It was my first trip to the island many years ago.
We had been invited by friends to stay with family there. My friend had married a lovely Jamaican girl and we were excited to join them.
It was obvious they were a well off family since the home was on the wealthy side of Kingston, and their other home was in Ocho Rios.
Even then we were told we should not wonder too far into the heart of Kingston, and since we were being toured there was no need.
But we had decided to rent and automobile to do a little country touring on our own.
I got dropped off at the Hertz location and went in to sign the papers.
They told me it would take quite a while to get the car brought over unless I wanted the few blocks to get it myself.
It sounded like a better idea so I began the march down the route they had suggested.
Only a block or two later I began to regret the decision. I could see the profile of the people changing, and I was being starred at, not in that usual vacation way of ‘How you doin mon’.
The neighbourhood kept getting decidedly rougher and I was quite convinced the barred windows of the building I passed was a prison. I think that to this day.
I was too far in to turn back but I was very concerned as more young guys really were giving me the evil eye.
Suddenly what I have recited frequently, the best thing possible happened across the street from me.
A knife fight broke out…and everyone rushed across to cheer on the combatants.
My little legs pumped forward as fast as possible without breading into a full run.
In a few minutes I was at the compound and into the car, which by now I was sorry I chose to rent.
The rest of the trip erased all those initial memories.
From Ocho Rios, to Port Antonio, to Montego Bay we had a tremendous time.
I have been back to Jamaica many times since, but never to Kingston.
I have no desire to return, and the events of this week have confirmed my decision.
Once again it is sad that a country will be economicaly devastated from a tourism perspective because of troubles in one region.
All over again it is Bangkok and Thailand, Athens and Greece, and now Kingston and Jamaica.
I can only hope most of this will settle over the summer and people will begin bookiong holidays and destination weddings to this tropical paradise again by fall.