Let’s get this out of the way: I never wanted to go to Jamaica. Truth be told, I was roped into one of those all-inclusive deals with my folks that was both too good and too valuable to pass up, like a Popeye’s buffet or a free month of Cinemax. To be fair, you never woke up and said to yourself “before I die, I want a Cinemax subscription” or “gee, I’d like all you can eat chicken strips and middling biscuits”. Jamaica occupied a similar if not comparatively disproportionate place on my bucket-list with respect to a cable service and chicken. To clarify, Jamaica ≠ Popeye’s (if anything, It’d be KFC, but I digress completely).
One of my Jamaican guides “Topman” argues that the mammoth 2-story KFC in Montego Bay is the highest producing KFC on Earth.
On the surface, I knew the things most people know about Jamaica. It’s a Caribbean, island-nation comprised largely of the descendants of African slaves who fought and won their independence from England, the natives spoke a curious and lyrical, yet largely unintelligible creole-patois, smoked loads of weed, and consumed a variety of spicy meats in their original jerk style. On its face, these facts should warrant at least a modicum of interest from anyone calling themselves a “traveler” as I do. Part of my hesitation was that Jamaica had been somewhat overwrought in the contemporary Black American consciousness, especially among New Orleanians and in various corners of the interwebs had acquired the veneer of being a dangerous place. Whether it was the thought of somehow finding Taye Diggs in the Jamaican bush to get one’s groove back, being reincarnated into my new animal-spirit avatar à la Snoop Dog/Lion, or developing a predilection towards hemp, I didn’t want to fall into the trap of exoticizing and or profiling the country and its people in any of the familiar ways. To combat this, I told myself that I could take my cameras (as I tend to do when I travel) and try to capture Jamaica and by doing so, better understand the place, and its people. With that in mind, I set off.