talked about. Learn to bargain and you'll get some good deals.