In part 4 of "The other side of Tourism" Myrna Loy explores if there is "discrimination" against black tourists to Jamaica by people in the service industry.
Trip Reports

The Other Side of Tourism – Part 4

Chapter VI – DISREGARDED AND INTRODUCED

The next day I went to the Pelican and ordered some lunch. As I entered, I noticed a coach load of people dismounting courtesy buses that had brought them from their respective hotels. They were being guided to the entrance of the Pelican Restaurant.

“Thank Goodness I arrived in time, I thought, at least I will get served before this lot”.

I stood up before the sign that said, “please wait to be seated”. A long line had accrued behind me.

A tuxedo-clad waiter walked in the general direction of the line who I thought was going to direct me to my seat, but he walked straight past me and started seating the customers from the back of the line. To add insult to injury, a lesser-clad waiter (short red jacket, no tie) came and directed me to the “bar “. I couldn’t believe it. I looked at my pathetic reflection, which did not justify what had just happened. I was too stupefied to complain. In 1993, was this really happening? Reverse racism? But this was not a racist thing; it was a ‘tourist’ thing. The rumour that the white tourists tipped better than the black tourists is what denoted priority in their estimation. As I was black and did not look much like a tourist in my ‘daisy-dukes ‘ and t-shirt, I was doubly jeopardized.

I seated myself at the bar and waited until someone came back to serve me. If their food hadn’t been so addictive, and if I had been familiar with the district, and if I had a car, and if I had more money, and if the restaurant wasn’t so expensive in the hotel, I would have ate somewhere else. Malicious in intent, I refused to leave a tip; that would teach them a lesson and satisfy their stupid prediction about blacks not tipping!

It was an angular-faced, young and unassuming waiter that attended to me. So comely and unassertive was he, that he assuaged my anger. He had left me a glass of ice water while I waited for my order and I drank it ravenously. On observing that my glass was empty, and sensing my longing, he brought a large jug full of clear ice water to my table. I appreciated that.

With a sweet smile, my plate of food was delicately placed before me, A flush of forgiveness came over me, and I awarded him with $20 and left.

After eating my lunch, I oppressed my stomach with the remainder of water in the jug, and decided to digest my food on the beach.

The beach was a few yards away from the post office. Loiterers rallied around outside:

“Yu waant an escort on the beach? ma’am”

“No, thank you”

(The one that asked me looked like he needed an escort himself, to a shower or a jailhouse!)

It was $22.50 admission fee. A notice read:

“No radios, no drinks, no food, no drugs allowed on the beach. Noisy patrons or those causing a disturbance to others will be ejected immediately”

I paid my money and went inside. There were not many people on the beach, but a few of the local people congregated on the upper level, which was accessible without an entrance fee.

I located a level concrete platform and claimed it as my territory. I spread my towel out and lay down on it and used my knapsack for a pillow, put on my sunglasses and closed my eyes. Mmmm, total peace and quiet — no one to bother me, no phone ringing, no one to answer to, just sheer and ultimate bliss in the sun. My burnished skin glowed in the sunlight.

The sun beat me mercilessly with an ejaculation of sultry rays. It was not a personal attack; the sun clouted everyone who crossed her path with her humidity until they became weak, dehydrated and exhausted. Like the masochist I had become, I endured the sweltering heat — sweat cascading from me like rain plummeting through an old roof.

 

Part 5 will be published next month….

About the author

Myrna Loy