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When most people talk about taking a trip to Jamaica, they’re referring to the all-inclusive resorts surrounding Montego Bay on the western side of the Caribbean nation.
The primary discussion throughout the episode is the impact such a commercial form of tourism has had on what can be accurately described as paradise. Visuals of a large man enjoying yard-long drinks and nachos at a resort are contrast against the quiet evenings in local villages.
Bourdain’s first local host is local-turned-billionaire Michael Lee-Chin who describes his love for unspoiled Port Antonio as well as his ideas for bringing more visitors to the area. The duo is joined by his partner Jon Baker and Errol Flynn’s grandson Luke as well as an elaborate performance of dancers and fire eaters.
He then visits the home of Ian Fleming who wrote the James Bond series. The home has since been converted into a small hotel with a grotto, a amenity that Bourdain confesses to wanting since he was a child.
The village surround Fleming’s home is in flux, debating the pros and cons of large resorts setting up shop with equal number of opportunities and challenges. The conversation turns heated with a group of local fisherman, portraying how there is no easy answer to such questions.
“Which is better to be your own man, uphold family tradition in a dangerous ever-shrinking ever-more-difficult business, trying to catch fish in the sea? Or carry a golf bag for a wealthy tourist?” Bourdain muses at the end, only to conclude, “I couldn’t tell you.”
The topic of paradise, and access to it, comes up often throughout the episode with locals bemoaning the loss of their beaches to private resorts built for an ever evolving cast of visitors. Bourdain recognizes his good fortune is experiencing Jamaica with a plate of home-cooked oxtail or ackee and saltfish; however, he’s less optimistic for those living in the future.
“Sad to say, I think it’s unlikely that 50 years from now anybody but the extraordinarily fortunate, extraordinarily connected and extraordinarily rich will be able to even look at a vista like this. That is my personal theory.”
One man who is currently connected and rich enough to enjoy the island’s offerings is Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records and Bob Marley’s producer. Blackwell says he could have never imagined the impact Marley would have around the world, but is today more focused on local conversation projects in Jamaica.