Winter break into the sun
The Caribbean flair with hot and sunny weather, tropical blue ocean, palm trees, lush vegetation along with it's peace, silence and remoteness from the world, is what we expected from Jamaica. Beside this we got 50% rain, a decayed infrastructure, tedious beggars and sellers, high prices and unsound nutrition which considerably spoiled our stay. img/jamaica-map02.gif Ninety-five precent of the tourist left out charter-jet from Europe at the stopover in the Dominican Republic and just an hand full of tourist continued to Jamaica. Jamaica is not the all inclusive mass tourism but more suited for the individual traveler we thought. When we enter the airport we feel immediately the relaxed Caribbean lifestyle. Officers where smiling and singing while processing the formalities. "How come?" does the driver ask when we could only present the transfer voucher but just had the return transfer voucher from the hotel we just got on the desk a minute before. Hot water was missing in the hotel and we had to convince them that breakfast is included also it was printed on the voucher. The relaxed life style also includes the a lot inaccuracies. "No Problems" is one of the slogan of the island with a population of 2'700'000 and is usually told by locals to make you accept that something they did wrong. Also the population is reported to have a average income of 80 to 200 USD a month, you do not need much to live here. Is is, with 30° C, warm around the year you have sun and always some rain and there grown lots of food here and one is maximum 25 km away from the ocean for fishing. A simple wooden house where many live seems all you need.
01-Feb-2006 Beaches of Montego Bay
Montego Bay is with 82'000 inhabitants the second biggest city located in the north of Jamaica. The goods produced in the near by plantations where shipped to Europe and the luxury goods the planters would not like to miss arrived here. Today most business in Montego Bay is about tourism. As a tourist you arrive always at the airport 7 km away and continue then to your inland destination. But Montego Bay does not live on these tourist. All the business is generated around the tourists coming from the cruise ships which make a stop over here day by day. We stayed in the Wexford Hotel at the Hip Strip a strictly three star hotel with nice newly renovated tile floors, friendly staff and good beds. Our cheaper Hotel rooms where quietly located to the back where the rooms with ocean view to the ocean point to the busy street passing in front of the hotel. Having breakfast on the balcony with sea view, but in front of the main road, is not exactly like on the beach but we really enjoyed it. The only real criticism is that all breakfast contain two eggs which not healthy alternative. There is a small swimming pool at the hotel and three beaches. The public beach is on the other side of the road a one min walk away. It is beautiful and nice and free but you pay with having beggars from time to time. Next the private Aquasol beach which includes fitness studio, theme park, go carts and a restaurant restaurant. and an entry of 5 USD. It is open from 9 am to 2 am. per person.
02-Feb-2006 Day of the Fruits
Food is really expensive on the island what you would not expect. One of the treasures of the tropics, on the other hand, is the collection of exotic and fresh fruits you can get right from the producer. Also still expensive you have a variety of fruits you will never have at this quality at home. Hence, fruit belongs here to our daily diet. There are Papayas, Pineapples , Oranges, Mandarins, Bananas, Mangos, Jackfruit, Ackees, Watermelons. You should not eat the cores of papaya but otherwise they are delicious. Pineapples are one of our favourites among bananas. Breadfruit was new to us and we still wonder about the origin of the name. You can eat the yellow core inside of the Jackfruit. We never tasted the Ackee fruit but we where told the you cut them remove the three poison cores and cook the rest.
03-Feb-2006 NigrilNigril img/n4.gif , famous for its long beaches, palm trees and blue sea. This is how you image the Caribbean. Today it is all hotel resorts and cafes. Entrance and chairs are free at Margaritaville. They make money on consumptions and thus you are not allowed to consume brought food.
05-Feb-2006 Dunn River Water falls
The last thing I would thought of to take to Jamaica was an umbrella. But this was the second day of clouds and rain in a row from 6 out of 14 days. Of course this is not a desert and without rain the vegetation would not be what it is. But after we started things went worse. Heavy rain flooded the decayed streets. We had to wade many times and we wondered what we will do in Dunn's River Falls img/n1.gif . Luckily the weather changed short before the falls and we had three wonderful hours enjoying the Caribbean vegetation and the waterfall. Most people rent climbing shoes and climb up the waterfalls, given that you did not forget your swimming suit. On the way back the weather turned out to be fine again. We visited the Columbus Park near Discovery Bay. At display are items used by the Columbus when he arrived in on 4 May 1494. There are a lime stone water cooler ... . It was build by the neighbouring Kaiser Bauxite company in 1968 and is now decayed and most of it has fallen apart, burned or rotten away. Sugar was introduced to Jamaica on Columbus second trip in 1493. Further west we are on the footsteps of James Bond. In Falmouth scenes of movie "Live and let die" were made. The crocodile farm were closed at 17:00 h but we had a peek over the fence and saw some crocodiles.
