Unfortunately Jamaica has been the biggest disappointment of this trip so far. We had high expectations for the music, people, landscape and marine life, but only its beautiful mountains were on par to what we had in mind. Of course it was a brief and superficial impression, but we sadly left the country without that feeling: “It was too short” or “I want to come back at some point”.
Our arrival in Montego Bay was a “slap in the face”. The marina employees are very rude to visitors. Needless to say that all government officials that did our arrival formalities were no different and there were a bunch of them: Immigration officers, Customs, Port Authority, Health & Inspection, Vet Services. It took us a long time and a lot of paper work to clear in and after that we found out that moving around the country with the boat is a nightmare. In a nutshell, if we wanted to go to the next bay, we needed to do everything again almost like if we were going to another country. So we decided that we rather stay on anchor and visit the country by car than having to deal with those grumpy people over and over again. The officials also “kindly” confirmed something we were already concerned with: poor Feijão could not come ashore. Our friendly chap even tried to dress up as a Jamaican in an ultimate attempt to blend in, but unfortunately it did not work.
To be fair, we are aware that this initial bad impression actually can and does happens in a lot of countries, and than the day-by-day friendly people proves you that the reality is much different than the grumpy marina employees or government official. Well, but unfortunately in Jamaica this was not the case. As we interacted with cab drives, cashiers on the supermarket, ladies at the laundry shop, employees at the car rental, street sellers and so on, we felt quite unwelcomed. Where are all those cool and friendly Jamaicans from the Cool Runnings movie? Of course this was only our impression and not the absolute truth. We could have been on a bad karma those days… who knows!?
So we rented a car and the plan was to find a radio station that would play some reggae for us to relax and drive around with a “local soundtrack”. Guess what? Believe it or not we could not find a single station that plays classic reggae. We even asked around but it doesn’t seem to exist. They all tend to play some sort of hard-core rap or something like that. So we just drove around and talked between our selves with no music. To be fair, I guess that can also happen in Brazil, you can’t really find Bossa Nova in every corner. I am probably getting too old and living in the past, but who killed the ‘jammin’ anyways? And why!? Why do humans have to evolve? If it is good, just keep it as it is.
Sorry for this one last bitching, but this one is really important for me to let it out. There are no fishes in Jamaican waters! There are tons of fish traps everywhere and unfortunately the corals have been overfished. We found tinny parrotfish and groupers packed in pairs at the supermarket fridges. If was really sad to see such juvenile fish being sold like that.
So let me stop wining and tell you about the good things. We decided to go on a long quest for a place called the “Blue Hole”. This was once a natural and beautiful water fountain, but by the time we got there it had been cemented all around to provide fresh water for the local village. Nevertheless the trip was certainly worth it as the ride there, with mountains and vegetation all around, were incredible.
In terms of local people there was also 2 highlights: first, we met this kid in a fruit stand by the side of the road, super cute and playful. The fruit his mom sold was also delicious! Afterwards we wished we had bought more! Than, there was this guy on the road who helped us with directions. In Jamaica people speak English, but they have a strong accent, it sounds super cool but we had a hard time trying to understand them. So we asked this pretty classic looking Jamaican dude where the Blue Hole was, as he tried to explain everyone in the car had puzzled faces. After a few attempts he spotted me on the back seat and in a sign of relief he said: “Uff, Rasta man, you understand me, right?”. Of course I had not understood a single word until than, but how cool was that? Me? Rasta man? “Yeah Man, I understand you!”
Now it is time to say goodbye to Bia and Matchu. They were amazing guests and we will miss them a lot. On the last day Bia found our Ipanema business card, which has SUP, kite, fishing, snorkel, dive and yoga written on it. She quickly pointed out with a cute sad face that we had not done the yoga part! As soon as we found this beautiful patch of green grass overlooking the sea we pretended we had a Yoga session for her to be happy. As always, Matchu wanted to be part of it and Sarah played the yoga instructor.
Well, now it is time for Fabio, Sarah, Feijão and I to set sail towards the island of Providencia in Colombia! Hold some Coconut rice and Arepas for us. We are on our way!
As per Jamaica, I guess that if you really want to visit the country, you will be better off with those all-inclusive resort experiences. We are out of here!