I took a stroll along Seven Mile Beach that first morning at The Cotton Tree Inn. I walked along the dotted line of all-inclusive hotels where locals are banned from the seafront unless they’re with a guest.
Everywhere I looked, black flesh seemed tied to the purse strings of foreigners paying for sex with drinks, meals, gifts, and cash. Oldmen that you could tell wouldn’t get much sexual play at home were suddenly walking the beach like the number one don, and all the time flanked by a bevvy of young girls and male hustlers.
Along the sandy seafront, large pink ladies laid out across giant towels like sun-seeking beached whales, surrounded by what they might otherwise call ‘threatening groups of burly black men’ back home. Black women, too, were paying for company. Stella didn’t just get her groove back; she encouraged a range of other middle-aged African-American sisters to come looking to get it on as well in the sun-drenched tropics. They, however, seemed more innocuous with their fraternising less exploitative.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. None of it was supposed to be like this. My first trip back to the island in over three decades was supposed to be a voyage of discovery — a joy. Someone, please shoot me if I am ever found exploiting the locals for sex like some British countrymen and women staying in nearby hotels and guesthouses.
The Cotton Tree Inn is, in fact, two buildings joined together as one. There is also the older two-storey redbrick block where a single room with no TV, no radio, no fan and no view will cost thirty-five pounds per night without breakfast. Then, the vastly more expensive new-build addition is painted all-white and enclosed within a rectangular frame-like fortress.
Here luxury pads along three sets of balconies are arranged around a magnificent tropical garden courtyard. This new section provides full twenty-four-hour maid services, catering, laundry, room service, dry cleaning, a fully functioning gymnasium, and a private heated outdoor swimming pool. I take it. A double room here…