Ah Jamaica… From South America to the Carribean, it was a cultural adjustment to be sure!
I headed out to Negril, a seven mile stretch of beach on the west coast of Jamaica. Up one end are the crazily expensive hotels and resorts and then there’s the other end where I chose to reside.
The West Port Cottages are wonderfully held together by its owner, Joseph. Joseph works hard patching up the roofs during the day and afterwards he mows the grass and then I think he puts it into little cigarette papers to smoke away the early evening.
At dinner time, he happily invites all of the backpacker-type guests to watch a video. The video itself is quite interesting until about the last half an hour when Joseph gets a visitor and they start yelling yarns to each other in the nearby room. It’s not such a bad thing as even the dullest drama can become the most fascinating comedy, as Joseph and his friend provide an interesting diversion from the script.
Upon arrival I met my neighbour, who was a Frenchman visiting Jamaica for his fifth or possibly sixth time. His name was Yves (pronounced similiar to Eve). So when people arrived at the place they were introduced to, you guessed it, Adam and Yves… But it all ended up well. I convinced him not to eat from the Fridge of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and we were not evicted from our lodgings in the nude.
Jamaica uses both US and Jamaican dollars. In tourist locations, it may be easier to simply use US dollars.
Buses from Montego Bay to Negril… can cost from $10USD up to $50 depending upon who you speak to. The Tourist Information Office in Montego Bay has rates at $25USD but if you hang around with your backpack near the Juta Tours area a little further up the ‘Hip Street’ you can jump on a bus at the last minute and possibly bargain them down to $10…
Hustle-city…! Expect to be stopped in the street or on the beach by people trying to sell you small items or their story! Follow some simple common-sense rules to avoid potential trouble from the more advanced hustlers.
– Never accept or hold anything from someone else. Hustlers can use your acceptance of the item to coerce you into paying for it.
– Don’t stop walking if you are heading in a direction. Acknowledge the person but continue on your journey. In Jamaica it is common to use phrases like, “Respect mon!” or “Everything’s irie”.
– Don’t follow someone outside of a populated area unless you are sure about where you are going to.
– Feel free to bargain for a better price. You have the money, so you are the one to close the deal.
West Port Cottages at Negril are the cheaper accommodation options in town. What they lack in services and style, they make up for in personality and friendliness. Also has an excellent kitchen with enough plates to feed an army.