Jamaica is ‘the fairest isle that eyes ever beheld’, wrote Christopher Columbus. He would say it again today – once he had come to terms with the concrete and corrugated iron of the inland ghettoes and the out-of-scale Spanish hotels on the coastline – because Jamaica can never be fully spoiled. The most geographically and culturally interesting of all the Caribbean islands, it has mountains, even Blue Mountains, and endless white beaches. All the colours are primary, all the vegetation vital and upsurging. Meanwhile trade breezes make a perfect climate by tempering the hair-drier heat.
The natural beauty extends to the Jamaicans themselves, the most visually compelling of peoples. Men, women and children all have proper bodies. Lanky or steatopygic (where the bottom could double as a shelf), they make the ongoing street procession endlessly fascinating. Often something is borne on top of