My daughter Chelsea and I spent a fabulous long Easter weekend in Jamaica. It was far too short a trip, we were home before we knew it, but at the time, many things considered, it sounded about right. If we had the slightest inkling that we would both fall head over heels in love with this incredible Caribbean island, we would have gone for much longer. Much, much longer :). We are planning a lengthier return visit later this year.
I've travelled quite a bit in Canada and the U.S., but this was my first tropical venture. This was Chelsea's first trip really anywhere, first plane ride, so we were discovering the Caribbean together. We were instantly charmed by the jagged mountain face contrasting the lush tropical greenery, the warm and genuine people, and of course the soft-as-silk beaches and delightful cuisine. We brought back some jerk fixin's and so far agree that most everything tastes better jerked!
Inside the Montego Bay airport, there is a reception area for most of the resort chains where you check in and wait for a ride. It was wonderful just to be there, after a long wait in the Toronto airport for the delayed flight and no real sleep, and it was a big relief to see how organized they were for tourists.
This really neat bar right outside the airport does a booming business for thirsty travellers and regulars alike. Bob Marley is indeed King, and his music was the first we heard upon landing, continued through our stay, and was the last we heard in the airport when we left. We never tired of it.
We had a speedy and occasionally hairy hour and a half drive from the Montego Bay airport to Runaway Bay. We were the only two passengers in the "shuttle", and learned that Jamaican drivers use their horns a lot, often in place of brakes. Although our driver did his best to provide some commentary along the way, we just couldn't grasp the Patois nuances, a language unique to this island. Most of the staff at the resort spoke English as well as the native dialects. We saw a number of stray, generic houndish-looking dogs and wild goats who apparently are plentiful and desirable, both for their grazing skills as much as their contribution to the cuisine. We didn't ask a lot of questions about that. I did a bit of research at home, and apparently there are no dogs or cats allowed into Jamaica at all that do not come from another "rabies free" country, such as the U.K.. There is a Jamaica Kennel Club that registers both purebred and cross bred dogs, and they do hold conformation and obedience shows. The breeders that I found online seem to have multiple small breeds (Poms, Papillons,Chihuahuas), and offer both purebreds and crosses for sale or trade.
The Spanish were the first conquerors of this island under Christopher Colombus and ruled for approximately 150 years, after totally erasing the indigent Arawaks, who had no defence for the diseases that the Spanish brought with them, as well as the heavy toll of slavery. The British overtook the Spanish in mid 1600's, beginning a 300 year rule centralized around importing Africans for slave labour on the huge sugar plantations. Even today, the Spanish architectural influence is everywhere, while the British way of driving on the "wrong" side and right side steering wheels are just two examples of their enduring imprint. Many of the houses and buildings were in this state of not-quite-finished, but had been left this way for years. In a country where the climate is relatively steady and friendly year round, I suppose shelter as we know it here is not a vital necessity. Contrasted with villa type properties that were charming and rustic, as well as shop fronts that at this time of day were almost deserted, our drive to the resort was fascinating.
(I should mention that the photos of our trip on this post and the next part are ones that I took with my own camera and ones that Chels took on her Canon Sure Shot. She got some great pics!)