Trip Reports

The Other Side Of Tourism – Part 14


I woke up about 5.00 a.m. The bag was still there. “Oh No!” I exclaimed. I showered quickly and went downstairs and asked one of the guys at the desk if they thought “Dead En’ was still going on. They said no, it would have finished about 2.30 a.m.

“But my brother’s bag is here!” I howled frantically, as if they could do anything about it.

Thank God I had a number for him. He had been staying in a hotel in Montego Bay. I asked the operator to get the number for me. As it was so early in the morning, the operator got the number quickly. Someone picked up.

“Is Byah Dread there?” I asked

“No, im call fe seh him gone a Salem wid two frien”

“When de he call?”

“Some time dis marnin'”

“Sometime this morning?” I repeated flabbergasted. [He could have called me at the same time].

I couldn’t believe it. Well of course I could believe it. It was typical of Byah. It was typical of his collective. Unreliable, irresponsible, insensitive, selfish…

“But his bag his here, he has left his bag here and I’m leaving this morning.. the hotel will not be responsible for it after I check out.. I don’t know what to do?” Verbiage spewed out of my mouth uncontrollably.

I was angry and disoriented and marginally hysterical. How could he do this to me? He knew I was leaving! How did his mind work? I could not fathom any excuse that could exonerate his behaviour. If he had the decency to inform his roommates that he was leaving to go to Salem, why couldn’t he show me the same courtesy?

“So what am I supposed to do with it?”

“Bring it cum,” a voice said calmly.

“Bring it cum? how much will it cost to bring from Grosvenor Street to where you are?”

“About $5”

I had $200 in my purse… I would still have enough to buy breakfast when I got back.

I asked for the address.

“I don’t know de h’address you know, de ‘otel deh pon Top Road over looking de airport’

“Top Road? — what is that a name of a street?

“Naah, mon..” he said with a chuckle “jus tell dem seh a de road dat run on top o’ de houses dem”

“A road that runs on top of the houses? How is the driver going to know where to go without a proper address?”

“‘Im will know, mon, ‘im will know.. truss me, man — jus’ bring de bag come”.

I went to the reception area and told them I needed a taxi. A man hailed one down for me in about five minutes. I was relieved. It was now 6.15 a.m.

“I’m going to Montegan Motel.. it’s on ‘Top Road’ overlooking the airport”.

I was expecting him to ask for more clarification, but he seemed satisfied with the address and proceeded to drive towards it.

“How long will it take to get there and back?”

“Well me can get you dere fast or me can get you dere slow..”. He was grinning. I knew what he meant. It would cost me more if I wanted him to get me there fast, but time was of the essence.

“I need to get there fast”.

I was there in just over five minutes. (I could have walked it).

“How long you a go stay inside?”

“No time at all… I jus’ goin drap off dis bag an come right back… just wait fe me”.

My particled diction was supposed to tell him that I was one of his people, and that he shouldn’t charge me much… but it wasn’t coming out right.. I was too angry… too nervous. I just wanted to get rid of the bag.

I went inside the hotel and put the bag on the floor. “This is for room 8909” I told them, and immediately made a motion to exit the hotel.

“No, you can’t leave it deh so, you ‘ave to wait til someone come h’an pick it up — supposing dem don’ colleck h’it?”

“But I just spoke to someone a little while ago, they know it is coming..”

He ignored me and made the phone call:

“Somebody has just delivered a bag here, would you like to come down and pick it up?”

I assumed the answer was in the affirmative. I confirmed it and it was so. I turned to leave not wishing to meet any more of Byah’s ‘bredren’.

The driver was doing something with his spark plugs. When he saw me he got back into the car and we were back in the hotel within 15 minutes, total.

The return drive gave me time to think. I understood now why Winston was in Jamaica. Only his fellow natives would tolerate this unbenign behaviour. America should have hardened me, but it hadn’t. I should have made him lugga-lugga with his bag. I should have made him walk all the way to ‘Dead En’, with it like the encumbrance it was. His responsibility had been passed onto me, and I had accepted it like a damn fool, and now I was lumbered with a bag, with ganga gum in it! I couldn’t believe it. I would never give any one of them (and they knew who they were) the benefit of the doubt again. This would be the last time!

“Dat will be $140..” he said, glowering, with an outstretched palm.

“$140? but it wasn’t even five minutes away”

($5 dollars, my foot — he must have meant $5 U.S!)

“$140! He wasn’t grinning anymore”. I gave him the $200 and he put it all away. I sat there..

“My change?”

The audacity.. apart from overcharging me, he expected a tip as well?

Part 15 will be published next month….

About the author

Myrna Loy