Friday, August 22, 2008

JAMAICA!I can't believe I am really, truly in Jamaica! I am sitting in my room this morning, my hubby just left for a round of golf, and I am experiencing relaxation and leisure in a way previously unknown to me. Our suite has a patio that overlooks the sea, clear and blue.

Last night, at the welcome jerk reception on the beach (with flame throwers, beach drums, and men on stilts saying "no worries, mon! You are in Jamaica, Mon!"), there were security on the outskirts of the party. When I asked about it later, I was informed that Jamaica is very dangerous, and we should not leave the resort under any circumstances, unless it was a planned, guided event. Our bus driver said that the minimum wage here is US $50 a week. As we drove here from the airport, it was plain to see, by the houses on the side of the road, that many of the people here in Jamaica are very poor. I wonder how they view people like me...these americans, coming to vacation in luxury. Are they happy to see us, knowing that we will spend money? Or do they harbor a veiled contempt for us? I wonder. I verbalized this to Matt yesterday. This trip is absolutely blissful and I am so, so thankful to be able to enjoy it. But I do feel little twinges of something. Guilt, maybe? It just seems so wrong, to have so much, especially when surrounded by poverty on all sides.

But it is like this at home too, isn't it? There are people all around me, struggling to make ends meet, to provide for their families. Even just a few streets from my house, people live without air conditioning, are on welfare, live under the poverty level. Maybe it is just the stark contrast of it here, that makes me think about it more. I don't live like this at home, obviously. I don't lounge around under an umbrella with a drink in my hand on a daily basis. Too, at home, I am distracted. I am taking care of my children, our home. Important things. The most important things for me to be taking care of. But there are other things too...other people, that are in need, around me. But sometimes is takes a caribbean vacation to see them.


Other thoughts, of a different nature, of our time in Jamaica, here.

*creative commons image from gailf548 on flickr.com

10 comments:

  1. Teresa10:15 AM

    Hope Jamaica continues to be a relaxing and fun experience for you.

    If it makes you feel better to vacation without feeling like a privileged and rich American, just go to Europe. The Euro-zone is so very expensive with the dollar being so weak. I'd choose the favorable exchange rate in Jamaica--LOL!

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  2. I like your contrasting images on each blog. I'd never seen ones like the ones on this blog. In fact, they do remind me of parts of Georgia, though even poor Georgians are probably still richer than poor Jamaicans. But a lot of the strange feelings come from the contrast, don't they?

    Many of the nannies here in Manhattan are from Jamaica or Trinidad. Talk about strange feelings--these woman are practically mothers to some of the richest children in the world!

    Enjoy your vacation. I think a vacation taken with eyes open is a good thing, and more memorable in the long run.

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  3. Don't sabotage your vacation by feeling guilty. A vacation is a gift of God and should be spent in thankfulness and wonder. Not that you shouldn't think about the poor people there, just don't let it ruin your time. Me Ma and Pe Pa's church goes to Jamaica on mission trips. Maybe you could go sometime and see the island from the "other side". Yes, I'll keep your kids again!

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  4. Great post. Living in a popular vacation spot myself, I have my own take on the topic of 'tourism & tourists' but I've often wondered the same about other far-off places where the culture and society are a lot different.... whether there is a 'veiled contempt' as you put it, or if the locals are welcoming and thankful.

    Love your blog..... gives lots of food for thought. :)

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  5. Your mother is wise - I agree with her 100%!

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  6. So jealous! I have been to Jamaica a couple of times and love it there! The poverty is really sad though. But, I always told myself that they may be poor but what an incredible sea God allows them to look upon every day. The view may not pay their bills, but it is the picture of a different kind of wealth...the riches that our Lord has given his people through the nature that He so carefully and wonderfully created. So, like the locals say "No problem, mon!"

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  7. I too agree with your mother, Have a great time!

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  8. In 2002, my brother and sister in law got married in Jamaica. It was shocking to see the poverty, I had no idea. It was like seeing National Geographic.
    You never know why you are placed where you are at any given time. Perhaps the Lord is opening your eyes to certain things. Enjoy your vacation and give the guilt to God.

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  9. Having lived in the Caribbean for several years(I don't any longer), your observations are perceptive. The relationship between tourist and native are complex. They do appreciate your coming and spending your money, but the "veiled contempt" is an excellent descriptor. Where I lived, locals called tourists "tourons," but were friendly to their faces.

    At any rate, your family and friends are right. Enjoy the relaxation God has blessed you with. come home revitalized, but also with a new perspective.

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  10. I am with Teresa on this one! And, money doesn't equal happiness. So, for all their poverty they may be experiencing God's love differently than we are.

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