Why Pinterest Ruins Travel
I’ve always been a woman with a plan. I conduct semi-annual audits of all my finances, have vacations booked out a year ahead, and spreadsheets for every major decision I have to make. Despite that, I can never find my keys, I’d happily ditch normal to drive around the country in a van, and my idea of the best night ever is dancing the night away on a packed sweaty dance floor with a good DJ. I’m the most unusual type A, I’ve ever met. So naturally, when I declared that my trip to Jamaica would be the inauguration of my new travel lifestyle, I had Pinterest-level expectations.
I convinced my resort-loving husband, Brett, to rent a remote VRBO on the sea in Negril and made sure to watch the Jamaica episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown a gazillion times before we left for our adventure.
I thought I had been to Jamaica before, but shortly upon our arrival, I realized that the resorts are basically a Universal Studios city front. The real Jamaica, is something entirely different -- richer, more complex, and filled with people that have both more grit and optimism than the average American tourist.
My first dose of this reality arrived within the first hour of our time in what has to be one of the most humid destinations on the planet. All bright eyed and ready to explore, our first hurdle was getting to the VRBO in the first place. I had no idea that addresses weren’t much of a thing in Jamaica -- the real Jamaica that is. So, 30 minutes into a cab ride, I’m on the phone with the VRBO owner -- who lived in the US -- trying to give our driver landmarks to get there.
Meanwhile, the entire time, the driver is questioning us, like are you guys sure you’re going all the way down there?
After like an hour and a half, and just handing the phone to the driver, they worked it out and we arrived at a place so beautiful, I didn’t even believe that we were the lucky SOB’s that would be staying there.
We were greeted by the property caretaker and offered to have a chef come prepare meals during our stay, to which I politely declined. I wanted the local experience! I wanted to go to the grocery store, and cook--- you know, belong. The caretaker looked at me like I was from outer space.
Finally settled into our space, we toured the property. We stayed in a 100 year old seaside stone-clad compound containing multiple villas, yet we were the only guests. There was an old lighthouse on the shore and acres of tropical plants, old quaint cottages and weirdly, crab cadavers -- more on this later.
So, I go to the bathroom to have a nervous pee and then I hear the sound of something crawling -- tapping on the wall. I look up slowly, assuming it’s another lizard, but nothing could have prepared me for what came next.
I looked up and saw a dinner sized crab crawling in through the open window! Like what? A crab? Why? Wait--- crabs can climb walls?
Completely confused and terrified, I did what any American city girl, posing as a soulful and seasoned traveler would do -- I lost my f%*#ing mind.
Brett rushed into the room and immediately erupted in laughter. Fortunately, at this point, a friend of ours who lived in Negril, had just arrived to pick us up and head out to a local bar. I had to at least get my sh!t together before I saw him, or I’d totally look like a one-dimensional tourist.
However, once I got to the bottom of the stairs, I realized that the one crab had brought his buddies. No-- he’d brought the entire crab population of Jamaica to our villa. What I didn’t know was that this was actually an annual crab migration. Crabs were EVERYWHERE. They were crawling through the windows, climbing up the walls, and aggressively chomping their claws when we got too close. There were easily 30 crabs in the living room, and when I walked outside, there were thousands.
As we drove down the street with our friend, he and Brett got a good laugh at my no longer contained horror. Crabs absolutely blanketed the street. While simultaneously dodging potholes, dogs, pedestrians, and cyclist---this is just the normal commute here -- we could hear the crunching of shells. I was beside myself. But then, something awesome happened. I began to laugh too.
The truth is, this was the highlight of my trip to Jamaica. The whole thing was so absurd, so out of my comfort zone, so unexpected. And maybe, that’s not all that Pinterest worthy or deep, but it sure made me feel connected to Negril.
We ended the night drinking Red Stripe, eating jerk chicken, and windin’ at a local outdoor bar. The next day, we knew to close the windows before sunset to avoid the invasion and didn’t even worry about the crabs. Small but mighty victory for this city girl.