Montego Bay, Jamaica
First, I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be in Jamaica as the entire country celebrates Usain Bolt. The shouting and praying and whooping for their home guy (literally, he lives very close to our hotel) is something else. Their pride in him is enormous- and obviously well-deserved.
Jenny, Seth and I went on a catamaran tour that included climbing up the 960 feet high Dunns River Falls- again, literally, over rocks and boulders, into huge pools, through fast rushing water. My water shoes were useless, without sufficient tread to give me any purchase or confidence on the rocks. Luckily, Seth was able to pull me up- and often the waterfall leader Trevor held my other hand. The waterfall is beautiful, enclosed on either side with rainforest flowers and trees. I could appreciate it much better as we walked down the stairs from the top.
Jenny and I went snorkeling along a reef, with the many others on the boat. There were some interesting small fish, but definitely not the vivid colors I saw when I last snorkeled in Mexico over 24 years ago. It was still fun.
This evening, Jenny and I overlooked an outdoor wedding which was very nice. Later, the wedding party was at the Calabash gourmet restaurant where we ate again (I know I called it the Casbah last time).
More miscellaneous Jamaica information:
They drive on the left and the saying is- left is right and right is suicide.
Mortgages are 17% or 23.6%.
Weekly salary is $100 because people are paid by day, not by hour.
There is 30% unemployment.
People often start building a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom- and then add on as they have the money.
It is illegal to purchase or bring into the country any fast car (faster than the police). Ashani, our wonderful bus tour guide (it took over an hour to get to Ocho Rios where we were able to board the catamaran), said that some people might bribe the right government officials and bring a fast car into the country. But everyone would know who owns the car so even if the police can’t catch up, they can always show up at the person’s home.
The other issue with having a very fast expensive car is that it would take three different insurance agencies to cover it, since one agency wouldn’t be able to manage it.
Other countries play a huge role in Jamaica. The US provides the navy, the Chinese provide the roads, England provides military, Spain and one other country (in addition to Jamaica) own the tourist hotels, etc.
We passed a bridge that was built when Christopher Columbus came to the island- and the bridge is still in operation!
There are over 1000 types of trees and 700 species are native to Jamaica.
We learned a lot about Rastafarianism which is a religion in Jamaica. They are vegetarians, avoid technology except for cell phones for emergencies, and smoke marijuana (legally) as part of their meditation and prayer. They believe that they are descended from David and share many similarities with Orthodox Judaism. For example, they both grow their beards, the Torah and their holy book both have 66 chapters, etc. The major difference is that the Rastafarian believes in Jesus as a holy man, which the Jews do not.
A riddle- how is a banana tree like a woman? Answer: both take 9 months to have their bananas or babies. The difference is that the banana tree then dies, sending up a new shoot for a new tree. Hopefully, the women continue to live!
Ashani was born in Jamaica and then moved to the states when he was 12. He got his associate degree as an electrical engineer but then moved back to Jamaica when his mother was in a terrible accident. He started doing the tour bus because he couldn’t find work in his field. Now that she is better, he wants to move back to the US but she won’t get on an airplane.
There is a road that encircles the country. You can drive it in three days straight or a week if you stop for rest, etc.
Jamaica does more than export Olympic runners and Blue Mountain coffee. The school system is excellent and many brilliant scientists, doctors and lawyers are graduates of schools here- then move to other countries where they can get paid a lot more than in Jamaica.
Ian Fleming lived here and his movies were shot in Jamaica.
I know there were several hours of information and conversation, but this is what my weary mind can recall at the moment.