Travel Tips & Features

Welcome to Jamaica…Six Miles Style

On my most recent trip to Jamaica, I got what many have called a “true Jamaican welcome”. Yes, I spent two days in the country and then decided to go to Kingston, where two young men from Duhaney Park gave me a true Yard-style welcome, at gun point. I was robbed. I had almost 15,000JA on me and they took it.

So how did it begin? My first mistake, I took a bus to Kingston and arrived at night. I was to meet my cousin, who lives in Red Hills, at Six Miles, somewhere unfamiliar to me. On my way there, I realized my phone battery was dying. When I got to Bog Walk, I sent her a text message on Cable and Wireless’s most unreliable network. I then called her at Spanish Town to tell her my location. Unfortunately, she got the text message AFTER my phone call, thought I was confused, and decided to give me more time to get to 6 miles. So needless to say, when I got to Six Miles, she wasn’t there to pick me up. I know you’re thinking “why Six Miles and not Three Miles” but I was just following directions. By then, my phone had completely died (note to reader, do NOT buy the Motorola Slvr if you are looking for good battery life). Great, I was now an official target. I stood across the street from the Cremo Factory on the Mandela Highway, right above a lonely gully. Funny enough, while I was disembarking the bus, a guy who I had been talking to on my long bus ride told me not to get off unless I saw my party. Not knowing any better, I disembarked anyway and then told him through the window that she wasn’t there. As the bus pulled off, he gave me a “dawg nyam u suppa” head shake.

So as I stood there in the dark, desolate bus stop, I looked left, right, behind, in front…not even a dog walked the streets. I had an ominous feeling of impending danger. To my relief, on came a young lady with her phone and I approached her and asked for a phone call. She advised me that I was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time because people are often robbed at that spot. So now I was warned twice. No sooner than she said that, a taxi came by and gave the same warning. By then, this Sav-la-Mar born and raised girl realized that I was really not in a good place. The young lady told me to follow her across the street where she lived. Of course I wasn’t doing that, because when I looked in the direction she pointed all I saw was darkness. I wavered in my decision to go or stand alone and she decided that she would wait with me but only for 5 minutes.

Momentarily, two men headed our way. She seemed to pick up on their vibes and she beckoned me to walk swiftly away from the darkness of the corner on which we stood. We crossed the street and they followed.

“UNNU STOP!” One shouted.

They approached us and began a conversation that went something like:

“yo, a pure war ah gwaan roun’ yasso soh mi aggo help unnu out. Unnu come from Riverton?Who unnu ah wait fah?”

The young lady said, “a taxi is coming to get us”.

The leading robber said, “Hear wah, mi aggo help unnu out now”

I was relieved! Here I was, misjudging the guys and they were only trying to help. I then looked toward the taxi stand and saw one lonesome taxi sitting in the darkness.

“See di taxi deh weh wi ah wait pon,” I said as I waved to get the taxi’s attention.

The young lady looked at me in dismay and I wondered what her problem was. I would soon realize why. The guy then warned that war was going on so we really shouldn’t be there at that time of the night (8pm). To my surprise, he then brandished a gun.

“Hear wah, gimme all ah di money in your bag else mi kill di two ah unnu right yasso and noh come tell mi seh u noh have none”.

I was floored! The young lady looked at me, I looked at her.

He then pointed to her.

“You, gimme your phone and you empty out yuh bag,” he said.

The young lady still had her phone in her hand. Dismayed, she reluctantly handed over her Razr phone. I emptied my wallet of a little under 15,000 dollars. He said he would kill me if I had more and was hiding it so I should show him the rest of my wallet. He went through it and found nothing. They then left us alone and went on their merry way. She and I, both petrified, started walking in the direction of her house when we were approached again by a car with two men that looked a little more helpful. “Great!” I thought, “Now they can rob us again.” One guy spoke and asked if we were alright. He said we looked startled and shocked. I figured since I had no more money to be robbed of, I would take the chance and actually tell them what happened. The driver then asked if they could do anything to help and I asked for them to charge my phone since I had my phone charger in my purse. They offered to take us to a well lit place and I bravely got into the car. I know you’re thinking, “how foolish” but what was there to lose? There was no sign of my cousin and I had been there for all of seven minutes and had gotten robbed so I had no intention of seeing what the next five minutes would entail. In I went and I pleaded with the young lady to go with me. As they drove down the dark main road in New Haven, I began to fret.

“Where are we going?” I asked them

“I’m taking you somewhere where there is light and people,” the driver said.

So they took us to a gas station, where I saw my cousin’s vehicle parked. She was putting air in her tires. I linked up with my cousin and gave her the story of what happened while she was putting air in her tires at the gas station. We then shuttled the young lady to her neighborhood. My cousin’s husband knew some of the guys in the area where I was robbed and was able to get information on where the robbers are from. Reports were filed with both the vigilantes and the police. Another man sold his life down the river for fast money. I have no idea of what his fate is or what became of him but I rest assured that justice was served. Way to go for a vacation, huh?

I know some people will speculate that the young lady was a conspirator but I choose to see her as more of a savior because who knows, had she not been there, what would’ve happened! Even if she conspired to rob me, she still might’ve saved me from a different robbery. In retrospect, I realize that I am blessed. There are so many other things those robbers could have done. Then other people ask why I had so much cash on me to begin with—It was my money to buy my season band for Absolute Temptation Isle in Negril. But I’m glad I went to Superplus that day and withdrew that $15,000 JA because if I had nothing to give them, they would’ve certainly killed me on the spot. And these thieves don’t even care; they robbed me without concealing their identity…BOLD and in broad light. I look at this situation from the “half full” perspective. I will live to work and earn that money back. But the price of my life is something no one could ever provide. This could’ve been a different story, being written by a different person. I’m glad to be alive and through it all, I was praying that they wouldn’t figure out that I’m a visitor because then they’d really hold me hostage.

So, my dear reader, what have I learned from this experience that I can share with you? A few things, always keep a charged phone, never take public transport in Jamaica, don’t go to strange places after seven (or “dusk up” as they call it in Jamaica), and above all if you get caught at Six Miles when dog fraid, run like a slave that just escaped or else yuh goose cook til it bun up,!

About the author

Kerri-Ann M. Smith

Dr. Kerri-Ann M. Smith is an author and educator. She is an Assistant Professor of Academic Literacy at Queensborough Community College, CUNY. She is a patois translator, a wife, and the mother of a gregarious little girl. She is a senior writer for jamaicans.com.