Bourdain’s Field Notes
PORT ANTONIO, November 2014—The show concerns itself with who “owns” paradise. Everywhere—whether New York City, Venice, the Jersey shore, or Jamaica—people who grow up adjacent to water, to idyllic views, lovely beaches, traditional architecture can no longer afford to live there. Their homes, their neighborhoods are in the modern economy, in the harsh reality of the present day, undervalued. Traditional ways of life, like fishing, seem quaint anachronisms when the simple fact is that you can make a lot more money carrying a golf bag for a tourist or making blender drinks at Margaritaville.
Is that a bad thing? So many places I look, even in America, we see a transition to a service economy. Like the Jamaican fishermen we talked to, we’re moving away from the things we once did. We are increasingly a nation in the business (in someone else’s words) of “selling each other cheeseburgers.”
Are there any bad guys in this equation?
I don’t know.
Jamaica has a harsh past and an uncomfortable present, in spite of its spectacular and captivating beauty. It is a place that’s easy to romanticize. But one shouldn’t do that. Like a lot of our shows, we come to no neat conclusions, only more questions. Which is, I suppose, conclusion enough.