Tourism is the lifeline of many Caribbean countries. Security personnel are sometimes engaged to make sure that locals do not over extend their interaction with the tourists and get accused of harassment
There weren't many people on the beach; just enough to form a small crowd when they stopped minding their own business to get involved with the two female tourists who were bargaining with the young men frolicking in the water. The men had been amusing themselves by taking turns pushing one another on a surfboard in the mildly choppy water.
The cruise ship further out had been sounding its strident warning for the last half hour, but the women, engrossed in their meandering progress, loud laughter and snatches of song happily ignored the warning that their liner was about to depart. They had been having lunch at the hotel on the beach, and had lingered past boarding time. They didn't know how much kick the rum in their punch had and now they were blissfully drunk.
The ship's purser could be seen on the ship in the distance frantically waving to attract the women's attention, but they had stopped to admire the young men's antics. Then they decided that it would be easier to be taken to the ship on the surfboard than to walk the long distance across the beach and on to the jetty which would take them to the impatient ship.
"We have money!" the redhead shouted, waving her purse. "Take us across."
Always on the lookout for an extra dollar, the young men were immediately interested.
"Take us on your board to our ship. It's too hot to walk."
The blonde did a little hula dance while the redhead fumbled in her purse and brought out two twenties. US currency. Real money. John came out of the water, stuck the notes in his swim trunks and began to lead her into the water to where his friend Paul was waiting with the board.
"I have money, too!" the blonde shouted, waving a hundred dollar note in the breeze. Paul dashed onto the beach grabbed the money, gave it to his bemused girlfriend and led the singing, dancing blonde into the water to join her friend on the surfboard- turned- raft.
The other persons on the beach were immediately involved. "Them will drown. The sea too rough." The women were now in waist-high water tugging at their loose shirts.
"Oh, mi God!" somebody gasped, as the board tilted left, then right under their weight as they tried to sit on it. "Them gwine drown. Somebody call Security."
The men getting frightened at the hullabaloo and realizing the impossibility of reaching the ship in this way began to beg the women to get off and continue walking to the ship, but they wouldn't budge.
"Take me to Jamaica where the rum come from," the blonde sang in a raucous voice which immediately created laughter among the spectators on the beach.
"We're coming! Just wait," the redhead shouted in the direction of the ship and tried to stand up to wave, whereupon both women tumbled off the board into the water. They came up spluttering and laughing. The people on the beach, now more amused than concerned, laughed with them.
Paul and John were kept busy trying to get the women out of the water while dodging the rum-fumed kisses they kept trying to plant on them.
"I love Jamaica!" the blonde shouted.
"Viva! Viva.. Whatever..." said the redhead. They were two very happy women. The ship's horn sounded another impatient warning and the agent started running down the jetty. He had apparently just understood his passengers' intention and knew it was up to him to save them.
On the beach two uniformed 'anti-harassment-of-tourists' officers had appeared. They stood quietly watching the situation.
"This nah work," Paul told the women firmly, and he and John lifted them back to the beach where the ship's agent had just arrived. He was hot, sweaty, out of breath, and could barely conceal his annoyance. The women, wet and bedraggled but still happy, danced away with him as he steered them in the right direction.
The little crowd cheered and the women waved. "We won't forget you! Viva the rum punch! Viva Jamaica!" They continued shouting and singing.
Suddenly Paul and John were accosted by the anti-harassment officers.
"You're coming with us," the officers said.
"For what? What did we do?"
"Harassing the tourists," was the reply.
"How unnu so fool-fool!" The crowd was once more involved.
"The man-dem never do nothing."
"You nuh see a the tourist was harassing them!"
(Jamaicans often speak in their patwa language — the spelling is phonetic))