Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Negril overrun by harassers, prostitutes, druggists

Published:Saturday | April 9, 2016 | 12:00 AM


It's been a while since I've visited Negril. I always remember it as a tranquil place with an endless beach and beautiful sunsets.

This past trip to Negril, during Easter Week, left me with quite a different impression of what it has become. Walking the beach, I was approached every few minutes by vendors peddling marijuana, prostitution, or harder forms of drugs. A quick 'No, thank you' was not always enough; I was harassed with the questions. Why? What did I have against sleeping with Jamaican women? What did I have against marijuana?

I brought an American childhood friend on this visit. I was embarrassed by what he saw. We could not hold a conversation walking down Negril's perfect beaches without being interrupted. We saw a woman attempt to sell her body to every man at our dinner table, including the married ones. She merely went from one to the other when each of us refused to respond to her offers.

A young man on the beach threatened me, saying after I turned down his initial salesmanship, "Don't be rude to a Jamaican. We will make your stay very unpleasant." He proceeded to insult me with harsh labels and continued implied threats. He claimed that he was the nephew of one of the hotel managers and showed no shyness in showing off his social status on the beach among the other vendors.

I found this particular engagement the worst, as he followed us for half an hour, only leaving us once we entered a hotel.

This is not the Negril that I remember, and I was embarrassed to show my friend what it had become. This was in stark contrast to the experience of visiting the area of Port Antonio a few days prior. While more developed than I remember, it felt like the embodiment of Jamaica.

My hope is that this anecdote finds others who believe Negril is meant to be more than what it has become.