Jamaica was the 3rd stop of my Around the world trip.
Although my mother was born there she hadn’t been since she was four. I was able to buy her a ticket and my sister accompanied her for two weeks while my visit for 1 week. I have read many times of the kindness of people in Jamaica and the Caribbean as well as some of the hassle of tourists. I felt more susceptible to the latter. that was my experience.
Whether it was the usual kind of attempt to invent guilt (I should help them out as we are the same race) or the crass attempts to get attention such as “Hey foreigner!”
It was a bit tiring.
We stayed in Lucea by an uncle and Aunt and were also able to meet another uncle and Aunt there which was nice.
One think though is accommodation in Jamaica seemed to follow the pattern in Johannesburg with those living in nice areas walled off and private roads. I feel this creates a kind of separation however there would be serious safety issues without. We did venture into the markets at Lucea and some shops nearby but my interaction was only with traders etc.
My sister, Jinhee and I did visit a local beach which was quite clean and had very nice sand. It was fairly empty and while it might not compare in beauty with the more famous beaches it was much less crowded and free from the over development of Montego Bay.
While in Jamaica we followed a pretty standard tourist schedule. We visited the Dunns river falls. It may be filled with tourists but is fun to climb the falls and I would be happy to go there again. We also visited Ocho Rios and Negril. Negril is famed for its sunsets and one place there where many tourists go to Rick Cafe which seems to be slated by both the Rough Guide and Lonely planet these days for being too tacky and touristy.
I would say yes it is touristy and a bit tacky.. but it does have a wonderful view of the sunset and most importantly it is fun.
While I am not a fan of touristy kind of places the most important part of going out for entertainment is to be entertained and I think most of the people were. I would prefer a more calm place but that aside it was nice.
They had divers perform several spectacular dives (and then ask for money).
But the most impressive feature was the Negril sunset. Unfortunately the sun was obscured by the cloud as it reached the horizon. A clear day would have been perfect but even with the cloud it is probably the best sunset I have experienced. Although I also saw beautiful sunsets in Dubrovnik and Easter Island.
I had hoped to meet a long standing penpal Sandra who lives in Kingston but I had left it too late contact her just days before we arrived and received a reply after we had already departed.
The Last Resort
Jinhee’s and my last stop was Montego Bay (Also our first on way to Lucea).
Montego Bay is known for its pristine sand and beautiful beaches. However Montego bay strongly reminds me of the Eagles Song “The Last Resort” which talks about over development and destruction of ‘paradise’.
The song contains words such as
“They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise
Kiss it goodbye ”
First of all many of the beaches (probably all those you would want to go to) in Montego bay are private (those in good condition) and they charge a fee to use the beach (although by law you have right to walk along the coastline as long as you don’t go into the water you can avoid a charge but have to mention this at the entrance). Plus the beach is filled with too many hotels (which of course each have their own little section).
Some people many tourists may like it but I feel the place has lost its soul, sold to commercialism.
Having said this the actual sand is pristine and the water beautiful and sunset is nice from here too. Still visit just be prepared.