It wasn’t my first time in the ghetto of Kingston, but till that day it’s definitely the most interesting and memorable story I can tell. I took a route taxi down to Half Way Tree then another one to Three Mile. In the taxi and later on in the streets, most people were surprised to see me. Obviously, it’s not very common to have many white people walking around in that area.
After getting off at Three Mile, I had to walk for about two miles on Spanish Town Road till I reached the home of Rupert. My previous experiences helped me to feel confident walking this way during the day. As many people advise, it’s always better to walk around with a trustful local. In my case, Rupert was kind enough to show me around. I was overwhelmed with excitement and curiousity while also trying my best to walk around with a clear, awake, and focused mind. In my opinion, it’s important to be conscious about your surroundings – especially in such sensitive areas. I also tried not to show off any valuable goods, like my camera. Even though, here are some impressions from that day.
I got to know Rupert through Couchsurfing, and I’m really glad to have had the opportunity. He is a helpful, honest, and very talented person full of so many, brilliant ideas.
I usually do my best to get out of this area before nightfall, but on this day we returned to Rupert’s home after the sunlight was already gone. Just a few kids were outside, enjoying the very last minutes of the daylight. They were so excited to see me, that they started jumping around and tugging on my clothes. It was heart-warming to see the children so happy.
Afterwards I quickly went back on my way to Three Mile. I was walking faster than usual and passing people, when two guys about my age called out to me. I was honestly a bit anxious at first. Then I remembered something I learned here in Jamaica: not answering can be seen as very disrespectful. I was a couple steps ahead of them by then, so I turned around…
Any thoughts of danger were suddenly gone. Instead I came up with the best patois I was able to speak. Trying to be natural under pressure can be difficult. I guess that’s why I was stammering a little.
After hearing “Gimme your money!” and “Whe yuh phone?”, I knew it won’t be easy to talk myself out of this situation. Although no weapon had at that point been involved, I was again weary about messing with two guys at night in the ghetto of Kingston. With all confidence that was left, I told them about the volunteer cook-out project I was planning with Rupert. I tried to explain it as detailed as possible and invited them to join the event. They seemed okay with the explanation and I kept walking.
What did I learn out of this experience? My honest explanation helped me out, but I won’t say that for similar situations. In other words, I think I need to plan my days better!