So after an uneventful 3+ hour flight (in which my husband and I were fortunate enough to get a row of seats all our own!) the descent began. Looking out of the window on the left side of the plane all I could see was beautiful blue water. We came in steep, the airport at Montego Bay is just off of the coast so you have that feeling of “are we actually having a water landing? Crap, where did the stewardess say the life jacket was!” It was, in my opinion, a perfect landing.
The hustle of getting off of the plane and the palpable excitement from the passengers felt electric. I remember stepping out of the metal hallway from the plane into the airport with the expectation of a Houston-like environment. It was HOT. It was HUMID. It was plain and outdated and there was literally nothing in the place other than a long line of people waiting to be allowed in. Checked in, boxes ticked, not terrorists and voila!! Progress, we were in! In what I still could not tell at that point! It looked and felt like I would imagine an airport to be in 1970. It had that sort of old elementary school smell to it and it was tiny.
I was ushered over to an area that had a Couples Tower Isle Resort sign by a Jamaican man who radiated energy and false excitement, not in a bad way it was just overwhelming. Several voices all talking at once, all with that beautiful accent that I adore! “Have a Redstripe while you wait” and ushered to a small bar area. I got lost in the moment to be honest, it all became a blur of luggage and people and stand up, sit down confusion (not entirely sure my epilepsy wasn’t adding to the disorientation at that point).
Ultimately I remember Hubby had gone outside to smoke, and I wanted to see “outside”. I started walking to the door and one of the people from the resort pick up area quickly intercepted me, “Where you going miss?” (God I wish I could type accents!) I told him I was just going to join my husband who had gone outside to smoke, he responded “One minute” turned and said something to the other man that I couldn’t understand and then, to me “Ok, lets go” while taking me by the arm. It was alarming to me that suddenly I had a chaperone walking me the fifteen feet or so to Hubby but upon exiting the airport, through doors that resembled garage doors, I understood the need.
This is confusing, I’m not sure what to call the people outside… Vendors doesn’t seem appropriate, panhandlers also not correct…. Hubby says that anyone who has visited smaller countries knows who they are. People everywhere, hustling and pushing towards me trying to sell me everything from jewelry to tank tops, from hats to ganja (marijuana for us ‘Mericans). My escort held my arm as we crossed the longest fifteen feet of my life, he then released me and said “You don’t come back alone, wait for him” while gesturing to Hubby.
The irrational fear hit me then, just a slight feeling of being way, way, way out of my element. Hubby saw it on my face and commented, asked me what was wrong. I couldn’t put words or a name to it, I just needed to acclimate. I looked around for the first time, taking in the view away from the airport. Green, deep and dark and unlike anything I had seen in real life. True jungle green rising in the mountains off in the horizon. As cheesy as it sounds I felt like I was looking at Jurassic Park. On the other side a narrow street with cars going in every direction, like a little boys toys would be. The heat pressing in, not a slight breeze. Then back to the airport and the people with their beautiful dark skin and bright clothing. The ocean didn’t even enter the equation to me at that point. Everything around me was entirely foreign and completely new. It was beautiful and frightening. The best way I can think of to describe it was that I felt innocent, childlike and in awe. It was remarkable.