Chapter V – LINE-TOURS
The phone rang and I picked it up eagerly. It was the receptionist, informing me that ‘Genevieve’ (the Line-tours representative) was waiting for me in the reception area. I was disappointed, but decided that I would find out what was so important, nonetheless.
When I passed the receptionist, she intercepted me and said:
“I forgot to tell you that you ‘ave to put down US$100 as security deposit against incidentals such as the phone, the towels, food, etc., [if I gave her US$100, I’d only be left with US$300. Anyway, I resolved, it would be good to ‘ave some money left over when I leave the country] You will also need a security box for your passport and your money as we are not responsible for items lost in rooms, which will be US$20”.
“I guess I don’t really have a choice?”
I gave her the US$100 and she put it in an envelope and I asked for a receipt. She gave me the key for the security box and told me that if I lost it I would lose the security box deposit of US$10. I took my keys (she didn’t give me a receipt for the money) and approached Genevieve who looked pleased to see me.
“Well, how ‘ave you been finding it so far?”
“I haven’t been here long, it is hard to tell, but I guess it’s O.K.”
“‘ave you visited Jamaica before?
“Yes, this is my third time”
“But you are not Jamaican?”
“No my parents are”[What was she getting at?]
“Well, I am here to provide you with information about the area (pronouncing each word with forced eloquence). There is a supermarket down the road, if you need to buy some rum, or if you want to buy postcards”[That is handy to know]
“Opposite the supermarket, there is a post office where you can buy your stamps”[Hmmm, maybe it wasn’t such a waste of time]
“There are three beaches”, she continued, “the Howard Fletcher Beach, Dr. Cave Beach and Cornwall Beach. Dr Cave’s Beach is the best, it is clean and well maintained. There is also a place where you can buy food on the beach such as patties, or jerk chicken and the prices are reasonable. There will be a Carnival on Tuesday night and a dance next Friday night at the end of the street”.
I started to relax — my caution was unsubstantiated.
She proceeded with her discourse: “Now, Line-tours provides tours at very special rates. There will be people in the hotel trying to encourage to go on their tours, but I am your representative; you should really call me if you are interested in going on any of the tours — see my number here…”
(She handed me an unofficial piece of paper with a brief typed description of each tour and the price in pencil. Her telephone number and name conspicuously hand-written at the right hand corner of the page.)
“… now, ‘ave you been to Negril Beach? (not waiting for an answer) Ocho Rios? would you like to go to Kingston? or there is a beach party on Friday for $45 U.S. and you can eat and drink as much as you like?” She waited for a response. She had rekindled my skepticism.
“45 U.S?” It was the first time I had made a sound during her protracted address. [I could go and see Michael Jackson for that amount!]
“Negril is US$40 and Ocho Rios is US$45, she continued, “would you be interested in any of the tours, oh, and Kingston is US$60. I was dumbfounded.. the prices were extortionate and conveniently quoted in US dollars to sound reasonable to victims who instinctively had Jamaican dollars in mind.
I was marginally interested in the beach party; that sounded pretty interesting, maybe I could meet some people there. I told her I would think about it and get back to her. She seemed slightly agitated: “You don’t want to go on any of the tours?”
“My sister is meeting me so I am not sure what plans she has made”, I lied.
“Well enjoy your holiday” (a comment that lacked sincerity).
It was useful to know where I could buy the postcards and the stamps. I would get them first thing in the morning, it was too late now.
I had a bath and retired early. I was exhausted.
Part 4 will be published next month….