Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jamaican Vacation

I just returned from the North Coast of Jamaica this week. I've wanted to go to Jamaica for the longest time. The trip was absolutely wonderful! I will post the wonderful pictures in a day or so. However, there were some things that struck me as not so beautiful.

As we drove into Discovery Bay, our first stop, I couldn't help but notice the eyesore of the rusted, domeshaped Bauxite plant on the hillside and the gigantic rusted ship the size of a cruise vessel jutting out from the bay of the beautiful water. The Bauxite plant mines the ore that makes aluminum. It provides people with jobs and injects money into the country...money is not available otherwise. However, the dust that the plant produces rises into the clean Jamaican air and, subsequently, settles in the Carribean Sea, suffocating the ocean life.

My cousin who was travelling with me was in the Peace Corps here 5 years ago. She explained that the number of fish had already decreased five years ago. Because there are so few fish to catch, people resort to catching smaller fish, thus preventing the fish from growing to maturity and breeding to create more.

As we snorkeled in the Bay, my cousin pointed out several different species in the coral reef, but was disappointed that there were even fewer fish now than when she was here before. We didn't see one Parrot Fish--which, evidently, used to be more common.

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As we explored the country and sought out places to stay, we ended up at a beautiful villa (called Patiently Waiting) that was somewhat like a bed and breakfast located in a small area called Mammee Estates.

Mammee Estates is another place that has been taken over by a "necessary" evil.

In the back yard of Patiently Waiting is a billion dollar all-inclusive resort called Riu. At six to seven stories high, it spans maybe 1/8 of a mile from the beachfront to the highway. It is painted purple and has loud music and talking coming from it until late in the night. The lights from the resort keep the villa's back yard bright so that the stars are no longer visible. But worse than all of that, before the resort came along, she had a view of the sea and could hear the waves crashing on the shore--now a distant memory. Though you can still get to the beach from her house, the view and the sound of the waves are completely blocked off by the huge purple structure.

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I understand that both of the facilities I've spoke of inject money into the country, provide people with jobs, and "help" the economy. But at the same time, those same structures and facilities hurt the environment and create eyesores.

I've noticed throughout my travels that our American desire for money creeps into and has begun to consume other countries and the people in those countries as well. It seems that our desires for the "luxuries" money brings cause us to accept a lower quality of life in a sense. The Jamaicans I talked to didn't question the Bauxite plant. Some people worked there. It was just a part of life.

Though I get to see the beauty of other countries and comment on the ills that I see, I am a contributor to the creation of these structures. The privileges I've been granted--by being a "rich" American--allow me to travel. Tourism is the driving force behind the purple building. Why shouldn't the Jamaicans capitalize on their opportunity??

We sacrifice the beauty of our surroundings to build bigger structures that will generate more money so that we can have more things...thus creating the need for more structures. I am not a big enough person to give up traveling and make a stand that tourists are ruining the other countries. But I do think it should cause us to think about and realize our desire (here in the U.S. and abroad) for "more" and "better" things doesn't always create the utopia we think we're looking for. Sometimes it just makes that utopia even more unreachable.
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