Beaches, music, and a taste for the exotic
By Bonnie PrinsenMonday, December 3, 2001
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, "Yeah, mon!" when I tell them I went to Jamaica this fall. But it is true: Jamaicans consistently respond in conversation with "yeah, mon" or "no, mon" or "no problem, mon."
In some ways, the island of Jamaica must be one of the most blessed places on earth, with the combination of lush mountain jungles, where the famous Blue Mountain coffee is grown, and the white sandy beaches with gently swaying palm trees. And then there are those friendly Jamaicans with their unequaled warmth and good will.
Essentially, Jamaica is a paradise. And it's not far from the U.S. Plus, a vacation in Jamaica can be relatively inexpensive, especially if you know some local people.
A group of twelve of us, some veteran Jamaican travelers, flew to Jamaica on October 31. Our plans had been made before September 11. As stoic midwesterners, we were all reluctant to give voice to any jitters we felt regarding the threat of terrorism. But traveling outside the country is not the same since September 11. I've never found it difficult to imagine there might be people in the world who hate Americans, but that reality became too real, too undeniable this fall.
It's hard to explain how it felt leaving America. I think we almost experienced a shyness: would they like us in Jamaica?
We soon found that the reaction of most Jamaicans to Americans at the time was concern and pity. "How are you?' we heard from vendors on the first day, like neighbors asking about a tragedy in the family.
Our unofficial leader, Dave Barnes, making his seventh trip to Jamaica, found that friends he'd made on previous trips "were genuinely concerned about our well-being and about America." Barnes believes Jamaicans feel close to our country and see it as a friend who "has and will help them in times of need." Tourism dollars
Also, because tourism is a top industry, Jamaica's economy took a direct hit on September 11. Early November is usually a slow time for tourism in Jamaica, but we were told again and again that this year is much slower than most.
In a variety of ways, Jamaicans expressed anger at Osama bin Laden, widely believed to have masterminded the terrorist attacks.
"He didn't just kill Americans," said businessman Collin Lynch about bin Laden. "I heard that people f .....[Read the Rest]