Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Plastic America

What makes Jamaica so very beautiful, and so unique is the fact that is has not undergone the "plastification" that abounds in the US, and other developed countries.

Over the holidays, I had the chance to visit Reach Falls. It was beautiful, with blue and green pools of water, caves behind falls, natural rock bridges... just amazing to see. It was the first time I was visiting it in many years, as it recently opened after being damaged in one hurricane after another.  The attraction now has its own homepage:

What is remarkable is that there were only 2 signs pointing the way to this beauty spot, and both were small and easy to miss.  They were truly understated, and did not do justice to the place.

Yet, this was a damn good thing.

My mind travelled back to a variety of over-hyped US attractions I have had the misfortune of visiting with high expectations.

South of the Border:  this tourist trap on the border of North and South Carolina was one I visited as a teen.  The numerous billboards that we saw describing the place en route only served to heighten the disgust we felt at this t-shirt haven, supposedl a "Mexican" themed "park" plumb in the middle of the Carolinas.

Ron Jon's Surf Shop:  the highway from Jacksonville to Cocoa Beach is relentlessly flagged by billboards letting driver s know how far they are from this surf shop that no real surfer would be caught dead in (so they tell me.)

The Road to Hana:  the Road to Hana is hyped as a one-of-a-kind, but to anyone from Jamaica it looks like nothing more than a regular piece  of  unremarkable road.   It was so disappointing our party drove right through it, and beyond, without realizing that it as all over.

In Jamaica, we are lucky.

We are not only blessed with an abundance of natural beauty of all kinds, but we also benefit from a general lack of "development" which include the "plasitification"  that I witnessed in the USA.

Plastification includes:
1) investing huge sums of money to make the place presentable and available (i.e. santized and neutered)
2) using in-your-face advertising and hype to drive traffic to the site
3) increasing prices to keep profit margins up

The result of all this is that a Reach Falls would look like any other falls in Jamaica, in the same way that all theme parks, attractions, movie theaters and parks look so much the same in the US (with few exceptions.)

Plastification renders everything it touches into a numbing similarity.  Reach Falls would be selling the same McDonalds hamburgers as the ones sold in New York, and this would somehow be seen as a "good thing."

If there is any strange benefit to be derived from scaring away investors from our country's crime, then this would be it.  Doing so protects us, and our people, from  the plastification that comes from over-investment.

It is STILL more than possible to  discover all the wonderful places that exist in our country, and to feel a sense of surprise that such beauty seems to pass by unrecorded.


At 1/20/2008 5:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes,the plasticification of Jamaica would be very scary.Jamaica's organic and natural beauty is breathtaking to the visual sense.But with what is being pandered for development in Jamaica today,it is becoming quite apparent that the nightmare of plasticification is inevitable.Indeed,a retreat from such development which would lend or allow for the destruction of the natural beauty of the island is an imperative.RESPECT!!

At 1/20/2008 5:36 AM, Anonymous ESTEBAN AGOSTO REID said...

I concur totally with anonymous!!

At 1/23/2008 9:16 PM, Anonymous common sense said...

jamaica needs to promote its unique beauty, culture and people. most of the recent investments are watering down our can go to a riu hotel in several caribbean countries and never experience the country. we don't need any more cheap, plastic/concrete mega hotels....they are the same as everywhere else. our value is based on those things that are jamaican. i would prefer an emphasis on smaller boutique hotels and help for the small hotels that are struggling. Sandals is not small, but it's service and quality are outstanding and that's why people return to their hotels. It must be apparent to the tourism stakeholders that tourists are attracted to what makes a place unique and wants them to return or recommend to their friends. I would never go to McDonald's or Burger King in Jamaica because I want to experience what jamaica is, so we need to preserve our treasures or we'll become another plastic country with a degraded environment.

At 1/24/2008 9:04 AM, Anonymous Esteban Agosto Reid said...

Well said common sense!!RESPECT!!


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