Jamaica was probably the best and worse place I have ever been to. Everyone there is a hustler. Locals see a white guy and think he wants drugs or sex, because they all think – and this is probably true – that the only reason foreigners come to Jamaica is for drugs and women. On the first night I arrived, one guy offered me ganja, cocaine, magic mushrooms, ganja cake, opium, and finally, after I said no to all those things, I was offered his bitches.

A rasta and his speedboat, NegrilOn the second night, I stayed at a place recommended by Lonely Planet. I must have an out of date book. My “hotel” was a hurricane-battered dive on the beach. There were no mosquito nets, the bed had a filthy mattress that was once white and is now black (although the bed had clean sheets), and after I paid, I found a used tampon in the sink. Shortly after I arrived, two women came out of the room next to mine and offered me sex while they held their kids in their arms. I ignored them, and they started shouting things like, “What? You don’t like blacks?” It was ridiculous.

After a couple of days I finally got out of Negril. I met a rasta called MC Karl and he showed me the real Jamaica. He took me on a four hour drive out of the city and we went to his home, an unfinished, abandoned hotel, high up in a rainforest. Surrounding me was the deafening sound of the jungle. The sound of a billion crickets. In the compound, there was no running water or plumbing, yet this guy lived there with about 10 other families. When we went into his bedroom, a little boy ran across the hall into his room. It was sad; the boy only had one eye.

Poverty is everywhere in Jamaica. Most people are unemployed (70% of the population) and live in single-room wooden sheds with corrugated iron roofs. I saw a one-legged rasta have to hop across the street as he had no crutches. Locals think white people have money, and since I was the only white person around most of the time, they all tried to force me to buy anything they had. Most of the time it was weed or ‘Jamaican pum-pum,’ but sometimes painted wooden fish or manky bananas. I’m quite pleased to say I never gave in to anyone’s offers, despite often having people chase me down the street.

The drum ceremony; MC Karl and 85 year old maroon.However, good things did come out of my time in Jamaica. I went scuba diving for the first time (and loved it), swam in the sea every day, went into the rainforest, witnessed a drum ceremony by maroons, and met some interesting people. I also had some of the best vegetarian food I’ve ever eaten in an all-organic restaurant in Ocho Rios.

I must admit though, after sharing a room every night with roaches or mosquitoes, and feeling like my wallet was being raped every time I paid for something (Jamaica is more expensive than the States), I couldn’t wait to return to America.