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In the ghetto

Kingston, Jamaica

A country of reggae, marijuana, rastafaris and paradise beaches. We experienced all except the last one. We got to see the real Jamaica. Where almost no white people go.

I had spoken with a guy on Couchsurfing for a couple of months and he said we were welcome to stay with him when we arrived. At this time we were oblivious of the fact that it was in fact in the ghetto.

Where the roads are made of dirt, the electricity and the running water is high jacked, the house walls made of sheet metal and the air tastes like marijuana. Welcome to the Watahouse ghetto.

We were advised not to walk outside the house alone. Only in Kingston there are approximately three murders a day. So the first day we relaxed in the house just chit chatting and eating good food. We also watched the news where they showed three people in our age that had been killed with an uzi in some gang war the previous night.

The second day we decided to leave the house to visit our neighbors just 15 meters away. We decided to walk the distance alone. What could possibly happen? The second we’re about to open the door into our neighbor a police car appears just next to us and a police shouts “WATTA TINK YOU DOING?”. We froze. The police clearly showing his loaded gun. Out comes our neighbor. We’re asked to “step aside” and a few seconds later the police is gone again.
Our neighbor then kindly explained to us the police thought we were looking for drugs. Why else would two white people be in the ghetto?

One of the days we went to visit the market down town. The smell was at times terrible. There were sick dogs eating out of the trashes fighting to survive, meat covered with too many flies but of course very cheap vegetables and very cheap food to buy… We walked that whole day without even meeting or seeing any other white people or tourists which was an experience in itself. We didn’t see any other tourists until we went to the famous I-Scream shop to eat the most delicious ice-cream you can imagine. I guess that, where there’s ice cream there are white people.

Next day, another couchsurfer arrived. Mel from the United States. Passing through Jamaica from India on her way back home. The first night together we went up to the rooftop of Hilton and Pegasus hotel to get a look of Kingston by night.

Wednesday night it was time to experience the famous Passa Passa. A wild, ribald, sweaty, weekly dancehall street party. I have never in my life seen so many girls go so wild. The girls here dress to impress, mouthing the lyrics to every song while the male dancers dance in clusters, their movements synchronized. Next to them stands grandma dressed up in her pyjama already joining the party. Almost no one is drinking. Everybody is busy dancing, simulating sex on the dancefloor and smoking weed. The ganja-stick-man pass us countless times offering the crowd dried marijuana stalks that sell themselves. I couldn’t take my eyes of one guy completely dressed in white dancing a little secluded from everybody else looking as if he was imitating a gorilla. His eyes were unable to focus and the music seemed to control his spasmic movements. His rastahair was tied into two thick dreadlocks looking like horns. I called him the Rasta-Devil. At 7 in the morning we took the bus back home.

The last day we decided to go outside Kingston and went to Port Antonio to bathe in the same waterfall as Bob Marley. On our way there, we passed through some rasta villages up in the mountains. Unfortunately, we weren't able to visit them because of the possible danger.

The same day as we were leaving we made it to the Bob Marley museum before the flight which was great. Slightly expensive but worth the money.

Our host asked how old Christoffer parents were and he replied that both are over 60. Chocked he answered. No one lives that long in Jamaica...

Coming to Kingston was an experience none of us will ever forget. I learned a lot from what we saw and experienced here. Sadly, Jamaica is a country with a lot of problems unsolved. Violent crime as well as serious economic problems. I’m glad though Andrew was able to host us and wish him good luck with his free lancing.

And this is where we say Jamaica Farewell.


permalink written by  Steffi & Chris on November 15, 2009 from Kingston, Jamaica
from the travel blog: 212 days
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That was really interesting! entertained me from my boring day at work!

permalink written by  amy grewcock on December 14, 2012

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