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?