When Normal Turns Dangerous in a Heartbeat

Normal situations in Jamaica can turn ugly and dangerous in no time flat and that’s just a reality.  This was one of a handful of times in Jamaica that I really felt  that my race and where I’m from played a major part.  Jamaica can be a lonely place in times of trouble.

The first part of this story was originally published RIGHT HERE in 2012 and that version kept things light and airy for the benefit and entertainment of my readers.  It’s a good idea for you to go read it before continuing with this post.  The aftermath of that story is something I never want to experience again and I didn’t think the blog was a good place to put it.  It’s not my goal to scare people from coming to Jamaica but since this is a reality I’m willing to share it now.

That car rental arrangement was made through someone who was a good friend of mine at the time.  It was a private rental and I trusted him to look after it on my behalf, as he did.

Anyway, in the midst of that accident while I was exchanging insurance information with the other driver a thought had occurred to me.  I was alone and there were four of them so the story could easily change because they had witnesses and I did not.  So I straight up asked them, “This isn’t going to be one of those situations where there are four of you and one of me so the story changes, is it?”  One of the females insisted that they all felt terrible and that they would all be fully cooperative.  She even expressed how sorry she was to have met me under such unfortunate circumstances.  She was very pregnant so somehow in my mind that made her more believable.  I was wrong.

A bit of back story on why I was in Jamaica during that time:  I was there for two months to do a contract writing job.  The majority of my time would be spent staying and working in Montego Bay but I spent my leisure time in Ocho Rios where some close friends live and where this rental car deal originated.

After the accident happened I went straight to Ocho Rios because that’s where I was headed in the first place.  On the advice of a friend of mine who is a Jamaican police officer, he said I could file a report anywhere so that’s what I did when I got to Ocho Rios and it wasn’t until I went back to Montego Bay to continue working that things went bad.

As it turned out the vehicle that hit me was also a private car rental and the Jamaicans who were driving it didn’t live in Jamaica, they lived in the USA and had since left the island.  No one could collect money from them to pay the insurance deductible so now it instantly turned into my problem.  I was NOT at fault in the accident but I was the only foreigner left to deal with both ends of it.  Suddenly neither vehicle owner wanted to go through insurance and both wanted money from ME!

Only a few days after the incident I started receiving threat after threat by phone call about this money that I was supposed to pay up.  Not only that but the friend who originally made the rental arrangements with me was also being threatened because he was my friend, and he lived in Ocho Rios so he was the closest one to the ordeal.  I felt terrible for him because he wasn’t even involved in the accident yet this was all falling on his head since nobody knew where I was.  And now I was afraid to tell anyone where I was, including my friend.  The threats were so bad for the two of us that the police ended up being involved at one point.

Although I have a couple of diehard, true friends in Jamaica I strongly believe that a foreigner can never fully trust anyone in a tight situation. 

In an effort to wrap this up I can tell you that the situation played out for nearly one month and in that month I was literally hiding out.  I never went back to Ocho Rios during the remainder of the two months I spent in Jamaica because I was fearful.  The situation also drove a major wedge between me and my friend.  For about a year following this incident we didn’t talk and it took us a long time to get back to a place of friendship because when it comes to money and safety in Jamaica it’s every man for himself.

This is one of those situations in life and in foreign countries that your race and nationality DEFINITELY have an impact on how you are treated.  The assumption in Jamaica is that because I am foreign surely I must have money to throw around.  They can’t fathom that a foreigner could be on a budget just like everyone else.

 

Have you ever been in a situation in Jamaica where you end up questioning why you even love the island so much? 

5 Comments

  • Sugafa2 says:

    What’s up! The only thing I will say is to role with less people from the ghetto areas of Jamaica.I are still honest people the lower income levels, but it’s harder for you to differentiate.

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  • Pierre says:

    Even some of us Jamaicans at times question ourselves about our love for the country. I have also found myself put into difficult situations by people who I would have regarded as friends. When money is at stake, it can do strange things to friendships. The person who rented you the car should never have put you in this situation. He should have gotten his settlement from the owner of the other vehicle who should have ensured that he collected his due from his clients. You were a victim of some business ethics that are very poor in this country. Making you into the fall guy (girl) was not fair. However we have to live and learn from these unpleasant life experiences.

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  • Kristi says:

    Sugafa2, this rental didn’t come from the ghetto lol. It came from Ochi. This was also many years ago and I now have a sponsorship with Budget (for the last few years now) so all is well in my rental life!

    Pierre, yes you’re right. Someone on my Facebook page made it sound like my fault for renting privately in the first place. However, I don’t think I’m naive to expect people to conduct themselves properly and fairly. Whether they do or not is a totally different story and not my fault.

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  • Nicci says:

    This doesn’t strike me as a “dangerous situation” though you seemed afraid. Really, this happens in America everyday. People have accidents, give info (or falsify info), then deny fault all the time. You just have to bite the bullet and cover your own costs; be better prepared for next time with a small savings to cover unforeseen incidents. Threats by phone with no actual backup sound like a coward’s way to bully innocent folk to submission. Sounds like you should just start from a place of skepticism with every encounter.

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  • Kristi says:

    Thanks for reading and commenting Nicci. In Jamaica I take threats seriously. People are harmed for far less than car smash ups there and I’d rather err on the side of caution any day. And the only reason those threats were over the phone is because they didn’t know where I was. If they DID know where I was I’m sure those threats would have been much more legit. And trust me, after 15 years in Jamaica I’m the world’s biggest skeptic LOL.

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