This blog is part of the #Bloggingabroad Blog Challenge. Jamaica is such a paradox at times. At least for me it is. Growing up I was raised Christian and that meant sexual repression and fear of God and respecting elders. In Jamaica almost none of this exists, yet almost every Jamaican will claim to be some sort of Christian or have faith in something, in this I am including the Rastafari, but this is not a religion, more of a spirituality.
In almost every community I have been in there are many churches, and there are just as many bars. Most of the bars have a picture of a nearly naked woman on the exterior wall, I almost 99% guarantee you there are no women in there aside from the barkeep. ***Special side-note, do not ever ever ever call a male behind the bar a bartender, it is like calling him out as a homosexual and this country for the vast majority is still either homophobic or just too religious to accept it. This can get you into a fight very rapidly. In most of the markets you will find skimpy sexy and revealing clothes, some of which they may as well not even wear clothes. There are sex clubs and pornography is readily available. (I am not judging here, I think my growing up experience has just jaded my viewpoint, I would rather see open sexuality than repressed sexuality. I just do not need to see all parts of it.)
So recently I was going into a shop and this man with a large wire hanger with small bags of white powder tied to it, was walking through the parking lot. His exact words evade me now, but it went something like this “Sale, keep your beautiful vagina nice and clean, you gotta keep your honey pot smelling nice, mon! Tighten up with alum! Medically approved!” My friend and I just looked at each other with a similar horrified expression. My friend, a Jamaican woman looks at me and we both said “Like I am gonna put some powder up my ahem that I have no idea what it is or where it was made or who touched it?” I was so glad I was not alone in this assessment.
There is one sex toy shop in Ochi and it is tucked back in a plaza that you have to search for the store. One time I was there with friends and we were ready to check out, and if you have ever gone into one of these shops the people in the shop will take out products for display and allow you to touch them and to turn them on and such. They will even explain how to use something if you are confused by it. To be honest I have mad respect for a sex shop worker, they have to know about all kinds of things most of us do not really want to think about, and they have to discuss it without laughing or blushing.
As we were at the register and we had touched and turned on much of the store’s inventory, a man opens the door barely steps in and says: “Mi ave banana for sale, $100 a finger, $30o a hand.” He just acted like it was an everyday occurrence to offer ladies in a sex shop bananas. We however lost it! We laughed all the way home and to top it off, one lady looked right at him and said: “We are way past the hand at this point!” I have never laughed or been so uncomfortable in all my life. To the men here sex is to be explored and discussed and acted upon. To the women some are very pious and some are open about everything.
I was at a local bar one night with some friend, 2 men and a lady. The lady leaned over and asked the girl behind the bar if she was interested in a three-some. I was completely floored that this would be discussed in such a manner. The girl behind the bar had a long discussion with my friends and at that point I decided it was time for me to excuse myself.
I am not a prude. I believe in open sexuality and I love the diversity that this brings. However, I am still quite often shocked by the attitude of the younger generation about sex. Coming from a very strict religious background this paradox almost always knocks the wind out of my sails and shocks me.
I am unable to get pictures in the market for a few reasons. It can be awkward to ask permission to take a photo, some people want you to pay for the photo, and to get candid moments is impossible. Also my biggest reason is to not show off that I have anything of value on me, I do not want to be a target for a pickpocket, therefore I keep my technology hidden if I am in a crowded place.