Tales from the road: the jamaican hotel switcheroo
Jamaica. It conjures up images of crystal blue beaches and rum drinks with umbrellas. Well, it may for you, I’ve been. Kingston is nothing like that. Its dangerous (one of the worlds most dangerous cities) and not overly functional.
I arrive there with a few in my crew. Like every trip, getting a ‘taxi’ is a complex process. A few folks are around with vans, we secure on of them to drive us. Its a Toyota Racing Division van. What? TRD makes high-top vans? The driver informs us its very fast. Lets not find out I say, those tires (retreads) are smoother than glass. The driver informs us we need to pay some up front in cash so he can afford enough gas to get in the town. None of us are surprised, every single time this occurs. I ask the driver if he didn’t get a fare what would he do? Sleep in the van near the airport, not enough cash for gas to get back. I see.
We get to the hotel. There are no chain hotels in Kingston. One of the better hotels, the Spanish Court, is full. We stay at someplace else. Its a bit run down, but not the worst. The rest of the crew checks in and heads to their rooms. I am last. “We have a special room for you sir, we will have someone take you there”. I’m fine to find a room I say, but they insist. They keep repeating how special this is. Am I upgraded to the presidential suite?
We arrive at the room. The attendant opens the door. Its kind of a double room, and someone is sleeping in the other bed. I’m like, what? The attendant indicates I will be sharing with this guy. Does this guy know? Is he armed? Will he wake up and see me and go jeffrey dahmer on me? I decline, and back out. Fine, the attendant says, you don’t want this great room, we’ll see what else we can do for you.
We get back to reception. They are obviously put out, its like they have to do their job twice for me, I’m too picky. They find another room, I’m handed the key, no attendant to show me to this no doubt less fine room. I go. Not only does it not have air conditioning (side note: been to Kingston? You need this, you can’t open the window because of the zika-carrying-mosquitos, and its very hot and humid.), but the airconditioner is in the middle of the room on the floor, surrounded by tools, abandoned. Its not like they didn’t know it was broken. I return to reception. They roll their eyes at this incredibly picky tourist. Fine, we may not have a room up to your standards, we might have to send you to (insert name of room a colleague tried to stay at and left after the insect incident). I say try again a little harder. A new room is procured. Its, well, musty, dank. I doubt it gets used. But, although nearly non-functional, the AC coughs a bit and puts out some moist mushroomy coolish air. I decide not to push my luck. I accept. The thumbnail is the view out the window, and some of the other rooms.
Later we take the customer out to a ‘cafe’ and have angry poetry shouted at us. Apologies for the portrait video (but hey, vine got you used to this right?)