After spending six weeks in Jamaica we have really got to know some of the local characters along with the way they run business. A Jamaican ‘friend’ is someone who will get you good prices on everything – for a cut of course. Finding a ‘friend’ is easy in Jamaica because they will come right up to you and ask if you are looking for a friend. Being a ‘friend’ is good business for an unemployed Jamaican. They take pride in doing good deals for you and most will be honourable and loyal. The trick is to get to know them a bit before they become your ‘friend’. Then you will really be their friend and if they like you, have a good laugh with you, they will take great care of you. It’s about respect and this is one of their catch cries.
It is also the land where eggs are kept under the counter and are only cautiously handed out due to demand and ganja is readily available in the streets and bars – on top of the counter.
Travelling with the locals via route taxis gave Carmen a great introduction to Jamaican life. We were continuously told that tourists don’t do this usually but we found it the best way to meet the locals and the cheapest way to get around. Technically, you can make your way between the major towns by route taxi for $1.50 a section. Sometimes Thomas cut a better deal when the three of us were travelling. We found that, after chatting with our
co-travellers for the length of the journey, they felt a certain amount of national pride in taking care of us and helped us from one spot to the next. We felt so safe and had lots of people looking out for us and the boat. After spending a few weeks in Bloody Bay we became part of the scenery.
We used Bloody Bay as our base because of the clear water and ease of getting ashore. We had a good fence where we locked up the dingy with good access to the road where we would get picked up by a route taxi within a minute. Surrounding vendors would keep an eye on the dinghy for the day without expectations. They just liked to chat and find out more about us.
An exciting afternoon was had by us all at the famed Rick’s Cafe. Perched on the cliff tops overlooking aqua clear waters, other cliffs and the southern western lighthouse, Rick’s Cafe is perfectly located for the high dives that it is famous for. Both Carmen and I had a go from the 12m spot. I was advised to protect my boobs on impact but it was my butt that took the full force. Once was enough. It seemed like a never ending fall. Lots of time to think about the impact on the way down. In the moment of jumping I walked straight out and leaped off following Sam’s example when she went bungy jumping so Thomas missed taking pictures of the heroic leap. Unfortunately, my camera broke a few days later and corrupted the beautiful photos that I’d taken of the environment. You’ll just have to visit the place yourself and I recommend to do it at sunset.
Elia had told us about the glistening waters where the fluorescent plankton was so thick in a small bay near Falmouth. We decided to take the journey via route taxis to get there. We saved about forty dollars doing that on our own. A group of Brazilian tourists were on our small boat and brought out a guitar and had a jam session on the way. The waters were murky and warm but once we kicked and splashed about sparkles of green like fairy dust fell through our fingers. It was a scene out of a Disney movie. A unique thing to do and reminded me of the dolphins we saw swimming through it near Gibraltar just before crossing the Atlantic.
A tour to the south west corner took us through some lush farming areas and I returned to YS Falls. A cool freshwater swim refreshed us on this steamy hot winter’s day. Carmen found the sound of nearby Floyd’s Pelican bar interesting so once we were back on the coast we found a local fishing boat to transfer us to this rustic location surrounded by reef and water. Floyds has to be seen to be believed. It looks like a make shift hut on skinny stilts that would blow over with the first big wind. People have carved their names into the floor boards and flags and various paraphernalia line the walls. These decorations probably add to the strength of the structure. Some chatty tourists kept us entertained for a while before we returned to shore. Travelling west in the early evening, we were treated to the most spectacular of sunsets.
On this occasion we hired a rental car for independence and timing. When we were pulled over by the police for a routine check we discovered that the rental car was over due for its roadworthy certificate but the kind police officers didn’t book us. The car rental place didn’t seem surprised, didn’t apologise and were relieved we didn’t get booked. So were we. Just crazy the way they do business here.
New Year’s Eve was spent at the local beach bars catching up with new found friends and celebrating Carmen’s birthday. In the evening we joined some musical Germans and our Jamaican friend, Joe, for a bon fire and sing along on the beach. The local resorts released hundreds of fire balloons in the last hour before midnight and our German friends had the only fireworks. Maybe they’re illegal here. It was one of the most memorable New Year’s Eves of my life with the exception of arriving in the Caribbean on the last year’s new years day at 4am and spending the night before watching the lights of Martinique come closer after 21 days at sea. Carmen has headed home now with sweet dreams and memories of the crazy friendly ways of the Jamaicans. It was wonderful to seeing my old travel buddy from my time in Canada and to spend precious time with her.
Thomas and I have had a wonderful 2013 and we know that 2014 is shaping up to be just as spectacular. We wish all our friends and family all the best for this coming year. Ours has started well with sharing it with each other and friends and now Thomas’ sister Dagmar has arrived to the boat. She has joined us for a sailing adventure. Unfortunately, our plans to head to Cuba have been aborted with the wind forecast advising us of Northers – the ruthless winds coming from the northern winter. Instead we are heading south to some tropical islands. It is an exciting time before I head off to visit my family and friends in Australia for a quick visit before we hit the South Pacific. The Adventure continues…