Jamaica is a carnal kind of country, and monetary-based holiday liaisons are a well-established convention. Fuelled by tropical abandon and the island’s pervasive sexuality, the lure of the “big bamboo” prompts some unusual partnerships. Middle-aged women strolling hand in hand with handsome young studs have become such a frequent sight that pejorative epithets – “Rent-a-dread” or “Rastitute” – for the young men who make a career out of these cynical liaisons have entered the lexicon.
The butt of many jokes, the stereotypical Rastitute is a muscle-bound model of the latest mini-trunks and sneakers, with a head topped off with dreadlocks – or extensions if he can’t manage the real thing. However, not all gigolos come in the same package; a Rastitute can also appear as an Ital-style Rasta, wooing with talk of natural living and preaching sex with white tourists in the name of racial unity.
In a country of scant possibilities, becoming a gigolo is a very practical career move. Negril is a centre for this kind of trade-off, and many women regularly return for an injection of “Jamaican steel”, some forming relationships that span several years’ holiday time. As a result, single women are universally assumed to be out for one thing only – prepare yourself for a barrage of propositions.
Male tourists are less involved in the holiday romance scenario, but female prostitutes are common and men should expect to be frequently propositioned.
If you do choose to indulge in any kind of holiday liaison, practice safe sex; syphilis and HIV rates are high.