07-Feb-2006 Appleton Estate Rum Factory and Black River Tour
This morning it was rather cold with little rain. We started driving south trough the hills which elevated up to 1500 m near Kingston, passing Orange and Papaya fields. People live in simple wooden houses. Behind then hills we reach the south. The weather was sunny and warm. On the road side there are lots of women selling prepared fish and scrimps, fish, bead and fruits. Aside the main roads streets get rough. After a 2 hour drive we reached the Appleton Estate Rum Factory img/n3.gif located in the Nassau Valley . We pay 14 USD per person entry fee for the guided tour. The factory was founded in 18xx and at the time the sugar cane was extracted by a donkey driven mill. The efficiency was 70%. Todays process extracts 90% of the juice. Then the juice is fermented in a 30 hours process. Then there are three tier distillers which turn the rum into 60%, 75% and 90% alcohol in 8 hours. The rum is then stored for at least three years and up to 30 years in barrels in the ageing warehouses. The rum evaporates with the time which as side effect cools the warehouse. After 30 years only 30% of the rum is left. The wooden barrels they get from Jack Daniels the guide explains. The ware house is one of fourteen on Jamaica . The Rum is classified after its age. (reserve,) There are lots of other drinks made of rum. Beside the pure rum the is a Banana Cream, chocolate Cream, ....
08-Feb-2006 Black River Tour
We continued to the Black River img/n2.gif , Jamaica's longest river. You find a mixture of salt and fresh water fish also it is a fresh water river . The boat tour is 20 USD per person. The guide shoes us a lot of crocodiles. Each has its territory. They guides give them names. They can get up to 5 meters here. Unlike there counterparts in Australia and Africa these are not aggressive. Hour guide demonstrated it by jumping into the river for a swim. The only way they get aggressive he explained is when they smell blood, feeding their cubs or fell threaded. Then they really switch 180° degrees can jump up to half there length and nothing stops them from attacking what bothered them.
10-Feb-2006 The James Bond Day
n 1942 commander Ian Fleming went with Ivar Bryce to an Anglo-American Navel conference in Jamaica. Although he spend only three days on the island he said "when the war is over I never will spend a winter in England". In 1945 the war ended and he was offered a job at Kemsley Newspapers. He set up the Kemsley foreign service. Ian received a good salary but, more important, had written into his contract that he would have three month holiday every year. And he wanted to spend this three month in Jamaica. 1946 Ian Fleming returned and purchased 15 aces of land that had been a donkey race course. It is located on the north cost near the banana port of Oracabessa . Ian called the house after a military operation he masterminded, a Navel intelligence operation called Goldeneye. There was no glass in the windows. The first person Ian Fleming rented Goldeneye to was Noël Coward. "I had a wonderful time but the rent was extremely high" Noël said. He soon build its own villa Firefly 10 km further on the top of the hills near the port town St Maria. Ian Fleming spend his days snorkelling and swimming. He started writing the James Bond spy stories. Ian said "I wanted to find a name that would not have and romantic overtones, like Peregrine Carruthers or how ever it might be. I wanted I really flat quit name." . He continued "And one of my Bibles out here is James Bond's Birds of the West Indies". "I thought James Bond that is a pretty quiet name, so I simply stole and used it." he explains. Ian came every year three month to Jamaica write a Bond book and returned to England. The first James Bond book, Casino Royal, was written at Golden Eye in 1952 and established a pattern for the next 12 years. All 13 James Bond books were written at Golden Eye although only three had scenes in Jamaica : Production of "Dr. No (1962)" began on January 16 1962 at the Palisados Airport in Kingston and it was shoot mostly in Jamaica. Other locations include Dunn's River Falls, the White River and Reynolds Bauxite Pier. "Live and Let Die (1973) " had scenes on the James Bond Beach located in Oracabessa, St. Mary about twenty minutes from Ocho Rios, as well a in Falmouth. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) finally had a scene on Jamaica.
Andreas and Lara