Hello from Montego Bay airport, where Sarah and I are waiting to board our flight back to San Francisco, via Miami.
After a week of total isolation on the South side of the island, this airport – engineered, it seems, to cater entirely to the whims of American tourists – is a sharp jolt back to reality. We’re about to have lunch, if only we can choose between the traditional Jamaican delights of Domino’s Pizza, Nathan’s hotdogs and Wendy’s. Yah mon.
Still, Treasure Beach was an unadulterated joy. Our hotel – Jake’s – was right on the beach, and our room somehow managed to skip the sand entirely and perch right on the ocean. Every morning we awoke to the sound of lapping waves, then strolled out to an hour an a half of vinyasa yoga, before a breakfast of fruit and banana pancakes to fortify us for a few hours of work before lunch, more yoga and dinner.
I say “work,” but it’s hard to describe even the most arduous PowerPoint wrangling and calls with lawyers as “work” when it’s done from a Adirondack chair, crabs nipping at the wage-slave’s toes. Trop dure, la vie as my French tutor put it when I explained why I couldn’t make it to class this week.
Jamaica was precisely as I had always imagined it. The food – especially when we left the hotel to explore local hole-in-the-wall cafes and beachside huts – took me back to my time spent living in South London when I’d regularly hop on the tube to Brixton for jerk chicken, rice and peas. This, I assumed, was everyone else’s imagining of Jamaica too: the food, reggae and dancehall, weed, Yardies…
Imagine my surprise, then, to learn that Americans seem have a totally different impression of the country. Pretty much everyone we told we were going to Jamaica, including our Lyft driver on the way to SFO, responded in the same way…
“Oh, nice. Sandals?”
Sure enough, on the flight almost all of our fellow passengers were excitedly clutching their Sandals brochures or, in one case, a wedding dress garment bag imprinted with the thick italicized logo of the historically homophobic resort chain. Kudos, I suppose, to Sandals for successfully rebranding an entire Caribbean nation as a cozy gated community for rich white people. But still.